Average GPA rises to 3.435 two years after grade deflation repeal

Your likelihood of getting an A in some courses just went up again

A September 18th report published by the Office of the Dean of the College reveals a trend that should give some hope to Princeton students: GPA has officially been on the rise for another year.

Since the 2014-2015 academic year, when Princeton repealed its infamous “grade deflation” policy, the average GPA of 100-400 level undergraduate courses has increased by 0.045 points to reach 3.435 in 2016-2017. The report shows a marked increase in the number of As awarded to Princeton students since the grading policy change, along with a corresponding decrease in the number of Bs.

The report also mentioned a challenge in the face of upward trends in GPA.

“A notable consequence of the upward trend in GPA has been increased grade compression at the top of the grading scale. This makes it challenging to distinguish among our best students when awarding honors and prizes at both the University and department levels,” the report reads.

However, chair of the USG Academics Committee Patrick Flanigan ’18 does not necessarily see the higher concentration of A-grades as an issue.

“I don’t believe we should limit the number of A’s in a course just to demonstrate that Princeton is difficult,” he said.

“Every year it gets harder to be admitted here, so it shouldn’t be surprising that grades tend to rise as students become more impressive,” he added.

Although average GPA is trending upward across the board, the report also demonstrates that there are significant discrepancies in average GPA between course categories. For the past three academic years, humanities course averaged the highest in terms of GPA, followed by courses offered by programs, social sciences, engineering, and finally natural sciences with the lowest GPA.

A senior majoring in a natural sciences field, who requested to remain anonymous, has this to say about the discrepancies in GPA across course areas:

“I have always found in general that science classes are a lot harder at Princeton than humanities. I have definitely taken classes for which even if not going to more than half of the lectures, and not doing most of the readings, it was still possible to pass with a B. That would most definitely not happen in a chemistry, math or physics class. Ever. And I am pretty confident that any science major would agree with that. I don’t know if the lower grades come from some grade deflation still happening in the sciences or from the fact that science classes are generally harder than humanities because you can’t really BS as much, but I’m honestly not too surprised by the numbers.”

Indeed, some majors might find this report more comforting than others. But all can probably rejoice that their likelihood of getting an A has gone up.

Dean of the College Jill Dolan has not yet responded to requests for comment.


Princeton University