East Carolina University
Department of Psychology


What GPA and GRE Scores Do I Need to Get Into Graduate School?

    The GRE has been rescaled such that the mean on each test is now 150 with a standard deviation of 8.75.  I have transformed the benchmark GRE scores below using the concordance table provided by ETS.  Numbers within brackets are using the old metric.

    The answer to this depends greatly on the program to which you are applying and how strong your other credentials are (things like experience with scholarly research and the specific nature of your research interests).  Our graduate admissions expert, Joann Ericson, informed me, in Autumn, 2010, that our Graduate School sets a GPA minimum of 2.7 and a GRE minimum of 294 [950] (combined verbal and quantitative).  Applicants below these thresholds may be admitted following a petition to the Graduate School for a special exception, but these are rare in our department.  Departments can, and do, set standards that exceed those of the Graduate School.

    Erik Everhart, chair of the admissions committee for our doctoral program in clinical health psychology, advised me that the first culling of applicants typically removes most if not all of those with an undergraduate GPA below 3.5 or a combined (verbal and quantitative) GRE of less than about 311 [1250].

    When I was looking at applications for our masters program in research psychology (which no longer exists), I typically looked for an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and a combined GRE of at least 297 [1000].  I paid more attention to the verbal GRE than the quantitative GRE, as it has been my experience that verbal GRE is the better predictor of success in our graduate programs.  Interestingly, some research done a good while back showed that the ratings that our graduate students got from our faculty were best predicted by the students' GRE Analytical Ability scores -- this was not the analytical writing test that is part of the GRE now, but an earlier type of analytical reasoning test.  Of course, this may say more about the raters (Bill Grossnickle and Karl Wuensch) than it does about the students, although others have reported the same -- that makes me wonder why that section was dropped from the GRE.

    Here are some GPA and combined GRE scores of students who first enrolled in our graduate programs in the Autumn of 2010:

Program Mean GPA GRE Minimum GRE Mean GRE Maximum
Clinical Health Ph.D. 3.55 304 [1130]  311 [1248]  319 [1380]
Pediatric Health Ph.D. 3.51  297 [1000] 303 [1117] 311 [1250]
Industrial/Organizational Masters 3.41 295 [970] 308 [1190] 306 [1170]
School Psychology Masters/CAS 3.21 298 [1030] 303 [1110] 312 [1280]

 Here are some GPA and combined GRE scores of students who first enrolled in our graduate programs in the Autumn of 2015:

Program GPA Minimum Mean GPA GPA Maximum GRE Minimum GRE Mean GRE Maximum
Clinical Health Ph.D. 3.20 3.58 3.87 306 310 315
Pediatric Health Ph.D. 3.21 3.51 4.00 302 314 323
Industrial/Organizational Masters 2.97 3.49 3.96 301 308 322
School Psychology Masters/CAS 3.42 3.52 3.69 294 301 312

   I can provide more detail on our now defunct research masters program.  We accepted 26%.  Of those to whom we made an offer of admission, 40% enrolled in our program.  The table below provides some statistics on those to whom we made an offer of admission versus the others.

Statistic Offered Admission Not Offered Admission
Minimum GPA 2.88 2.69
Mean GPA 3.16 3.26
Maximum GPA 3.59 3.94
Minimum GRE-Verbal 152 [490]  140 [320]
Mean GRE-Verbal 154 [512] 152 [486]
Maximum GRE-Verbal 158 [570] 161 [620]
Minimum GRE-Quantitative 147 [570] 138 [350]
Mean GRE-Quantitative 151 [638] 145 [529]
Maximum GRE-Quantitative 156 [720] 152 [670]

    You may be surprised to see how well qualified on GPA and GRE the students not offered admission were.  The primary reason behind this is that admissions committees pay a lot of attention to what the applicant's research interests and experiences are.  Even if an applicant has a very good GPA and very good GRE scores, if s/he does not have any research experience, s/he is going to be at a distinct disadvantage when competing with other applicants.  Also, it is very important that the student have research interests that match those of at least one of the faculty members in the program.  Even if an applicant has very good GPA and very good GRE, if s/he is not interested in the sort of research being conducted by faculty in the program, s/he is unlikely to be offered admission.  In graduate school one can expect to work very closely with one faculty member, the student's "Major Professor."  It is critical that the student share the research interests of her/his major professor.

 

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This page most recently revised on 4-April-2016.