Business school is often the next step for young professionals looking to qualify for managerial positions, improve their network, or make a career pivot.
A high GPA can do a lot to help you get into a top MBA program. The highest-ranked MBA programs (such as Stanford, MIT, Columbia, etc.) generally accept people with a 3.6-4.0 undergraduate GPA. However, a GPA in the 3.5-3.6 range can still get you into a top 20 program, and many other great business schools accept applicants with even lower GPAs.
If your GPA is in the average or above range for your school of choice—great! But if not, don’t worry—admissions officers consider a variety of factors when reviewing applicants. Your undergraduate GPA is considered alongside your GMAT score, letters of recommendation, work experience, and career goals. That means that if your undergraduate GPA isn’t quite as high as you’d like it to be, there’s still a chance that you’ll be accepted by a highly-ranked MBA program.
Here are some ways to offset a low GPA on your business school application:
- Get a strong GMAT or GRE score. This demonstrates your verbal and quantitative skills. A strong GPA shows that you have a strong grasp on intellectual pursuits like writing, research, and mathematics, and a good GMAT or GRE score can do the same thing. Kaplan has tutors and courses to help you improve your score.
- Use the essay section to your advantage. Business school applications will include an essay portion. The topics vary depending on the schools you’re applying for, but each one will give you an opportunity to explain why you’re a unique candidate and a good fit for the school. If you can write well about your life experiences and your reasons for wanting to go to business school, it can balance out a low GPA and highlight your future goals. If you need advice on how to prepare a well-rounded application, you can get a free consultation through mbaMission.
- Focus on strong, positive letters of recommendation. Business schools will ask for 2-3 letters of recommendation from professional sources. One should be written by a current supervisor, if possible, and the other could be a former supervisor, indirect supervisor, or coworker. These letters can showcase your business experience and aptitude for problem-solving, time management, and other business-related skills. Letters of recommendation can help show what kind of person you are, rather than what type of scores you may have received.
- Improve your transcript. You can’t go back to your official undergrad, but you can take non-degree (post-baccalaureate) classes. Good grades in these courses can change the perception that b-schools have of you. Show that you can perform well in classes that were difficult for you in your undergrad. If your calculus class dragged down your undergrad GPA, get a great score in a post-baccalaureate calculus class and highlight the improvement in your business school application.