Before delving into the relationship between college grades and entrance exams for graduate schools, it is important to remember that an MBA is a degree that stands for “Master of Business Administration”; thus, having graduated from a college is an absolute prerequisite to participate in an MBA program. Among the colleges that do not fall into the four-year graduation system, we are often asked about junior colleges. In such a case, many institutions are willing to replace the difference of enrollment period between college and junior college with a separate element, such as two years of work experience. Returning to the main question as to the influence of college grades (excellent, good, acceptable, unacceptable) on MBA admission, many universities currently adopt a system that converts the grades into numbers, called GPA (Grade Point Average).
What is GPA?
Whether in Japan or overseas, the college transcript is always requested when taking the entrance exam of a business school. The transcript shows all of the courses a student was registered in while in college, as well as the status of the credits acquired (grades). The overall evaluation across four years is represented by the number referred to as GPA (Grade Point Average). It is commonly calculated as a five-grade evaluation with A at the highest, corresponding to 4 points. B, C, D, and F (failure) respectively correspond to 3, 2, 1 and 0 points (some colleges attribute “-1” for non-completion due to excessive absence).
Business schools in Japan
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is promoting the introduction of GPA, as the process to approve credits becomes stricter. Although the adoption rate of the use of GPAs is now close to 70%, it is still an ongoing process. In addition, since the GPA is managed according to each college’s individual standards, there is unfortunately no guarantee that GPAs from colleges in Japan exactly correspond to those abroad. For example, even though the GPA is based on a five-grade evaluation, many colleges in Japan use a four-grade evaluation with “Excellent,” “Good,” “Acceptable,” and “Unacceptable.” Depending on whether “Excellent” is converted to 4 or considered a 3, the GPA could end up changing by more than an entire point. Moreover, the GPA is greatly affected if a failed course is considered in the calculation. In fact, since the colleges overseas also consider the “Unacceptable” credit in the calculation, if a student takes more courses than necessary and fails one of them, the GPA drops, which can have serious consequences such as an interruption of a scholarship, retention, recommendation of withdrawal, and others.
Business schools overseas
In institutions overseas, the student’s college grades are converted to a GPA, which affects his or her promotion to the next level, in addition to graduation and employment. For this reason, college students are very invested in their GPA. In the US, GPA is used along with the GMAT score as a cut-off in the admission process to business schools. The table below is a reference for a few American institutions from recent years (Source: Poets & Quants analysis). Meanwhile, business schools in Europe do not consider the GPA with as much rigor as in the US; instead, it seems that the GMAT is given priority over the GPA. In addition, since each country in Europe has its own educational system, it is common for each business school to prioritize a different topic. In the case of EMBA programs, the details of work experience (especially in management roles) are often considered to be one of the most important aspects of admission.
|1. Stanford GSB||3.74||3.73||3.69||3.70||3.69||+.05|
|2. Harvard Business School||3.67||3.70||3.67||3.66||3.67|
|3. Penn (Wharton)||3.60||3.60||3.60||3.56||3.50||+.10|
|4. Chicago (Booth)||3.60||3.58||3.52||3.52||3.52||+.08|
|5. Columbia Business School||3.50||3.50||3.50||3.50||3.50|
|6. Northwestern (Kellogg)||3.60||3.54||3.69||3.54||3.52||+.08|
|7. MIT (Sloan)||3.58||3.58||3.53||3.51||3.57||+.01|
|8. Dartmouth (Tuck)||3.54||3.53||3.49||3.52||3.50||+.04|
|9. Duke (Fuqua)||3.43||3.42||3.42||3.44||3.40||+.03|
|10. UC-Berkeley (Haas)||3.62||3.60||3.61||3.64||3.63||-.01|