Does GPA Determine Post-Grad Success?

Header image for a blog about how GPA impacts post-graduate success

For college students, much emphasis is placed on grade point average and how it compares across classmates. A GPA is a good indicator of a student's academic performance, but how much can it tell us about their future career?

In partnership with Orbis Education, Madonna University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in metro Detroit surveyed more than 900 recent graduates between the ages of 21 and 31 across the United States to evaluate how GPA affects career outcomes. Respondents provided their GPA and insights into their job search processes, career paths, and salaries after college. Read on to see what we found.

GPA vs. Post Grad Success

Our survey results reveal a positive correlation between GPA and career achievement after college. Students who graduated with a GPA of 3.0 were more likely to receive multiple job offers right out of the gate compared to their peers with lower GPAs. These students also reported higher satisfaction with their college preparation for entering the workforce.

Individuals with GPAs below 3.0 were also more likely to end up in careers unrelated to their college major.

While the most reported salary for a first job post-grad was $20,000-40,000 (38% of respondents), earnings vary by GPA among higher earners.

Specifically, 60% of those with a GPA below 3.0 earn $40,000 or more annually. This figure rises to 71% for graduates with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.5 and even further to 73% for those with a GPA above 3.5.

However, college GPA didn't have the final say in some areas. Most respondents, regardless of their GPA, did not discuss their grades during job interviews after graduation.

To summarize, while GPA did not directly affect starting salaries after college, higher grades appear to correlate with receiving more job offers and having a career more closely tied to one's major.

Still, with many respondents reporting not discussing their GPA in hiring processes, academic performance does not appear to be the only determining factor in career success after commencement.

Post-Grad Insights

Beyond GPA, respondents also shared insights into the overall post-graduate experience. Regarding the job search process after college, most respondents found their first role through online job boards (41%) or personal contacts (13%). Networking (12%) was also a common way recent grads landed that crucial first job.

Early on, many graduates made a point to mention their GPA during this process, with 59% reporting they included it on their resume right after graduation. However, after settling into their careers for a few years, 62% no longer highlight their GPA on their current resume.

Our survey responses also highlight the importance of soft skills. An overwhelming 90% said interpersonal abilities like communication are equal or more important than hard skills in their current roles.

When asked about the most vital criteria for job seeking after college, networking and connections ranked first (46%), followed by internship experience (33%). GPA/academic performance trailed behind, coming in fourth place out of the options.

Infographic with insights regarding the post-graduate experience.

To summarize, while academic achievement can influence career paths, it is ultimately just one piece of the puzzle. Networking, internships, and people skills seem to be equally, if not more, important to finding success after walking across that graduation stage.

In fact, as a student enrolled in the Madonna ABSN program, you’ll complete clinical rotations at respected healthcare facilities in the area. It’s here you’ll work in a real-world nursing experience supervised by experienced healthcare providers. Clinical placements are an excellent time to network with established professionals in the medical field and make important connections. 

It’s exactly these skills you’ll want to highlight when you interview for your first nursing job. Learn six tips for how to prepare for nursing interviews.

Closing Thoughts

While GPA isn't the only deciding factor of post-graduate success, our survey of recent grads shows that having a higher GPA could mean more job offers, a job that matches your studies, and eventually, a better paycheck.

But remember, good grades are just one piece of the puzzle. Making connections, doing internships, and honing those ever-important soft skills also matter a lot in shaping a successful career trajectory.

As you think about your college journey, Madonna University's ABSN program is here to help you grow in many ways, not just academically. Grades matter, but we understand there's much more to realizing your potential. We believe in networking, getting real-world experience, and building meaningful connections within your community.

However, when it comes to growing academically, we are here to support your success. That’s exactly why we offer office hours, tutoring, and additional resources to help you boost your GPA and maintain excellent academic standing.

Whether you are making lasting connections with the other aspiring nurses in your cohort, securing recommendations from your instructors, or networking with healthcare professionals during your clinical rotations, the Madonna ABSN program provides many opportunities to build a solid community on your journey toward becoming a nurse.

Let us help you begin your nursing journey that sets you up for success in your nursing career. Contact our admissions team today.


We ran our survey between July 26 and August 18, 2023. More than 900 recent college graduates between the ages of 21 and 31 participated.

We asked respondents to provide their GPA upon graduation from their undergraduate program. Our survey included questions about their academic experience in college and career journey after commencement.

By analyzing GPA responses about post-grad success, job search insights, and current career status, we aimed to uncover any potential correlations between college academic achievement and success later in life. Comparing GPA rank to factors like starting salary, career alignment with major, and current income level provided data to evaluate if grades have an ongoing impact after students toss their caps on graduation day.