If there’s one thing you can’t be fixed or changed in your MBA application, it’s your undergraduate GPA (Grade Point Average). The GPA is an area of concern for several MBA aspirants.
What GPA is required to get into a top MBA programs? How much does the GPA matter in the overall application? What is the average GPA for the elite business schools?
We’ll address these aspects and much more, so read on.
The MBA applicant pool is highly diverse, which means that we’re comparing candidate GPAs across countries, universities and undergraduate courses.
Admissions committees evaluate loads of applications each year and they have enough experience with candidates from different nationalities and diverse professional backgrounds. So, you can be assured that your GPA would not be evaluated on a standalone basis.
Instead, aspects revolving around it including the reputation of the university / institution from which you graduated, its academic rigour or difficulty level of the course / major taken would be accounted for while assessing your application.
They’d also be looking at how your grades have shaped up over a period of time. Were they lower initially and improved later?
Significance of GPA: Why your undergrad GPA matters to schools
The GPA is undoubtedly important as it evaluates a candidates’ performance in undergraduate studies over a period of 4-5 years and thus demonstrates their commitment as well as their potential for academic success in the chosen field.
For business schools, it’s in their interest to keep the GPA of incoming students on the higher side as the GPA is taken into account for deriving the business school rankings. These rankings in turn influence a candidate’s decision and thus the number of applications a school would be receiving.
Most of the business schools in the US publish the undergraduate GPA figures of the incoming class (in the incoming class profile section). As seen in the table below, the average undergraduate GPA of the top schools ranges from 3.5-3.7. Stanford and Harvard top the list with the highest average GPA of 3.7.
Average GPA for top MBA programs
|Business school name||Average undergraduate GPA||Undergraduate GPA (middle 80%)|
|1||Harvard Business School||3.7|
|2||Stanford Graduate School of Business||3.7|
|4||Columbia Business School||3.6||3.2–3.9|
|9||NYU – Stern||3.52||3.17-3.84|
|13||Berkeley – Haas||3.66|
|15||Virginia – Darden||3.5|
|16||Johnson – Cornell||3.41|
|18||Vanderbilt – Owen||3.36
|19||Indiana University – Kelley||3.38|
|20||USC – Marshall||3.55|
|23||Rice – Jones||3.3|
|24||Washington – Olin||3.47|
|25||Arizona – Carey||3.53|
|26||Maryland – Smith||3.26|
|27||UNC – Kenan Flagler||3.34|
|30||Penn State Smeal||3.4||3.0 – 3.95|
|31||Michigan State – Broad||3.3|
|32||Boston – Questrom||3.4||3.1-4|
|33||Emory – Goizueta||3.3|
|34||Ohio – Fisher||3.45||3.02-3.79|
|35||Purdue – Krannert||3.46|
|36||Minnesota – Carlson||3.45
|37||Rochester – Simon||2.7-3.9|
|38||Pittsburgh – Katz||3.3|
|39||UC Irvine – Merage||3.46||3.21-3.97|
|40||Georgia – Terry||3.51|
|41||BYU – Marriott||3.4|
|42||UT Dallas – Jindal||3.4|
Source: College website data – Oct 2019
Is the GPA important in an MBA application?
Postgraduate courses especially those at law and medical schools mention that the undergraduate GPA and test scores play a deciding role in the application process. However, MBA applications are assessed holistically.
Though the GPA is an important contributing factor which carries around 10% weight in the overall application (read What is most important in MBA applications), there are several other factors that come into play including GMAT / GRE scores, essays, work experience, recommenders, extracurriculars and community involvement among others.
And finally, it’s up to you to come up with an excellent application. Work hard and build up a storyline that focuses on various aspects of your personality and thus portrays a complete picture.
Remember that business school are not just looking at grades; they would rather love to have a well-rounded person who has demonstrated leadership qualities on various occasions or been part of any initiative that helped create an impact.
What is a good GPA for business school? What to do about a low GPA?
If you want to know where you stand, look at the GPA table and the target school averages. It would be recommended to have your GPA slightly higher than the b-school average. If you’re keen on applying to a school where your GPA is much below the school average, here’s what you could do
- Try to have an impressive GMAT or GRE score. A very high score may, to a certain extent, offset a low GPA.
- Use the optional essay as a good chance to explain any gaps or provide contexts related to a dip in your GPA.
- Get excellent work experience and have some top company names on your resume.
- Excel in relevant coursework, especially in business related / quantitative areas.
- Get fantastic recommendations focusing on your skills and leadership abilities.
For more tips, read these articles: