Top Graduate Programs With Low GPA Requirements (2023)

You might think a low undergrad GPA disqualifies you from grad school, but your chances are probably better than you'd expect. While many grad programs list specific GPA requirements on their admissions pages, you can often pursue different pathways to acceptance.

Other application components, such as your work experience and test scores, can often make up for a low GPA.

This guide offers an overview of how to apply to master's programs with a low GPA. These programs can help you earn an advanced degree regardless of how you did in undergrad.

Popular Master's Degrees

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Earn a Master's Degree With Less Than a 3.0 GPA

A high GPA shows that you're likely to perform well in grad school, but this isn't the only way to demonstrate your dedication to potential programs. Many grad schools for low GPA students take a more holistic view of applications, considering other factors alongside your undergraduate grades.

In many cases, schools offer conditional acceptance, which lets you enroll in a program even if you don't meet GPA requirements. Once you enroll, you'll need to maintain a high GPA (typically 3.0 or higher) to stay in the program.

What's Considered a Low GPA?

Many grad programs call for a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, some programs may admit you with a GPA of 2.5 or even 2.0. Online graduate programs with low GPA requirements give you a chance to continue your education even if you didn't do great in undergrad.

It never hurts to talk to a grad program about your GPA. Schools will often work with you if you can show that you're ready for graduate coursework.

How to Get Into Graduate School With a Low GPA

This list highlights some of the typical components you can expect during your application process. With a little bit of effort, you can show schools that you're a serious student, even if your GPA isn't perfect.

(Video) Universities in USA you can apply to with a low gpa (below 3.0 gpa) | Graduate Students

1. Take the GRE/GMAT

A high score on a graduate exam like the GRE or GMAT can help you show schools you're ready for graduate-level work, even if you have a low GPA. These tests assess your verbal and quantitative skills, along with writing and critical thinking. Many business programs require the GMAT, while other types of graduate programs require the GRE.

2. Include a Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose is your chance to explain to admissions committees exactly why you're interested in a specific graduate program. You can also discuss your professional goals and why you're ready for graduate school now, even if you didn't do great in undergrad.

3. Write Personal Essays

Personal essays focus on your background, interests, or past challenges you've overcome. These essays offer a great opportunity to show grad programs who you are, both as a student and a person. You may also be able to discuss your growth as a learner, which can help offset a low GPA.

4. Speak With the Admissions Office

Consider contacting the admissions office to learn more about their application requirements. Low GPA master's programs can often help you through the admissions process, and many schools offer alternative application requirements for students with low GPAs. A quick call or email can help you better understand your options.

5. Incorporate Work Experience

One of the best strategies to enroll in an online master's with a low GPA is to highlight your professional experience. In your application, draw attention away from your undergraduate experience by playing up your work responsibilities and what you've learned on the job. Application committees love to see that you can make connections between your own experience and a program's learning goals.

6. Submit Letters of Recommendation

If you have a low GPA, you might not want letters of recommendation from former professors. However, it's perfectly acceptable to ask your bosses or other supervisors to write letters for you. A recommendation letter gives your supervisor a chance to discuss your skills and readiness for grad school.

7. Complete Additional Coursework

Consider taking a college course or two, either online or at your local community college. A transcript with recent coursework shows grad schools that you're eager to learn and can succeed as a student. You can also brush up on skills that will serve you in the grad program.

8. Prepare for Your Admissions Interview

Some online graduate programs with low GPA requirements may require you to complete an interview after you apply. This is your chance to show schools that you're a serious and professional student. If the interviewers ask about your low GPA, don't make excuses. Instead, explain how you've grown since undergrad and why you're ready for grad school now.

Popular Master's Degrees

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

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Popular Easy Master's Degrees

Whatever your field of study, you can find many online graduate programs without GPA requirements. This list features some of the most common master's degrees available online.

Check out some popular — and easy — master's degrees below:

  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Criminal Justice
  • Educational Leadership
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Human Services
  • Liberal Arts
  • Library Science
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Social Work
  • Sports Medicine

Business Administration

One of the most popular graduate degrees, business administration focuses on advanced topics like management, marketing, and finance. Many programs let you choose a focus area, such as entrepreneurship or information technology management. Business administration programs often prepare you for leadership roles with more responsibilities and higher salaries.

Popular Master's in Business Administration Degrees


A widely applicable field of study, communications focuses on strategies for transmitting information to audiences effectively. Master's in communications degrees may highlight areas such as advertising, public relations, or corporate communications. Nearly all businesses have messages to communicate either internally or externally, so you can find work in many industries.

