How is GPA computed in US schools? GPA Computation formula?

One of things that confuses international students after coming to US is GPA ( Grade Point Average). In most of our home countries, we are used to percentage scale which ranges from 0 to 100. But, as soon as we come to US, the grading system changes to GPA system and the range is 0 to 4. Students often wonder how does this scaling work ? Also, How is the cumulative GPA calculated at the time of graduation?  This article explains the GPA calculation in US schools with transcript screenshots.

Courses and Credits in US schools :

We are used to just taking a course or class in our home countries, though some of them have credits assigned we ignore the concept and just think of classes and percentages. Whereas in US, each course has a set of credits assigned to it. The number of credits determines the work load of a class.  Typically, in graduate level, the courses are 3 credit classes and you meet once a week in class for three hours for lecture.

Importance of Credits break down :

As said before, the work load of the class depends on the number of credits. The concept of credits is important because, it gives you the flexibility to break down the a 3 credit class and instead take a 2 credit class and 1 credit class or just three one credit classes. For instance lets say, you get a 3-credit class waived in MS because you tell the advisor that you have experience and show that you have already done in, then you are given option to take that 3 credits in anyway depending on University. What you can do is, you can take a 1-credit Music class and 2 credits Writing class or you may take one credit Gym class, one credit leadership class and one credit modern art class.   Do you get why Credits are important and not just classes ? it is much flexible.

Grading system in US Universities is as below

You may want  to read the article about Bachelors and Masters Education System in USA vs India to see the break down of grading in a class. Grading system varies by University. Few universities have just A , B, C, D and F  like below,

Grade Grade Point Percentage
A 4 90 – 100
B 3 80 – 89.9
C 2 70 – 79.9
D 1 60 – 69.9
F 0 <59

But, most of the Universities implement the below grading system. All the three Universities I studied in US, implemented below grading system.  You can take the below one as most standard.

Grades Grade Points Percentage of Marks
A 4.000 Greater than 93%
A- 3.670 87 -89.9%
B+ 3.330 84-86.9 %
B 3.000 80 – 83.9%
B- 2.670 77 – 79.9%
C+ 2.330 74 – 76.9%
C 2.000 70 – 73.9%
C- 1.670 67- 69.9%
D+ 1.330 65-66.9%
D 1.000 62-64.9%
D- 0.670 59-61.9%
F 0.000 <59 % ( Fail )

Grade in an individual class :

Grade in an individual class is given by your instructor based on the points or marks you get in the class.  Your grade is just based out of the table above. For instance you get 88 points, then your grade in A- and your GPA for the individual class is 3.67.

How is the Cumulative GPA computed :

At the end of semester or when you are graduating, your cumulative GPA is computed with formula.

Cumulative GPA  =  (Total Grade points obtained ) / (total Credit hours taken )

Total Grade points you obtained = Grade in the class X Credit hours of the class.

E.g.  Lets say, you have taken a two 3 credit classes and you got B+ ( GPA 3.33) and C+ ( GPA 2.33)  in them, cumulative GPA for these two classes is as below.

Total grade points = ( 3.33 X 3 )   +  (2.33 X 3)

= 9.99 + 6. 99

= 16.98

Now cumulative GPA =   16.98 / 6    =  2.83

Hope you have got an idea, how system works here. See below screenshots for better visualization.

How to compute GPA

References for more info :

5 comments… add one

  • Priyesh Pachori Mar 24, 2014 Reply

    As per the conversion table used in the three universities that you studied in, it will be very difficult for students to apply for graduate admissions to US universities. More than 90% of universities require a minimum of 3.0 in undergrad to be able to apply for graduate program. As per the conversion table that you have provided that would be 80%-83.9%. This means that any candidate below 80% marks in undergrad is not eligible to apply to graduate program. This makes absolutely no sense because 80% in undergrad in india is a very respectable score where as in US a GPA of 3.0-3.4 is considered to be average and anything below 3.0 is considered to be a shocker. Kindly share your thoughts on this matter.

    • rax Oct 19, 2014 Reply

      agreed, i graduated from nagpur university….it is notorious for not giving marks in exams, i received an aggregate 58.4 % in my engineering. the university topper got a 65 or something. that means there is no chance for anyone from the entire university. this table is really absurd. and there is a lot of variations as to how various universities grade students….south indian universities give out topper scores in the 95 + range. mumbai and pune give out in the 70 to 80 range and nagpur university dishes them out in the 60 to 70 range. a single table to judge them all on an equal basis is atrocious. its damn unfair.

  • zardar khan Nov 23, 2011 Reply

    I did the M.Sc in chemsitry from university of peshawar pakistan.
    I get the First division.How it can convert to grading scale

    • jose Mar 28, 2014 Reply


      • Windy Kilt May 30, 2014 Reply

        Or no penis. That is the question.

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