If your GPA is less than a 2.5, what is your ceiling in regards to MBA admissions?

If you graduated undergrad with a GPA in the 2.0 to 2.5 range (since they require a 2.0 at most schools to even graduate) and it took to you longer than the 4 year span to graduate, what is your MBA ceiling in most cases (not miracles where you do something that makes you famous and puts you in the news)?

Like what is the highest on the rankings you can apply for and realistically hope to get into?

My guess is that anywhere in the top 10 is out, top 15 would be more than a stretch even if you do all else right, and maybe top 20 would be out. At that point should you even bother with business school?

Comments (43)

Aug 11, 2017

Probably U of Phoenix MBA

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Aug 12, 2017

Trump MBA from the Wharton school of finance.

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Oct 8, 2017
BillBelichick37:

Trump MBA from the Wharton school of finance.

More like no scholarship but will join Nova MSF like TNA alright!

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Oct 12, 2017

Trump has the highest IQ ever. Definitely higher than Bob Corker's.

Aug 12, 2017

Not enough corroborating information. Why was your GPA a 2.5? This makes a big difference. Are you taking courses now part-time to mitigate concerns? I know traditional candidates who have crushed the GMAT with sub-3 GPAs and gotten into M7 schools. Top 10 is not out of the question. However, the same advice I give to everyone apply to business school is crush the GMAT. This gives you your range. As my rough estimate (which shouldn't be taken literally at all), if you have a sub-3.0 GPA, subtract 40 points from your gmat score and this is the median score for where you will have a shot. For instance, if you had a 760 and a 2.5 GPA you would still have a shot at a Stern-range school.

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Oct 4, 2017

M7 school with sub 3 GPAs? Must have been in the high 2s then. I like that you are helpful but I worry if your post is a bit too optimistic, even I am not currently thinking of M7 years from now.

Oct 8, 2017

On a serious note, It just means other data covered more than plenty of that weakness!

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Best Response
Aug 12, 2017

YoshiIsAwesome is right. There's not enough corroborating information. When it comes to GPA and MBA admissions, there's more to things than the raw number. Some things that will play to your favor:

1) Length of time - the longer you've been out of college, the less your undergrad matters and the more your work experience comes into play

2) GMAT - a higher GMAT will essentially "validate" you showing that you have the intellectual horsepower to do well in MBA and your undergrad record doesn't fully reflect your abilities.

3) Graduate school - if you've gone on to get a masters in something else and done well in it, it'll help your case

4) Trend - Is your GPA a result of a terrible freshman year where you had trouble adjusting to college life but you turned things around and you can see a strong sense of improvement over time? This will show you can do well academically, you just took a "mulligan" of sorts before you hit your stride.

To give you a real life example, I know a guy you made it into Wharton with a 2.6 but he killed it on the GMAT and had stellar work experience.

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Sep 19, 2017

Hi, may I bother you with a follow up question? I went to a top2 university in China and majored in math. I studied with the top mathematical geniuses in Asia and I ranked about only 50% to 60%. The problem is that my department does not curve grades and the average was about 3.0. The silver line is that my school does not have an "official" GPA (there is not such thing as GPA on the transcript, the so-called GPA is only a reference figure provided by the school and it's calculated in a very different way comparing to US), so I don't have to put it on my application or CV. Despite of the super low GPA and bad ranking, I'm confident I am a better learner than most. After undergrad I went to Georgetown to do a Master's in Econ and I got 3.92/4.0 (Highest in the program's history). I haven't taken the GMAT yet but I aim to score 750+ before I start applying to business schools. What is my chance to overcome or at least mitigate my super low undergrad GPA?

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Aug 12, 2017

You sound like you have a pretty good chance. You went to a top tier undergrad (many of my Chinese MBA classmates were from such schools), a great master's degree, and if you get a high GMAT....you should be good to go.

If you feel the need to explain you undergrad situation, MBA applications always have a spot to do so. Also, keep in mind that MBA adcoms have "seen and heard it all." They will be informed and ok with things that may appear to break away from the norm. For example, many engineering and undergrad b-school students have lower GPA's due to less grade inflation in their programs and they're let in under such circumstances all the time.

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Oct 4, 2017

This was a good answer and a reasonable one at that. As for number 4, you can't really change that if you are the person who is out of college but the rest seem to be legitimate ways to make up for poor UG performance.

Aug 12, 2017

Work Experience is yuuuge as well as recommendations.

Study 2x as most for the GMAT and pull a low to mid 700 .... and you might have a chance

So you're telling me there's a chance .... lol

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Aug 12, 2017

The only ones that will absolutely hate you for a low GPA are HBS and Stanford.