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Popular Master's in Communications Degrees

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice focuses on law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Common course topics may include criminology, criminal justice research, and management. A master's in criminal justice prepares you for management and supervisory roles in areas such as probation or court administration. You may also be able to teach criminal justice classes at the college level.

Popular Master's in Criminal Justice Degrees

Education & Teaching

A master's in education most commonly prepares you to teach at K-12 schools. Master's programs in education focus on the theory and practice of effective teaching, covering topics such as classroom management, curriculum design, and styles of learning. If you plan to teach in a middle school or high school, you can focus on a subject area, such as math or language arts.

Popular Master's in Education and Teaching Degrees

Educational Leadership

Educational leadership centers on administrative and management practices for K-12 education. Pursuing this degree, you'll learn about topics like education laws and regulations, management strategies, and school budgeting. A master's in educational leadership most commonly prepares you to work as a school principal, but you can also find other positions in education administration.

Popular Master's in Educational Leadership Degrees

Healthcare Administration

Strong growth in the healthcare field has led to high demand for skilled administrators. Healthcare administration focuses on the business side of healthcare, training you to manage organizations such as hospitals and clinics. Master's programs in healthcare administration cover topics such as healthcare law and policy, leadership strategies, and healthcare marketing.

Popular Master's in Healthcare Administration Degrees

Human Resources

Human resources specialists oversee administrative functions for businesses, including payroll, benefits, and recruitment. Enrolling in a human resources master's program, you'll study topics such as employment law, talent management, and organizational psychology. You may also be able to choose a specialty, such as employee relations or negotiation strategies.

Popular Master's in Human Resources Degrees

Human Services

Human services is a broad field that includes professions such as mental health counseling, social work, and community health. A master's in human services prepares you for administrative positions in these fields. Coursework may focus on topics such as social services management, social policy, and interview and assessment practices.

Popular Master's in Human Services Degrees

Liberal Arts

A master's in liberal arts builds knowledge in humanities subjects such as English, history, and political philosophy. This program concentrates on big-picture learning, giving you the skills to understand historical perspectives and communicate ideas effectively. Many programs give you the option to customize your course of study.

Popular Master's in Liberal Arts Degrees

Library Science

Library science focuses on the theories and practices of information management, whether for physical libraries or digital collections. A master's in library science focuses on topics such as information organization, information literacy, and technology tools for research. This degree can prepare you for jobs in public libraries, university libraries, and K-12 schools.

Popular Master's in Library Science Degrees


A graduate program in management highlights strategies for effective administration in business and other fields. This degree offers a similar curriculum to many business programs, but management focuses more specifically on methods of leadership and organization. The skills gained in a management program can also apply to organizations such as nonprofits and government agencies.

(Video) Low GPA? 6 Strategies for Getting Into Grad School in 2020

Popular Master's In Management Degrees


A master's in marketing explores topics related to advertising and promotions for businesses. This degree trains you to analyze and predict market trends, conduct market research, and assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies. While most commonly related to business, marketing can also apply to any field that seeks to promote its services, such as education or healthcare.

Popular Master's in Marketing Degrees


In a psychology program, you'll study human behavior and mental processes. A master's in psychology program typically lets you choose a concentration, such as clinical psychology or organizational psychology. Regardless of your specialization area, you'll gain advanced skills in research and psychological assessment methods.

Popular Master's in Psychology Degrees

Public Administration

Public administration focuses on management practices for organizations that don't operate as businesses, such as nonprofits and government agencies. A master's in public administration trains you in topics such as public policy, research methods, and organizational management. You may learn about relevant topics like ethics and finance.

Popular Master's in Public Administration Degrees

Social Work

In a social work program, you'll learn to help clients experiencing various challenges, such as poverty and mental health conditions. Many programs let you specialize in one area of study, such as family social work, mental health counseling, or addiction counseling.

Popular Master's in Social Work Degrees

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine focuses on helping athletes improve physical performance and prevent injuries. The field includes topics such as nutrition, exercise science, and physical therapy. Master's programs in sports medicine use research to inform professional practice, drawing on the latest developments in fields like kinesiology and exercise physiology.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grad School With a Low GPA

Does your GPA matter for grad school?

While your GPA does matter for grad school, many programs maintain variable GPA requirements. Even if your GPA falls below a program's admissions standards, you may be able to gain conditional acceptance.

Can I get into graduate school with a 2.5 GPA?

Plenty of graduate programs will admit you with a 2.5 GPA, but you should always check admissions requirements before applying. However, with a bit of research, it's possible to find online graduate programs with low GPA requirements.

