Getting Into Graduate School With a Low GPA


Updated May 24, 2023

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Don't let a low GPA stop you from getting an advanced degree. You can find graduate programs in business, teaching, HR, and more — regardless of your GPA. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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You might think a low undergrad GPA disqualifies you from grad school, but your chances are probably better than you'd expect. While many grad programs list specific GPA requirements on their admissions pages, you can often pursue different pathways to acceptance.

Other application components, such as your work experience and test scores, can often make up for a low GPA.

This guide offers an overview of how to apply to master's programs with a low GPA. These programs can help you earn an advanced degree regardless of how you did in undergrad.

Popular Master's Degrees

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Earn a Master's Degree With Less Than a 3.0 GPA

A high GPA shows that you're likely to perform well in grad school, but this isn't the only way to demonstrate your dedication to potential programs. Many grad schools for low GPA students take a more holistic view of applications, considering other factors alongside your undergraduate grades.

In many cases, schools offer conditional acceptance, which lets you enroll in a program even if you don't meet GPA requirements. Once you enroll, you'll need to maintain a high GPA (typically 3.0 or higher) to stay in the program.

What's Considered a Low GPA?

Many grad programs call for a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, some programs may admit you with a GPA of 2.5 or even 2.0. Online graduate programs with low GPA requirements give you a chance to continue your education even if you didn't do great in undergrad.

It never hurts to talk to a grad program about your GPA. Schools will often work with you if you can show that you're ready for graduate coursework.

How to Get Into Graduate School With a Low GPA

This list highlights some of the typical components you can expect during your application process. With a little bit of effort, you can show schools that you're a serious student, even if your GPA isn't perfect.

1. Take the GRE/GMAT

A high score on a graduate exam like the GRE or GMAT can help you show schools you're ready for graduate-level work, even if you have a low GPA. These tests assess your verbal and quantitative skills, along with writing and critical thinking. Many business programs require the GMAT, while other types of graduate programs require the GRE.

2. Include a Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose is your chance to explain to admissions committees exactly why you're interested in a specific graduate program. You can also discuss your professional goals and why you're ready for graduate school now, even if you didn't do great in undergrad.

3. Write Personal Essays

Personal essays focus on your background, interests, or past challenges you've overcome. These essays offer a great opportunity to show grad programs who you are, both as a student and a person. You may also be able to discuss your growth as a learner, which can help offset a low GPA.

4. Speak With the Admissions Office

Consider contacting the admissions office to learn more about their application requirements. Low GPA master's programs can often help you through the admissions process, and many schools offer alternative application requirements for students with low GPAs. A quick call or email can help you better understand your options.

5. Incorporate Work Experience

One of the best strategies to enroll in an online master's with a low GPA is to highlight your professional experience. In your application, draw attention away from your undergraduate experience by playing up your work responsibilities and what you've learned on the job. Application committees love to see that you can make connections between your own experience and a program's learning goals.

6. Submit Letters of Recommendation

If you have a low GPA, you might not want letters of recommendation from former professors. However, it's perfectly acceptable to ask your bosses or other supervisors to write letters for you. A recommendation letter gives your supervisor a chance to discuss your skills and readiness for grad school.

7. Complete Additional Coursework

Consider taking a college course or two, either online or at your local community college. A transcript with recent coursework shows grad schools that you're eager to learn and can succeed as a student. You can also brush up on skills that will serve you in the grad program.

8. Prepare for Your Admissions Interview

Some online graduate programs with low GPA requirements may require you to complete an interview after you apply. This is your chance to show schools that you're a serious and professional student. If the interviewers ask about your low GPA, don't make excuses. Instead, explain how you've grown since undergrad and why you're ready for grad school now.

Popular Master's Degrees

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Popular Easy Master's Degrees

Whatever your field of study, you can find many online graduate programs without GPA requirements. This list features some of the most common master's degrees available online.

Check out some popular — and easy — master's degrees below:

Business Administration

One of the most popular graduate degrees, business administration focuses on advanced topics like management, marketing, and finance. Many programs let you choose a focus area, such as entrepreneurship or information technology management. Business administration programs often prepare you for leadership roles with more responsibilities and higher salaries.

Popular Master's in Business Administration Degrees


A widely applicable field of study, communications focuses on strategies for transmitting information to audiences effectively. Master's in communications degrees may highlight areas such as advertising, public relations, or corporate communications. Nearly all businesses have messages to communicate either internally or externally, so you can find work in many industries.

Popular Master's in Communications Degrees

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice focuses on law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Common course topics may include criminology, criminal justice research, and management. A master's in criminal justice prepares you for management and supervisory roles in areas such as probation or court administration. You may also be able to teach criminal justice classes at the college level.

