Can You get into Grad School with a “C” on your transcript?

Finals, we meet again.

Looking back, this has been one hectic semester. I dedicated a lot of my time to my social initiatives and involvements, and limited the time purely dedicated to my pre-medical and psychology courses.

Luckily, it didn’t end too bad. I got As and Bs for most of my courses, except for a C in Organic Chemistry II.

WHAT? A “C”? Forget graduate school! Forget all your dreams and aspirations! No more chances! This isn’t my first “C”, Shall I repeat? But I don’t have time to repeat that course! Shall I just quit and die?


Do you have a healthy GPA?

OK. After that brief (or not) period of panicking, I did some online research covering several forums and this is what I found:

Cs are not “death”, that’s ridiculous. I have 2 or 3 Cs on my transcript and I got into a top 20 PhD program in my field.” – Julliet, NY.

If you did badly in a course, be it an F or a C, and you retake that course, that C will still be reported in your transcript and therefore the school that receives your application will see the original grades, as well as the retaken ones. Now once they have two grades for the same course, different institutions do different things with them (do note that I am basing this off what I have heard in the past) average them, some ignore the failed course, while some ignore the retaken one.” – Jahdude, CollegeConfidential

Your Overall GPA and exam scores are much more important than one class you took that you only did OK on.” – Tiberia, Yahoo Answers. (As long as that class isn’t crucial to the program you are applying to, you’ll be fine. For instance, a Biochemistry masters program kind-of requires more than a “C “on Intro. to Biochemistry class. Different universities might have different acceptance policies as-well.)

Instead of looking for a loophole, you should concentrate on building strengths. Continue with your major courses and electives, and do well in them. If you desire, take more advanced classes and excel. You still have the opportunity to raise your GPA and your coursework and your last two years will matter more.” – also by Julliet, NY.

You have to keep in mind that in many advanced courses, teachers are becoming stricter in grading. This is affecting graduates overall GPAs in certain majors as compared to other majors. You can check the average GPAs in this photo:

Average GPAs for several majors (Source: Kevin Rask, link)

Average GPAs for several majors (Source: Kevin Rask, link)

In addition, a review of the acceptances of some universities shows that as long as you have the minimal-GPA-required-for-admission covered, your GPA score won’t matter as much. Colleges will look at other aspects of your application such as your research experience, internships, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and personal statements.

A good GPA is necessary, but not everything. I do not advise for repeating a course, unless it has severe repercussions on your GPA (like an F, a D, or a C if you have a GPA under 3.0) since both grades would be reported and it won’t look as good.

Work harder and be smarter in the future. We all have our ups and downs, what matters most is your ability to overcome them, and the general picture you present.

Feel free to express your opinions in the comments section!

Best of luck in your studies and finals, wherever you are.


16 thoughts on “Can You get into Grad School with a “C” on your transcript?

  1. Thank you for the article!
    Getting a C+ on a graduate level math course really worried me. Since the course was pretty much the top difficult one in my school, I’m thinking if it’s acceptable though. Thank you for explaining so much, and I’m feeling better now:)

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  6. Thanks so much for your piece of advice it is encouraging. What is your opinion in my situation. I’m an undergrad and I had 4 C’s on my transcript overall before the end of this semester( Spring 2016) and finally when the semester was over i ended up with another 2 C’s in 2 of my core classes which totaled the number of C’s on my transcript to 6 and I have 2 withdrawals on my transcript. What on earth can I do to overcome that? I’m not exactly sure how i ended up with the additional 2 C’s on my transcript this semester. I’ve had to retake courses in the past too i hate the fact that i have to retake courses all the time to keep making improvements i feel this will ruin my future ambitions and evaluations i will receive from college admissions. what do i do?

    • I currently have 4 C’s on my transcript right now. I really hope those will be my last, but I doubt it. I guess the best choice is to ask your university what they recommend instead. They might have you retake or just let it go. So long as your GPA is above the minimum that they require, then I think you are fine.

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