What is the minimum GPA for graduate school admissions?

Many grad schools maintain a 3.0 GPA requirement for admissions, but this is hardly universal. Other programs may require only a 2.5 or even a 2.0 GPA.

Does work experience make up for a low GPA?

Many grad schools for low GPA students consider work experience as part of their admissions process. If you can show a program that you hold relevant experience in your area of study, this can go a long way toward making up for a low undergrad GPA.

(Video) US Universities Accepting Low GPA for MS and PhD admission [ newly updated list ]


Top Graduate Programs With Low GPA Requirements? ›

Most top-ranked graduate programs typically prefer a GPA of 3.5 or better. Exceptions to this rule occur, of course, but many students give up their quest to attend graduate school due to a low (3.0 or less) GPA.

Can you get into a top masters program with a low GPA? ›

Most top-ranked graduate programs typically prefer a GPA of 3.5 or better. Exceptions to this rule occur, of course, but many students give up their quest to attend graduate school due to a low (3.0 or less) GPA.

What is the lowest GPA to get into a master's program? ›

Many grad programs call for a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, some programs may admit you with a GPA of 2.5 or even 2.0. Online graduate programs with low GPA requirements give you a chance to continue your education even if you didn't do great in undergrad.

Can I get into a masters program with a 2.0 GPA? ›

There is no universal minimum GPA for grad school. The minimum, when one is specified for admissions requirements, can vary by school and program. At many schools, admissions requirements for masters programs may specify a 3.0 GPA minimum, but some schools may accept applicants with lower GPAs.

What do I do if my GPA isn't high enough for grad school? ›

How To Get into Grad School With a Low GPA
  1. Know the requirements. ...
  2. Talk to the faculty. ...
  3. Complete additional coursework. ...
  4. Pursue relevant field experience. ...
  5. Publish in your subject. ...
  6. Use your statement of purpose. ...
  7. Consider submitting a separate letter of explanation. ...
  8. Focus on recommendations.

Can I do masters with a 2.5 GPA? ›

GPA requirements vary by program. However, in general, graduate students must apply with a GPA of 2.75 for full acceptance or a GPA of 2.0 for provisional acceptance. Students accepted provisionally must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in each of their first two terms in order to remain in the graduate program.

Can high GRE compensate low GPA? ›

While applying, GRE is one of the few ways for the admissions committee to judge your academic prowess. Since your GPA is low, therefore a high GRE score can compensate by establishing your academic ability.

What is a mediocre GPA for grad school? ›

It is often recommended by admissions officers and hiring staff that you don't include your GPA in your resume for graduate school or job applications if it is less than 3.5. GPA requirements for masters programs vary by school and department, but most programs require a GPA of at least 3.0 -- or a B average.

Is 2.8 GPA good for masters in USA? ›

You can get into many graduate schools with a 2.8 GPA. While there may be many schools with higher GPA requirements, you should check with the admissions requirements of any school to see where you'll fit. However, just checking admissions requirements doesn't mean that school is a perfect fit for you.

Can a 2.2 graduate do masters in USA? ›

Yes, in many cases it's possible to apply for a Masters with a 2.2 degree, although this is often at the discretion of the university (and department).

How do you explain a low GPA for grad school? ›

When is it Okay to Address a Low GPA?
  1. You got extremely sick and had to take a break from studies.
  2. A close family member underwent a medical emergency and you had to be there for them.
  3. The passing away of a close friend or family member.
  4. Financial hardship such as having to work a job while studying to support yourself.

Do grad schools look at major GPA or overall? ›

While graduate admissions committees don't necessarily disregard other grades, generally, they consider your major Grade Point Average or GPA a better representative of your grades. Graduate schools are mainly concerned about you completing the graduate program.

Which US universities accept low GPA? ›

Here are some other institutions in the country that accept low GPA scores:
  • Oakwood University.
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
  • Talladega College.
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
  • University of Lincoln.
  • Arkansas Baptist College.
  • Northwestern Polytechnical University.
  • Bethune-Cookman University.
May 5, 2023

What is the easiest grad school to get into? ›

Here are some of the easiest masters programs to get into:
  • Healthcare Administration. Median Salary: $84K/year. ...
  • Organizational Leadership. Median Salary: $77K/year for MS, $89K/year for MBA. ...
  • Sports Management. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Business Communications. ...
  • Education and Teaching. ...
  • Criminal Justice.
Jan 17, 2023

Does your GPA reset in grad school? ›

Those grades were used to determine your grade point average. The GPA that you earned could impact whether you'll get into your top program choices for a grad degree. In graduate school, you'll start over with a fresh GPA. Once again, your grad scores you earn could have a say in where you'll end up after grad school.

