Do grades matter in Masters?

Those with a flawless GPA are sure to say that grades are the first thing employers look at. On the contrary, those who do not have high academic grades will say that there are other things that are more important – such as social skills and competences.

In this article we are going to answer the question: ‘’Do grades matter in Masters?’’ and we will evaluate the importance of a good grade and its role in a Master degree. 

Do grades matter in Masters?

Grades hardly matter in a Master. If you are looking for a job, they don’t matter directly. But if you want to enter a PhD program, it does matter.

Neither approach is wrong.

The average matters if the profession you want to practice is closely related to academic practice such as accounting and nursing, or when they are fields where highly technical knowledge is required, such as engineering or computer science.

If pursuing a PhD is in your plans, you should rethink your academic performance.

Although it’s true that the academic average is a good reference, the grades are the result of a series of competencies that are evaluated in the university environment, but these are not necessarily indicators of your skills to function in the market.

And it’s that although in the labor market we are also susceptible to being qualified, the way of evaluating ourselves is very different and covers topics such as the ability of people to make decisions, how they relate to their colleagues, leadership and even what activities of leisure you perform.

What is a master’s degree?

Graduate-level study programs provide a more sophisticated and advanced study within a field, or are geared toward a specific profession such as Law or Medicine.

Admission requirements, course requirements, and prices vary significantly between institutions; so it’s advisable to research thoroughly before applying. There are a wide variety of master’s degrees available, the most common being the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS).

To do a master you need a bachelor’s degree. Its duration is usually one or two years and it’s considered to be the end of the second university cycle. This cycle would be: bachelors, master’s and doctorate.

The master’s degrees continue to add to the advanced and multidisciplinary training of the student. They are mainly oriented for an academic and professional specialization. They are also intended to initiate the student in research work by giving them different tools and routines.

This type of specialization generally requires the completion of six to eight advanced courses, as well as an intensive study project and / or a thesis. Some programs offer students the opportunity to complete internships that are credited to their studies.

At the graduate level, students only study courses directly related to their field. Like a bachelor’s degree, master’s degrees comprise a certain number of compulsory credits for completion. They are normally designed to be completed in two years full time.

Also, depending on the teaching style, you can find two types of master’s degrees.

  1. Taught Master. This type of master’s degree has many similarities with the undergraduate, since you must go to classes, attend seminars and tutorials.
  2. Research Master. In this type of teaching, the focus is not only in the classes, but the research you carry out. You will be qualified by essays and advances in the subject that you have decided to investigate.

For this type of Master it’s very useful to arrive with a clear idea of the subject you are interested in investigating, in addition the educational style is a little closer to that of a doctorate.

As with bachelors, there are two basic categories to name master’s degrees: Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS), as well as other more specific definitions, including the famous Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Now, in graduate level studies grades are also important?

Graduate-level grades don’t matter or directly affect the job market. Of course it all depends on what you want to achieve.

Within the research or the teaching field, what really matters is:

  • Letters of recommendation, basically the quality of your work perceived by others.
  • The prestige of your graduate program.
  • Publication quality, that is, in which journals your work has been published, with whom you have worked, etc.
  • Number of publications made
  • Community service

Does this mean that you don’t have to worry about the notes? No. The goal of graduate school is not just to impress employers. Yes, it gives you the advantage of a distinction. But, the objective is to train you as a researcher, create competencies and good quality content, the idea is that the work that you do makes impressions to the teachers in the program. That is worth worrying about.

Why? The program will allow you to produce good work, publish successfully, etc. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t mind getting good grades. But don’t just focus on it, as it’s not what the people they are hiring care about.

Employers don’t care about your grades. They only care about the fact you have a MS and a great thesis.

What about… fellowships?

Now, we know that grades don’t matter for most jobs. But yes, if you are applying for a scholarship or a PhD, where they take this factor into account, it does matter. Many universities require you to have a B + to continue funding you. On many occasions, students can be left out of a scholarship program if they do not meet a required average.

It may seem hard, but really let’s think about it: you come with a prior level of knowledge. It is a MASTERS program, you must show that you have mastery in the subject, in general, a successful thesis means a good score. So yes, grades matter at the master’s level, specifically for financial aid.

Do you want to pursue a PhD?

In cases where you have future plans of doing your PhD, your master’s degree grades will impact your admission.

If you have bad grades in your master’s degree it means that something is not going well. Many universities require you to pass an exam to be part of the Graduate Record Examination programs.

