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 B.tech 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 B.tech, 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,
|A||4||90 – 100|
|B||3||80 – 89.9|
|C||2||70 – 79.9|
|D||1||60 – 69.9|
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%|
|B||3.000||80 – 83.9%|
|B-||2.670||77 – 79.9%|
|C+||2.330||74 – 76.9%|
|C||2.000||70 – 73.9%|
|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
Now cumulative GPA = 16.98 / 6 = 2.83
Hope you have got an idea, how system works here. See below screenshots for better visualization.
References for more info :