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Dear grad school aspirants, you CAN study abroad with low GPA – here’s how!
Gayathri Gopakumar

Meet Gayathri - a Content Editor at Hotcourses India- an IDP company. A once-international student herself- she loves to research & give insights into the world of global education through her writing. When she isn’t working, you'll find her playing, travelling or binge-watching just about anything.


12 Apr 2019 3K Book icon 3 mins Share

Dear grad school aspirants, you CAN study abroad with low GPA – here’s how!

Having a low GPA doesn’t rule out your chances to study abroad ENTIRELY! This article talks about ways you could make up for it.

12 Apr 2019 3K Book icon 3 mins Share
Dear grad school aspirants, you CAN study abroad with low GPA – here’s how!

Having plans to study abroad but worried if your low GPA might pour cold water on your dreams? Don’t worry, you can still make your dreams come true. Yes, GPA is indeed one of the key screening factors that universities look for, but hey, there are other ways to compensate for it. We’ll tell you how you could make up for your low GPA and convince universities in a fair way that you’re really worth it. Don’t believe it? Read till the end and find out for yourselves – you’ll thank us later.

What’s GPA and why it so important?

Grade Point Average *sighs* we all have had to deal with them at some point in our lives.

The GPA is one of the most crucial factors used by universities to assess your academic performance in your previous institution. GPA is sought mostly by US universities and is graded on 4 points. Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) on the other hand is required by universities around the world and is graded on 10 points. 

So how LOW is low?

Well, this is something that differs with university to university and country to country. However, on a general note, US universities require a GPA of 3 on 4 (below 2.8 considered really low) and other countries require a CGPA of 6.5-7 on 10 (below 4.5 considered very low).

Universities that accept low GPA

We’ve brought together a list of popular universities that accept students with low GPA and assess their overall profile. You may stand 60-80% chance in these top universities:

How do you make it up?

Good question – Now know this: Your GPA isn’t the ONLY deciding factor when it comes to university admissions. The knack is in raising your bars in other components too. We have seen many students with low GPA who have found their ways into universities abroad. Here are a few options you could give a shot at:


Basically, the universities want students with fairly good learning capabilities and the scores are nothing but proof for that. If your low GPA doesn’t impress, your high GRE/GMAT/SAT scores may! By acing competitive tests, you can still show them that you’re academically and intellectually capable of succeeding as a student. This will work best, if you’re planning to take up STEM study abroad.

Find out what a good GMAT score is!

For students from arts background, additional specific certification and exam scores will take you a long way. For example, If you’re planning to take up media or journalism – provide your published works, projects you worked on or events that you attended.     

Nothing like hands-on work experience

Acquiring hands-on work experience may just be the turning point of your application. Be it full-time, part-time, internships, project work or even volunteering – work experience indicates your commitment and willingness to know about the subject. You will also have good letters of recommendation to substantiate your time at work – a HUGE boost to your profile!

Highlight your core module

A total GPA or CGPA reflects your holistic performance. However, this may not necessarily reflect your proficiency in the subjects that you’re looking to study further. There may be few modules that aren’t in your interests for future study, and pull down your total GPA. In such cases, you need to highlight your performance in modules that would be your core study area in the university.

For example, if you’re looking to apply for a programme in international relations/politics, but your score in science or maths is pulling your overall GPA down – what to do you do? Highlight your score in modules such as social sciences, history, law or English. This may help convince the university that you’ll excel academically in the programme you opted for.

Pathways to the rescue!

There’s one more option that can make your dreams to study abroad come true - pathway programmes.  Think about it – even with a low GPA, you could still study bachelor’s or master’s degree in reputed universities by taking up pathway programmes such as foundation, year one or pre-masters university pathways.

Right from computer science, IT and engineering to arts, media and arts – you can find pathways that will lead you to right degree and university. It is also the most ideal alternative to choose if you’re running out of luck in any of the above options. Here’s a list of popular universities that offer pathway programmes:

  • The University of Sydney (Australia)
  • King’s College London, University of London (UK)
  • Centennial College (Canada)
  • Massey University (New Zealand)
  • Sunway University (Malaysia)

So hold on to your study abroad goals and don’t let your low GPA get in your way. Your next step is to work towards choosing the right university – we can help you there. Our expert counsellors will also guide you throughout the application process and help you get into the perfect university!  

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Sabbi Jain Sabbi Jain,
IDP Expert
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