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Getting into a master's degree with a low GPA

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get into postgraduate study the first time around. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in that don’t involve grades.

Many courses from top universities around the country require at least a credit GPA to enter, with higher grades being preferred. It can seem bleak and inaccessible if you’ve not reached these standards, especially if you’ve been rejected a few times. No matter how it looks though, there’s almost always a back door that can get you into your dream program. Here are just a few ways in:

Doing a graduate certificate or graduate diploma

With the exception of medicine and some law programs, graduate certificates almost always allow students to transition into a higher program. Although they can require relevant undergraduate qualifications to enter, they only take six months of full time study to complete.

Better still, they don’t add to the time it takes to do your master’s.

By completing one of these certificates, you can cut the time it takes to complete a master program down to one and a half years. If you do a graduate diploma instead, you can cut that completion time down to one year.

There are even certificates and diplomas available that don’t actually require you to have come from a cognate discipline. You can go straight from your Bachelor of Forensic Golf Pneumatics with a GPA of ‘no’ into fields like:

  • Business administration
  • Information systems
  • Professional accounting
  • Project management
  • Public policy
  • Tertiary education

There really are a wealth of opportunities available. To browse the full range, click here.

Getting some work experience

This can seem easier said than done, but getting some full time work experience in a field, even if it’s just tangentially related to your area of academic interest, can substantially improve your prospects. This is due to many universities requiring students submit their CV when applying to a master program. By showing you have discipline and a sound work ethic, you improve your chances of success.

Appealing to the faculty

There’s nothing to lose in trying to organise a one-on-one meeting with members of your faculty of interest, even if it’s just over the phone. If you’re passionate about getting into that master program, it can only do you good to try. Tell them what led to your poor GPA and how you’ve improved. Show them your persistence. As long as you’re transparent and motivated, you’ll show you have initiative and drive, which is exactly what every university wants to see in their students.

Doing extracurricular activities

Whether you play for a sports team or volunteer somewhere, the things you do outside work and university could convince a sympathetic faculty to let you in the door. All these things show character and initiative, just like the appeal itself. If you’re not doing any of these things right now, it’s worthwhile to pick them up regardless of whether or not you want to enter postgraduate study. Helping people is its own reward; so is being on a team.