The Purpose of the "In-Major GPA"
If you are a CS major applying for a programming job, chances are the employer wants to use your GPA within CS as an indicator of whether or not you'll be able to do the job. If you nailed the pure CS portions, but failed at statistics, that is probably important information to the employer (since a lot of programming requires math). If I'm applying for a job as an economist, and leave off the fact that I can't do simple arithmetic, it has a large impact on my ability to be an effective economist.
So the employer is (probably) expecting that while you'll try to make yourself look good, you will be giving them a good representation of your ability to do that type of work.
Think About the Consequences
So let's say I have the following grades:
- CS 101: 3.5
- CS 201: 3.5
- CS 301: 3.5
- CS 401: 3.5
- Math 101: 2.0
- Math 201: 2.0
They are all requirements for my major (they are assumed by the school to be important in having a well-rounded CS education). I have two choices:
- List my in-major GPA as 3.5 (leaving out the math)
- List my in-major GPA as 3.0 (including the math)
Obviously listing the 3.5 will make me look better, but is it worth the risk?
Let's say my overall GPA is even worse (2.7, let's say) on my transcript. Any employer is going to notice there's probably something fishy going on. How did I get a 3.5 in my major (which is the bulk of my classes) while only managing a 2.7 overall?
If you'd be embarrassed to answer a reasonable question about the disparity, then you're better off not listing it in a 'creatively positive' manner.
Your Resume Shouldn't Focus on Your GPA
Your resume is supposed to sell you as an individual. If the difference between success and failure is a few tenths of a point in GPA within your major, then your chances are likely bleak. List your GPA in a way that makes you comfortable (that you can explain when asked by someone with access to your full transcript), and then focus on making the resume and cover letter bang-on for the job you're applying to.