How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
yahoo36
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Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:20 pm

How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby yahoo36 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:32 pm

Other factors being equal, how does graduate coursework compare with GPA? I mean, suppose there are 2 students-A and B. A has taken 10 graduate courses in the past year and has a perfect GPA. B has taken 20 such courses in one year (that's a tremendous load when only 10 are expected at most) and has a GPA of, say 3.4. Who is preferred?

arima
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:25 pm

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby arima » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:11 pm

yahoo36 wrote:Other factors being equal, how does graduate coursework compare with GPA? I mean, suppose there are 2 students-A and B. A has taken 10 graduate courses in the past year and has a perfect GPA. B has taken 20 such courses in one year (that's a tremendous load when only 10 are expected at most) and has a GPA of, say 3.4. Who is preferred?


I don't think your hypothetical situation is reasonable. At any decent school, it is not humanly possible to take 20 graduate courses in one year (10 courses per semester?). If a person is taking 20 graduate courses in one year, then the quality of the graduate courses must be very, very low.

More realistically, one professor told me that he made the wrong decision to take too many graduate courses (about 8 during his whole undergraduate career -- not in one year). The reason he said it was wrong is because he did get a couple B's. He said it would have been smarter to take a "few" graduate courses and do well in them. He felt he was lucky because he ended up getting admitted to UCLA for PhD studies in math. But, as he said, if he were to do it over again, he would take fewer graduate courses. Just enough to demonstrate that he could handle graduate level material.

yahoo36
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Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby yahoo36 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:22 pm

I have 20 graduate courses in 3 semesters, only 4 per semester is expected. And this is from one of the most demanding math programs in my country (India). I don't know what will happen because of this. My GPA is around 8.5 on a 10 point scale in spite of that. I'm afraid I'll be rejected by most schools because of a fellow applicant from the same college who has 9.9/10 GPA in the same period, with 12 or 13 math courses. I regret not playing it safe.

Enigmatic
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Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:04 am

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby Enigmatic » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:25 pm

yahoo36 wrote:Other factors being equal, how does graduate coursework compare with GPA? I mean, suppose there are 2 students-A and B. A has taken 10 graduate courses in the past year and has a perfect GPA. B has taken 20 such courses in one year (that's a tremendous load when only 10 are expected at most) and has a GPA of, say 3.4. Who is preferred?


I would be tempted to look at the relevance of grad courses for the intended program. Are all of B's courses relevant to his/her area of interest as stated in the SOP. From the description you provided, it looks unlikely. If someone takes too many courses of little relevance, and because of this performs poorly in important courses, I'd see it as a redflag. It indicates that the student is indecisive and was perpetually exploring. Exploration is not a bad thing per se.. but it cannot be used as a reason for poor performance.

In short, as long as student A did all the relevant courses, he/she would be preferred over B, IMHO. I think we can give better comments if you tell us *why* you took so many courses.. It seems a bit excessive and unnecessary to me.

arima
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Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby arima » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:54 pm

yahoo36 wrote:I have 20 graduate courses in 3 semesters, only 4 per semester is expected. And this is from one of the most demanding math programs in my country (India). I don't know what will happen because of this. My GPA is around 8.5 on a 10 point scale in spite of that. I'm afraid I'll be rejected by most schools because of a fellow applicant from the same college who has 9.9/10 GPA in the same period, with 12 or 13 math courses. I regret not playing it safe.


There seems to be multiple different scenarios (people). You posted the 4 person scenario (person 1, person 2, person 3, and person 4), none of whom had 20 courses and 8.5/10, also none of whom had 12-13 courses and 9.9/10. Now you are posting person A vs. person B. Are there now 6 different people involved from your institution. You state that you are in the person 1 to person 4 group. Now you are suggesting you are person B. But, based on your information person B is not possibly person 1 through person 4. Please be straight up if you want feedback.

yahoo36
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Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby yahoo36 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:06 pm

