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How to Address a Low GPA When Applying for an MBA

June 01, 2022 :: Admissionado Team

Is a high GPA score always a victory? Shall I give up when my GPA is low? 

The GPA score is something you can control. By ensuring that you have a strong GPA, you can increase your chances of being accepted into the MBA program of your choice. Nevertheless, things are not always like we imagine them to be, and a low GPA score can annoy us and force us to quit. Before you give up, take a deep breath.

What is a GPA?

Grade Point Average is the average of all your earned grades in school. To calculate your GPA, all your grades are added up and divided by the number of grades. The result is your GPA. GPAs are essential because they provide colleges and employers with a quick way to assess your academic performance. A high GPA usually indicates that you did well in school.

Why Is GPA So Important?

A GPA is an important indicator of a student’s academic performance and potential for success. A high GPA typically indicates mastery of course content and concepts and the skills necessary to study effectively and complete assignments on time. Additionally, a high GPA can be important when applying to prestigious graduate or professional programs, such as an MBA program. A low GPA can make it challenging to secure admission into these competitive programs, but it’s important not to give up or despair if your GPA isn’t where you’d like it to be. Follow some tips to overcome your low GPA.

What if You Have a Low GPA?

This is a question we get all the time and we deal with it with our clients daily at PE. In fact, GPA isn’t THAT important to business schools. There is a wrong perception that entering an MBA program with a low GPA is impossible. Although having a solid GPA is undoubtedly helpful, succeeding in an MBA program is not necessary. There are many other important circumstances and aspects to consider, such as work experience, leadership skills, and passion for your field of study.

Thus, it is possible to get into a business school with a low GPA. Many successful business professionals entered the world of higher education with less-than-ideal academic records. For example, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook while an undergrad at Harvard University, despite having only mediocre grades. Similarly, Bill Gates had a lackluster college performance and now runs one of the most successful tech companies in the world. Clearly, these individuals managed to achieve success despite their low GPAs. 

If you are considering applying for the top MBA or top MD MBA programs with low grades, don’t rule yourself out. With dedication, you can still succeed not just academically but also professionally!

Low GPA When applying for an MBA

First, check if you are really a low GPA holder and if MBA programs accept low GPAs. You will do ok as long as your score is at a 3.0 or so and above. For instance, if you think about Harvard 2+2 program, where GPA minimums are above 3.75, you should consider that this prestigious university does not only focus on your GPA or GMAT. Personal data plus essays can affect the admissions committee’s decision. MBA with a 3.0 GPA is not such a hard thing to achieve, even in top MBA programs in Europe and top US MBA programs. If your GPA is below 3,0 you will consider it a low score. And here comes another doubt.

How to Overcome Low GPA?

Now, if you are below that number, there are three main ways to address the issue:

1. GMAT score. There is no better way to battle a bad GPA than by nailing your GMAT. Just picture how easy that argument is to make: “Sure, I was irresponsible when I was 18. But I’m 26 now, and I just got a 760 on my GMAT. And you deign to question my intelligence….” 

If your GMAT score does not satisfy you either, consider retaking it. That’s how to overcome a low GMAT score. So, when can I retake the GMAT

Every 16 calendar days, you can retake this exam and improve your scores. A good GMAT score for MBA can cover up a low GPA score. 

2. Extra coursework. Some schools (the most popular is the University of California by far) offer courses. You can take them online, and you WILL HAVE TO get an A to overcome your low GPA. But if you can do that, you will be in great shape. “See that? Sure I was irresponsible when I was 18, but I’ve since retaken some very tough courses, and I nailed them. I’m ready to nail courses at your MBA program also…”

3. Work Experience. If you can show that you have very quantitative experience – for example, having received bad grades in quantitative courses – an argument can be made here. Just show them what you’re doing now…and how you’re doing it well. The same, by the way, is valid with softer skills. “Gosh, I did badly in my English classes, but I write every day at work, and I am published to 200 financial houses daily. And you deign to question my verbal skills….” And finally, there is the art of EXPLAINING yourself. We will need an Optional Essay if our GPA is below a certain threshold. This Optional Essay is, of course, an art form, and we have discussed it elsewhere. But if you can strike the right balance between confidence, honesty, and PROOF, you can overcome your low GPA without a problem.

Can You Get into an MBA with a Low GPA?

There are dozens of universities that accept students with low GPAs. In general, colleges are very clear about their requirements and preferences; however, many colleges have become more flexible. So, the answer to the question, if I can get an MBA with only a 2,0 GPA score, is YES!

List of 25 MBA programs that accept low GPA

Most of these programs require a GPA starting from 2.5. 

  1. University of South Carolina-Aiken
  2. Wright State University-Main Campus
  3. University of Southern Indiana
  4. Marshall University
  5. Northern Kentucky University
  6. Longwood University
  7. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
  8. East Tennessee State University
  9. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
  10. Emporia State University
  11. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  12. Sam Houston State University
  13. Morehead State University Morehead, KY
  14. Prairie View A & M University
  15. Rowan University
  16. Kent State University at Kent
  17. The University of Louisiana at Monroe
  18. McNeese State University
  19. University of Central Arkansas
  20. Jacksonville State University
  21. Wichita State University
  22. Western Kentucky University
  23. The University of Nebraska at Kearney
  24. University of Nevada-Reno
  25. Saint Cloud State University


Applying for an MBA degree is challenging, and many doubts come up in the process. Is a low GPA an obstacle? Is MBA tuition tax-deductible? Can I overcome a low exam score?

A low GPA should not be a reason for giving up. You can enter an MBA degree even with a low GPA. A low GPA for MBA is an indication that you have the potential to do better. The reason why GPA is important is that it is one of the ways that the admission committee can see your academic ability. You can address the issue with the tips offered above.

 A low GPA may limit your choice of schools, but it should not be why you give up. You can still enter an MBA degree with a low GPA. There are many other factors that the admission committee will look at, such as your work experience, extra-curricular activities, and recommendation letters. Do not let a low GPA stop you from achieving your dream of getting an MBA degree.