by Brian DeChesare Comments (137)

How to Overcome a Low GPA in Investment Banking Interviews

Low GPA Investment Banking
What’s the single most difficult weakness to overcome in an interview?

You might think of a long list: Lack of work experience, lack of finance knowledge, a non-target school, or the inability to work 80+ hours per week consistently.

But I’d say the most challenging one is a low GPA.

For any other weakness, you could think of reasonable explanations – for example, you couldn’t afford a top school, or you got interested in finance very late.

By contrast, there are almost no good explanations for why you earned low grades consistently over a long period, such as 2-4 years.

Most online advice on this topic tells you to “network intensely” or “use your activities and work experience to compensate for low grades.”

Yes, sure, that’s all well and good… but even if you do that, you’ll still need a cover story to address your grades and explain why they don’t represent your potential.

Here’s what I recommend:

First: What is a “Low GPA”?

Most people would say that anything below a 3.5 / 4.0 in the U.S. and anything below a 2:1 in the U.K. counts as “low” (for other countries, you can make the conversion).

Grades below those levels don’t necessarily mean that banks will reject you right away, but they do make it harder to win interviews through the normal process.

But there are limits to that statement; for example, if you have below a 3.0 GPA in the U.S., then banks may reject you just based on that.

Grades are also more contextual than people acknowledge.

For example, if you attended a top 5 university, majored in engineering, and completed 2-3 finance internships, a 3.3 – 3.4 GPA is not the end of the world.

But if you went to a non-target school, majored in history, and completed 0 finance internships, then a 3.3 – 3.4 GPA may be the end of the world.

There’s more tolerance for lower grades if you picked a difficult major (math, science, engineering, etc.) or went to a top school, and less tolerance if you went to Podunk U. or majored in something perceived as “easier.”

Also, low grades are more of a problem for the most “prestigious” front-office roles: Investment banking, private equity, etc.

You could still win middle or back-office roles with a lower GPA, and you could also win non-IB-but-still-revenue-generating roles such as ones in commercial real estate or real estate lending.

The Cold, Harsh Truth About Low Grades

If you’ve earned a low GPA over several years, industries such as investment banking and private equity are probably not right for you.

Earning good grades in university and performing well in entry-level finance roles require the same skill sets: Picking the right classes (groups), completing assignments (models and presentations) on time, working under time pressure, and following instructions from your superiors.

You can certainly get a high-paying job even if you have low grades – plenty of salespeople earned a 3.0 on the academic scale but a 4.0 on the social scale.

But you’re probably not the right candidate for a high-paying job in highly structured industries such as finance.

“But wait!” you say, “I have a great explanation for my low GPA!”

To which I respond, “Think again.”

Why You Can’t Explain Away a Low GPA

To understand why most explanations come up short, think about how an interviewer might respond to you:

Attempt #1:

You: I had to work full-time to support my family while taking classes and participating in activities.

Interviewer: So, you’re saying you can’t multi-task and handle stress effectively?

Attempt #2:

You: I wanted to pursue medicine in my first year, so I took a lot of biology/chemistry classes that I wasn’t that interested in – but my grades improved a lot after that.

Interviewer: So, you’re saying you can’t do well with tasks that do not interest you personally?

Attempt #3:

You: One of my immediate family members died in my first year, so I had to take some time away from school – but my grades improved in the next semester onward.

Interviewer: OK, understood. But that was just one semester. You did so poorly that you earned a 3.0 overall GPA over several years?

Attempt #4:

You: My university has grade deflation, so a 3.0 there is like a 3.5 from other schools.

Interviewer: OK, but couldn’t you have taken easier classes to boost your grades? Also, can we hire someone from your school who earned a 3.5 GPA instead?

Attempt #5:

You: I had a crazy girlfriend who tried to kill my cat, and I got so stressed out that I had to take time away from school.

Interviewer: This interview is over. Please leave.

In my view, there are only two not-completely-terrible explanations for a low GPA:

  • Own Up to It and Explain How It Doesn’t Represent Your Skills – Admit that you weren’t as focused as you should have been, especially in your first year, but that the results from your work experience prove that you can perform on the job (e.g., top salesperson, only intern to receive a return offer, stock pitches that returned 30% in one year, etc.).
  • Tell a “I Screwed Up Once, But Have Improved Since Then” Story – Say that you switched majors or socialized too much or had another issue early on that you quickly resolved, and point to your improved grades or other results (standardized scores, CFA, GMAT, etc.) since then.

These explanations work if your GPA is low, but not terrible.

For example, if you have a 3.3 after 1.5 years, an interviewer might believe that a single bad semester was responsible.

But if you have a 2.5, this story would not work so well.

What NOT to Do

It’s almost easier to explain what to avoid since there are so many terrible ideas out there:

  • Leave Your Grades Off Your Resume/CV – This is a terrible idea. If you do not list your grades anywhere, people will assume the worst.
  • Lie – The potential downside (a rescinded offer and being blacklisted at other firms) far outweighs the potential upside here.
  • Give Long/Complicated Explanations for Your Grades – The more detailed your story, the more you draw attention to the problem and give the interviewer chances to find plot holes.
  • List Your “Pro-Forma Adjusted GPA” – It’s OK to list a Cumulative and Major GPA, but beyond that, don’t play games with showing grades only from certain years, or, even worse, “expected grades.”

So, What Do You Do?

Even if you come up with a not-so-terrible explanation for your low GPA, you’ll still need something to offset it.

Also, if you anticipate low grades in the future due to a difficult major or other circumstances, you should think of ways to address the issue.

A few ideas include:

1) Front-Load the Easy Classes

Since IB recruiting now operates on a hyper-accelerated schedule where banks recruit interns 1.5 years in advance, your GPA in your first 1.0 – 1.5 years makes the biggest difference.

So, front-load your schedule with as many easy classes as possible and save the harder ones for later in undergrad.

Even if your 4-year GPA isn’t great, you might already have a full-time offer by then.

2) Take the GMAT, GRE, or CFA – If You Have the Time

This one is not a great idea if you’re a first or second-year student concerned about a potentially low GPA.

Studying for these exams takes up a lot of time, and your time is better spent on networking and winning internships at this stage.

However, if you make it to your final year, your GPA isn’t great, and you have some time because you already have a full-time offer lined up, completing one of these exams could be a good idea.

It’s possible to receive questions about your GPA even in private equity recruiting, and your explanation will be stronger if you can point to a 750 GMAT score.

3) Complete a “Summer Finance” or Other Continuing Education Program

You can sometimes compensate for a lower GPA with this type of program, and if you find one that only lasts for a few weeks, you can fit it in between internships.

There’s a good story from a student who used this strategy to make up for a 3.4 GPA and an unknown school right here.

4) Perform Exceptionally Well in Accounting/Finance Classes

If your cumulative grades aren’t great, you could take classes that are directly relevant for investment banking (accounting, finance, etc.), earn perfect grades in them, and use that to counter objections about your GPA.

This one might be viable if you didn’t do well in your first year and you’re now preparing for internship recruiting in your second year.

