I'm in the last year of my bachelor studies and I'm looking into writing my bachelor thesis at a company (hopefully abroad).

Preparing my applications is do struggle a bit about my resume:
My current GPA is a bit lower than 2.7ish (unable directly convert my german grade) which is, compared to most other engineering graduates, not considered to be outstanding. What is a caveat about the situation is that my course of studies, Engineering Physics, is considered to be a bit more challenging than more common engineering studies and that most of my fellow students are even worse than me.
Therefore my GPA isn't easy to compare to the average engineering student but the person who reads my application does not know it. Including an explanation for my GPA in an application feels like desperate excuse so I do not know who to deal with it.

I do strive for a industry with a lot competition (aerospace) so getting a position won't be easy. Nevertheless I'm currently doing an internship at a well reputable and internationally well known company in the same industry and I do actually have responsibility there. (However I did get that position through knowing someone who knows someone who can forward my resume to someone and not through the official application process)

TL;DR: Should I justify my GPA in an application and if yes which would be the most professional way?

EDIT: It is known in Germany that there is a "inflation" of good grades at universities but my university or more particular my course of study does not participate in the handout of good grades for just trying.

  • Is it from a 4.0 standard or 5.0?
    – Dan
    May 14, 2019 at 12:23
  • grades go from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) but everything below 4 is failed and has to taken as course again, so I don't know how this counts into it. I used this wiki atricle to convert my grade.
    – GittingGud
    May 14, 2019 at 12:27
  • 2
    Why include it on the resume? Is that a common thing in German? I had a 3.97/4.0 but I don't put it on my resume because interviewers rarely care what my GPA was--they just want to know I have a degree.
    – Keith
    May 14, 2019 at 13:54
  • @GittingGud According to the link you provided, a 2.7(converted GPA) is "an achievement that exceeds the average requirements considerably" So it's unclear why it's negative? Or why you need to explain your "bad grades?" Even if you meant 2.7 out of the 1-5 scale, it's still considered average, nearly above average. So even then it's unclear why you need to explain things?
    – Dan
    May 14, 2019 at 14:08
  • 1
    If you're honestly worried about your GPA, then don't make your GPA the prime focus of your interviews. If they ask, just be honest. Talk about your academic achievements and involvement. Talk about your internship. Interviews are not meant to make you look like an idiot. If you get an interview, it shows that they really think you're capable of the job. They would have rejected you otherwise. I made a 2.7 out of 4.0 in engineering school but since I proved to show my achievements in life and my good attitude, I was able to land a very good job for myself.
    – user82352
    May 14, 2019 at 17:49

3 Answers 3


Should I justify my GPA in an application and if yes which would be the most professional way?

You need not, you should not.

If you say that it is known that the course of your study yields on-average lesser grade points as compared to other fields, and an organization which will be suitable for your knowledge and experience, you can also expect that the organization to which you're applying are aware of the fact.

If they have employed / trained students from the same course of study, then the grade point average are known to them and based on the course of study they will not directly compare your grades against someone coming from different course.

If they don't (have the knowledge about your course of study and the average grades) - that indicates that they really do not know much about your specialties or field of study, do you really want to go ahead with a company like that?


If you feel that the course of study is ambiguous and be mistakenly be considered as something else which is more common, you need to make that clarification in your cover letter.

A cover letter is a very useful tool - use it efficiently to point the reviewer of CV/application and/or the interviewer to the right direction.

However, once again, you should not be justifying about the grades in the cover letter either.

  • My course of study is is quite uncommon and the amount of graduates is low so most people don't know about this course of study, even in Germany. Therefor I assume that that would be even worse if I apply internationally. Additionally from the name of my course of studies it is likely my grade will be compared to physics students which on average have way better gpas.
    – GittingGud
    May 14, 2019 at 6:40
  • 1
    @GittingGud OK, if you feel that name for the course of study does not help to stand apart, maybe you can add couple of points in your cover letter to help them distinguish and identify the course and the objectives - whatever subjects / majors you have under your belt and how can that help them for their business - bit still you do not get to justify the lower grade - let them figure it out for themselves. May 14, 2019 at 6:42
  1. There is an accepted rule that you provide in the CV only the information which is favorable to you. Otherwise, leave it out, and have an answer prepared for the case that they ask.

  2. It is going to be difficult (I guess) to find a job in aerospace without experience - also depending on the job you apply for. Maybe you try to get some experience in other sectors, with less concerns for security and standards.

Bottom line: since you do not even publish the "bad" information, you also do not publish the reason behind it.

Note: If your admission requires certain pieces of information, you have to present them even if they are not (very) favorable. Do not take extra-steps by yourself explaining in written. Have answers prepared if they ask about it.

  • Thank you for your answer I think it fits really well as a generalized answer, but in my case as an undergraduate including your gpa or a full list of all your grades is a common requirement for applications.
    – GittingGud
    May 14, 2019 at 12:05
  • You are still under the comment from 1: do not publish something which is not favorable to you, but be prepared for questions. It is about "marketing", about selling yourself in the best way. Present yourself in the best way possible, and be prepared for the "expectable" unexpected :)
    – virolino
    May 14, 2019 at 12:08
  • "do not publish something which is not favorable to you" is not an option if it is a mandatory requirement, but I get what you are saying.
    – GittingGud
    May 14, 2019 at 12:14
  • 1
    You are right about the mandatory things - you have to present them, otherwise you risk forfeiting your chances entirely. My comment refers to the information which is not mandatory.
    – virolino
    May 14, 2019 at 12:16

I think a lot of work places tend to be leery of gpas and what universities/colleges someone went to. Of course this is all speculations based on my own empirical evidence having been working for nearly 13 years.

My advice is to concentrate on understanding the material. That would be far more impressive than any degree or gpa. I seen people with perfect grades and can't write simple programs. I seen people with barely an associate degree who can write programs that functions wonderfully with minimal bugs, if any and normally 1 off cases. I see people who can articulate very well and barely have high school degrees. So gpa isn't that impressive to a lot of folks and it makes it somewhat amusing to talk to someone with a perfect grade and cannot explain the simplist of things.

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