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Articles / Graduate School / Top Economics Grad Program with B's?

April 26, 2020

Top Economics Grad Program with B's?

Question: Dear Dean, I am a rising junior at UC Berkeley studying math and economics and I am interested in pursuing a master's in economics after graduation. If I have had a bad semester (getting two Bs in math courses) but am able to compensate for this by doing very well throughout my junior year, will I still have good chances in getting accepted to top master's programs in economics?

Don't you just love it that, with high school not far back in your rear view mirror, you're already stressing over applications again? 🙁 Well,, try not to … at least not TOO much. A couple of B's will not automatically knock you out of contention for any economics graduate program (especially when those B's aren't in your upper-level econ classes) BUT, at the most sought-after institutions, your “competition" will include many students who never got a grade below an A or A-. So, in order to stay in the running, you need to present not only strong grades (in addition to those B's you mentioned) but also high scores on whatever standardized test is required, glowing recommendations, and some “extra" accomplishments in your field such as research, publications, internships, etc. .


Admission committees typically look at grades first and test scores second. But, even if these are great, without some other “Wow Factor," it can be tough to get good news from the “top master's programs" because—just as with undergraduate applications—many candidates do look similar “on paper." So, if your GPA is not going to be the best in the bunch, then your “extras" need to pack a bigger punch.

Since you have two more years of college ahead of you, you have time to get involved in endeavors outside of the classroom that will strengthen your grad-school application and turn some heads in admission-committee meetings.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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