5) Use Cold Calling Rather Than Cold Emailing

Cold emailing tends to work well if you have a top university name, you’ve worked for well-known companies, and you have good grades.

Also, students tend to be more comfortable with cold emailing because they’re scared of using the phone.

But if you have a low GPA, or you went to a non-target school, or you have other academic issues, you might get better results with cold calling.

The advantage is that you don’t need to give your full academic background upfront – you can give a quick introduction, and if you’re persistent and good at handling rejection, you can get results.

Our best “cold call story” is this one, from a reader at an unknown state school.

He did have a good GPA, but he still faced objections over his grades because bankers tend to assume that a 3.8 at an unknown school is equivalent to a 2.0 at Harvard.

6) Use Your Work Product to Network

In fields like equity research, you can get good results by contacting professionals and attaching an example of a report or stock pitch you’ve written – as long as it’s halfway decent.

You can do something similar if you want to know how to get a job at a hedge fund (though contact information is harder to find), and potentially even for consulting and private equity at smaller firms.

This strategy won’t work well for IB roles at the large firms, but if you have a low GPA, it won’t matter since you’ll have to focus on boutiques.

Low GPAs – Mission: Impossible?

Earning low grades makes it very difficult to win traditional investment banking roles.

You can still do it if you can find a way to explain your results and counter objections, but it’s not easy.

And with recruiting moving up earlier, many “I messed up in my first year but improved since then” stories will become less viable.

To get around a low GPA, you need to be brutally honest with yourself – do you not have the work ethic or focus required to earn good grades?

Or can you find a reasonable explanation and point to success in other areas to prove that you can do the job?

If it’s the latter, you might find a front-office role despite your grades.

If it’s the former, then you might want to start thinking about non-finance roles. Sales is always hiring!

Need Help Overcoming a Low GPA?

If you want personalized assistance navigating the recruiting process as someone with a lower GPA, our friends at Wall Street Mastermind might be able to help you out.

They’ve helped hundreds of students successfully land offers, including at every single bulge bracket and elite boutique bank, and they have helped candidates with lower grades break into the finance industry.

Their team of coaches also includes a former Global Head of Recruiting at three different large banks, so you’ll know exactly what banks are looking for in candidates.

They provide personalized, hands-on guidance through the entire networking and interview process, and they have a great track record of results for their clients.

You can book a free consultation with them to learn more.

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Well, I had a 1.7 GPA in my first year of college, and now I am taking 20 credits. I made the Dean’s List, and if I do well in my last two semesters, I will have around a 3.4 GPA. Initially, I was disappointed because 3.4 is still low, but then I thought about it. If people look at my resume and see an extreme upward trend in the last years where I am taking many more credits, all in difficult classes such as econometrics, accounting, multivariable calculus, etc., and I ace all of them, I think that will definitely reflect well on my last two years’ GPA. It will prove that if I work hard, I am great at what I do. I do not want to settle for small office roles even if I made mistakes in the beginning. Listening to you sometimes makes me want to give up and just drop out, but a lot of what you say is also very good advice. So, I think I will keep researching more while continuing to study , do my summer internship , take classes , network and I already have a few referrals from big Wall Street firms so that will definitely help me a lot .

    1. The purpose of this site is to give you a realistic idea of which careers and jobs are plausible from which backgrounds.

      Is it possible to get into IB with a lower GPA, such as a 3.4? Yes, people do it each year.

      Is it more difficult than with a higher GPA? Yes, also true.

      The more relevant question is not your specific GPA, but the quality of your university and your work experience combined with your GPA. A high GPA means nothing unless you start early, get solid internships in your first 1-2 years, and use them to apply to IB roles.

  2. Micheal

    Brian, all I have ever wanted was to work in private equity both professionally and personally. However, I’m nearing the end of my career at my university and have a sub 3.3 and no offers. Should I kill myself?

    1. Please do not kill yourself over career/professional mistakes (I hope this comment is not serious). Figure out a way to get better/more relevant experience after university, boost your GPA via another degree or aim for a field where it matters less, and go from there.

  3. Hi I got to Emory, have a 3.56. Do I have a chance?

    1. Yes. 3.56 is not that low. The main issue is that Emory, even the business school, is more of a “semi-target” ( for IB recruiting, so you’ll need to act quickly and network aggressively to have a good shot.

  4. Hi Brian,
    My story may be really harsh… I experienced my self-reflection and reconstruction during my university four years. However, it truly affects my GPA and I only got a cum GPA of 3.13. Do I still have any possibility to get an internship position in the top investment banks? I created my own data analysis and stock projection project with LSTM, and I have dual degree with finance and psychology. Will these things kind of compensate my low GPA? My undergraduate school is TOP 50 based on US. News. Also, I worked in three companies for internship which are well-known in China mainland and HK. I really understand that my GPA will be a difficult problem, but I also want to acquire more info now so that I can decide what I should in the next step…

    1. You can theoretically get into IB with a 3.1 GPA, but it will not be easy, and if you’re not at a top target school, it will be even harder. Internships and networking always help, but there are still some limits, and if yours were all in China/HK, banks in places like the US and UK will tend to discount the experience a bit.

      My recommendation here would be to aim for something a bit less competitive, like corporate banking, work there for a few years, and use your experience to make a lateral move into IB. Your GPA will be less of an issue at that point because bankers will focus more on your deal/client experience in CB.

  5. Tsemaye Kekema

    I am an Msc Finance Student and first semester exams have not come up based on which an initial GPA can be generated. Is it advisable to put an expected GPA behind my Msc in the banking applications I am sending at the moment?

    1. Yes, or also list your undergrad GPA.

  6. Hello Brian,
    I’m a current student at a top 40 school in the US, majoring in mathematics and finance. I currently have a 3.24 gpa, with internship experience at a hedge fund and in incubator as a data analyst. I want to apply to investment banking roles for when I finish college, do you think that with that GPA I have enough or should I focus on other jobs?

    Thank you!

    1. With a GPA in that range and a “top 40 school” (by which I assume you mean something in the bottom of the top 40), you don’t have a good shot at IB roles unless you can greatly improve your GPA and/or do a ton of networking very quickly, well in advance of when summer internship applications open (typically a year or more before the internships begin).

      If you cannot do that, then yes, you should focus on other roles for now. Corporate banking, Big 4, independent valuation firm, the list goes on. I assume that you are also not a 1st year student in university, which makes this even harder (due to the speed and early start dates of the recruiting process).

  7. Hi Brian, I’m a undergraduate student at GWU with a 3.11 Overall GPA & a 3.3 major GPA graduating in May 2024. I have been applying to name bank IB junior year internships and have been either rejected or ignored by firms. I have a strong resume but all my work experience has been in Latin America, where I am from, although I am a US citizen. I am really hoping to get an IB internship for summer 2023 in order to break into IB. What do you suggest I do to increase the chance of getting an IB internship?

    1. My guess is that your actual problems are your GPA and university. GWU is not a target school, and your GPA is below the minimum level that most banks want to see, so you’ll have to fix or overcome those to have a good chance.

