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There’s a lot on your mind – we get it! Here are our answers to some community questions.

What happens if you do not pass one of the required classes or meet the 3.0 GPA requirement?

We completely understand your concerns. Grad school classes are hard, and we have all struggled with them. This situation is not uncommon, and your GPA does not define your success as a researcher or scientist!
That being said, if you do not pass one of the required classes or electives with a B- or higher, you generally have to retake the course as per department policy. If your overall GPA is lower than 3.0 but you have at least a B- (2.7) in all of your classes, you may have to use electives to increase your score above a B- to obtain an overall GPA higher than 3.0. Upon retaking a course, students are generally able to improve their score and obtain grades that are required for PhD candidacy. If you feel very concerned about your standings in a course you are taking, you should be in communication with your instructors and TAs on how to improve your performance and if there is anything extra you can do to improve your grade. Instructors are generally sympathetic to students’ struggles with the coursework. If they are aware of your concerns, they will at the very least know that you are making an effort and will be more willing to directly help you. Having a discussion with your advisor would also be beneficial, as they may be able to offer ways to adjust your workload, provide suggestions on next steps, and advocate for you at the department level if needed. Finally, we encourage you to talk to your senior students (including EmPOWER mentors) for help navigating the difficulties of the courses, as many of them may have ‘tricks of the trade’ to offer to you.
We believe in you!


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