How To Calculate a Major GPA (With Template and Example)
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College students and job applicants often wish to calculate their major GPA to show a mastery of their degree's subject. A high major GPA demonstrates that you earned good grades in the classes related to your degree. To calculate your major GPA, you need to know both the procedure for finding the average and the specific calculation requirements of your institution. In this article, we discuss how your major GPA differs from your overall GPA, how to convert your letter grades into scores and how to calculate your major GPA, including a template and example calculation.
What is a major GPA?
A major GPA, or major grade-point average, is a measure of your average scores only in the courses which contribute to your major degree. An important consideration when calculating your major GPA is the method your school uses to classify required electives, such as a history degree that still requires you to complete two semesters of math classes. Some schools include any classes used to meet these requirements in a major GPA while others only count those directly in your major program.
GPA vs. major GPA
Your GPA is a weighted average of the grades you received in every class, including electives and mandatory classes outside of your major. It is common to use your overall GPA more often than your major GPA. Your school may ask you to include your major GPA alongside overall GPA when applying for honors within your major or when applying for an advanced degree program.
You may choose to include your major GPA as an accomplishment on your resume if it is both high and relevant to the position you're applying for. For example, an English major with a major GPA of 4.0 may wish to list their major GPA on their resume when applying for a literary editing internship, as this major GPA shows that they have mastered an academic subject closely related to the internship responsibilities.
How to calculate a major GPA
To calculate your major GPA, follow these steps:
1. List the courses in your major
Check your school's policy on major GPA calculation to determine whether to include your required electives. List all the classes that factor into your major GPA on the left side of the page or in the leftmost column if you are using a spreadsheet program.
2. Record your letter grades
Use the second column of your major GPA calculation table to record your final semester grade for each class. Exclude any classes that you took on a pass-fail basis as a GPA only includes courses you received a letter grade for.
3. Convert your grades into numerical values
Calculating a major GPA requires you to convert your grades from letters into GPA values. First, examine the letter you received in each class, ignoring any pluses or minuses for the time being. Give yourself the following values for each letter:
Before adjusting for your pluses and minuses, consult with your university to determine how the school policy modifies your grade point average for each. Your student handbook or academic department may be able to offer guidance if you are not sure which modifier to use. The three most common values for plus or minus modifiers are as follows, using B-, B, and B+ grades as examples:
Plus or minus 0.25: B-, 2.75; B, 3.00; B+, 3.25
Plus or minus 0.30: B-, 2.70; B, 3.00; B+, 3.30
Plus or minus 0.33: B-, 2.67; B, 3.00; B+, 3.33
Apply the corresponding modifier to any grades where you received a score with a plus or minus, and write the final value for each course in a third column next to each class.
4. Multiply each course by credits earned
A major GPA is not a simple average score for all relevant classes unless each class is worth the same number of credits. Because schools usually weight their major GPA scores, this means that a course that is worth four credits counts twice as much as a course that is only worth two credits.
To accurately reflect the different weights of each course, add a fourth column to your chart. Multiply the GPA value you earned for each class by the number of credits or course hours the class is worth. Record this value in the fourth column — this provides the weighted score for each class.
Related: FAQ: Weighted GPA vs. Unweighted GPA
5. Find your column totals and divide
Starting with the column listing the credit value of each class, find the total value of the column. Repeat this for the column featuring the weighted GPA score for each class. Divide the sum of your weighted GPA scores by the sum of course credits you have taken. The resulting value is your major GPA score.
Major GPA template
If you need to calculate your major GPA, this template can help you calculate your average score:
|Class||Letter Grade||GPA Score||x||Credits||=||Weighted GPA Score|
Major GPA example
To practice calculating a major GPA, consider this example case. You can practice calculating yourself and compare your results, or you can simply follow along to see how the example student calculates their major GPA:
Pat is a journalism major and has currently completed six classes as part of the major program. Three classes are in the journalism program and worth four credits each: Introduction to Journalism, Media Ethics and Computer-Assisted Reporting. They have also completed three mandatory electives: Algebra and Physics, each worth four credits, and a freshman seminar course worth two credits, Censorship in Cinema: The Motion Picture Production Code.
Pat's school includes mandatory electives in the major GPA calculation and uses a 0.33 modifier for plus and minus grades.
Pat received an A in Media Ethics and Computer-Assisted Reporting, an A- in Physics, a B+ in Introduction to Journalism and Algebra, and a B- in Censorship in Cinema: The Motion Picture Production Code.
To calculate their major GPA, Pat first calculates the weighted GPA score for each and divides it by the total credits earned:
|Class||Letter Grade||GPA Score||x||Credits||=||Weighted GPA Score|
|Introduction to Journalism||B+||3.33||x||4 credits||=||13.32|
|Media Ethics||A||4.00||x||4 credits||=||16.00|
|Computer Assisted Reporting||A||4.00||x||4 credits||=||16.00|
|Censorship in Cinema: The Motion Picture Production Code||B-||2.67||x||2 credits||=||5.34|
To find their major GPA, Pat divides 78.66, their total weighted GPA score, by 22, their total credits earned. Pat's major GPA is 3.58.
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