Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting a B in PhD Course

Well… this post is a little deviation from PhD admission rather it’s related to those who are already pursuing their PhD. The motivation of writing this post is again a search item in Google with post name.

So what is the implication of getting a B in PhD courses? Okay… a B isn’t bad and if you have only B’s and no A’s and no C’s then it’s still okay but if you have only B’s with no A’s and even a single C that is probably bad. In most of the universities your assistantship is contingent upon maintaining good academic standing which means your GPA should be no less than 3.0 otherwise it may lead to assistantship withdrawn.

How is the GPA determined? Well… normally a student can get an A or a B or a C or an F in each course. If you get an F that means you have failed the course. Let’s not talk about this as you will be kicked out of the program in most of the economics departments. If a student gets an A he is given 4 points, a B means 3 points and a C means 2 points. The GPA is the sum of the total points divided by the number of courses. So if you get 2 B’s and an A in three courses you have a GPA of (3+3+4)/3 that is, 3.33. With a GPA of more than 3 your assistantship is safe. SO if you get B’s in all the three papers your assistantship is still safe and you don’t need to worry. Nevertheless, it’s better if you have slightly more than 3.0 such that you have room to make some mistakes in future. The main idea is not to let your GPA go below 3.0 if you care of assistantship.

Now, what is its implication academically rather than from assistantship point of view? Well… in my view in PhD grades should not matter much and this is your research often indicated by published journals or job market paper. But the grades do matter in real world. However, if you maintain most A’s and a few B’s this is certainly a good thing as better GPA is certainly going to give your transcript more value than otherwise. Anyways, at PhD level one should avoid getting C’s. C’s don’t look good on the transcript.

I would emphasize that research work is the most important thing. However, A’s on transcript looks better but you don’t need to worry if you have B’s in courses with some A’s.

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