Does GPA matter for Fulbright Scholarship?

Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Fulbright Pakistan | 55 comments

Read our Disclaimer

USEFP clearly states that the purpose of Fulbright Scholarship Program is to promote the mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the United States through educational and cultural exchange. Fulbright scholars from Pakistan are required to share information about Pakistani society and culture with students and also demonstrate a strong plan to contribute something to their home country upon their return. Securing this prestigious scholarship requires much more than profiles embellished with mere grades and academic achievements.

While grades do matter, they certainly are not the deciding factor.

A common misconception is that ‘All Fulbrighters are a bunch of nerds with perfect GPA and standardized test scores’. This is one of the biggest myths about Fulbright scholarship program which prevents scores of students from applying. The Fulbright Commission isn’t looking for students with perfect GPA’s, impeccable GRE, TOEFL or GMAT test scores, perfect IQ’s and a long list of awards and honors – they simply look for people with a demonstrated passion for their area’s of interest along with well-rounded interests, unique life experiences and a desire to be a cultural ambassador of Pakistan in US culture.

There are many low scorers who get in easily among the pool of Fulbrighters.

GPA, a weak narrator of applicant’s achievements

Grades have their place. But they don’t always matter because they don’t define us. We all know that every university has its own criteria to calculate GPA’s – some give a 3.5+ to those who fall in the top 10% of the class while some give it to those who lie in the top 2%. There are even some programs such as LUMS that give a 4.3 GPA (Bonus GPA) to the exceptional performers. In short GPA is not a standard and unified measure that can be used to shortlist students for such a prestigious scholarship as the Fulbright.

Moreover because of this inconsistency in calculating the GPA, a student with a 3.5 GPA from, for example NUST, can’t be equal to another student with 3.5 GPA from some other university.

So, don’t worry if you don’t have a stellar GPA.

What Does the Fulbright Committee Look For?

Fulbright is all about communicating your passion and your ability to compete in a certain area of interest. You have to exhibit this passion via a logical and a well-structured SOP (Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement). The requirement of GRE scores, publications, research proposal, study objectives and sound letter of references (LOR) decrease the emphasis on GPA’s. Therefore, a good GPA only supplements these several other factors that can play a deciding role in winning you the Fulbright Scholarship.

What is a Safe GPA for Successful Application?

USEFP clearly states that there is no minimum GPA requirement for Fulbright Scholarship Program. However, over the years I have observed that anything above 2.75 is a safe GPA for Fulbright. That doesn’t rule out the chances for candidates with less than 2.75 GPA’s. In fact, recently many Fulbrighters secured the scholarship with less than 2.4 GPA’s as well. But one thing is for sure, that their application stood out in all the other remaining factors such as strong international publications, eloquent personal statements and stellar GRE scores. Whereas many students with 3.7 GPA’s got rejected last year primarily because they applied with lackluster study objectives, trite reference letters and below average GRE scores.

So, having a strong GPA doesn’t warrant your application’s success.

How to Make Up for Low GPA?

Many talented students have low grades in universities due to different factors. There are ways to compensate your low GPA and few of them are stated below:

• Your personal statement is an ideal place in your application to explain your low GPA. You can attribute your low GPA to illness, financial restrictions or some other reasonable factor. Your faculty member can also defend your low grades in reference letters.
• Get a strong GRE score especially in the section that is more related to your field of your application. For example, a strong quantitative score matters more for engineering students than verbal score.
• Try writing a research paper on your Final Year Project and present it in some international conference. A strong international publication can do wonders for your Fulbright chances.

A Final word

Academic achievement is only one of the many factors that contribute to the selection of Fulbright Fellows. So, don’t allow your low GPA from preventing you from giving a shot to one of the most prestigious scholarships available. Good Luck!


  1. Avatar

    i am student 12 class pre medical govt degree boys college post graduate centre

  2. Avatar

    i am student of fsc-II and wana scholorship for foregin in the field of medical

  3. Avatar

    Sir I have just sent a paper on my FYP to IEEE which will take 6-12 months in acceptance and publication. Will it strong my application or It will not be count until it published.

    • Avatar

      WAS – It will not count unless it is published.

      • Avatar

        sir how i hope that you are fine i asked a question tjat
        fee of GRE is refund able ?

  4. Avatar

    hey Talha,

    how can we contact you, for getting guidance.

  5. Avatar

    i am danish ali and did MBA in marketing with a cgpa 2.99 out of 4 am i eligible to take admission any phd programme???? this is my contact +92 336 0454 876 and my email is, kindly tell me

    • Avatar

      You will be eligible after 18 years of education

  6. Avatar

    Dear Talha,
    I am big fan of yours. Its is so awesome and refreshing how you help people here on this forum. I would like to discuss my issue with you as well regarding Fulbright scholarship for masters.
    I have a BS in Electrical engineering (NUST 2014) with a gpa of 2.72 . My gre scores are 157 in Quant, 155 Verbal, 4/6 writing.
    Since, you see i have a low gpa, do i need to have a better gre score than the one i already have?
    Do you think that i should apply? what credentials i should improve? How my SOP should cover my gpa?

