What is a 3.5 GPA? What colleges accept a 3.5 GPA?

Do you have a 3.5 GPA? Are you wondering whether a 3.5 is good, and what colleges you can get into with a 3.5?

We've written the most detailed guide to your GPA here:

  • Find out which colleges you can get into with a 3.5 GPA.
  • Learn how you can raise your GPA.
  • Learn what you should be doing to maximize your chances of getting into the best colleges.

Quick disclaimer: unlike standardized test scores like SAT/ACT, GPA policies vary from high school to high school and from college to college. Some use weighted GPAs and others use unweighted GPAs. In this guide, we’ll generally talk about unweighted GPAs and compare you on a national and college level.

As we'll explain below, the actual GPA number is just one dimension of your coursework. The difficulty of your courseload is important - the more difficult your classes, the more colleges are willing to excuse a dip in GPA.

Finally, even though this guide focuses on a 3.5 GPA, our advice is the same for close GPAs, like 3.52 and 3.48 GPAs. You can use this guide for all GPAs between 3.45 and 3.54.

Is a 3.5 GPA good?

A 3.5 unweighted GPA means that you've earned an A- average across all of your classes. You're well above the national average for GPA and should have a solid chance of acceptance at a wide variety of colleges.

We've analyzed the student profiles at 1500+ colleges across the United States and the average GPA of its incoming students. Here's how a 3.5 GPA compares to the nation:

  • score-percent Percentile: 76th

    76.4% of schools have an average GPA below a 3.5.

  • score-compete Competitive For: 1191 Schools

    You can apply to colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted.

  • score-missing Missing Out On: 368 Schools

    You have a low chance of getting into with a 3.5 GPA.

To elaborate, the national average for GPA is around a 3.0, so a 3.5 puts you above average nationally. Keep in mind the 3.0 national average represents all students, not just students applying to college, so the average GPA of students admitted to colleges is higher than the national average.

Here's more custom advice for you if you have a 3.5 GPA. Click your grade level to see our evaluation.

As a freshman, your GPA has the potential to change quite a bit before you apply to college, but 3.5 is a very good starting point. You're earning strong grades across all of your classes already, and you can use the next couple years to do even better and impress colleges with your academic growth. If you manage to maintain or exceed a 3.5 GPA, you are likely to gain acceptance to many selective schools. You may not know where you want to apply to college yet, but if you know of any schools that interest you, look them up with our search tool in the next section so you can see your chances of admission with your current GPA.

You've made it through the first two years of high school with a strong GPA - nice work! Your GPA may change slightly before you apply to college your senior year, but it's not likely to be significantly different as long as you continue similar study habits. A 3.5 GPA will make for good chances of acceptance at most selective schools, so you'll have a lot of choices in the college admissions process. Check your chances of admission at any schools that interest you with our search tool in the next section.

You've almost made it to college application time with a 3.5 GPA! Your GPA isn't going to change much if at all at this point, so you can expect to be applying to schools with a GPA that's close to a 3.5. This means that you'll most likely be able to count on acceptance to many selective colleges. If you already have some ideas in mind for where you plan on applying, search for these schools in the next section and find out if you stand a good chance of admission.

It's your senior year, so you may already have applied to colleges with this GPA. You've been able to maintain a strong GPA throughout high school, and you shouldn't have a problem getting into most colleges unless they're highly selective. If you're curious about your chances of admission at the schools where you plan on applying (or where you've already applied), search for them in the next section and see what your odds look like.

Your Chances With a 3.5 GPA

This is probably the biggest question on your mind. What colleges can you get into with a 3.5? What are your chances of admission at your top choice schools?

We've built a custom admissions calculator that calculates your chances based on the 3 most important factors to determining your chance of admissions:

  • The school's admission rate
  • Your GPA
  • Your SAT/ACT score

Here's how to use this calculator:

  1. Choose the SAT or the ACT, depending on which you're taking
  2. Choose your current SAT/ACT score
  3. Enter the name of each college you're interested in
  4. Change your SAT/ACT score to see how your chances change

Pick your test: Old SAT ACT

SAT Score
School Name Location Chances: 3.5 GPA + Chances: 3.5 GPA + Average GPA
% %
*These calculations fix your GPA at 3.5, but you might have room for improvement. If you want to see your chances with a different GPA, at the bottom of this page you'll be able to switch to a different GPA.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

This is important when you're considering your GPA. You probably know how hard it is to pull up your grades and GPA. If you improve your SAT/ACT score, you'll be able to show colleges that you're academically prepared for college.

At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

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Can You Improve Your GPA?

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: GPAs aren’t easy to improve. The later you are in high school, the less your GPA will change before you apply to college.

For example, if you're currently a junior in high school, your grades in freshman and sophomore year will anchor your GPA so that your junior grades won't be able to change your total GPA much.

