What is a 4.0 GPA? What colleges accept a 4.0 GPA?

Do you have a 4.0 GPA? Are you wondering whether a 4.0 is good, and what colleges you can get into with a 4.0?

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

  • Find out which colleges you can get into with a 4.0 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 4.0 GPA, our advice is the same for close GPAs, like 4.02 and 3.98 GPAs. You can use this guide for all GPAs between 3.95 and 4.04.


Is a 4.0 GPA good?

A 4.0 GPA is generally considered the gold standard for GPA. If your school uses unweighted GPAs, a 4.0 does mean that you have all As - in other words, perfect grades! If your schools uses weighted GPAs (which take course difficulty into account and usually go up to a 5.0), you may have all As in low level classes, As and Bs in mid level classes, or mostly Bs in high level classes. Try to focus less on the number and more on how much you're challenging yourself in your classes.

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 4.0 GPA compares to the nation:

  • score-percent Percentile: 98th

    98.4% of schools have an average GPA below a 4.0.

  • score-compete Competitive For: 1534 Schools

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

  • score-missing Missing Out On: 25 Schools

    You have a low chance of getting into with a 4.0 GPA.

To elaborate, the national average for GPA is around a 3.0, so a 4.0 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 4.0 GPA. Click your grade level to see our evaluation.

If you have a 4.0 as a freshman, you're off to a great start. Keep pushing yourself in your classes and don't be afraid to sign up for more difficult ones if you think you're not being challenged enough. Your GPA still has the potential to change significantly between now and when you apply to college, but if you were capable of earning a 4.0 this year there's nothing stopping you from doing just as well (or even better if your school uses weighted GPAs!) over the course of the next half dozen semesters. If there are any schools that you think you might be interested in at this stage, try looking them up in the search tool in the next section to see what your chances of admission look like with your current GPA.

Nice work - you've pulled off an awesome GPA for the first two years of high school. Your GPA may change a bit between now and college applications, but you've built up enough good grades that you shouldn't expect major differences if you keep working hard. A 4.0 GPA means that you should have a very good chance of acceptance at most colleges as long as you had challenging coursework. If you have any schools in mind, search for them with the tool in the next section to see what your chances of admission might look like.

As a junior, you can expect your GPA to stay at roughly this same level for college applications. This is good news for you - a GPA this high is likely to open a lot of doors for you at very selective institutions. You should be proud of yourself for making it through almost all of high school with such impressive grades. At this point you probably have some idea of which colleges interest you, so you can go ahead and search for them in the next section to see how likely you are to be accepted.

Since it's your senior year, you've probably already begun the college application process. You have every reason to expect a positive response from most colleges because of your impressive GPA. If you haven't fully decided on where to apply yet, you should check your chances of admission at different schools in the search tool below to see if you have a wide enough range of options.


Your Chances With a 4.0 GPA

This is probably the biggest question on your mind. What colleges can you get into with a 4.0? 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: 4.0 GPA + Chances: 4.0 GPA + Average GPA
% %
*These calculations fix your GPA at 4.0, 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.

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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

4.0
0 4.0

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 4.0 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

After going through all the information presented above, it should be clear that a 4.0 puts you in a great position at this early stage in your high school career. At this point, you should continue to focus on maintaining or even exceeding this level of academic achievement in the next couple years. Try to challenge yourself in taking more difficult classes if you feel comfortable doing so. Even with a 4.0, there might be room to grow! So far, you're doing extremely well, and you can expect to reap the benefits of your hard work in the college application process if you manage to keep it up.

Your GPA puts you in a good position for admission at highly selective colleges, and you should be very proud of your accomplishments thus far. You still have another year to go before you apply to college, so you keep striving for more ambitious academic goals! You may have room for improvement in class difficulty or in your grades if your school uses weighted GPAs that go up higher than a 4.0.

This is also a time when you might consider paying some attention to preparation for standardized tests. Though it may not be difficult for you to get a relatively high score based on your performance in school, doing a bit of studying before the test can go a long way to getting you into the 99th percentile of scorers. Overall, your GPA indicates that you're doing great. Your college applications will be very well-received if you maintain or exceed your current academic efforts.

You can see from the statistics presented in this article that a 4.0 GPA puts you in a good position for college. Since your GPA is unlikely to change after this point, you can congratulate yourself for keeping up a strong academic effort throughout high school.

Your junior year is also going to be the best time for you to take standardized tests. Your test scores will inevitably be an important part of most of your college applications, so you should make sure you prepare accordingly. It's best to get these tests over with this year so that you can focus solely on the application process itself during your senior fall. As long as your test scores are at a high level that matches up with GPA, you can expect to be accepted to many selective colleges!

Now that you're starting the application process, you can take comfort in the fact that your GPA gives you a great chance of admission at most colleges. Even if you've already submitted your applications and are just waiting for a decision, keep in mind that it's not too late to retake standardized tests if you're unsatisfied with your scores. Most colleges will accept test scores after regular applications have been submitted (in some cases up until February of your senior year). If you're happy with your test scores, you can sit back and relax a little bit. You'll end up with some tough choices to make later this year about where you want to go to college since you have so many great options!



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Colleges that Accept a 4.0 GPA

What schools can you get into with a GPA of 4.0?

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

image description

Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are hard for you to get into now, because their average GPA is higher than a 4.0. But if you improve your SAT or ACT score, you'll have a much better shot.

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 1545 36 4.19
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 1535 35 4.17
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Yale University New Haven, CT 1515 34 4.14
Duke University Durham, NC 1510 34 4.13
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 1505 34 3.9
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1505 34 3.96
Columbia University New York, NY 1505 34 4.12
Rice University Houston, TX 1505 34 4.12
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 1500 34 3.9
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 1500 34 4.11
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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

These schools have average GPAs that are close to 4.0. 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
Brown University Providence, RI 1485 34 4.08
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 1480 34 4.07
Tufts University Medford, MA 1465 33 4.04
Northeastern University Boston, MA 1465 34 4.04
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 1420 33 3.96
Boston University Boston, MA 1420 32 3.71
College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA 1415 32 4.27
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 1409 31 3.91
Binghamton University Vestal, NY 1375 30 3.7
University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 1355 29 4.12
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA 1335 29 4
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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

With a GPA of 4.0, 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
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 1335 29 3.84
University of Georgia Athens, GA 1325 30 4
University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA 1310 29 4
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 1300 30 3.7
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA 1290 29 3.9
University of California, Davis Davis, CA 1280 28 4.03
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 1270 28 3.9
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 1270 28 4.07
University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC 1260 25 4.18
Auburn University Auburn University, AL 1235 28 3.9
Florida International University Miami, FL 1195 26 4


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