    • Avatar

      Hello Salman – Thanks 🙂 oh yes you must improve your GRE especially your quant and take it up to 165. GPA can be covered with a high GRE easily won’t be an issue but under current scenario your profile is really average.

  7. Avatar

    I do not have a legitimate three years of work experience can I still apply for masters and My GRE Score is low in verbal reasoning there is 134 and quantitative there is 130 and analytical writing 2.5 . This is an inappropriate score can I still apply or go for an attempt test

    • Avatar

      The minimum eligible score to apply is 138 Q and 136 V

  8. Avatar

    Hi there,

    My CGPA is 3.00. I did BS Electrical Engineering from UET Peshawar in 2015. I have an International Publication as well in IEEE. Do you think I have chances ? Currently I doing job in the same area of research.

    • Avatar

      Hello – what is your GRE score?

    • Avatar

      My CGPA is 3.43 & my GRE score is 315 ; 156 verbal, 159 quant & 4 in writing.
      I was wondering if I should retake my GRE, do I currently hold a chance of getting the fullbright scholarship my current GRE score and CGPA?

      • Avatar

        Hello Ali, Indeed it is a competitive score overall. But if you are applying for an Eng program or any other quant based program then the quant score is below average. In that case the quant score needs to be above 163.

  9. Avatar

    Hi/Asalamoalikum ,
    how r u?My name is Naila Gill,i belong to a poor family talha omer,when i was 19 i have lifted responsiblities of my home,but yet still i have done dental hygienist diploma at PIMS islamabad as well as MBA HR where i obtained GPA 2.68,i have a dream of becoming a dentist, kindly please guide me,i want to do BDS on scholarship,

    • Avatar

      WAS Naila – unfortunately there is no funding available for BDS programs

  10. Avatar

    Give me a break, LUMS doesn’t give any bonus GPA’s, atleast not in its undergrad program. It’s super hard to go above 3.5 in your undergrad at LUMS.

  11. Avatar

    Dear Sir,
    I am planning for Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering from the renowned University of US. I have a strong intention for Full Bright Scholarship but I am not sure either I will be able to get that or not.
    My profile is
    Bachelor’s in Geological Engineering, UET Lahore 3.614/4
    Masters in Petroleum and Gas Engineering, UET Lahore, 3.8
    I have seven publications. Out of them, 2 are of international (Elsevier) journals and others are from international conferences.
    Currently, I am a lecturer in a University.

    Can you comment regarding my profile with reference to the successful application of Full Bright Scholarship?

    • Avatar

      Hello Atif – your profile is pretty decent and I ll advise you to take your GRE and then apply for Fulbright!

  12. Avatar

    Hey I have a CGPa of 3.2 in B.Sc. Electrical Engineering UET Lahore. In GRE I scored 157/153 (Q/V). Throughout undergraduate years I have been involved in various national and international humanitarian competitions as well. Moreover I am working as Research Internee at Lums in my field of interest Data Science, Machine Learning and Bioinformatics.
    Should I give GRE again before applying for full bright.

    • Avatar

      Hello Nimra, Well since you are applying in a data driven field you must have a GRE quant score of 164+ – none of the good programs in this area would accept anything less than a 162. Verbal does not matter in this area. 153 verbal is fine!

  13. Avatar

    Salam Sir I have current GPA of 2.2, can I apply for ugrad scholarship program?

    • Avatar

      W.S. Yes you can apply for UGRAD

  14. Avatar

    My university GPA is 74.5% out of 100… does it eligible for fulbright ?

  15. Avatar

    Sir marks required for students in quantitative section if anyone want to attain fullbright in engineering technology in gre

  16. Avatar

    Mr Talha what is the procedure of requesting assistance in writing STATEMENT OF PURPOSE from you? Does it cost?

    • Avatar

      W.A.S Umar – The cost depends on the length of the SOP as well as the program to which you are applying to. You can call us at 0331-4513196 to discuss in detail about your requirements so that we can give you a fair estimate.

  17. Avatar

    Can i apply for GRE for a masters in Filmmaking?

  18. Avatar

    sir i am a student BSCs II my first semester result is 2.8 gpa can i apply for scholarship

    • Avatar

      Yes you are given that you will have 16 years of completed education by the time you finish!

  19. Avatar

    I study BSCS in IBA currently going to be enrolled in 5th semester. I really wanna do apply for US exchange program but i fear beacuse i have my CGPA is only 2.56 and also 2 courses dropped in the last semester due to some reason. As you have told CGPA does not matter as long as you are a passionate person and belong to the different background. Yes, i do belong to very different background. I really wanna do this program please guide me if these my 2 courses dropped will not effect my application though my SOP if would be strong!

