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Applying to a PhD with an ok-ish GPA

Hi I'm a Canadian student currently at the University of Toronto completing my undergrad degree in history. I'm currently heading to Queen's University to do my MA in history. I'd like to go on to do a PhD ideally at a school like Oxford or Cambridge. I have strong references and solid research topic, but my current GPA is hovering at around a 3.57-3.60 out of a 4.0 scale. To my understanding this equates to somewhere around a mid to high-Upper Second-Class Honours, but I'm not too sure cause I keep getting conflicting info regarding this.

If I hypothetically got strong grades during my MA program as well as strong references and such does this offset my mediocre grades and put me in contention to apply to Cambridge, Oxford, or any other top-tier history PhD program, or should I abandon the pursuit for now and all time?
Original post by tingtong11
Hi I'm a Canadian student currently at the University of Toronto completing my undergrad degree in history. I'm currently heading to Queen's University to do my MA in history. I'd like to go on to do a PhD ideally at a school like Oxford or Cambridge. I have strong references and solid research topic, but my current GPA is hovering at around a 3.57-3.60 out of a 4.0 scale. To my understanding this equates to somewhere around a mid to high-Upper Second-Class Honours, but I'm not too sure cause I keep getting conflicting info regarding this.

If I hypothetically got strong grades during my MA program as well as strong references and such does this offset my mediocre grades and put me in contention to apply to Cambridge, Oxford, or any other top-tier history PhD program, or should I abandon the pursuit for now and all time?


Hey @tingtong11


Really happy to hear about your plans and congrats on your offer to Queen's University.:congrats:

When applying to PhD programmes, the most important part of the application is your research proposal. It carries a lot of weight to your application alongside your grades. I would encourage you to aim for a distinction or merit on your MA programme.

Also, don't abandon the pursuit! Use the time you spend on your MA programme to develop your research skills and show a strong interest in History by actively participating in History related competitions and any other way you possibly can. Ensure to speak to your tutors and lectures about your interest in pursuing a PhD in History. You can even ask about opportunity to assist with research they are currently undertaking.

I really hope this helps and I wish you nothing but the best! YOU GOT THIS!

- Dennis (PhD Air Transport Management student) :biggrin:

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