Is it possible to raise your GPA after you graduate? ›

No. Once your degree has been awarded, your record is closed and no further changes can be made.

How to get into Ivy with low GPA? ›

None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

Can I get into grad school if I failed a class? ›

If you fail a class, your chances of getting into graduate school are likely to be lower. This is because graduate programs are looking for students with a consistent academic success record and can demonstrate their ability to succeed in the classroom.

Can I get into college with a 1.7 GPA? ›

If you have a 1.7 GPA, your grades in high school have been mostly C-s. With a GPA that's this low, you may have a hard time getting accepted to college. 0.19% of schools have an average GPA below a 1.7. You can apply to colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted.

How much can you realistically raise your GRE score? ›

As a GRE instructor, I get this question a lot. I'll start by just sharing what I see, and note that this is just my experience: most students go up 5-8 points with study. That said, there are also students who go up 15 points, so I don't mean the 5-8 to be read as a cap or threshold.

Can I get an MBA with a 2.7 GPA? ›

At Chicago Booth School of Business, someone got in with a 2.7 GPA. And at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, one extraordinary candidate was admitted with a 2.4 — a year after the school admitted an applicant with a 2.5. We can deduce some extraordinary cases even when we have less data to parse.

How do I offset my low GPA for MBA? ›

  1. Improve Your GMAT Score. The most effective way to offset a low GPA is to earn a high GMAT score. ...
  2. Write an Effective MBA Resume. ...
  3. Get Strong Letters of Recommendation. ...
  4. Highlight your Extracurricular Activities. ...
  5. Write Compelling Essays – and Consider the Optional Essay.
May 12, 2023

Do employers care about grad school GPA? ›

In business, the GPA might be part of the picture, along with the real-world experience you gained through internships or jobs during your studies. And, as with everything, it's who you know as well as what you know. Back to the short answer: Yes, GPAs matter.

How do you recover from a bad GPA? ›

How to Recover from a Low First-Year Gpa
  1. Take Inventory of the Damage.
  2. Improve Your Time Management Skills.
  3. Monitor Your Grades More Closely.
  4. Talk With Your Professors.
  5. Lighten Your Load.
  6. Don't be Afraid to Call in Back-up!
Jan 30, 2022

What GPA is Cumme laude? ›

cum laude: at least a 3.0 total GPA (grade point average) and a class rank in the 75th percentile or above in the student's school or college. magna cum laude: at least a 3.4 total GPA (grade point average) and a class rank in the 85th percentile or above in the student's school or college.

Does Harvard accept 2.8 GPA? ›

Continue to work hard, take difficult classes, and show your passions outside of school! To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .

What is the lowest GPA a university will accept? ›

Unofficially, 2.0 is the lowest GPA accepted into a standard college, so while there's a chance that college admission is possible, it's not likely at more than a few institutions.

What will an F do to a 3.0 GPA? ›

The failing grade will NOT calculate in your GPA, but it will still show on your transcript.

Which university accept 2 GPA in USA? ›

List of Universities that Accept International Students with Low GPA
UniversityCountryMinimum GPA Requirement
Louisiana State UniversityUSA2.0
California State UniversityUSA3.2
Southern Arkansas UniversityUSA3.3
North Carolina State UniversityUSA2.0
16 more rows

What GPA do you need for a PhD? ›

With GPA, it is recommended that students have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and around a 3.5 discipline-specific GPA to remain competitive for Ph. D.

Is 2.4 GPA good for Masters in USA? ›

Now, if your GPA comes to anything above 3.0, that's considered to be a good GPA. A 3.0 GPA won't get you into the topmost colleges, but it will give you a lot of options. On the other hand, if your score is less than 3.0, your options will be reduced.

Is GRE or GPA more important? ›

One of the most important parts of your graduate school application is your GPA. Combined with your GRE score, those two numbers hold the greatest weight when it comes to how likely you are to get into a particular school. Unlike your GRE score, though, your GPA has another facet to it: Your transcript.

Do you put grad school GPA on resume? ›

You should include your GPA in the education section of your resume, listing that information as close to your degree as possible. It's crucial that you include the accurate number rather than adjust your GPA in the hopes that it will garner more attention.

Do grad schools look at all transcripts? ›

Graduate schools will see your full undergraduate transcripts, and will look at individual grades. They will however care about how you did in a long list of classes.

