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The Relevance of GPA Range by UC Campus

Now that the nail-biting has started after the UC applications have been submitted, one thing I hear students talk about is the GPA-range noted for each UC. It goes something like this:

The average GPA range for admitted transfers to Berkeley for 2016 was 3.64-4.0.

That’s the entire campus GPA for Berkeley, and every UC has its own figures. The only problem with these generalized stats is they simply have no relevance to anyone’s situation and do you no good as an applicant. The reason is simply because GPA acceptance is based on major, and GPA averages fluctuate wildly by discipline. Trust me, there are transfers who have gotten into Berkeley with a substantially lower GPA than 3.64.

What you need to aim for is a competitive GPA for your chosen major.  You can find that information  on the UC transfer page.

Based on the above link, examples of GPA range by major (for admitted transfers, Berkeley, 2015 ):

  • Environmental Science:   3.30-3.83
  • Landscape Architecture:   3.11-3.60
  • Gender and Women’s Studies:   3.54-3.79
  • Chinese Language and Literature:   3.38-3.82
  • History of Art:   3.53–3.82
  • English:   3.6-3.89
  • Philosophy:   3.59-3.89

The above are just a few. You can search on your own at the link above.  Now, compare that to Electrical Engineering, with an average admitted GPA for transfers of 3.88-4.0, and you can see that admitted GPA is almost entirely based on major. And being competitive means being in that sweet spot – the 50% middle range noted.  (I say “almost” because you may be an athlete or have some other distinguishing circumstance that brings you in with a lower than expected GPA.)

So, as you continue these next few months waiting to find out if you got accepted — or maybe you’re just now charting your community college journey — be aware that when you start calculating how your GPA fits into the picture, you need to look at your chosen major.

For what it’s worth, I assume the overall GPA rankings are more for internal use or national statistical evidence.

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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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