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Average GPA - Top MBA Programs

Origin of GPA (Grade Point Average)

International students wonder how GPA became a ubiquitously American phenomenon. If you want to blame someone for starting a 4.0 scale, you should go back 200 years, when Ezra Tiles, the President of Yale, in her 1785 diary, divided the examination performance into four groups: “Twenty Optimi, Sixteen second Optimi, 12 Inferiores (Boni) and Ten Pejores." It was not until in Yale’s Records of Examination (1813) that a 4.0 GPA scale was formalized.

In 1830 and 1837, when Harvard played with a 20 point and a 100-point scale respectively, Yale tried to test with a 9.0 point scale, which the institution later switched back to the 4.0 GPA. Combining the grading, GPA, and percentage into a unified evaluation system took time.

It was not until 1897 when Mount Holyoke assigned grade to each percentage range.

A:95% and above
B:90% to 94%
C:85% to 90%
D:80% to 84%
E:75% to 79%

This later switched to A:4.0, B:3.0, C:2.0, D: 1.0 (GPA mapped to grading)

GPA Inflation

When A grade was rarer in the 50s, the inflation of the grade point average began in the 1960s when drafting for the Vietnam war was determined by the graduate’s D’s and F’s. Professors realizing the life and death effect of GPA began charitably offering B’s and As. Although Public and Private universities matched this trend, from the 1980s, and 2007’s, private universities led in the number of A grades offered to the class, perhaps matching with the helicopter parenting and the pressure on teachers the involvement entailed. Conclusive research on the impact poor grades had on mental health among kids competing in an international arena for Ivey league schools and M7 schools also contributed to the leniency towards grades.

GPA less than 2.5 – Low GPA Success Stories

The success stories of MBA applicants making it despite less than 2.5 GPA is unlikely to be stories from American applicants as non-US universities have yet to reach a consensus on the uniformity of the 4.0 grading scale. Some universities in Singapore, India, and China are notoriously known to limit the highest grade to B, while degree programs like Electronics Engineering and Chartered Accountancy consider a 75%-85% as the top 5%.  The admission team understands the cultural difference in evaluation. The high application volume from diverse universities helps the team assess your score on a realistic 4.0 scale and not the American 4.0. Stanford only calculates the average GPA based on US candidate’s GPA, whereas Harvard and Wharton only for schools with an explicit 4.0 scale.

Why GPA is Important

No matter how the admission team recalibrates your GPA, the scores matter. An MBA is mostly in academic pursuit even if the experiential learning, case study, and class participation contribute as much as 40% towards your overall grades. Past performance in acquiring technical vocabulary and multilayered concepts and applying it to a real-world problem through a job is valuable during class and in achieving post-MBA goals.

MBA with 3.2 GPA and Above

Schools that don’t put too much emphasis on an average GPA will give you a range to demonstrate what the middle 80% of the class scored. Based on our evaluation of the top 50 MBA programs in the world, we can confirm that 3.3 and above is a sweet spot and 3.2 a borderline GPA score.

For anyone below, 2.5 GPA score, the additional information section in your application should cite the unusual grading system in your university. Support it with publicly accessible data or trends.

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Reference
A History of Grading (The Educational Forum. Spring 1993. Mark W Durm)
History of GPA Inflation

Top Business SchoolsAverage GPANotes on GPA
Stanford Graduate School of Business3.7GPA Only US Schools
Harvard Business School3.7Schools with 4.0 GPA
University of Pennsylvania Wharton3.6Schools with 4.0 GPA
University of Chicago Booth3.6
London Business School3.4-3.6Middle 80% GPA Range
Columbia Business School3.6
INSEAD Business School3.4-3.6
MIT Sloan3.6
IESE3.3-3.6
Hong Kong UST Business School3.4-3.6
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad3.4-3.6
IMD3.2-3.6
University of California at Berkeley Haas3.67
Duke University Fuqua3.1-3.87Middle 80% GPA range
Northwestern University Kellogg3.6
New York University Stern3.54
HEC Paris3.2-3.6
Dartmouth College Tuck3.52
Darden Business School3.5
Cambridge Judge Business School3.7
University of Texas at Austin McCombs3.42
NUS Singapore3.2-3.6
Oxford Said3.5
UCLA Anderson3.2-2.8Middle 80% GPA range
Indian School of Business3.0-3.6
IE Business School3.4-3.6
SDA Bocconi School of Management3.4
Carnegie Mellon Tepper3.3
Nanyang Business School3.2-3.6
University of Southern California Marshall3.54
University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler3.4GPA Only US Schools
Vanderbilt University Owen3.36
Emory University Goizueta3.2-3.6Middle 80% GPA range
University of Washington Foster3.39
Rice University Jones3.3
Babson College Olin3.24
University of California at Irvine Merage3.48
Ohio State University Fisher3.45
SMU Cox3.3
Georgia Institute of Technology Scheller3.3
University of Connecticut School of Business3.45
University of Minnesota Carlson3.45Median GPA
Texas A & M University Mays2.68-3.77Middle 80% GPA range
Brigham Young University Marriott3.55
Wisconsin School of Business3.3
Boston University Questrom3.4
University of Maryland Smith3.2-3.4Middle 80% GPA range
The University of Hong Kong3.4
Mannheim Business School3.2-3.4Middle 80% GPA range
Singapore Management University3.2-3.4Middle 80% GPA range

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