What is the lowest GPA ever accepted Ivy League? ›

And maybe, you can get into a top tier college with a low GPA. We've always stated that the lowest GPA student we've ever helped get into an Ivy League school had a 3.3 unweighted GPA. And we're not saying that we could get anyone in with a 3.3 GPA. But it has happened before – and the student was Asian American too.

What is the lowest GPA Harvard has accepted? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.

Can I get into a top university with a low GPA? ›

Yes. Even students with a low GPA are accepted to college, although some more selective schools may not consider you with a below average GPA.

What is the fastest masters degree to get? ›

  • Master of Arts in Educational Psychology.
  • Master of Science in Computer Science.
  • Master of Healthcare Administration.
  • Master of Arts/Science in Management.
  • Master of Science in Nursing.
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity.
  • Master of Science in Finance.
  • Master of Public Health.
Jan 4, 2023

What is the hardest semester of grad school? ›

That said, many of our graduate student editing clients tell us that the first semester of graduate school is the hardest. Whether fresh out of an undergraduate or master's program, or returning to academia after a break, you're about to embark on a long, challenging marathon. We want to help make it easier.

What is the fastest easiest degree to get? ›

Check out the easiest college majors below:
  • Anthropology.
  • Business Administration.
  • Communications.
  • Creative Writing.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • Education.
  • English.
  • Health Sciences.

Do grades matter in Masters? ›

For master's programs, many schools will want you to stay above a 3.0 just to avoid academic probation. For PhD programs, GPAs practically don't matter as long as they meet all the other requirements (unless you went to the PhD program right after undergrad, in which case you'll need to maintain a 3.0 or higher).

What happens if your GPA is below 3.0 for grad school? ›

If this is your last semester, they may let you graduate, but they may also deny graduation if your GPA does not meet a minimum. The department may ask you to do some sort of an independent study or other work to raise your GPA. Again, talk to your advisor and/or the department Chair.

What to do if you graduate with a low GPA? ›

How To Get into Grad School With a Low GPA
  1. Know the requirements. ...
  2. Talk to the faculty. ...
  3. Complete additional coursework. ...
  4. Pursue relevant field experience. ...
  5. Publish in your subject. ...
  6. Use your statement of purpose. ...
  7. Consider submitting a separate letter of explanation. ...
  8. Focus on recommendations.

Can I get a masters with a 2.3 GPA? ›

There is no universal minimum GPA for grad school. The minimum, when one is specified for admissions requirements, can vary by school and program. At many schools, admissions requirements for masters programs may specify a 3.0 GPA minimum, but some schools may accept applicants with lower GPAs.

What happens if my GPA is too low to graduate? ›

Take additional courses

Grade forgiveness: Take advantage of your school's grade forgiveness policy which allows you to retake a certain number of courses and replaces your former grade with your new grade. Delay your graduation: Take additional courses or pursue a minor to increase your GPA before you graduate.

Is 3.5 A bad GPA for masters? ›

A 3.5 GPA for grad school is generally considered to be competitive for grad school, but it may not be regarded as high enough for more competitive programs. Some programs may have higher GPA requirements, while others may place more emphasis on other factors such as research experience or letters of recommendation.

Can you get into top schools with a low GPA? ›

Yes – it's totally possible. And we have their applications to prove it. While the odds are against you with a weak academic profile, we've helped many students with poor GPA's / grades get into top universities.

What is the average GPA to get into a master's program? ›

GPA requirements for masters programs vary by school and department, but most programs require a GPA of at least 3.0 -- or a B average. The more competitive a college major, like psychology and business, the more competitive your GPA has to be to get into a related masters program.

What is the lowest GPA Yale will accept? ›

What is the minimum GPA required for admission? We do not set a minimum GPA, nor do we attempt to re-weight GPA's to any standard other than what a school provides. An applicant's complete secondary school transcript (not just the GPA or class rank, if they are provided) is evaluated during the admissions process.

What is the lowest GPA to get into Ivy League? ›

Average GPAs at Ivy League schools start at 3.9. Any lower than 3.5, however, you'll have to either have an impressive, relevant achievement or pray for a miracle to get an offer.

Can I get a masters with a 2.8 GPA? ›

While a 2.8 GPA is high enough to apply for most graduate schools, it won't catch the eye of admissions officers. With some hard work and planning you can likely raise your GPA.

Can I get into Stanford grad school with a 3.5 GPA? ›

There is no minimum GPA or test score, nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript in order to have your application reviewed or be admitted to Stanford.


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