The rest will hate the GPA but if all, and I do mean all the other ingredients are of competitive quality, they will suspend their hatred of your candidacy and consider it on its overall merits. It doesn't mean you will get in, but you won't be automatically chucked out the window. People on this board regularly say your GMAT has to be well above the school's median to compensate; overcompensating of course helps, but it's not strictly necessary, so long as the entirety of your candidacy (including your story for the low GPA) checks out (meaning clearly of the same caliber sought by any given school in its candidates). In that case, you'll have a chance, but still lower than someone who did their homework (literally) during college.

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Nov 10, 2017

I've heard that Stanford's adcomm is a sucker for redemption stories, so wouldn't rule them out if you have a low GPA. It just puts more onus on writing a killer essay and destroying the GMAT.

Although the "I was lazy and didn't study during my UG" probably won't fly there.

Sep 19, 2017

I don't know why gpa matters in any field, If a man can work really well but his GPA is low it does not mean he can not survive in the market. OFF topic answer but I thought I should share my thought about gpa

Nov 6, 2017

The issue is GPA is a huge indicator of work ethic and seriousness. Barring extenuating circumstances a GPA < 2.5 is an indicator that either a) you are an idiot or b) you don't take things seriously.

Hence, from a pragmatic perspective, few will want to take that gamble in admitting the student

Nov 17, 2017
aljdljaldla:

The issue is GPA is a huge indicator of work ethic and seriousness. Barring extenuating circumstances a GPA < 2.5 is an indicator that either a) you are an idiot or b) you don't take things seriously.

Hence, from a pragmatic perspective, few will want to take that gamble in admitting the student

idk. Biased for having a low GPA but I can count myself as neither stupid nor lazy. Not everyone who goes to college is ready. We thrust students into the same big pool from a variety of circumstances. How can everyone come out the same?

I'm a sh*t test taker, I'll admit that. Multiple choice tests were the bain of my existence. Having to pick from 5 similar sounding acronyms for a specific concept is uber frustrating. I think in concepts rather than terms, so I map and visualize how an idea works. Now ask me to name it, and I'd either sit a while to think or just Google it. I just don't think in terms.

Give me a paper or assignment and I'd ace it with ease. Unfortunately, all I got were super long and tedious final exams. The few A's I have were classes that had written exams or papers.

I also came from an awful HS and Junior HS, but that's a case unique to me sticking with horrific religious schools.

The biggest factor: How many people go into college 100% knowing what you want to do? I got involved in a dozen clubs and orgs. Switched majors 7 times. Good luck improving grades when you're still trying to find yourself.

Y'all are lucky for getting awesome GPA's, but I don't really regret being uber involved in school. I felt as a 19-21 yo that building interpersonal skills were more important than cramming the extra time to memorize every term, but guess that's me.

I hate that in my MBA essays I have to lie and say I regret getting poor/mediocre grades when I don't. It's built me into the person I am. I've learned from it, and I've become stronger for making the choice to not over obsess over GPA, and being OK for settling with Bs/Cs instead of As. If I didn't get involved, my social skills would be garbage. Good luck in the work world when you can't look people directly in the eye from super shyness.

Caring about GPA is stupid when
a) apparently grades don't matter in grad school
b) It's not applicable to business knowledge
c) Grades aren't apples to apples comparisons

It's just an admissions factor to weed out candidates and it's a part of published rankings. If rankings didn't exist, I'd wonder if GPA would matter so much...

Sep 19, 2017

People here often try to paint a best-case scenario and sugarcoat with an "anything's possible" attitude, but with a GPA of 2.0 - 2.5, you will be lucky to get into any top 100 business school. US news ranks schools up until #93, and the remainder of schools are un-ranked. That GPA is off the radar for all schools tho, so IMO one would be lucky to get into any school and would have to strongly compensate with an extraordinary GMAT and stellar work experience.

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Sep 19, 2017

This is flat out incorrect. People with low GPAs can definitely get into top business schools given good GMAT, good WE, and proper execution. Someone with a 2.5 wouldn't have a good shot at Harvard, but I'm sure there are schools in the top 100 where they'd have a good chance given all the factors I mentioned above.

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Sep 19, 2017

This guy has a 2.1 in bio from a non target with mediocre work experience - tell me again how I'm "flat out incorrect"?

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Sep 19, 2017

Here's what I'll say on this: The highest ranked school you can apply for is nil unless you decide you have a shot.

It is going to be tough for you to get into an MBA program 2-3 years out. Now, if you apply 5 years out with some additional part-time finance or math classes and As in them, you have a more recent academic record to waive at the admissions committee.

The more time passes, the more other recent grades you have, the less your undergrad GPA hurts you.

My guess is that M7 is possible, perhaps even likely, if you're applying from FO in a BB, have an excellent GMAT, and have a few business courses at NYU or Columbia or Baruch that you got As in.

