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Landing Your Dream Job or Internship – The Best of Ivan Kerbel

career ladder 2

Alternative Degrees: Can this overcome a low undergrad GPA?


I currently work in Big Four tech consulting, but my true passion lies in strategy consulting…What is holding me back the most is my undergrad GPA ~ 3.1. This is NOT a reflection on my intellectual capability, but more on my apathy/immaturity from freshman/sophomore year. I’ve found a Master’s in Public Policy degree (from a reputable school) that I’m interested in. If I get this degree with great a great GPA ~ 3.8, will this be enough to help alleviate concerns about my low undergrad GPA?

Ivan Kerbel

I think it is possible to overcome a lower undergrad GPA with additional course work, and/or another degree, though I would not undertake another Master’s simply as a way to get into business school, but because you see a clear link and benefit to having both degrees … and, in your case, especially because you want to do public sector / social sector strategy consulting.

I think one can also potentially overcome a lower GPA if those grades were segregated to the first two years of undergrad … it might take a bit of additional explanation, and perhaps highlighting what your GPA was solely in your major, or in your junior and senior year alone…I would also say that a lot depends on the quality of your work (and subsequent recommendations) for these current few years leading up to your applications.

Last, you may want to consider applying to and enrolling in a Public Policy master’s program that is part of a joint-degree program / agreement with a business school you’re interested. Even if you’re not initially admitted to the business school in question, starting the “other half” of the degree first, and doing exceptionally well in that academic setting, can then make you an attractive candidate for admission to the business school portion of the joint-degree.

[Check out Average GPAs at Top 50 U.S. Business Schools]