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Online MBA Programs for Students with a Low GPA Ideas for Increasing Your Chances of Getting into Business School

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For students looking towards a graduate degree, earning a high undergrad GPA is a great achievement. But untimely circumstances like family issues or money problems can make maintaining that high GPA challenging. For those who want to earn their MBA, a low GPA isn’t a death sentence. More colleges are recognizing that a high GPA isn’t the only characterization of a good candidate for an online MBA program. Programs accept “splitters,” or applicants who base their submissions on other criteria like GMAT scores, work experience and faculty recommendations—not just their undergrad GPA marks. Read on to if you’re interested in finding the best online MBA programs for students with a low GPA, or are looking for ways to offset a low GPA on your business school application.

Meet the Experts

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How Low is Too Low? GPA Averages for Online MBA Programs

Graduate-school acceptance is not an objective science; rather it’s a subjective art. Few institutions have specific GPA minimums, but looking into each program’s incoming class GPA averages can be helpful in determining how low GPA requirements may go. While top-25 programs have GPA norms of higher than 3.5, there are many other regional programs that accept applicants with average GPA scores of 2.5 or more. It’s also important to note that many programs accept students with low-end GPAs when they demonstrate supplemental positives in test scores, work experience, or personal essays. Check out our data below to search for AACSB accredited online MBA program GPA requirements.

The Best Online MBA Programs for Low GPA Students

We’ve compiled the list below to make it easier for prospective students to learn which business schools could provide the best chance of acceptance with a low GPA. Students can also see what average tuition and fee costs are at each school, and learn how many graduate students apply, are accepted and eventually enroll to help decide which business school might be the best choice for earning their online MBA.

Methodology

Tips for Getting into an Online MBA Program with a Low GPA

Online MBA programs’ admissions officers are interested in learning about the people behind the applications they receive. They will consider all aspects of the application, but in reality will only spend between 15 and 20 minutes before deciding whether or not to invite an MBA candidate for an interview. There are many strategies students can use to offset a low GPA. From high GMAT or GRE scores to compelling personal essays, here are some traditional and more creative ideas for boosting your value on your online MBA application.

Hints & Advice from An Admissions Counselor

Jared Barlow is the senior associate director of graduate admission and recruitment strategy for the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Here are the hints and advice Jared gives for students who want to earn their MBA despite a low GPA:

What should online MBA program candidates with a low GPA focus on when applying?

  • A candidate’s GPA is one component of the application

    We take a holistic approach to the review of each application submitted. We will review a candidate’s GPA in concert with the rigor of the degree program completed. We will also review their resume and work history, letters of recommendation, essay responses, test scores and interview notes as part of the admission committee evaluation.

  • You can always change your future

    GPA is usually the only part of a candidate’s application they cannot change. What has happened in the past due to their GPA is now a historical record. They can however, change their future. There are multiple components of the MBA application they can control to become a more competitive applicant. They can control how they study, prepare, and perform on their GMAT/GRE exam. They can expand their work experience and resume. They can build their network, cultivate strong working relationships, and search out mentors or other individuals that can provide strong letters of recommendation. They can take time to fine tune and develop their essay responses for each MBA program for which they wish to apply. If there is one part of their application that is not as strong, such as a GPA, the candidate can tell a story with the other parts of their application to overcome weaknesses by showing additional strengths and achievements since graduation.

  • Use past obstacles to make an impression

    Candidates can make an impression on the admission committee by taking the time to clearly articulate their story through their essays and/or interview. This will help the committee better understand where they came from, what happened in their undergrad experience to cause the low GPA, and what they have learned and achieved since they graduated. Strong essays and interviews in combination with competitive GMAT/GRE test scores, work experience and letters of recommendation can help a candidate overcome these obstacles.

If a candidate has a low GPA, do they have to have a high GMAT score to have a chance?

  • High GMAT/GRE test scores help show your known abilities

    Having a high GMAT/GRE test score is one tool the admission committee uses to help determine whether candidates have the ability to perform consistent with their peer group in the classroom.

  • A “strong score” means higher than your average peers

    A strong GMAT/GRE score is one that is higher than the class profile average. Many MBA programs publish their current MBA class profiles. Candidates should review theses class profiles to see how they measure up. While class profiles are not minimums for admission, they provide candidates with a good benchmark to help prepare a competitive application. Candidates that are not as strong in one area, such as their GPA, may be able to overcome the weakness by achieving a test score above the class profile average providing the Admission Committee with a view of their current abilities, as opposed to a GPA from 5-10 years ago.

  • “Splitters” may be indicative of future potential

    Institutions should be open to “splitter” students that can demonstrate strong quantitative and verbal reason by way of GMAT/GRE scores. The ability to perform well on the GMAT/GRE helps demonstrate that a candidate isn’t just their former GPA, but a culmination of experience and potential. A strong GMAT/GRE score shows this current and future potential and helps to overcome concerns about a lower GPA from a candidate’s past.

How important is work experience and personal story in an applicant’s resume?

  • Work experience is valuable to both you and your peers

    Work experience is a very important component of a candidate’s resume and overall MBA application. At W. P. Carey, we look for individuals who have graduated with their undergraduate degrees and can return to the classroom and shares their experiences with their peer group.

  • Personal experiences and plans for the future matter

    At W. P. Carey, Business is Personal©. We look at each candidate and their application holistically. We want to understand why each candidate wants to earn an MBA, what they hope to learn by pursing an MBA, and want they want to do afterward. Candidates stand out when they can articulate personal and meaningful examples to those questions during their essay and interview responses. Candidates that try to write what they think the admission committee wants to hear are less successful in the admission process. Be yourself and tailor each MBA application to the requirements of the school.