      Since you cannot “fix” those quickly, you will probably have to network aggressively and focus on smaller banks at this stage. The LatAm experience hurts you a bit, but the major issues are your GPA and university.

      So… I would start by going on LinkedIn and/or your alumni network and reaching out to bankers at mid-sized-to-smaller firms to set up informational interviews and ask about recruiting for summer internships next year. The process moves very quickly now, but you can still find various firms that will recruit into the fall.

  8. Lateral hopeful

    I graduated in 2015 from a Patriot League school (think Colgate, Lehigh, Lafayette). My GPA is embarrassingly low (2.2). Despite my poor academic performance, I was able to turn my life around and have worked in a corporate treasury function over the past 6.5 years at multiple financial institutions – I’ve worked in NYC at midsize investment bank (2 years), bulge bracket bank (2 years) and now a European FBO (3 years). I scored a 720 on the GMAT, and applied in round 2 to a range of 9 MBA programs from CBS down to McDonough, in hopes of pivoting into IB. That said, I’ve already received rejections from CBS and Booth (both reaches), and was not invited to interview at Fuqua and Ross (but not outright rejected either). Still have more time to see how things pan out with the rest of the programs… but not feeling great about my chances. If things do not work out, how would you recommend attempting to lateral into IB? Is it even possible given 6.5 years of experience? Would my undergraduate GPA matter if applying with my level of experience? And lastly, would you recommend targeting analyst or associate roles?

    1. I think it will be very tough to move into IB as a lateral hire with 6+ years of work experience in another field because you’re over-qualified for Analyst roles, but they will rarely hire you as an Associate or VP without previous IB experience or an MBA from one of the top schools.

      If you don’t get into one of the top MBA programs, I would recommend using your corporate treasury experience and trying to move into more of a corporate development or deal-based role at your current company (or any other company in an industry where you have some experience). Once you have some experience there, think about applying to IB as a lateral hire (probably at the Associate level).

      Other options would be finding something like a valuation or corporate banking role and then moving into IB from one of those. But if you already have corporate finance experience, it’s probably easier to use that to move into corporate development and then go from there. Worst case, you don’t get into IB but still get higher pay and deal work.

  9. ibsummeranalyst2223

    3.6 GPA from a top 25 state-school. Do I stand a chance for interview spots and positions at EB/BB firms? Are my odds better at a MM?

    1. You are probably “borderline,” so it depends on networking and previous internships more than anything else (as well as just how many banks actively recruit at your school). Your chances are always better at MM banks, but I can’t give you an exact probability at EB/BB banks without more background information.

  10. Gpaibank1818027

    Is a 3.5/3.6 gpa too low where they might ask questions?

    1. Depends on your university/degree and the bank… if it’s an elite boutique and you went to a non-target school, yes, maybe. But if it’s a 3.5 or 3.6 from in engineering at MIT, no, probably not.

  11. banking102983

    I attend Umich in the non-Ross (BBA) school as an Econ major. I have a 3.6 gpa. Is this too low for firms? I would like to go for top EBs/BBs but I am willing to take anything. I am planning to network.

  12. Yuchen Yter

    At what point would you say gpa becomes all the same(ex. after a certain point they stop comparing them)? Also, how different is a 3.7,3.8, and 3.9+?

    1. Above 3.5, there isn’t much difference. 3.7 vs. 3.8 vs. 3.9 are basically the same in the eyes of recruiters. Maybe some elite boutiques and certain specific groups within larger banks will care, but that’s about it.

      1. Yuchen Yter

        Thank you so much Brian! However, I was wondering when you say those certain groups and EBs, what would you say is the cutoff where the gpa does not make much difference anymore?

        1. I really don’t know, and I don’t think it matters. It sounds like you are obsessing over something that will not make a difference next to other factors.

  13. Hi Brian,

    I’ll be graduating in May ’22 from a top 50 Univerity (by US World News Report rankings)

    I’m a double major in Economics (B.S.) and Philosophy, and I’ll likely have a 3.2 or 3.3 when I graduate. My uncle knows people in boutique and mid market firms in Chicago, and I’ve received tons of “invited to apply” messages from recruiters on Handshake, where my GPA is listed. Furthermore, I’m personally acquainted with a senior hedge fund analyst. I have one internship from an Economic Development Office. I’m seeking out more for spring/summer. I’ve also worked at an Amazon warehouse and played around my city as a DJ in bars/clubs and done weddings all through my college career. I’ll be 29 when I graduate.

    I’m aiming to work in Finance when I graduate, and make as much as I can. My family is in a riches-to-rags scenario after massive family legal and financial fallout when my grandfather died many years ago. I also grew up without a father. I’ve excelled in athletics (rugby) and arts (DJing, guitar) throughout the years. I’ve attended 4 colleges, the first was a D1 state school that I failed out of, the second was a tiny liberal arts college that gave me a rugby scholarship; I left by choice after receiving a 2.0 (I was a great athlete there, but did not like the school) and the 3rd was community college, wherein I earned a 2.7 GPA, Dean’s List, and changed my major 4 times. It’s a long, complicated story for sure. I’m highly sociable and likeable, and very good in job interviews. I’ve suffered and overcome depression throughout the years. Most importantly: I’m hardworking and I’ve outgrown my old habits of disorganization and apathy which brought about my old failures in school. I think I can sell myself well as someone who is highly intelligent, well rounded, hardworking, and most of all: resilient.

    Any advice, is it still possible I can work in IBD/PE/Hedge Fund?

    1. No matter what you do, it’s going to be difficult with a GPA in that range and a good-but-non-target school. Honestly, I don’t think you fit the profile of the typical person who gets into those fields and does well – you would probably be happier and better off doing something like high-end sales at a tech company or relationship management in wealth management/financial advisory or something similar. IB/PE/HF firms tend to attract people who are workaholics, not sociable, and attentive to tiny details to the point of OCD.

  14. Hi Brian,
    I have a 3.1 undergrad GPA from a liberal arts school but am currently pursuing an MSF at a prestigious well-known school (with a 4.0 GPA currently). I also have a boutique IB internship (Tech M&A) an I am currently working full time for a boutique investment bank alongside the MSF program. Do you think a strong GPA (3.7+) in the MSF program coupled with my relevant experience would be sufficient for a lateral move into a larger bank in about two years time? If so, which banks do you think would be a realistic target?

    1. Yes. You should have quite a good shot at MM banks and a decent shot even at EB/BB banks if you have enough deal experience.

      1. Thanks Brian, just a quick follow up question: since I’ll be 3-4 years out of undergrad with a masters degree, do you think I can get away with just listing the MSF GPA? Or could I maybe list my major/minor GPA from undergrad (and leave out cumulative) since they were a lot better? I don’t want to hurt my chances by listing a 3.1 if I can get away with leaving it off. Thanks.

        1. I think you should probably list everything, including your MSF GPA, overall undergrad GPA, and major/minor GPA from undergrad to make the point that yes, you didn’t do well once, but have done well in everything since then.