The GRE exam is highly demanding and is a very important component in the admission process to graduate programs, so it’s necessary to prepare well.

This exam can be a decisive factor in the admission process to graduate programs, as it allows universities to compare applicants from different countries and university systems. It is also used for the purpose of deciding who to award scholarships to.

It’s very unlikely that you will pass the qualification exam if you have not performed well on your Master. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.

What if I have bad grades?

The offer of postgraduate courses grows every day according to the imminent need that the country has for specialized professionals in their respective areas. Each university has its own entry requirements for its postgraduate programs.

If your academic record is not particularly good, you may not see yourself with much of a chance of being admitted to a good PhD program. After all, Ph.D. they are becoming more and more competitive, especially at elite universities.

However, it’s important to note that universities also take into account other aspects of the candidate. Even if your grades are not very good, all is not lost. There are no quick fixes, but there are things you can do both during college and after you finish that can improve your chances of being admitted.

You must address all aspects of your application process in a way that compensates for poor grades.

Why is a Master important?

At present, the importance of higher studies at the master’s and doctorate level have reached greater relevance due to the level of competition that is becoming stronger in professionals.

Not all professionals have an interest in continuing professionalization at more specific levels. However, if you want to achieve a higher step and a better position in the job market, it becomes necessary.

In addition, it should be taken into account that now the bachelor’s level has become a very basic level and that it’s essential to have master’s degrees to achieve key positions within companies, international organizations and, even, in some government positions.

Today, the largest companies and transnationals, both nationally and internationally, require their employees to have the highest level of professional knowledge.

The objective of this is to achieve business goals in a more competitive way, being respectful of the environment, deep administrative knowledge, high level of leadership and capacity in decision-making, among other skills.

Universities are aware of these requirements and seek that their graduates are quickly positioned in the job market and obtain the best positions.

If the wide range of university courses offered is taken into account, the professional can even take not only a specialization option, but also make the decision to always keep up to date and continue training constantly, since they never stop learning.

It’s important to keep in mind whether what you want is to specialize or complement the degree level studies that you already have.

We live in a world that is increasingly competitive, in which we need to know in greater depth and, at the same time, breadth, to be able to deliver the best results in any of the work fields in which we work. 

When we begin our university degrees at the undergraduate level, it ‘s important to know that if we seek to achieve sustained professional growth, we must always be up to date.

It’s also important to recognize what can best be achieved through master’s degrees and, why not, a Ph.D. In this way we can ensure a better society and the highest level of knowledge.

So, Do grades matter in Masters?

The complex economic situation that many companies go through has led them to be very selective when hiring, so your ideal candidate will have a mix of skills.

That is, be flexible in the range of grades (such as putting a minimum average of 3.00 onward), and seek that even if they don’t have all the necessary skills, they see that they have the willingness and ability to learn them.

“Even our best schools are failing to prepare students for the 21st century,” admitted Tony Wagner, an education expert at Harvard University. The article adds that: “the key lies precisely in the mismatch between training and the needs of companies.”

More important to companies is the candidates’ research experience, non-academic achievements and their leadership potential.

Similarly, if you are doing a good job on your Masters, you shouldn’t get bad grades. While it is not something employers look at, it can be a reflection of the quality of your work.

FAQS: Do grades matter in Masters?

Do grades matter at Masters level?

Some jobs do require a minimum grade, but it’s usually not very high. In the academic field they do matter more, the admissions to a PhD are usually very competitive, and you will need a good GPA.

Does GPA matter for Masters?

GPA is an indicator that you are successfully completing the program, of course, it is not the only indicator. But as a good researcher, it is expected that you have a good GPA.

What is a good grade at Masters level?

The highest-rated Masters students receive a ”Distinction” title, for this, you will need 70% +.

Do grad schools care about grades?

Yes, to get into a grad school you will need a good GPA. Of course, the requirement may vary from school to school, but you will need a minimum of 2.5 or 3.0 GPAs.

Can you fail a Masters dissertation?

It’s very rare that this happens. Usually, students present their thesis when they are completely ready and confident that they will pass.

In this article we answered the question: ‘’Do grades matter in Masters?’’ and we evaluated the importance of a good grade and its role in a Master degree. 

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Clark, N. (2014, April). Are grades at postgraduate level irrelevant? Retrieved October 11, 2020, from the Guardian website:

Do Grades Matter? (Published 2012). (2012, April 13). The New York Times. Retrieved from

Five Truths About Graduate School That Nobody Tells You. (2013). Retrieved October 11, 2020, from Psychology Today website: