Unfortunately, academic GPA and total GPA are sometimes used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing.
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What is academic GPA vs. total GPA?
Academic GPA only includes final grades from academic coursework in the calculation of a student’s GPA, while total GPA includes grades from all courses, including general education, electives, and PE.
Academic classes included in academic GPA are typically:
- Social studies
- Foreign languages
It generally does not include arts, band, orchestra, PE, or typing.
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When discussing total GPA vs. academic GPA, people are typically referring to high school GPAs. In college, academic GPA would be grades related to the student’s degree program (major GPA), and total GPA would be their cumulative GPA.
Academic core GPA vs. cumulative GPA
Another way to distinguish between the GPA from all classes and the GPA from academic classes (or the classes related to the student’s degree program) is by discussing cumulative GPA vs. academic core GPA (sometimes shortened to academic GPA or core GPA).
Some people use academic core GPAs only when discussing high school students, while some use it when discussing college GPAs.
In general, academic GPA refers to the student’s high school GPA that only considers academic classes in the calculation, and core GPA refers to a student’s GPA in college that only includes their final grades in classes related to their degree program.
Core GPA is more commonly called major GPA. Learn more about major GPA.