          1. Thanks Brian! When do you think is an appropriate time to take undergrad GPA off resume? After a lateral move? After Analyst to Associate promotion? After MBA?

          2. Probably after Analyst to Associate promotion or an MBA.

  15. Zec Cepeida-Conner

    Hi Brian,

    My story in long and winding. I will try and make this as brief as possible. I transferred from Community College, where I earned an associates in Business Administration, to Columbia University in New York. My GPA at Community college was around a 3.2. My Essay I think is what won my admission. I attended Columbia for three years and studied Math and Statistics, going part time, and now I am currently deferring my enrollment because I was just skating by. I fall into Attempt 1. I received little to no need based financial aid and worked 3-4 minimum wage jobs, roughly 60 hours a week to support myself in NYC and pay my tuition. At Columbia I have a 2.19 GPA. I have been out of school since the end of spring of 2019. As you’ve stated, sales is always hiring. Presently I am a Loan Officer and run a successful eBay store where I resell collectibles for consistent profit margins around 15% after all fees and taxes are deducted.

    I have until the fall of 2023 to return to school. I have eight classes I need to take to finish.My goal is to have a Private Equity position lined up for me after graduation, or a job that will lead me in that direction.

    Currently I am taking time to self teach myself about Modeling DCF’s, I’m going over the case studies I can find, acquainting myself with LBO’s, trying my best to network on Linked-In and studying for the CFA Level I, I plan to take in February of next year. All the mean while trying to apply to jobs in finance that I would rather be doing that selling mortgages.

    Any advice or direction would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Honestly, you don’t have a great shot at private equity roles, especially not directly after graduation, if you have GPAs of 3.2 and 2.2 and no directly relevant work experience (being a loan officer helps a bit, but it’s still quite far removed from the typical experience that PE firms look for).

      If you are really set on PE, then your best option is to return to school, boost your GPA to at least 3.0, work in a related industry such as corporate banking or corporate finance at a normal company with lower admission requirements, use that experience to get into a top MBA program, and then win an IB role from there… and then maybe think about PE. Not sure I would recommend all that given the steps and time involved.

  16. Jennifer Rose

    Dear Brian! Thank you very much for all the information. I am from a non-target school in Abu Dhabi. Majoring in Economics with a 3.281 cumulative but a stronger 3.7 major gpa. I had some management consulting and venture capital internships with smaller firms. Do you recommend I take the gmat to prove i can get better scores and grades even if I do not intend to go to grad school? Or should I focus on getting CFA level 1 instead? Does my gpa and non target school severely handicap me or is MBB big 4 etc. still a possibility? Thank you.

    1. I would not do either one just to overcome your GPA because both are big time commitments. I would focus on networking and applying to roles and see what you can find. If your GPA keeps coming up as a problem, maybe think about the GMAT since it’s shorter and easier to study for.

  17. james rajan


    UK student here from semi target, my degree (Medicine) does not have a GPA/first class/ 2:1 etc grading system. It is a pass/fail.
    I do have another 1st class honours degree from a target in a 1 year degree undertaken during medical school. This degree did have specific accounting and economic modules with grades. From your article, would I be correct in assuming that it would be a good idea to put these down.
    How would I go about writing my Medicine degree qualification, as I read in the article leaving a GPA/ grade blank is not a good idea.
    I have won various national awards for medical students during my course so would I write those.
    underneath my degree?
    I do have a percentile rank for some of my years at medical school but not all, and to be honest they are hard to decipher (e.g. top 15% in Year 2 end of year exam), furthermore I also read in the article that putting some grades for some semesters/exams is not a good idea either, as there have been years where I have been ranked top 40% which does not sound quite as impressive.

    1. Yes, if you earned a 1:1 in the other degree, you should list it. For medicine, just indicate it was Pass/Fail only, and anyone familiar with the UK system should understand it. They’ll judge you more by the quality of the school than your grades. You can list awards in the same Education section below the degree.

  18. Hey Brian,
    I study at a target in the UK and will apply to IBD summer internships starting next month. Currently averaging an upper second, but wanted to get your opinion on saying ‘expected first’ on my CV? The minimum requirement is an upper second, so perhaps this strategy will boost my chances of getting interviews?

    1. I would not do that. 2:1 is fine for IB internships in the U.K. If you say “1:1 Expected” and then do not actually get those results, it could hurt you if they then ask for updated results.

      1. Thanks!

  19. Sourabh Jadhav

    Hi Brian,

    I am from an Indian non-target Uni, commerce grad with a 2.4 GPA. I was a sportsperson (football) who later garnered interest in finance. I have won a dozen football tournaments, not national or state level though. Also I have a gap of 2 years after graduation (current age 22) There is no good coverup story, I just didn’t work hard. I was not interested in what I was learning, my only aim was to play football professionally but an injury ended it prematurely. No direction for the next 2 years. I didn’t have any other plan.

    In the present, the only thing that interests me is financial modelling. I love to utilize excel, vba, cloud, python to make good models. I have a renewed vigour that I have not wasted my talents or life when I study modelling, valuation or CFA material. But

    I am aiming for a CFA + AFM certificate from FMI along with an Masters in Accounting degree in the next 2 years.

    Does this seem like a viable plan to get a decent shot at finance roles ? I am in this for the long run, but will this help my case in the future ?
    I am skeptical about an MBA because without solid work experience, my profile is not attractive for top MBA colleges in India or abroad. My plan is to get an MBA later at 26 from a good US university after some relevant work experience.

    Thanking you in advance.

    1. It’s not going to work in India because that market has very specific requirements:

      You might be able to win something like a Big 4 role or maybe a boutique role there, but there are so few roles that it’s almost impossible unless you went to one of the top 2 IIMs. Going abroad is the better strategy.

  20. Thanks for the insight. I went to a liberal arts school and received a 3.2GPA (Graduated in Spring), 720 GMAT, CFA Level 3 candidate. Would a top Masters in Finance benefit me? Do I have a shot to break in?

    1. A top MSF might help, but mostly if you can get solid work experience before/during the program. Without some type of internship(s), it will be difficult no matter what you do to improve your GPA.

    2. Hi Brian, I am from the UK and I go to a target world renowed univeristy however I have bad highschool and middle school grades. I managed to get a place through a foundation year. I don’t have any experience or way to currently show interest. I want to apply for an internship next academic year for a summer internship and or a year placement. What are my chances I will get into a IB or the big 4. I know EY don’t take pre-univeristy qualifications into consideration but I still feel like I will be considered last. Do you know how I could increase my chances? Additionally finding experience right now is quite difficult with lock down restrictions and what not.

      1. You need to get some type of off-cycle internship to improve your chances. Follow the tips here:

  21. I had a GPA of 3.3 at engineering school, however, I switched from engineering to Econ (at a target school) after a very bad semester (GPA of 1). My GPA has now tanked to a 3.01. I am in my fourth year of college, but am going to graduate in 5 now. Since banks recruit for internships so far in advance, they will not get to see my grades from this semester, which should be better than engineering. What should I do?

