Q: What is the lowest GPA one can have in engineering undergrad and still get in?

A: Admissions criteria differ wildly among schools. Your best bet is to check U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Engineering Graduate School rankings at www.usnews.com.

U. S News maintains an extensive list of engineering graduate schools. The information includes lists of top ranking schools in specialties such as Industrial Engineering, Civil Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, and many others. For each school listed, they share the average GRE scores and overall acceptance rates for the class admitted in Fall 2005. To help facilitate your application, they also link to the school’s website, admission’s email address, and electronic admission application.

Once you have accessed the U.S. News site, identify 10 schools that you are interested in attending. Visit the schools’ websites and navigate to the academic departments that interest you. Find the contact information of the department chair and send him (or her) a message explaining your desire to study at the school. Request information about admissions criteria.

The lower your GPA, the more important it will be for you to establish that you really want to study in graduate school. One thing you will learn is that in graduate school, determination and tenacity are more important than raw smarts. You don’t have to be a genius, but you do have to be dedicated. The sooner you communicate this quality to the school, the more lenient they will be with their admissions criteria.

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