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Executive MBA: How Important is My Undergrad GPA?

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Some Executive MBA (EMBA) applicants struggled during their undergraduate years, possibly due to moving far from home, choosing an unsuitable major, working long hours in a part-time job, or failing to balance work and fun effectively, which resulted in lower grades. Despite this, they have thrived in their business careers, often with six to nine years of work experience and multiple promotions, achieving significant professional success. Some have reached high positions in Fortune companies, started highly successful businesses, or excelled in rapidly growing startups backed by venture funding. However, their undergraduate GPA may not reflect this professional success. You may be one of these professionals, wondering how you will explain to the admissions committee a performance of Second Class or a GPA of 3.0, 2.8, 2.5, 2.1, or even lower.

If you are in this situation, you are no doubt concerned about whether your less-than-ideal undergraduate GPA will prevent you from admission to top EMBA programs. At MBA, we frequently encounter candidates in this situation and specialize in helping candidates overcome low GPAs to gain admission to elite EMBA programs like those of Wharton, MIT, Kellogg, Columbia, Booth, Haas, and NYU – the list goes on!

While a low undergraduate GPA is a weakness, it can be addressed through a well-crafted application. This involves more than just mentioning it in the optional essay section. Your strategy should include redirecting attention by shining bright lights on your many professional achievements. You do this through your essay content, resume, and stories told through your recommendations. You should strive to isolate your GPA so that it is the sole weakness in your profile. Your goal is to present so much compelling information about your professional achievements and contributions, skills, talents, and future potential that the admissions committee is inspired to believe your GPA no longer defines you and therefore lacks relevancy in the admissions process.

We hope you will be encouraged to know that we at MBA have helped candidates with GPAs like 2.1 to get into prestigious EMBA programs at Wharton, MIT, Columbia, and many others, by implementing strategic application approaches.

Need expert help?

Need help preparing a great EMBA application? Feel free to reach out to Dr. Shelle, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, who is the Founder of MBA Email:

Want a free profile evaluation from Dr. Shelle, so you know how strong you are as an EMBA candidate? Reach out to Dr. Shelle: email: or fill out the profile evaluation form at

Learn more about Dr. Shelle here:

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About Dr. Shelle and MBA

MBA was established by Dr. Shelle Leanne, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford who has experience with Harvard admissions and served in Stanford University’s Office of the President. Dr. Shelle, who has over 30 years of admissions advising experience, works one-to-one with clients. She is an accomplished writer whose works have been translated into 25 languages worldwide, and she has previous work experience with McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley. Her clients rave about her services and impact. Each year, nearly 95% of her clients receive scholarships, totaling over $10 million last year.