Impact of B on graduate applications to top schools

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Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:04 pm

Impact of B on graduate applications to top schools

Postby gravwave » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:09 pm

How much does a single B (or a few B's) affect chances at a top school (say, top 10) for an otherwise great application?

I have lots of good research experience, won several awards, presentation experience, outreach, etc. but my GPA is not perfect, as I have received a single B (in a math course, I am a physics/math double major). I have a few A-'s as well, so my GPA will probably be around 3.8. Note: I am at a fairly well-known university, a "public ivy." How will this affect my chances at top graduate schools. I still have another year, so if I received, say, 1-2 more B's, would this be troubling? I should also mention that I plan on doing astrophysics theory/data analysis .Thank you!

Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:16 am

Re: Impact of B on graduate applications to top schools

Postby symphonic » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:17 am

It really depends on the context. But generally:

1) Upper level courses are weighted more heavily than first-year courses. A B in Quantum Mechanics is considered more of a red flag than a B in a first-year Introduction to Mechanics course. Some universities will separately calculate the GPA for your last two years.

2) Courses in your major are weighted more heavily than electives or "general education" requirements. They probably won't care if you got a B in English or Art History. The major GPA is just as important as the cumulative GPA, and a high major GPA can make up for a low cumulative GPA.

3) In general, GPA only matters insofar as you're well above the GPA minimum. A 3.8 would be just as competitive as a 3.9. The minimum for the top 10 schools usually isn't set in stone and depends on stats of the incoming applicants for that specific year, but it generally hovers around 3.5. Furthermore, unless your GPA is below a 3.0, a low-ish GPA can always be compensated by a high pGRE score, positive recommendation letters, or research experience.

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