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Oct 9, 2017

Not sure what your situation is like, but I would recommend a part-time MBA program. I know several people with less than stellar undergrad GPA's who got into top-20 part-time MBA programs. Still will require a lot of work but five years after graduation no one is going to care whether or not it was part-time, all they'll see is the name and what you did immediately after.

Oct 4, 2017

Not interested in part time, I want to do full time.

Oct 9, 2017

With a GPA that low, is passing an MBA even feasible?

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Oct 4, 2017

think every MBA grad could pull of a high GPA in STEM?

Oct 12, 2017

Remember that there is some self selection here too. Like, it's not necessarily the GPA keeping you out of the top programs, but the fact that kids with lower GPAs probably didn't get banking jobs or consulting jobs, which are huge MBA feeders or at least big career starters. It's less about the GPA itself, but there's correlation between the low GPA and the rest of the application. So for kids who genuinely got low GPAs because of family issues, unforseen circumstances, etc. they tend to rise and still do really well in their careers and on their GMAT so it matters less, whereas kids who were lazy/not capable sort of weed themselves out.

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Oct 4, 2017

Thanks!

Are there other less selective career fields which are somewhat represented at big MBA programs? Anything in sales?

Nov 17, 2017
little-monkey:

Remember that there is some self selection here too. Like, it's not necessarily the GPA keeping you out of the top programs, but the fact that kids with lower GPAs probably didn't get banking jobs or consulting jobs, which are huge MBA feeders or at least big career starters. It's less about the GPA itself, but there's correlation between the low GPA and the rest of the application. So for kids who genuinely got low GPAs because of family issues, unforseen circumstances, etc. they tend to rise and still do really well in their careers and on their GMAT so it matters less, whereas kids who were lazy/not capable sort of weed themselves out.

I've heard the opposite actually, that being in a less representative field helps you in MBA admissions. Adcoms see the same experience and jobs, and its boring. When they get to see someone different, it's refreshing and gives a new perspective on-campus, since schools are trying to get a diverse class rather than a bunch of like minded ppl who had cushy lives and white collar jobs right out of the gate. Can't be both right.

Oct 12, 2017
Poes:
little-monkey:

Remember that there is some self selection here too. Like, it's not necessarily the GPA keeping you out of the top programs, but the fact that kids with lower GPAs probably didn't get banking jobs or consulting jobs, which are huge MBA feeders or at least big career starters. It's less about the GPA itself, but there's correlation between the low GPA and the rest of the application. So for kids who genuinely got low GPAs because of family issues, unforseen circumstances, etc. they tend to rise and still do really well in their careers and on their GMAT so it matters less, whereas kids who were lazy/not capable sort of weed themselves out.

I've heard the opposite actually, that being in a less representative field helps you in MBA admissions. Adcoms see the same experience and jobs, and its boring. When they get to see someone different, it's refreshing and gives a new perspective on-campus, since schools are trying to get a diverse class rather than a bunch of like minded ppl who had cushy lives and white collar jobs right out of the gate. Can't be both right.

I feel like you're kind of missing my point. I'm not referring to individuals, I'm referring to the group as a whole, and as it is, there's still something like 20% of incoming classes at T10 schools coming from consulting. Large percentages too from banking, top tier FDLPs, etc. Basically, what I was trying to say is, the cream rises. People get a low GPA for a bunch of reasons, and one of them is "not a hard worker" and another is "not that smart". Those people also tend to not do great in their careers. Low GPA candidates who had truly extenuating circumstances but were high quality found a way to make it work. I say this as a low GPA candidate who just got interviews for 3 T10 schools (2 Top 5)

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Oct 12, 2017

Crush the GMAT and ace a couple of courses in your weak areas. Everything else is experience/essay/character.

Nov 6, 2017

Here's a list of all the 'acceptance' data points in clear admit's "livewire" data w/ GPAs less than 2.6:

Notes:

  • the dartmouth admit says 'rejected' in their note, so there's ambiguity here, but we went w/ the status they indicated instead of inferring from the note.
  • that this is all self-reported data, and definitely not a representative sample of the whole population of applicants.
  • a round '0' means it was an 'early decision' application. I didn't know those existed in b-school world, so it could be an error, but that's the original data so we left it intact.

Here's some relevant reading on high-GMAT / low-gpa admits:
https://www.admitbrain.com/blog/clear-admit-livewi...

trying to make applying to b-school less bad at https://www.admitbrain.com/

Nov 6, 2017

The fourth one down should not have been admitted - pure pity play. That person will be in over their head academically.

Nov 6, 2017

Maybe! But even at a school like NYU, academics ain't everything, and some folks add value totally uncorrelated to their marks. e.g. John McCain was 5th from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, while the guy who graduated 1st went on to be indicted in the Iran Contra scandal.

trying to make applying to b-school less bad at https://www.admitbrain.com/

Oct 4, 2017
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Nov 18, 2017
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