    1. The problem is that even a 3.3 GPA will make it very difficult for you if you don’t already have internships. I would recommend either a Master’s in Finance program at a top school or going for something like corporate banking or valuation and then moving into IB from there.

  22. Hey Brian,

    I appreciate these articles, they are very informative and I find myself circling back to them from time to time. I am currently preparing to apply for FT 2021 investment banking roles however as you’ve probably guessed, my GPA is not in an ideal position.

    I currently have about a 3.34 cumulative GPA and a major GPA of 3.7 (I ended up switching from a math-based program to an Economics/Business program and have earned a 3.7 GPA since switching degrees). However, I was lucky enough to secure a buy-side internship with one of the top pension funds in Canada and have so far worked on 2 sizeable deals (+US$100M). I was wondering if my improved grades and work experience would make up for my poor first-year marks?

    1. Those both help, yes, but the market is so small in Canada that you’re still at a disadvantage. You’d have a better chance if you could also apply to role in the US, UK, and other places.

      1. Thanks for the response Brian, much appreciated! If I am interested in staying in Canada due to personal circumstances (family), do you think I would be competitive for roles in corporate banking, Big 4 M&A, or Big 4 Consulting?

        1. Corporate banking yes, the others might be a bit tougher because they may care more about your GPA.

  23. Hi Brian,

    I’m a sophomore at a target studying computer science and finance concurrently. The former has taken a toll on my GPA and I’m currently sitting at a 3.55. I have a really easy semester lined up this spring so I should be looking at a 3.65+ going into junior year. Was wondering how big of a liability my GPA is going to be especially since I’ve heard from a lot of people that 3.7+ is what’s needed to get interviews. Thanks!

    1. If you’re at a top school with a difficult major or double major, 3.5 vs. 3.6 vs. 3.7 barely makes a difference. I also don’t think you “need” above a 3.7 to win interviews – maybe at a lesser-known school or with an easier major, but not in your situation.

      It’s much better to have the CS major and a slightly lower GPA than to have only a finance major with a higher GPA because you’ll have more long-term options like that, people will think you’re smarter in interviews, etc.

  24. Hi Brian,
    I’m at a Canadian target but majoring in mathematics (hard science).
    I screwed up in my first year and have a 2.5 gpa.
    What can I do to improve my chances, so that in my junior year I can get an IB internship?

    1. Earn perfect grades from here on out and get highly relevant internships as soon as possible. Consider maybe a standardized test like the GMAT or GRE to prove that you are intelligent and can do the work but simply didn’t perform well in Year 1.

  25. Hi Brian,
    I just recently graduated from a liberal arts college with a 3.15 GPA. Throughout my college career I maintained close to 3.4 cumulative GPA, evening getting a 3.6+ GPA during one of my semesters. Only reason I have a 3.15 is that during my second semester senior year I was focused too much on jobs and applications and I let my grades slip. I have some experience with financial analysis and knowledge of investing and I want to go into a career in investment/asset management. Am I in an ok place right now?

    1. I think it will be difficult to apply for and win full-time IB roles right now if you’ve already graduated, you have a 3.15 GPA, and you went to a liberal arts college (if that is your question). You normally need extensive internship experience before, along with a higher GPA and a more relevant degree.

      You can probably apply for some roles in finance/related industries (real estate, corporate finance at normal companies, etc.) and get in, but fields like IB/PE might be too competitive at this stage.

      Another option is to go for unpaid/off-cycle internships at smaller firms and eventually get in like that, but again, I think your GPA and university will work against you there.

      1. Thanks for the response Brian. Since I posted my first question I have since completed an internship at a boutique Investment Bank and have another internship lined up at a boutique Private Equity firm. At the moment, I’m look for a full time position in the finance industry (not restricted to IB/PE) but something that will get me good quantitative and analytical work experience. Do you think that if I spent a year or two at a position like this, performed well, and built up a strong reputation, I could then break into an Investment Banking Analyst role either at a boutique or Middle Market? (Probably using networking/connections, etc.)

      2. I have a poor high school GPA and a decent one U.G GPA, but I’ve been researching and investing in equity since sixth grade and now I’m going to turn 21 next year and have making big six-figure gains from investing. Private equity is my game, and I’m writing a book about it and Founded a real estate marketing company. Should I strive hard to get into banks, or should I simply be a retail investor since I wanted to work at a well known bank to satisfy my parents and society. Being an entrepreneur in India is difficult. Even attaining results and gaining money isn’t enough for Indian parents since we as Indians cherish high-level positions (which is not wrong in any way). I prefer my present work and equity investment and because of it I can afford all of the extra luxury and posh things  that just a few 20-year-olds can. My family is constantly pressuring me to acquire a job in the government sector or banking sector. What jobs can I acquire at a bank if I have investment skills?

        1. If you are already that successful on your own, there is really no reason to join a bank or any other normal company. Just keep investing and growing your capital. If you don’t like Indian culture and attitudes toward wealth/professions/status, leave the country.

  26. Hi Brian, I have two questions:
    1. I go to a top school with a 2.99 GPA. Is it ok to list 3.0 GPA on my resume?
    2. My grades suffered because I went through a traumatic event (I was sexually assaulted) but I took some time off to take care of things: confronted my perpetrator, passed CFA and did 2 internships. Is it ever ok to include these as part of my “story”? Since I get that mental illness if a big taboo.

    1. 1) Yes, obviously.
      2) No, bad idea. Avoid anything really serious that could cause bankers to doubt you or otherwise turn the conversation to a darker side. Just say you weren’t sure what you wanted to do or were unfocused, so your grades suffered from that.

  27. Hey Brian,

    I’m a rising senior at Baruch college with a 3.45gpa and I’m currently interning at a wealth management firm helping stockbrokers this my only internship, what advice would you give me given my situation?

    1. You have two main options:

      1) Make a hardcore, last-minute recruiting effort and try to get into IB anyway (see:

      2) Apply for a Master’s in Finance program, or work at a Big 4 firm or valuation or other firm after graduating, and then try to move into IB from one of those.

  28. Hi brain
    I have a 3.0 GPA in Bsc in Inforrmation technology from mumbai university. I would like to get into investment banking in front office role in USA. What kind of added qulification is needed to get into investment bank. I don’t have any finanace experience. I have completed by education a year back. after that I started doing business with my friend.

    1. The problem is that the market in India is extremely difficult because you usually need to be at a top IIT or IIM to have a chance. See:

      Other options might be:

      If you want to work in the U.S., your best option is to complete a top MBA or Master’s program there and use that to get into the industry.

  29. Hi Brian,

    All semester I’ve been networking and studying for interviews with a GPA of 3.55/4.0. Unfortunately, I didn’t focus on school as much and I received some egregious grades and my GPA dropped to a 3.3. I have interviews lined up this summer with my previous GPA, do I have to make these banks aware of my new GPA or I can it explain it later if I get a return offer.

    1. I would just explain it later when you receive a return offer, or just skip the explanation altogether unless they ask for an updated resume or transcripts or something.

