GPA Matters Less Than You Think. Here’s Why

GPA Matters Less Than You Think. Here’s Why

At Stanford Graduate School of Business, the average undergraduate GPA for the Class of 2022 MBA class is 3.8. The GSB, which places first in our “Top Business Schools” ranking, states that it does not require a minimum GPA for admission to its MBA program – a common practice among many B-schools.

GPA, experts say, often isn’t the defining factor of whether an applicant gets accepted to a business school or not. Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently spoke to experts on what role undergraduate GPA plays in admissions and how other aspects of the MBA application matter.


While many B-schools do not require a minimum GPA for admission, they still do look at an applicant’s undergraduate GPA—just in relation to the other aspects of their application.

“Unlike law school and med school admissions, which are really, really based very much on numbers – your scores, your grades – the business school admissions process is really much more comprehensive,” Deena Maerowitz, a partner and principal at The Bertram Group, an educational consulting firm, and a former associate director of admissions at Columbia Business School, tells US News.

Experts say that when it comes to MBA admissions, each factor of the application plays a role.

“Ask most admissions committee members and they will tell you that it’s the sum of many pieces—there is no one ‘most important’ part of the MBA application,” Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes. “It’s the essays, interviews, and recommendations that ultimately reveal the person beyond the paper. Compelling essays, recommendations, and interviews can provide context for a low GMAT score or GPA. But the reverse is not true. Strong numbers will never make up for weak essays or a disorganized, negative recommendation.”


Rather than focusing purely on a high GPA, applicants should look to get some work experience under their belt prior to applying to B-school.

“Work experience definitely matters, as it should,” Michal Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at St. Mary’s College of California, tells US News. “If someone had experience in a high growth area or (is) doing something game-changing and innovative, that is and should be a plus.”

Your work experience, paid or unpaid, should convey to admissions officers what type of impact you strive to make.

“Volunteer work counts,” Strahilevitz tells US News. “Someone who has had an impact on a cause can make an impression with that.”

Sources: US News, Stacy Blackman Consulting

Next Page: Letters of Recommendation Advice

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.