Here's a calculator for you to see how much your GPA can improve in different cases. Choose your current grade level, and then choose your future grades up until college applications. We'll show you how high or low your GPA can be, depending on your grades from now forward.

Your Grade Level Current GPA Semesters Remaining Future Grades GPA for Applications

0 3.5

Warning: Because you have no semesters left, your GPA won't change by the time college applications are due. You'll need to apply with a 3.5 GPA. As we explain next, your best chance at improving your chances of getting in may be to improve your SAT/ACT score.

Final Verdict and Advice

As you have seen from this guide, your GPA is high enough that you'll have no trouble finding some great options for yourself in the college application process. However, you're still a couple of years away from sending out applications. It's important that you prevent yourself from getting complacent and continue improving your grades and challenging yourself in your courses in the upcoming years. Although your GPA is pretty good, you have room to improve! You'll really impress colleges if you kick your efforts into high gear after this year. On the whole, you should be happy with how well you're doing and look forward to a positive experience in the application process if you keep up the good work.

Based on the assessments in this guide, you're doing well. By your sophomore year, you've established some good study patterns that are likely to stay in place for the rest of high school. Remember that this isn't the end though - you have all of your junior year to demonstrate improvement in your classes before you apply to college. Next year, try to take on new challenges so you can reach your academic potential. Your GPA still has the potential to increase between now and senior year!

You might also start thinking about standardized tests at this point. Good test scores are another vital component of a strong college application, and if you start preparing sooner rather than later you're more likely to end up with the results you want. As long as you stay on top of your game, you'll be happy with where you end up senior year!

If you've taken the time to look through the rest of this guide, you know that your current GPA leaves you with quite a few good options for college. This year, you can start thinking about a list of schools where you plan on applying and creating a smart distribution of safety, probable, and reach college options.

This is also a good time to zero in on standardized tests. If you manage to get your scores up to a level that you're happy with before the end of junior year, you'll have a much less stressful time as a senior navigating the college application process. Remember to stay focused this year and maintain your grades so that you will show consistency and improvement over the course of high school. If your scores are also up to par, you will be able to get into a wide variety of schools next year.

Overall, you should be pleased with your performance in high school. As you go through the application process, you should make sure that your list of schools will give you a few viable safe options. With your GPA, you can expect to be accepted at most schools, although highly selective colleges may be out of reach.

At this stage in the process, you may already be satisfied with your SAT and ACT scores. If you feel that you could still improve, however, you have to option to take these test again your senior year. Many colleges will allow you to send in scores as late as February of your senior year after your application has already been submitted. In any case, as long as you've planned out your tests and applications well, you have every reason to expect good news in the spring!

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Colleges that Accept a 3.5 GPA

What schools can you get into with a GPA of 3.5?

We've picked out a set of schools that are within range. Click on each school to learn more about it.

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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are hard for you to get into now, because their average GPA is higher than a 3.5. But if you improve your SAT or ACT score, you'll have a much better shot.

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
New York University New York, NY 1440 32 3.69
Boston University Boston, MA 1420 32 3.71
Binghamton University Vestal, NY 1375 30 3.7
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL 1355 31 3.6
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 1315 29 3.76
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 1300 30 3.7
American University Washington, DC 1300 29 3.65
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 1290 28 3.73
University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA 1285 28 3.55
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 1275 28 3.67
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 1265 27 3.7
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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

These schools have average GPAs that are close to 3.5. If you apply to these schools, you'll have a decent chance of admission. If you improve your SAT or ACT scores, you'll significantly improve your chances .

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
Penn State University Park University Park, PA 1265 28 3.58
Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 1250 28 3.67
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 1238 27 3.54
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 1235 25 3.39
Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ 1231 26 3.58
Howard University Washington, DC 1213 25 3.55
University of Oregon Eugene, OR 1185 25 3.59
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 1184 27 3.71
Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 1180 26 3.43
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 1175 26 3.47
Ohio University Athens, OH 1170 24 3.54
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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

With a GPA of 3.5, you're already strongly competitive for these schools. You're very likely to get admitted if you apply. If you improve your SAT or ACT score, your Safety Schools will get better and better.

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
University of North Texas Denton, TX 1160 23 3.47
University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX 1160 23 3.47
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 1155 25 3.57
California State University Long Beach Long Beach, CA 1145 23 3.56
San Jose State University San Jose, CA 1145 23 3.52
Pace University New York, NY 1140 25 3.4
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Pomona, CA 1140 23 3.51
Washington State University Pullman, WA 1125 23 3.46
University of Texas at San Antonio San Antonio, TX 1125 22 3.4
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL 1105 21 3.4
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN 1100 22 3.47

Change My GPA

Curious about what your profile is with a different GPA? Choose any GPA to see what you'd be able to do!

Analyze Your SAT/ACT Score

Wondering about how competitive your current SAT or ACT score is? We've created strategy guides for each SAT and ACT score so you can see what your chances are at schools, and what will happen if you improve your score.

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