  30. SemiDimon


    I got an F in a language class and now have a 3.15 cum GPA. Nothing I can do about it now. Without counting this course, I have a 3.8 cumulative gpa. I also have a 3.7 Major GPA(econ).

    How do I best list GPA on my resume when applying to investment banking roles? Do I need to keep on my cum GPA of 3.15?

    1. Unfortunately, yes, you have to keep your cumulative GPA, but you can list your major GPA next to it so that it doesn’t look as bad. I wouldn’t recommend listing the 3.8 excluding this one course because then they’ll start asking what else you’re not telling them…

  31. Hi Brian,

    I find your website incredibly helpful and I really appreciate the information you’ve shared to give students like me a proper understanding of how IB recruiting/job itself works.

    I’m currently a sophomore at a non-target in Manhattan. I started the IB process late because I started out as Pre-med. However, since making the switch I’ve fully emerged myself into the world. I’m cold emailing about 60-70 people per week and networking like crazy. I probably spend about 2-3 hours per day studying technicals. I’ve convinced myself that I will not get out worked when it comes to attaining an interview/internship.

    My only problem is that I had a really rough semester in the Fall and my GPA is currently at a 3.55. How badly does this affect my chances of getting an internship? Also, am I unable to get an interview at a top BB or elite boutique because of my low GPA?

    I do not like to make excuses ever, but I think I’ve a good resume which includes a lot of volunteer work, working at VC and PE over my summers. I go to a school where there is a double curriculum and I play for my University’s basketball team.

    I know you are extremely busy, but any advice would be invaluable and much appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Most people would not consider a 3.55 GPA “low,” so I think you’re worrying over nothing. The fact that you’re at a non-target hurts you a bit, but your GPA isn’t so low that you’ll be rejected outright, especially if you have good internships.

      1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Also, what more can I be doing to truly understand the technicals and know the “WHY” behind them?

        1. You have to put in the time to learn by doing, which means going into Excel and actually building models yourself. Just reading guides will only take you so far. So, our BIWS courses would be one option for doing this, but there are other online and self-study options, or you could just find free examples online (see our YouTube channel) and practice applying those to companies and deals of your choosing.

  32. Hi Brian,

    I’m from Ontario, Canada and my cGPA is very close to the cutoff point for IB. Some applications have already opened for Summer 2020, so I’ve been wondering how I should actually measure my GPA. My actual average is an A- and Scholaro (the link from your article) is telling me I have a 3.55/4.00 while an Ontario Medical Schools application guide ( is telling me I have a 3.41/4.00.

    Additionally, if I only look at my most recent (sophomore) year’s GPA, I have a 3.6 regardless of which conversion table I use. My story is the “I screwed up once” one and is backed by my actual performance over the years.

    What do you think is a good way to go about this?

    Thanks for your help,

    1. OK, so no matter what you list as your GPA, it will probably be fine. A 3.4 – 3.6 range GPA is not really “low” to the extent that you’d need a story to justify it. I would probably just list it as a 3.5 or 3.6 and say that’s the conversion according to Scholaro.

  33. Hi Brian,

    For my first 3 years of university i struggled with a severe mental health issue (depression and anxiety), i was even diagnosed by my doctor and was assigned a psychiatrist, regardless my GPA suffered immensely, i failed many courses, etc. since improving mentally my grades are significantly better and in the high range (A- ) for my majors (economics and statistics), but overall my gpa looks bad because of my earlier years at uni.

    Will this impact my ability to find a grad role in investment banking?

    Thank you.

    1. It depends on what you mean by “bad” – if it’s a 2.0, yes, you’ll have trouble. If it’s closer to a 3.0, then it’s less of an issue and something you can overcome with enough networking, work experience, and possibly outside study like the CFA. Or maybe a Master’s degree at a top school where you earn good grades.

  34. Hi Brian,
    I am a year 2 student from the University of Hong Kong. Currently my CGPA is 3.21, and this is a second up honor. But I have some wonderful finance internships in Hong Kong and mainland China. Is it possible for me to get a position in sales in the big-name investment banks in Hong Kong? Thank you and look forward to your reply!

    1. Potentially, yes, because recruiting in HK works a bit differently and HKU is one of the best schools for it (besides the Ivy League and Oxbridge ones).

      1. Thanks a lot! May I ask what is the exact meaning of ‘a bit differently’ please?

        1. An upcoming article will cover this topic (S&T in Hong Kong). In short, there are many fewer summer internship positions, and recruiting is even more tilted toward the top schools in the U.S. and U.K., even over the top 3 universities in HK (HKU, CUHK, and HKUST).

          1. Hello Brian, sorry for the repost, i added extra info.

            I went to an Egyptian top national uni but non target school Internationally, did bachelor in Engineering, had zero passion so i messed up. Got a 2.3 in our local GPA which is 72% when converted, with major GPA 3.1 which is 80s% i dont know how equivalent is it to US GPA. I passed the 3 CFA levels, i work in a a top local PE fund in Egypt, 1 year of internship and 1 year full time. I got accepted at IE Business School Masters in Finance, i am aiming to score around 3.8-3.9. I am also finishing CFA level 3 by 2022. I am targeting BB and EB IB in Dubai. If i got the GPA targeted, do you think it is doable? If not, what is the other best way?

          2. I am sorry, I didnt realize i was commenting on another post/ Thread!

  35. Hi M&I / Brian,

    I am currently 3-4 years out of a semi-target school, working at an IBAB in equity-linked / structured equity (converts, corporate derivatives, structured financing) working with top tier corps and sponsors. Due to time out of school and given strong work experience, do you think its possible to lateral over to a more traditional IB role (coverage, M&A lev fin)? Promoted to ASC last year, but willing to take a cut to make a move as situations / deals worked on in current role have led me to develop an interest in this route. Lastly GPA is not stellar – above 3.0 but below 3.4. Should i list this on resume / will these types of roles still care about grades given time since grad?


    1. Yes, you could still move over to a more traditional IB role, but you should do so now rather than waiting because it only gets more difficult the longer you stay in that role. I would still list your GPA but maybe put Education at the bottom of your resume because if you don’t list your GPA, they will assume the worst – and, sadly, questions about undergrad/GPA could still come up even after a few years of work experience.

  36. Hi Brain, thank you so much for this article. I would like that you help me on what’s the best route to land a job in IB.
    I was very good at high school, A* in most subjects, I wanted to study finance but I was forced to study engineering. I did benefit from its quantitative knowldge, but I genuinely didn’t like it and during the first 3 years” here in Egypt undergrad is 5 year” an immediate family relative was extremely sick so I had to be there and work a lot which in addition to me hating the whole thing, led me to have a VERY LOW accumilative 2.36 low.
    However I decided to not give up by the 4th year and I studied for the CFA level 1 and passed, FRM level 1 and passed, and after graduation now I am studying for CFA level 2 next June and FRM level 2 in November.
    My plan is to try to land a good masters degree in Germany, Frankfurt school of finance, by studying for a 750 GMAT and finish CFA and FRM there. While achieving highest possible GPA there.
    Is it still possible to land a decent job given that i clearly have passion to studying finance more than engineering and a very high postgrade GPA? Would the high postgrade GPA compensate for a low GPA in a field I didn’t like? What should I do more to be able to be competitive? Do you think I have a chance to work in one of the big names in the industry?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Yes, but you’ll need a top Master’s program and high grades in it to compensate. You might also have to look outside of pure IB roles since you have an unusual background and may not have had internships (???). You should aim for the best Master’s program you can get into and complete at least 1-2 finance-related internships before/during the program.

