Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Which is more important: Major GPA or overall GPA?

LucidwolfeLucidwolfe Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
Hi! I'm wondering which type of GPA do employers/graduate programs usually look at or give more emphasis to. Is it better to have a higher major GPA but a lower overall one or vice versa? Just to be clear, only courses that are used to fulfill major requirements count towards the major GPA.
Post edited by Lucidwolfe on

Replies to: Which is more important: Major GPA or overall GPA?

  • UpMagicUpMagic Registered User Posts: 1,329 Senior Member
    I wonder who might be concerned about this discrepancy besides yourself?
  • gobears10gobears10 Registered User Posts: 187 Junior Member
    Don't listen to UpMagic. I myself am interested in this question.
  • Waiting4CollegeWaiting4College Registered User Posts: 1,966 Senior Member
    i would think major GPA is more important to employers. ie-if youre a business admin major, i highly doubt employers would care about your grades in chem 1a vs your grade in econ 1a since they are hiring you for your skills that you gain from your major most likely.
  • clueless2400clueless2400 Registered User Posts: 477 Member
    major gpa. if you have the minimum for your program at say ucsf is 3.0, then they expect you to have at least a 3.0 in your major. a 3.5 in your major and a 3.2 overall would be acceptable and better than vise versa.
  • KnitKnotsKnitKnots Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    Unless you have a good GPA (3.8 and above; ~3.2 for engineers), you don't really have to put your GPA on your resume. I know I wouldn't put mine on there; at least not the one I currently have.

    For grad school, I think they look at both GPAs. Remember that the higher your GPA, the better. For med school, I think they look at both undergrad and science GPA (sGPA) separately.
  • crowslayer91crowslayer91 Registered User Posts: 1,160 Senior Member
    this thread sounds like you're trying to ask what classes you should try harder in. or perhaps a little more precisely, what classes you shouldn't "waste" too much effort on so that you know what classes you can/will settle for the B (maybe C?) in. which is stupid, and i don't like it. :l

    but really,
    if you get a 4.0 in both, then it won't matter much, now will it?

    now i know what you're thinking: "but crowslayer, a 4.0 in both major AND overall gpa?! that's impossible/highly unlikely/probably not gna happen at this rate/too hard for me!"

    okay okay, to be fair to the whiners in the thread, allow me to rephrase:

    if you get a 2.0 in both, then it won't matter much, now will it?


    okay in all srsness, just try to get the highest gpa you can regardless of whether its for your major or for overall.

    ... okay now i know what you're thinking (again): "but crowslayer, c'mon why can't you just give helpful advice and answer OPs question, geez"

    okay, but presume i gave you an answer. "your major GPA is more important"

    now what.

    are you gna go out there and do better in your major classes?

    if you had that kind of will/ability to affect your performance in certain classes, why don't you just apply that to all your classes and get the bloody 4.0 in both :l ef.

    anyway, i second clueless2400's post.
  • GawainGawain - Posts: 49 Junior Member
    The OP posed an interesting inquiry of great significance.
  • LucidwolfeLucidwolfe Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member

    I admit that the basis of my question is to determine which classes that are most important to do well in. However, like you said, it is not simply a matter of 'deciding' to do better and expect to get better grades from that mentality alone. Since some of you here are doubting the usefulness of my question, let me justify it with an example of how a student can use this information in the course selection process.

    If major GPA were to be more important, a CS student will choose the 5 CS/technical courses that he knows he'll get the best grades in to count towards the minimum requirement of 27 UD units set by the department. He will then take all other CS courses that he might not get A/A+ in on P/NP basis, in order to shield his major GPA. Since there is a limit to the number of courses we can take P/NP on, this student will probably then be forced to take breadth courses for a LG. Now if we conform to the general impression that science students are not as good in the humanities, this student's overall GPA will likely suffer as a result and be lower than his major GPA, but it is of lesser consequence. CS is what I am more familiar with, but I guess this strategy is applicable to most other majors as well.

    On the other hand, if overall GPA were to be of a higher importance, the same student would need to go about his course selection differently. He will take most of his CS courses for a letter grade and take the breadth courses (which he presumably is weaker in) for P/NP. Said student can also sacrifice his interest and hunt for the courses which have the highest average GPA to units ratio, this can be used to dilute the downward pull on the overall GPA by less than ideal grades obtained in any prereq/core major courses.

    If one can get a straight 4.0, why not. Otherwise, with the knowledge of how the different GPAs are viewed by grad sch adcoms + a complementary strategy-based approach to course selection can only help the student in giving him the best shot at his dream grad program.

    I understand that this GPA-centered practice can be frowned upon by those who stand by the belief that learning should be for learnings sake, but to me (and I'm sure some other GPA conscious students as well) this is simply playing the game better. That said, I wonder if any grad students or anyone with similar experience would share some insights on this issue. If it would help your comments, I intend to apply directly to a PhD program in CS with a double major in CS and Stats for undergrad.
This discussion has been closed.