I get a lot of questions about grade point average from accounting students as well as those interested in the profession. Most want to know either what type of GPA it takes to land a solid job offer or what actions they can take as a student if they don’t currently have a good GPA.
Let’s start with the cold hard truth: You will need a GPA over 3.0 to be competitive with other interviewees seeking the same good job opportunities. Is having at least a 3.0 GPA a requirement for getting a job with a prestigious accounting firm such as PwC? Typically, firms don’t have GPA requirements etched in stone and there are plenty of stories out there of students with bad GPAs pulling off great job offers but it can be incredibly difficult to get even an interview with less than a 3.0 GPA. The recruiters at job fairs speak with many hundreds of job seekers so unless you find some way to leave an incredible impression, they will be relying on the large stacks of faceless resumes to set up their interviews. If they see a GPA less than 3.0 or there is no GPA listed on a resume, it usually gets a one way ticket to the dumpster. So why put yourself at a disadvantage?
Does that mean anything above a 3.0 GPA will lead to interviews and the best job opportunities? Not exactly. The 3.0 GPA can be looked at as more of a “requirement” for a recruiter to invest time in a candidate. A 3.7 GPA certainly garners more attention than a 3.1 GPA. If you want to be sure that your GPA won’t hinder your job prospects at a top level firm, shoot for a 3.5 GPA – anything above is gravy.
What are your options if you have below a 3.0 GPA? Fortunately for this article, I can provide some tips on this from firsthand experience. During my freshman year of college, I decided to spend more time at a local poker room than on campus which lead to me checking out for the summer with a GPA in the ballpark of 1.5. I did quite a bit of careful planning and maintenance to get that GPA up to a 3.6 by graduation 4 years later.
The first thing you should do is pull up your transcript and look for any “non- accounting” completed courses that are below a B minus. You can retake these courses which will remove the prior grade from your GPA calculation and replace it with your new grade. If you would like to save some money, you can consider retaking these courses at either a local community college or online as long as your college will accept the course as a transfer. Keep in mind that if you take the course outside of your own college and transfer it in, your new grade will typically not factor into your GPA. The old grade will be removed and replaced with simply “credit.” For example, if you partied too much during your freshman year and got a D in Psychology class then retake and ace that psychology class at a different institution, the A will not factor into your GPA but your D will be eliminated from the calculation.
Aside from replacing your bad grades, try to choose your non-accounting courses carefully. I would always select courses with good professors who would hand out A’s if you put the work in. RateMyProfessor.com is a great tool to do some research into your options before signing up for your courses.
While GPA is critically important for your job prospects, a little cleanup, careful planning, and hard work will take care of everything. Do you have questions or comments about the accounting industry? I would love to hear from you through our contact page.