  37. Hi Brian,

    Question – My GPA is currently a 3.4. I go to a NON-target school (Brooklyn College – CUNY). The reason for my low GPA is because I took a number of years off (4 approximately) and decided that I wanted to complete my degree but, in a quicker fashion. As a result, I doubled up on my courseload (6 classes per semester, 4-5 per summer and winter). I was able to finish my bachelor’s within 2 semesters (1 fall/winter, spring/summer). On top of that, I took a number of online & certified courses from fitch learning, Columbia University, CFI, and so on. I was also participating in 2 internships throughout the time – although relatively small firms. How can I possibly get this story across if I can’t even land an interview due to my GPA?

    1. I don’t think a 3.4 GPA would necessarily prevent you from winning interviews, but to convey a story like that, you’ll probably have to say that you changed your mind about your degree early on, took time off after not performing well initially, and then came back and doubled up on classes to finish more quickly.

  38. Hi Brian,

    I am from a target school in Hong Kong with a quantitative marketing and buisness management degree. I have a gpa of 3.0/4.0. I want to aim for operations/ marketing or supporting roles or corporate banking rather than front office. I have a year long experience as an intern in HSBC insurance finance team, and a sales/marketing internship in a marketing company. I did okay in year 1 (3.3/4) but in year 2 because of some medication I was taking (at the time I did not realise until i was off the medication) was making be depressed and lethargic. I am back at school as a third year student and so far my midterms indicate I will get at 3.5-3.7 range this semester. How do you see my chances of getting a supporting role in a bank and how would you advise I strategize so I can overcome my gpa?

    1. I don’t think it will be as much of an issue for corporate banking or other supporting roles, so you won’t need to spend as much time thinking about how to explain it.

      1. Hi Brian, Thank you so much for the quick reply. It is very appreciated.

        How do think my chances are for getting into those supporting roles? Should I consider perhaps giving up career aspirations in banking altogether?

        1. I think you could easily win a middle or back-office role or even a corporate banking one with a 3.0 GPA. Maybe not “easily,” but “plausibly.” So, no, I wouldn’t give up. IB is a different story and much more competitive, so you would probably need something more there.

  39. Brian,
    Thanks for addressing this issue. I am an undergrad in my third year from a top target school in Canada. I started as a mathematics major and recently switched to economics and finance honors program. Both programs are GPA killer. Having a 3.5+ in these programs are very rare. I have a cGPA of 3.2 but my finance GPA is 3.9. I had one terrible semester, where I had a 2.0 due to personal illness. I had more than five solid internships (including investment banking & big 4 corporate finance) in canada and middle east. I got almost perfect score last semester.

    I am having a difficult time to recruit for any top IB internship in Canada. I believe that I have a great resume but my GPA is not helping me win first round interviews. I networked a lot too.

    What do you advise? I have a lot of experience in this field and I am really set on IB/PE.

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Yes, Canada is a small market, so it tends to be very competitive even if you’re at one of the ~5 best schools there for IB recruiting. If you’ve already networked a lot and applied to everything you can, other options might be:

      1) Apply to pension funds or other finance roles outside of IB (

      2) Go beyond Canada and apply to roles in the U.S., U.K., or other places that have more firms and hiring opportunities.

      3) Apply for a top Master’s in Finance program in the U.S. or U.K. and use that and a higher GPA there to move into finance.

  40. Thanks for the article,

    I’m a rising junior at a target school for many of the large banks, but I’m more interested in the middle-market banks. I have a 3.0 GPA, but I’m also an Economics major at a top 10 university. I’ll admit I screwed around a couple semesters but since, I’ve been locked in and I’ve been keeping up with Wall Street Journal, the stock market, virtually everything finance you can think of, everyday, and I’d like to say I’m well-informed, and I have grit and drive to succeed. What’re my chances landing an IB internship?


    1. Impossible to say without knowing your internship history, activities, amount of networking, etc. One thing to be aware of is that you are already late because summer 2019 recruiting started in *February 2018*. So if you are already about to be a junior, you need to start networking ASAP to have any shot of winning the roles that are left.

  41. Monkeyboti

    Hi Brian.

    I’m a sophomore pursuing dual degree in Statistics and Finance in Agribusiness at Chicago MM target school (UW Madison, Illinois, IU, etc). I have 3.35 GPA and doing corporate development(M&A) internship this summer. My plan is bring my GPA by 3.5 next semester and prepare for SA recruiting for the next Summer. When i ask my supervisor and coworkers, who used to be bankers, they told me my experience so far looks solid. Do you think I have a good chance to land SA position?

    1. If you network heavily, yes.

      1. Thank you for your answer. I heard some people said that don’t even start networking if I have a low GPA. Is this true? Or should I start networking a year before SA recruitment?

        1. I would say that’s bad advice because a 3.35 GPA isn’t that bad – it’s not ideal, but it’s not like a 2.5 GPA. You can just round it to 3.4 if asked about it. Recruiting starts so early that you have to start networking early because summer spots start filling up *over a year in advance* in the current environment. It’s much better to start networking earlier than to wait and boost your GPA from 3.35 to 3.5.

          1. I really appreciate your comment Brian ! Also, do you have any advice how to utilize my supervisor’s connection from my internship? He was in JP Morgan for 10 years, so he seems to know A LOT of people in M&A industry who are vP or higher. I’m just not sure how to ask my supervisor to refer me since he’s so busy.

          2. I don’t know, just ask him. Use one of the email templates on this site if you don’t know what to say.

  42. Hi Brian:

    Thanks for your information and your sites have been super useful to me.
    I am a recent graduate and had previous summer experience in a consulting firm. I am scheduled to talk with a senior MD of an IB boutique firm. I know they are now recruiting for summer internships already. Given my status, should I talk him about my interest in off cycle internship or FT job? I am open to both as long as I can be sure that one has a higher chance of getting an interview than the other. I am a math and econ major with finance and accounting backgrounds and I went to a relatively good liberal arts college. I know I can do the job but do you recommend going for internship instead? Do you think they provide internship in say August? And training in that internship? Thanks

    Next is a product question so you can reply to my email if it is better for you. I really wanna get your interview and networking guide, but I don’t think I can afford it as I am currently unemployed. Is there a possibility that I can get the access on a monthly basis? Thanks.

    I wish much success to you and have a good night.


    1. I would ask about an off-cycle internship because you have a higher chance of winning one. The timing varies, but it’s possible they could do it in August. Training is extremely unlikely at a boutique firm.

      We don’t offer a monthly plan for those courses, but you could potentially pay in 2-3 installments if you contact us via the contact form and ask about it.