    • Avatar


      GPA does matter for Fulbright but if you have other strong things like a good internships, eloquent SOP and solid recommendations then you can make up for your low GPA. So focus on these other areas and inshAllah you will stand a good chance.

  20. Avatar

    Hello sir, i am a Software Engineering graduate with a cgpa of 3.1 out of 4.0. Can i get a masters scholarship? What else do I require?

    • Avatar
      • Avatar

        Hello sir i am just graduated from comsats Abbotabad with a cgpa of 2.37 in BS computer science. I know my cgpa is very low but is there any chance to get admit in abroad for Ms in Data Science? Any suggestion? So that i can study Data science?

        • Avatar

          Very hard to get into MS program through Fulbright with this GPA. You might want to take a shot after a 320+ on the GRE but i still think chances would be too less.

  21. Avatar

    Hello dear talha,

    can you please tell us th whole procedure about the documents required as sample template because many of us just stuck into that what to do & how to do?

  22. Avatar


    • Avatar

      Hello – yes your GPA is fine. Well as long as your conference papers are published in reputable places, you will not have much issues getting admissions. For FB a score of 320+ is ideal

  23. Avatar

    Aoa, Talha bhai

    I am a final year student of Bsc Chemical Engineering from NUST.
    here are some of
    (a) My Cgpa is 2.91 atm(though I am sure that it will be above 3 by the time I graduate)
    (b) I belong to Quetta and my domicile is from there as well.
    (c) My FYP is pretty much a global issue . It’s basically an affiliation with PCMA(Pakistan Chemical Manufacturers Association), and they have tasked my group to design as pilot scale plant, and if that proves to successful, it could setup the base for a commercial scale plant (the first of it’s kind in Pakistan). I have been able to make the process environment friendly, economical, energy intensive

    (d) My GRE score is pretty poor(311 161Q(77th) 150V(50th) , as I had prepared for GRE for just about 2 weeks, and was unable to get a good sleep on the night of my exam.
    (e) I can probably get 2 research papers out of my FYP (one would be a review paper of the process and the modifications we have made, and the second one would a conference paper about design and simulation). My supervisor, herself is a pretty accomplished researcher, and because of her efforts, my group would able to present our design paper in a conference.
    (f) As far as my extracuricculars are concerned, I have been participating in inter-university events and was able to secure 2nd position in ChemBuzz 2017 (held at GIKI), which ultimately won me a Rector’s high achiever certificate. Apart from that I have been organizing international conferences like CEMP (Conference on Emerging Materials and Processes), while being involved in community work at the same time.
    (e) Have also worked as an blogger with (A Liverpool based Pakistani website) and SportsKeeda(an Indian sports website)
    (f) I did my 3rd year internship at Fauji Fertilizer Mirpur Mathelo (considered to be the best for chemical engineers in pakistan because of the learning opportunities there), and learned a great deal from there.

    Do I have a chance of getting a scholarship?

    secondly, as far as LOR,SOP and research proposal are concerned.
    (a) Do I need to get a recommendation letter Phd professors only? Because my research proposal is somewhat related to the polymers science elective which was taught by a faculty member who is not yet a Phd (and she also happens to be my student advisor). I just thought a letter from her would leave a great impact.
    (b) I am pretty confused about my sop, some say that it shouldn’t echo one’s resume, but you still have to elaborate on your achievements to make a case. Imo it would be okay to explain the projects that I have done (because 2 of them are environment friendly and others are pretty good as well). Think it would be okay to include community work as well (I have completed a CSL course at NUST, have worked with a welfare society called chadar, done an internship with PRCS and have been doing some community related projects as well). what ration would you suggest between my motivation and Achievement/community work for my SOP?

    PS:Ignore any typos(I typed all of it pretty quickly)

    • Avatar

      W/S – Thanks for the details. Kindly call me to discuss in detail at 0331-4513196 (Monday to Friday 12 pm to 7 pm). Thanks

  24. Avatar

    hi i am a student of civil engineering with a GPA of 3.04 an currently doing my masters in structural engineering but want to apply for full bright scholarship i have 6 conference papers and 1 research paper if i am able to achieve a score of 300 on my gre will that be enough or what do u suggest and what else should i add to my profile ?

    • Avatar

      Hello – 310+ on the GRE is the minimum that you should aim for with this profile.

  25. Avatar

    Salam sir
    i have cgpa of 3.2 out of 4 . If I have stellar GRE score and best SOP.Can I get admissions in one of the top universities of America for example Stanford, harvard etc.

    • Avatar

      W/S Isra, Yes you can get admission!

  26. Avatar

    Hi sir. I scored 168 in quant and 152 in verbal. Is this score enough if i am applying for ms in Mechanical

    • Avatar

      Hello Rizwan, Yeah this score is competitive for good MS programs in ME.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *