Wondering what to do when it comes to putting your GPA on your resume? Even if we’re in no position to help you improve your grade point average, we can give you advice on how and when to showcase it on your application in a few easy steps.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- When to include your GPA on your resume
- Where to put GPA on resume
- What hiring managers are looking when it comes to your grades
- Rounding up or even lying about your GPA
Pop quiz — which one best describes you?
A. Your tattoo-worthy GPA was the perfect graduation gift
B. Your cringeworthy GPA causes recurring bad dreams
C. Your unremarkable GPA was nothing to write home about, but not terrible either
D. Any of the above ... but that was ages ago
Regardless of your situation, our answers to frequently asked questions about putting a GPA on a resume are consistent for all job seekers.
Do hiring managers care about your GPA?
We’ve all heard the stories about celebrated geniuses who performed dismally at school or dropped out altogether before going on to set the business or scientific world on fire.
As for whether employers take GPAs seriously when recruiting new talent, it’s not possible to generalize. Research evidence points both ways.
To the question of whether employers really care about your college grades, Forbes staff writer Susan Adams concluded the short answer is “yes.”
On the other hand, Google famously abandoned its former scholastic achievement-based hiring criteria. As then-senior vice-president Laszlo Bock told the New York Times in 2013, GPAs and test scores were deemed to be worthless predictors of an employee’s performance.
Yet, legions of Microsoft recruits reportedly scored holy grail jobs by virtue of their high-achiever track records.
This seems to suggest that stellar GPAs sometimes do count in the big leagues of hiring organizations, even if the top boss blazed trails of glory without topping his classmates.
“I studied everything but never topped … But today the toppers of the best universities are my employees.”
— Bill Gates
What HR experts and top-flight business executives do seem to agree on generally is that impressive GPAs can give recent college grads a competitive edge.
Ever wondered what kinds of degrees do most top CEOs have? Here's what we found.
When to include a GPA on your resume
Even if the question of how much weight employers give to your academic performance is debatable from an overall standpoint, the consensus on when your GPA should be listed on a resume is clearcut.
Below are the most common specific circumstances for resumes to include a GPA.
- The employer requests it
- Your GPA was 3.0 or higher (or even 3.5), and any of the following when work experience is lacking:
- It’s your first job
- You are still attending high school or college
- You graduated less than three years ago
For current students or recent graduates with no more than two or three years of work experience, putting a noteworthy GPA on your resume — 3.5 or higher — may be worthwhile if you don’t have a cum laude or other type of honors distinction to list instead. But if you do have such honors to include on your resume, then there’s no need to also mention your high GPA because it’s implied.
Another possibility is that your GPA is on the low or mediocre side, but you have an award or two worth mentioning. By all means include that information but skip the GPA.
When not to list your GPA on a resume
Now that we’ve looked at the situations when you should, or may want to, include your GPA on a resume, the instances when it’s not advisable or useful are quite straightforward.
Essentially, the previously outlined conditions for including your GPA on a resume are reversed for excluding it when:
- The employer does not request it
- Your GPA was lower than 3.0 (or even 3.5), or any of the following:
- It’s not your first job
- You are not currently attending high school or college
- You graduated more than three years ago.
The time will come to let go of your academic rockstar persona — at least when it comes to freeing up resume space for more recent accomplishments of greater interest to employers. So unless your GPA is explicitly requested for a job application, drop it from your resume once two or three years have elapsed after graduation. The more work experience you gradually acquire, the more relevant and influential this section of your resume becomes.
How to list your GPA on a resume
The education section of your resume is where your GPA belongs with the listing of schools attended and degrees obtained. Regardless of how your list is structured, always use the abbreviation GPA followed by the number and decimal places exactly as it appears on your transcript.
Here are three examples of GPA listings in the education section of a resume.
2019 Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies, GPA: 3.7
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2017 Bachelor of Journalism and Humanities
Carleton University, Ottawa, ON
2014 Stamford Collegiate, GPA: 3.5
Niagara Falls, ON
You may wish to include only the GPA for your degree major if it’s higher than your overall GPA, or you can list both, as long as you specify which is which. Two examples appear below.
Bachelor of Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Major: Biomedical Engineering (GPA 3.89)
Overall GPA 3.64
2018 Bachelor of Science in Animal Physiology
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Overall GPA 3.74 | Major GPA 4.0
You may have additional academic achievements to include in your resume’s education section, such as being on the Dean’s List, receiving Latin honors such as cum laude, and special awards or prizes. In that instance, they can be listed together with the school and degree information or in a separate education subsection under a heading such as “Honors” or “Awards and Achievements.”
Below are three examples of ways to list GPAs with other honors or awards in the education section of your resume, or in a dedicated subsection.
2020 Bachelor of Science in Nursing, cum laude (GPA: 3.76)
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2019 Master of Arts
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Major: Psychology (GPA 4.0)
Overall GPA 3.89
Awards: CIHR Training GrantVanier Canada Graduate Scholarship
- Graduated magna cum laude
- Computer Science Scholarship Award
- Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, President 2017-2018
- Dean's List (2016-2018)
- Overall GPA 4.0
- Major GPA 4.0
Rounding GPA on resume
We know typing out “3.49” might bring a little tear to your eye, but our advice here is simple: Do not round your GPA up to the nearest decimal place (or round it down) on a resume. It should match precisely to the GPA on your school transcript.
Lying about GPA on resume
When you really need to make a good impression and get the job, it can be tempting to lie about your GPA on your resume. Unfortunately, this approach can only backfire. Whether it’s before the interview or even once you’ve got the job, the employer will find out and your reputation will be forever tarnished.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution – it’s almost always fine to exclude your GPA — the only exception is if the hiring organization requests it — but dishonesty is never OK.
- Unless an employer explicitly asks for GPAs to be included with job applications, there is no obligation to put it on your resume.
- An impressive GPA can be an asset in reflecting your achievements, work ethic and commitment to excellence. For students or recent graduates lacking work experience, it can give hiring managers some idea of how well you will perform.
- As you acquire work experience over time, your GPA loses relevance to potential employers. It should not stay on your resume any longer than two or three years after graduation.