  43. Hi Brian,

    I’m going into my junior year and currently have a 2.99 GPA at a target school. I’m taking two summer classes this summer and hope to have a 3.11 by the time the fall rolls around. I am not working this summer, yet I interned at a hedge fund during the fall. Would you recommend taking advantage of the early application deadlines or do you think I should wait to get my grades back from both of my classes? Also, do you think I will have trouble trying to acquire a front office role?


    1. A 3.0 vs. a 3.1 won’t make a significant difference, so you need to apply ASAP to have a good shot. Many summer 2019 roles are already taken, but there might still be some left. I think you’ll have a tough time at large banks with a GPA in that range, but you might still be able to win IB offers at smaller firms via networking.

  44. Vaibhav

    Hi Brian,
    I am from India and have completed my MBA.
    I could not get the roles what I wanted and I am heading towards WUSTL MSF.
    I have done a 5 month internship in IB controls division of a BB and two small internships in the field of valuation and risk management.
    Is it possible for me to break into IB/PE roles.

    1. I think you’re going to have trouble explaining why you completed an MBA and then enrolled in an MSF program. If you can get some type of school-year internships that are relevant for IB/PE, then yes, maybe, but it will still be difficult because of the MBA/MSF issue and the fact that WUSTL is not much of a target for IB roles.

      1. Vaibhav

        Thanks for the reply.
        So which schools according to you are targets for IB/PE roles for masters candidates.

  45. How is a low undergrad GPA regarded when recruiting from a top business school? I am attending an M7 next year, yet my undergrad GPA was a 2.97. I hope to offset it with a 770 GMAT in the recruiting process, but do you think that this will hinder my ability to recruit?

    Than you and as always, your advice is much appreciated

    1. It could still come up and hurt you, but it will be less of an issue if you’re at a top business school and you have a high GMAT score. I would just round your GPA to 3.0 and, if it comes up in interviews, explain it with a “I wasn’t focused in my first year of undergrad” story.

  46. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the insight. I am an avid supporter of your articles.

    I’m from a target school (top 2 uni) in Australia. I graduated with a 3.0/4.0 GPA ( 1.8 GPA in the first year, 3.8 GPA in the second and third year). I really messed up the first year. In my CV, can I state a 3.8 GPA (excluding first year) after a 3.0 GPA?

    I have an incoming Summer School (Finance, M&A), which lasts two weeks. I hope to put Summer Finance GPA on my CV. I also plan to study CFA, find some solid internships and network well. Am I on the right direction? Thanks in advance Brian!

    1. Yes, that sounds fine.

  47. Thanks for this article. I have a 3.6 and thought that I screwed up my life and that it would be considered “too low”. I now feel much better about where I stand.

    1. A 3.6 is generally fine. You may get some questions if you’re from a non-target university, but it won’t be an interrogation.

      1. Yes. I figured. It’s really weird though because all of the other students had said that it’s awful but all of the people that I networked with either said nothing or said that it was good/ok.

    2. Hello Brian,
      I went to an Egyptian top national uni but non target school Internationally, did bachelor in Engineering, had zero passion so i messed up. Got a 2.3 which is 72% when converted, with major GPA 3.1 which is 80s% idk how equivalent is it to US GPA. I passed the 3 CFA levels, i work in a a top local PE fund in Egypt, 1 year of internship and 1 year full time. I got accepted at IE Business School Masters in Finance, i am aiming to score around 3.8-3.9. I am targeting BB IB in Dubai. If i got the GPA targeted, do you think it is doable? If not, what is the other best way?

      1. I mean, that’s all you can really do at this point (get solid deal experience, go to a top MSF program, and earn good grades there). So yes, it is doable.

  48. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for addressing this; I feel like a lot of people are left in a pool of ambiguity, struggling to get into banking with a low GPA. I have a 2.9 GPA from a state school but a 3.7 (currently still enrolled) in my MBA program at a different university in state. I enrolled in the program partly to offset my undergrad gpa. I have an opportunity to work at a large insurance company as a financial advisor of sorts, where they said they’d sponsor me for all of my FINRA licensing. My question is, where exactly do I stand with investment firms with my MBA and could working at this insurance company help at all or even hurt me?

    1. I don’t think the insurance company role would help you that much because it tends to be difficult to move from insurance/financial advisory into the roles normally discussed on this site. You might be able to use it to win a similar role at a large bank and then move somewhere else from there. But I would not recommend this if you have other options, such as corporate finance, Big 4 firms, or even working at a small asset management firm.

      If you have full-time work experience, the MBA should help you. But it will still be tough to get into banking since large banks only recruit from the top few MBA programs. Outside of those, it is tough to get in unless you target regional boutiques.

      In short, I think it would be tough to move into a traditional IB role, but you could probably win other front-office roles with your background.

  49. Does this hold true after graduation as well? Or will banks care more about your work experience, especially if the experience is in something related (Valuation etc.)?

    1. Questions on your GPA could still come up after graduation, but work experience tends to matter more and more. It’s not unheard of to get questions about your GPA even a few years after graduation, though, especially if it wasn’t that high.

  50. Its Time for The Perculator

    Thanks for doing this! I was going to address my issue on another article.

    Im at this regional boutique for almost a year now and Im wondering how much of a problem it would be for me in terms of my 2.3-2.5 GPA. Im focusing on MM or other relatable boutiques or IBABs. I know that BBs and EBs would be a stretch a perhaps a waste of time to gun after? I havent been able to take the GMAT because I have not considered an MBA. What other means can I go about this? Taking classes on ones I messed up on in college at an accelerated program at a community college? I managed to do well in my interviews and case studies for the role I landed (M&A financial modeling and DCF). They tackled my GPA problem where I was at and managed to mention all my IB internships and finance competitions as a gauge that I can do the work. Thanks in advance Brian!

    1. Unfortunately, you’re guaranteed to get questions about a 2.3 – 2.5 GPA even if you have full-time work experience. Without knowing your background or explanation for those grades, it’s tough to say what to do, but the best strategy is probably to say that you really messed up in your first year of university, but your GPA does not represent your skills since you’ve done well in this IB role over the last year. I’m not sure classes would help much at this point. Maybe studying for the CFA or mentioning it would help a bit. I think this would fall under the category of “Point to other evidence that you can do the job well and don’t try to explain your grades that much.”

      1. Its Time for The Perculator

        Thanks Brian for your response and advice there especially where you mentioned “pointing to other evidence that I can do the job”.

        One last follow followup question I have is in terms of a bad GPA on a resume. I have been told to keep it off because it can only hurt you to include it, but what you consider adding “currently studying for the CFA, or below education include the series exams I have passed so far? Perhaps they wont dinge me if my resume mirrors the position nicely but perhaps they will address it in person so Im ready. Again, thanks Brian for your help!

        1. In this case, I think it might actually make sense to leave off your GPA if it’s 2.3 – 2.5. I would definitely add the CFA note under Education.

          1. Its Time for The Perculator

            Thanks so much Brian greatly appreciate your help!

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