Huzzah! You have earned your undergraduate degree and walked across the stage, gazing down into the smiling eyes of friends and loved ones as you accept your diploma and move into the next stage of life. You’ve experienced an influx of congratulations and new opportunities, and you are becoming reacquainted with an old friend – free time. (Who knew there was such a thing?)

There is one more box to check on your list of to-dos, however: You’ve decided you want to go to graduate school. If you’re still wondering whether you’re ready for the commitment, see this blog post for more information about what to expect.

When applying to graduate school at CLS, there are a few things to keep in mind about our admissions process.

Graduate Admissions Criteria

To be eligible for admission to a graduate program at CLS, applicants must:

  • Have received at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited institution
  • Complete the University of Oklahoma online application
  • Submit the transcript from your last degree-granting institution
  • Send us your résumé and 300-500 word statement of goals
  • Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher

What can I do if I don’t quite meet the requirements?

Admission to one of our graduate programs is based on the applicant’s overall record, experience, personal qualifications and proposed area of study, but successful graduate applicants generally possess a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) or higher from their undergraduate and/or graduate work. The first hurdle for many hopeful applicants is tackling their GPA head-on.

Either because the student ran into family, financial or other personal complications during their undergraduate coursework, or simply because they didn’t apply themselves in class quite as much as they would have liked (it happens to all of us!), students might find that their GPA does not meet the minimum requirements for admission to a graduate program at the College of Liberal Studies.

It is important to remember that hope is not lost in all of these cases, however! There are a number of steps students can take if they don’t meet the graduate program requirements. All of them, however, require doing a little work.

Step 1. Don’t Panic

First and foremost, do not let a low GPA scare you out of applying. There are circumstances in which applicants with a GPA below 3.0 might be considered and conditionally admitted to our programs.

Step 2. See if you qualify for conditional admission

Conditional admission might be available to applicants whose GPA falls below the required 3.0, but above a 2.49. Conditional admission means that you are admitted to the college under the condition that you maintain a 3.0 GPA and do not earn more than two grades of an I and/or W during the first 12 hours of letter-graded course work. If you successfully complete the requirements, you are allowed to continue studying at CLS and working toward the completion of your degree. Failure to do so, however, will result in an automatic suspension.

Step 3. Flex your writing chops

If your GPA falls below a 2.5, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dust off the old word processor. Although not guaranteed, admission might be granted to students who are able to provide an additional writing sample and a polished application overall. This option is available to students who earned their degrees three or more years before applying to CLS. (There might be a delay on these applications, however, because they require a petition and take longer to process.)

Applicants are reviewed on a holistic basis in these cases, so it is important to include relevant work experience on your résumé, successful career growth in any field, a clearly defined statement of purpose and evidence of your writing and critical thinking skills throughout the application.

If you fall into this category but your degree was conferred less than three years ago, you may write a letter of petition to explain any extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to your GPA.

Step 4. Be patient

Last but not least, it is always important to remain patient. This last step is simple, but it is also one of the most important. Once you have all of your paperwork turned in to us, take a moment to relax, breathe and cross your fingers. Admissions decisions are usually made two weeks after all of the required materials have been submitted, but additional time is usually necessary for conditional admission applicants.

If you haven’t heard from us, don’t fear! We’re simply reviewing your paperwork as carefully as possible and trying to reach a decision that will benefit everyone involved.

More questions? Feel free to take a look at our Graduate Admissions FAQ page, or simply give us a call. We are always happy to help.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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