Popular Master's in Criminal Justice Degrees

Education & Teaching

A master's in education most commonly prepares you to teach at K-12 schools. Master's programs in education focus on the theory and practice of effective teaching, covering topics such as classroom management, curriculum design, and styles of learning. If you plan to teach in a middle school or high school, you can focus on a subject area, such as math or language arts.

Popular Master's in Education and Teaching Degrees

Educational Leadership

Educational leadership centers on administrative and management practices for K-12 education. Pursuing this degree, you'll learn about topics like education laws and regulations, management strategies, and school budgeting. A master's in educational leadership most commonly prepares you to work as a school principal, but you can also find other positions in education administration.

Popular Master's in Educational Leadership Degrees

Healthcare Administration

Strong growth in the healthcare field has led to high demand for skilled administrators. Healthcare administration focuses on the business side of healthcare, training you to manage organizations such as hospitals and clinics. Master's programs in healthcare administration cover topics such as healthcare law and policy, leadership strategies, and healthcare marketing.

Popular Master's in Healthcare Administration Degrees

Human Resources

Human resources specialists oversee administrative functions for businesses, including payroll, benefits, and recruitment. Enrolling in a human resources master's program, you'll study topics such as employment law, talent management, and organizational psychology. You may also be able to choose a specialty, such as employee relations or negotiation strategies.

Popular Master's in Human Resources Degrees

Human Services

Human services is a broad field that includes professions such as mental health counseling, social work, and community health. A master's in human services prepares you for administrative positions in these fields. Coursework may focus on topics such as social services management, social policy, and interview and assessment practices.

Popular Master's in Human Services Degrees

Liberal Arts

A master's in liberal arts builds knowledge in humanities subjects such as English, history, and political philosophy. This program concentrates on big-picture learning, giving you the skills to understand historical perspectives and communicate ideas effectively. Many programs give you the option to customize your course of study.

Popular Master's in Liberal Arts Degrees

Library Science

Library science focuses on the theories and practices of information management, whether for physical libraries or digital collections. A master's in library science focuses on topics such as information organization, information literacy, and technology tools for research. This degree can prepare you for jobs in public libraries, university libraries, and K-12 schools.

Popular Master's in Library Science Degrees


A graduate program in management highlights strategies for effective administration in business and other fields. This degree offers a similar curriculum to many business programs, but management focuses more specifically on methods of leadership and organization. The skills gained in a management program can also apply to organizations such as nonprofits and government agencies.

Popular Master's In Management Degrees


A master's in marketing explores topics related to advertising and promotions for businesses. This degree trains you to analyze and predict market trends, conduct market research, and assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies. While most commonly related to business, marketing can also apply to any field that seeks to promote its services, such as education or healthcare.

Popular Master's in Marketing Degrees


In a psychology program, you'll study human behavior and mental processes. A master's in psychology program typically lets you choose a concentration, such as clinical psychology or organizational psychology. Regardless of your specialization area, you'll gain advanced skills in research and psychological assessment methods.

Popular Master's in Psychology Degrees

Public Administration

Public administration focuses on management practices for organizations that don't operate as businesses, such as nonprofits and government agencies. A master's in public administration trains you in topics such as public policy, research methods, and organizational management. You may learn about relevant topics like ethics and finance.

Popular Master's in Public Administration Degrees

Social Work

In a social work program, you'll learn to help clients experiencing various challenges, such as poverty and mental health conditions. Many programs let you specialize in one area of study, such as family social work, mental health counseling, or addiction counseling.

Popular Master's in Social Work Degrees

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine focuses on helping athletes improve physical performance and prevent injuries. The field includes topics such as nutrition, exercise science, and physical therapy. Master's programs in sports medicine use research to inform professional practice, drawing on the latest developments in fields like kinesiology and exercise physiology.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grad School With a Low GPA

Does your GPA matter for grad school?

While your GPA does matter for grad school, many programs maintain variable GPA requirements. Even if your GPA falls below a program's admissions standards, you may be able to gain conditional acceptance.

Can I get into graduate school with a 2.5 GPA?

Plenty of graduate programs will admit you with a 2.5 GPA, but you should always check admissions requirements before applying. However, with a bit of research, it's possible to find online graduate programs with low GPA requirements.

What is the minimum GPA for graduate school admissions?

Many grad schools maintain a 3.0 GPA requirement for admissions, but this is hardly universal. Other programs may require only a 2.5 or even a 2.0 GPA.

Does work experience make up for a low GPA?

Many grad schools for low GPA students consider work experience as part of their admissions process. If you can show a program that you hold relevant experience in your area of study, this can go a long way toward making up for a low undergrad GPA.

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