Calculating your GPA

Your Grade Point Average, or GPA, indicates your performance in your coursework. Each course you take is assigned a number of credits, based on the number of hours each week the class meets. For instance, a three-credit course meets roughly three hours each week. Grades at MSU are numerical and range from 4.0 to 0.0. You must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above to remain in good standing; a GPA under 2.0 will land you on probation. A 1.0 is the minimum grade to receive credit for a course. A course in which you earn less than 2.0 may be repeated for an improved grade, up to a maximum of 20 repeated credits.

The points earned in a class is the product of the credit hours for that class and the grade you earned. If you earned a 3.5 in WRA 101, which is a four-credit class, that is the equivalent of 14.0 points (3.5 x 4).

To calculate your semester GPA, you take the sum of the points you earned that semester and divide it by the total number of credits you attempted that semester. Let’s say your semester ends like this:

Semester 1
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM 141 4 3.0 12
MTH 124 3 2.5 7.5
ISS 210 4 3.0 12
WRA 101 4 3.5 14
Totals 15   45.5


Semester GPA = Total points / Credits attempted

Semester GPA = 45.5 / 15 = 3.0333

Your cumulative GPA is the same calculation (total points / credits attempted) but it includes all the semesters you’ve completed.

Going back to our example above, let’s say your next two semesters look like this:

Semester 2
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM142 3 2.5 7.5
CEM161 1 4.0 4.0
BS161 3 3.0 9.0
IAH210 4 3.0 12.0
KIN125 3 3.5 10.5
Totals: 14   43.0

Semester 3

Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM251 3 3.0 9.0
BS171 2 3.0 6.0
CEM162 1 4.0 4.0
STT201 4 3.5 14.0
PSY101 4 3.5 14.0
Totals: 14   47.0

Semester 2 GPA: 43 / 14 = 3.07

Semester 3 GPA: 47 / 14 = 3.3571

Your cumulative GPA is the sum of all three calculations: total points/credits attempted =

(45.5 + 43 + 47) / (15 + 14 + 14) = 3.15

Remember that any course for which you don’t receive a numerical grade (Pass/NoPass, for instance) will not be counted in your GPA, so disregard those in your “credits attempted” sum.

Repeating Courses may be a necessary strategy if you’ve done poorly and want to demonstrate that you have mastered the material.

  • If you are planning to apply to graduate school or professional school, it’s important to know how that institution will deal with your repeated courses. Many will average the grades you earned, a few will take the last grade.

GPA Calculation, Example 1: Repeating a failed course at MSU the following semester

In her first semester, our sample student earns the following:

Example 1, Semester 1
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM 141 4 1.0 4.0
ISS 2xx 4 2.0 8.0
MTH 124 3 0.0 0.0
WRA 1xx 4 4.0 16.0

GPA:28 / 15 = 1.86667

She is placed on probation and – based on 12 credits planned for next semester – will need at least a 2.1666 to get off probation (that is, to get her cumulative GPA up to a 2.0). IF, however, one of her courses was MTH 124, the student would only need a 1.666 to get off probation because once she enrolls in a repeated course, the computer automatically deducts that course from her GPA calculation. Effectively, then, her GPA for the first semester becomes 2.333 (28 points / 12 credits).

In her next semester, repeating MTH 124, she finishes with these grades:

Example 1, Semester 2
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
BS 161 3 3.0 9.0
BS 171 2 2.5 5.0
IAH 2xx 4 3.0 12.0
MTH 124 3 3.0 9.0


Semester GPA: 35 / 12 = 2.91666

Cumulative GPA: 63 / 24 = 2.6250 (remember that MTH 124 credits and grade were deducted from the first semester calculation, since that course was repeated).

GPA Calculation, Example 2: Repeating two courses the following semester:

Returning to our sample student, at the end of semester 1, recall that she had:

Example 2, Semester 1
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM 141 4 1.0 4.0
ISS 2xx 4 2.0 8.0
MTH 124 3 0.0 0.0
WRA 1xx 4 4.0 16.0

Semester GPA:28 / 15 = 1.86667

As in the first example, she is placed on probation and – based on the 12 credits planned for next semester – will need at least a 2.1666 to get off probation. IF, however, she chose to repeat two of her courses the following semester (MTH 124 and CEM 141), she would only need a 1.3333 to get off probation. Recall that once she enrolls in these two repeat courses, they are deducted from her previous GPA calculation, so now she has a 3.0 GPA (24 points/8 credits)

Semester 2, after repeating MTH 124 and CEM 141, she earns:

Example 2, Semester 2
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
BS 161 3 3.0 9.0  
BS 171 2 2.5 5.0  
CEM 141 4 3.0 12.0  
MTH 124 3 3.0 9.0  

Semester GPA:35 / 12 = 2.91666

Cumulative GPA:59 / 20 = 2.95

By repeating CEM and MTH, the student’s GPA is higher and more importantly, she is better prepared for the more advanced courses.

GPA Calculation, Example 3: Repeating a failed course in the summer at another institution

We’ll start our sample student exactly as we have in the previous examples:

Example 3, Semester 1
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
CEM 141 4 1.0 4.0
ISS 2xx 4 2.0 8.0
MTH 124 3 0.0 0.0
WRA 1xx 4 4.0 16.0

GPA:28 / 15 = 1.86667

She is place on probation and – based on 12 credits planned for next semester – will need at least a 2.1666 to get off probation. She decides, though, to repeat MTH 124 and CEM 141 in the summer at a community college near her home.

The next semester, her record looks like this:

Example 3, Semester 2
Course Credits Grade Points = credits x grade
COM 100 3 3.0 9.0
ANP200 2 2.5 5.0
IAH 2xx 4 3.0 12.0
KIN 125 3 3.0 9.0


Semester GPA:35 / 12 = 2.9166

Cumulative GPA:63 / 27 = 2.333

In the summer, she repeats both CEM 141 and MTH 124 at a local community college. The credit will transfer, but the grades do not. While the transfer grade won’t affect the MSU GPA at all, earning the transfer credit will mean MSU deletes the courses taken at MSU, changing the “credits attempted” and “points” portions of the equation:

Semester 1 Points = 24, Credits attempted now = 8

Semester 2 is unchanged, Points = 35, Credits attempted = 12

New cumulative GPA:59 / 20 = 2.95

Note that our student now has the same GPA as in example 2, but that GPA was achieved at the end of the third semester rather than at the end of the second semester.

If you are planning to attend graduate or professional school, your new institution will need transcripts from anywhere you’ve taken classes and they will see the grades you earned and recalculate your grades according to their own formula (and again, some will average the grades in repeated courses).