Institutional GPA vs. Overall GPA: Understanding the Difference

Institutional GPA
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All the different GPA terms can be so confusing! Luckily, institutional GPA is one of the simplest GPA terms (and one of the only ones that everyone defines the same way).

Learn what institutional GPA is and how to calculate institutional GPA. Plus, find out the difference between institutional GPA and overall GPA, which matters, and which to include on your resume.

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What is institutional GPA?

Institutional GPA is a student’s cumulative GPA for that college. It includes only courses taken at that college in calculating the student’s GPA—no transfer courses are added.

Institutional GPA is also sometimes known as adjusted GPA.

Whether study abroad courses are calculated into a student’s institutional GPA depends on the policy of the college—some include them, and some do not.

People may specify institutional GPA because some colleges include the transfer courses they offer credit for into students’ cumulative GPA, while other colleges only include the courses from that college in the student’s cumulative GPA (at those schools, institutional GPA and cumulative GPA would be the same).

For example, at ASU, my cumulative GPA did not include my transfer credits—therefore, my institutional GPA was also my cumulative GPA.

Students can have an institutional GPA and a transfer GPA.

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How do you calculate institutional GPA?

You calculate institutional GPA the same way you calculate cumulative GPAOpens in a new tab. using your grades from that school.

Calculate institutional GPA by:

  1. Find your grades for each class and how many credits each class is worth.
  2. Use your institution’s grading scale to convert each grade into its grade point value (a common scale is below).
  3. Multiply the grade point value by how many credits the class is worth to find your grade point.
  4. Add the grade points for each class.
  5. Add up all the credit hours for each class.
  6. Divide the total grade points by the total number of credit hours.

Common GPA scale:

Letter GradePercentage GradeGPA
A+98.00 – 100.004.00
A92.00 – 97.994.00
A-90.00 – 91.993.67
B+88.00 – 89.993.33
B82.00 – 87.993.00
B-80.00 – 81.992.67
C+78.00 – 79.992.33
C72.00 – 77.992.00
C-70.00 – 71.991.67
D+68.00 – 69.991.33
D62.00 – 67.991.00
D-60.00 – 61.990.67
Fbelow 600.00
Sources: University of Illinois GPAOpens in a new tab. and Numerical GradesOpens in a new tab.

Let’s look at an example of finding institutional GPA:

Class Letter GradeGrade Point ValueCredit HoursGrade Point x Credit Hours
Math from Spring 2020C2.032 x 3= 6
Sociology from Spring 2020A4.034 x 3= 12
English from Fall 2020A4.034 x 3= 12
Biology from Fall 2020B3.043 x 4= 12
History from Spring 2021B3.033 x 3= 9
Total grade points from that institution/ total credit hours from that institution = institutional GPA
51/ 16 = 3.19

What is the difference between institutional GPA and overall GPA?

The difference between institutional GPA and overall/cumulative GPA is that institutional GPA only includes classes from that institution, while overall GPA/cumulative GPA includes all college classes taken at all institutions (both transfer courses and those taken at the current institution).

As stated above, the difference is whether schools include transfer courses when calculating a student’s overall/cumulative GPA. The policy can vary depending on the college.

Unfortunately, there is also no uniformity regarding the terminology. Some people refer to overall GPA as the GPA from all college classes taken at all institutions and cumulative GPA to mean all classes taken at the student’s current or latest institution.

Other people use cumulative GPA or overall GPA to mean the GPA from all courses taken at the student’s current institution, and others mean the GPA of only the current/latest institution.

This is why the term institutional GPA is helpful because the meaning is clear and uniform—the GPA of all courses taken at that specific institution.

Learn more about Cumulative GPA vs. Overall GPAOpens in a new tab..

For clarity, from here on, we will be using overall GPA to mean a GPA that includes all college classes taken at all institutions.

Let’s look at some of the differences between institutional GPA and overall GPA:

DifferenceInstitutional GPAOverall GPA
Number of institutions includedOneMultiple
Courses includedPotentially several different GPA scales, so students may need to convert to a standardized scale to find their GPAAll college courses
Grading scaleScale of that institutionPotentially several different GPA scales, so student may need to convert to a standardized scale to find their GPA

Which GPA matters: institutional or overall?

Both institutional and overall GPA matter.

In general, a student’s institutional GPA matters more since it is used internally for scholarships, honors, academic standing, and graduation requirements. However, overall GPA can be used for college or graduate school admissions.

Do you put your overall GPA or institutional GPA on your resume?

In general, people should put their graduating GPA on their resume (whether that is their overall GPA or their institutional GPA). If a student’s graduating GPA is good (above a 3.0), they should stick with listing that on their resume.

However, if their overall or institutional GPA is significantly better, they may want to include that one.

It can also be advised to put the GPA that is more relevant to the job, such as their major GPAOpens in a new tab..

Now that you understand institutional GPA vs. overall GPA, find out more about the different types of GPAOpens in a new tab..

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