Grade point average (GPA) represents a student’s overall academic performance by taking into account all the grades he or she has received so far.
It represents how well (or not so well) a student is doing in his or her courses. When compared to the expectations outlined for a university course or degree program, GPA can determine whether a student meets these criteria or not.
Here’s how GPA works in high schools and colleges in the United States:
A = 4 points
B = 3 points
C = 2 points
D = 1 point
F = 0 points
Average GPA for Colleges
Thinking of going to graduate school or medical school after college?
If so, a student needs to pay attention to his or her GPA. GPA matters significantly when it comes to the application process.
A high GPA is also a factor in the hiring process for many careers. A high GPA can indicate to interviewers that a student has a strong work ethic.
Prep Scholar states that the average GPA for students at four-year colleges in the US is around 3.15, or roughly a B average.
Over the years, there has been an increase in “grade inflation.” This is a form of grading leniency, where students are given a higher grade than they would have received if they had enrolled a few years earlier. A C grade used to be considered average, but now a B grade is considered average.
Average High School GPA
Grades begin to count as soon as a student enters 9th grade – this is the time when GPA starts to be calculated.
If students already have a college in mind that they would like to attend after high school, they should research the GPA criteria for admission. This will help them to set specific academic goals.
Research shows that among students attending more affluent schools, the median GPA was 3.0, while among those students attending less affluent schools, the median GPA was 2.59.
Think Impact states that the average US high school GPA is 3.0.
The average high school GPA was 2.68 in 1990 and 2.94 in 2000, supporting the notion that grade inflation in high schools is a real phenomenon.
Universities With the Highest Average GPAs
Researchers at Ripple Match collected composite data of tens of thousands of students on their platform and their self-reported GPAs.
The findings concluded that the top 10 universities with the highest average GPAs include:
|State||College Average GPA|
|1. Brown University||3.71|
|2. Stanford University||3.66|
|3. Harvard University||3.64|
|4. Yale University||3.62|
|5. Columbia University||3.59|
|6. Vanderbilt University||3.57|
|7. Duke University||3.56|
|8. Baylor University||3.56|
|9. Northeastern University||3.55|
|10. Dartmouth College||3.54|
Average GPA by State
Common Core of Data analyzed data from 40,000 high school students who submitted their GPAs to the Insurify website. The findings show that the following ten states had the highest GPAs.
Highest Average High School GPA by State:
|State||High School Average GPA|
|1. South Carolina||3.48|
|2. West Virginia||3.44|
|4. North Carolina||3.37|
Average GPA Over Time
Over the years, there has been a shift in the trend for average GPAs. To put this into context, Grade Inflation has collected data for both public and private schools to show changes in average GPA from 2000 until the present.
Public schools with high average GPAs tend to have high rates of contemporary change, while those with low average GPAs tend to have low rates of contemporary change. In essence, the gap between high and low GPA schools continues to widen.
Public schools in the South with flagship status have the highest rates of grade inflation. In the past, schools in the South had low GPAs but have now started catching up to students in the North. Most of the Southern flagship schools showed a similar trend in the 1990s.
Some schools that were relatively immune to grade inflation experienced significant consumer-era inflation (rising cost of tuition) in the 2000s. Many flagship state colleges in the Midwest have recently experienced relatively low inflation rates for tuition.
According to Grade Inflation data, private schools have higher GPAs than public schools.
Compared with the 2000s, private school inflation rates were higher in the 1990s. Unlike public schools, GPA does not correlate with consumer inflation rates today. Comparatively, private schools experience less variability in tuition inflation rates.
Based on the findings, both public and private schools have seen an average GPA change of 0.10 points per decade since 2000.
Average GPA by Gender
Think Impact has analyzed average GPAs based on gender. They estimate that female students have a higher high school GPA (3.1) than male students (2.9).
Over the past two decades, 49% of female graduates completed a mid-level curriculum, an increase of 22 percentage points over the previous three decades. Among male graduates, 43% completed a mid-level curriculum, an increase of 19 percentage points.
The percentage of female graduates who finished below a standard curriculum decreased by 38 percentage points. By 2009, this percentage had gone down to 23%, compared to 61% in 1990.
High School GPA vs College GPA
What’s the difference between GPAs in high school versus college?
An analysis conducted by Jeff Allen, PhD and Justine Radunzel PhD explored the difference between high school GPA and first-year college GPA.
The results show that it’s common for students to earn lower grades in college than in high school.
In general, high school GPAs are 0.66 higher than first-year college GPAs. The statistics show that the average high school GPA is 3.36, while the average college GPA is 2.70.
According to the data, the average difference decreases as the ACT Composite score increases. In cases where the ACT Composite score was 12, the college GPA was 0.84 points lower than the high school GPA. For students with an ACT Composite score of 34, the college GPA was 0.31 points lower.
What is a good high school GPA to get into college?
Admissions officers look for a high school GPA of 3.5 and above, but this varies from college to college.
What is a good high school GPA to get into an Ivy League college?
Most Ivy League schools admit students with GPAs close to 4.0.
What is the highest GPA you can get?
A 4.0 GPA is the highest possible score a student can get. This score means that a student received A grades in all of his or her classes.
A student’s average GPA is an indication of their overall academic standing. GPA is an important factor in the college admissions process.
After a student graduates from college, GPA is also a consideration in the hiring process of most companies. An employer may look at a student’s GPA as an indication of whether they are hardworking and determined.