Hmm. Our institute requires you to compulsorily do around 11 graduate courses-graduate algebra, commutative algebra, graduate complex analysis, measure theory, functional analysis, algebraic topology etc. Of my other 9 courses, 5 are directly related to my field of interest, which is number theory. My grades are 3 A, 2B. Two are highly advanced algebraic topology courses-and although I got 2 Bs there, B was quite a common grade in them. I admit I also have a couple of applied math courses thrown in-with near perfect grades however. Is that a red flag? Actually, the Bs are quite all over the place for me. The other fellow has only done 2 electives apart from the compulsory ones-both in his area of interest, both with perfect grades. So I guess that does make him a better candidate. I think I should have realized this earlier. In any case, our fields are quite different-number theory and probability theory. Do you think applicants with different interests are not usually compared during selection? Or does a single committee rate everyone, say without inputs from professors in that field? I add that if you consider the most advanced of my 20 courses (this will be subjective, but the UMich application form asks for this), my GPA goes up to 9/10 or something. For example, I have a B in real analysis with A in measure theory, a B in Algebraic Topology with an A in say, Homotopy Theory. It's quite confusing, let me tell you. The reason is probably too much workload-it's really tough to give a real analysis exam with an elliptic curves exam on the same day. What should I explain? The only positive is that my Subject GRE is 88%, and my friend's is around 75. I don't know if that's enough to make any difference.

And since you asked, person B is person 3 in the other post (a GPA of 8.45 can be either 8.4 or 8.5 :D ), person A is someone else-so there are actually 5 people involved :D

arima
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Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby arima » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:19 pm

yahoo36 wrote:Hmm. Our institute requires you to compulsorily do around 11 graduate courses-graduate algebra, commutative algebra, graduate complex analysis, measure theory, functional analysis, algebraic topology etc. Of my other 9 courses, 5 are directly related to my field of interest, which is number theory. My grades are 3 A, 2B. Two are highly advanced algebraic topology courses-and although I got 2 Bs there, B was quite a common grade in them. I admit I also have a couple of applied math courses thrown in-with near perfect grades however. Is that a red flag? Actually, the Bs are quite all over the place for me. The other fellow has only done 2 electives apart from the compulsory ones-both in his area of interest, both with perfect grades. So I guess that does make him a better candidate. I think I should have realized this earlier. In any case, our fields are quite different-number theory and probability theory. Do you think applicants with different interests are not usually compared during selection? Or does a single committee rate everyone, say without inputs from professors in that field? I add that if you consider the most advanced of my 20 courses (this will be subjective, but the UMich application form asks for this), my GPA goes up to 9/10 or something. For example, I have a B in real analysis with A in measure theory, a B in Algebraic Topology with an A in say, Homotopy Theory. It's quite confusing, let me tell you. The reason is probably too much workload-it's really tough to give a real analysis exam with an elliptic curves exam on the same day. What should I explain? The only positive is that my Subject GRE is 88%, and my friend's is around 75. I don't know if that's enough to make any difference.

And since you asked, person B is person 3 in the other post (a GPA of 8.45 can be either 8.4 or 8.5 :D ), person B is someone else-so there are actually 5 people involved :D


I was reacting to you stating that you took 20 graduate courses but none of person 1-4 took 20 graduate courses. That is fine...

Admissions process depends on institution. A common procedure (as done at Berkeley) is to have one professor go through the pile of applicants and create a "possible" pile and a "reject" pile. People in the "reject" pile are not forwarded to the committee. The committee gets the "possible" pile and then ranks the candidates in the possible pile. Based on rankings, the first X are made offers, then the next group below are wait listed, and the remaining are rejected. The number offered and waited listed depends on the department size and on the number of currents students in the program. Your 88% is a positive since international students have a much higher bar given the number of international students applying. Good luck, you will have to wait and see,

Enigmatic
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Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:04 am

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby Enigmatic » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:38 pm

yahoo36 wrote: And since you asked, person B is person 3 in the other post (a GPA of 8.45 can be either 8.4 or 8.5 :D ), person A is someone else-so there are actually 5 people involved :D


To be straight up and frank, I think you are making this whole ordeal a mess. There is little point in making multiple posts about the same thing, and going through it again and again. There is little you can do now anyways, so just chill it and concentrate on research.

Also, I think you are missing the whole point about grad level courses. They are meant to be a supplement or gateway to research. It's neither expected nor recommended to pile up grad level coursework. Rather, almost every professor I know recommends students to pick an area of interest, and do research in it while simultaneously doing relevant courses. Taking 20 courses and doing sub-optimal research is such a waste of time and effort, with near 0 payoff. That is the bitter truth, just let it slide, and concentrate on your research now. No point in comparing who'll be ranked higher with only partial and messy info. You'll know the result in a month or so.

AMGMScrub
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 3:20 am

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby AMGMScrub » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:21 pm

As others mentioned, what are you trying to prove in trying to compare these other peers of yours? An ego boost? As enigmatic mentioned, you'll soon find out your answer on your admission application. 10 graduate course seems excessive if we're talking about semester courses. Even quarter system, that's still excessive. I think at this point, you're in like a try hard mode.

joga
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:21 pm

Re: How does GPA compare with coursework in graduate school admissions?

Postby joga » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:12 pm

yahoo36 wrote:Hmm. Our institute requires you to compulsorily do around 11 graduate courses-graduate algebra, commutative algebra, graduate complex analysis, measure theory, functional analysis, algebraic topology etc. Of my other 9 courses, 5 are directly related to my field of interest, which is number theory. My grades are 3 A, 2B. Two are highly advanced algebraic topology courses-and although I got 2 Bs there, B was quite a common grade in them. I admit I also have a couple of applied math courses thrown in-with near perfect grades however. Is that a red flag? Actually, the Bs are quite all over the place for me. The other fellow has only done 2 electives apart from the compulsory ones-both in his area of interest, both with perfect grades. So I guess that does make him a better candidate. I think I should have realized this earlier. In any case, our fields are quite different-number theory and probability theory. Do you think applicants with different interests are not usually compared during selection? Or does a single committee rate everyone, say without inputs from professors in that field? I add that if you consider the most advanced of my 20 courses (this will be subjective, but the UMich application form asks for this), my GPA goes up to 9/10 or something. For example, I have a B in real analysis with A in measure theory, a B in Algebraic Topology with an A in say, Homotopy Theory. It's quite confusing, let me tell you. The reason is probably too much workload-it's really tough to give a real analysis exam with an elliptic curves exam on the same day. What should I explain? The only positive is that my Subject GRE is 88%, and my friend's is around 75. I don't know if that's enough to make any difference.

And since you asked, person B is person 3 in the other post (a GPA of 8.45 can be either 8.4 or 8.5 :D ), person A is someone else-so there are actually 5 people involved :D


This passage confuses me - what is a highly advanced algebraic topology course ? If hatcher amounts to highly advanced then I would disagree. Simplicial homotopy theory would atleast make sense, but that is an advanced algebraic topology course and would make more sense if you choose to study it if topology is your focus of research. What is a graduate level real analysis course if it does not do measure theory? And Homotopy theory would be Higher Homotopy groups and spectral sequences or basic Homotopy Theory? Many of the so called graduate courses in India do not really count as graduate courses in America. A real measure would be a comparison to graduate courses in USA would those in TIFR.

I really do not mean to sound rude, and I understand your anxiety. However I must point out that mathematics is a social endeavor and your classmates will are also using this portal. It is not in good taste trying to undermine others.

Now getting to the heart of the matter,

A graduate course is supposed to be a study for you to assimilate mathematics. I would not be able to do 20 in 3 semesters, but thats just me and I know my limitations, I know I am slow.

You have a great Math Gre Score going for you. Thats a positive.

You really seem keen on working at Michigan. I know only from my experience and my interactions with my Profs in USA, that about 60-70% of your application rests on your recommendation. If you have worked with people in TIFR, i presume you would know Arvind and Dipendra. You should talk to them to gauge your chances. You are more than welcome to check my profile if you wish to from 2015 applications.

Remember Mathematics is a social endeavor! Relax and apply to places in Europe too. If your understanding of mathematics is strong you will do well in interviews and would have good chances to work in mathematics. Also TIFR is great.




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