The college application process is multifaceted, and there are a number of factors that come into play when a candidate is accepted or denied.

Test scores, personal statements and extracurricular activities are all important pieces of the puzzle, but perhaps none are more important than a student’s high school GPA.

Some universities place more of an emphasis on GPA than others, so to get into these 25 schools, you’ll need to really hit the books and boost that number in order to be competitive.

These are not necessarily the most difficult schools to get into—the acceptance rates of schools on this list range from 6 percent to 57 percent—but the GPAs of accepted students are higher than any other school.

To find GPA data, StartClass turned to Cappex, an informational site designed to help students choose the right school to attend.

The GPA data is self-reported by high school students over multiple years who apply to and are accepted by a school, though they may not have necessarily chosen to attend that particular school.

The acceptance rates of individual colleges and universities come from the National Center for Educational Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education. This data reflects the 2013-2014 school year.

Key Takeaways: What is the Highest GPA for College?

  • Understanding GPA: GPA, or Grade Point Average, is critical in the college application process, reflecting a student’s academic performance on a scale, typically up to 4.0 in the U.S.
  • Calculating GPA: GPA is calculated by converting course grades to grade points, multiplied by course credits, and averaged over total credits.
  • Highest GPA: The highest standard GPA is 4.0, but weighted GPAs for AP or honors classes can exceed this, sometimes reaching 5.0 or higher.
  • Good GPA: A “good” GPA varies; generally, 3.0+ is considered good, but competitive environments may require 3.5 to 4.0. Top Schools’ Average GPAs: Schools with the highest average accepted student GPAs include California Institute of Technology (3.933), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (3.924), and Harvey Mudd College (3.919).

What is GPA?

GPA, short for Grade Point Average, is a standardized method of assessing academic achievement in schools and universities.

It represents the average value of the accumulated final grades earned in courses over time.

More specifically, it’s a numerical calculation that indicates how high or low a student’s grades are, typically on a scale of 0 to 4.0 in the United States. It provides a comprehensive overview of a student’s academic performance.

How to Calculate GPA?

To calculate a GPA, you first convert each course grade into its corresponding grade points, typically on a scale (for example, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0 in the U.S. system).

Then, multiply the grade points for each course by the number of credit hours the course is worth.

Add these totals together and divide by the total number of credit hours you’ve taken. The resulting figure is your GPA.

This calculation provides a weighted average that reflects both your grades and the course credit value.

What is the Highest GPA?

The highest possible GPA varies depending on the educational institution’s grading scale.

In most U.S. high schools and colleges, the highest GPA on a standard scale is 4.0, representing an A or A+ in every course.

However, some schools use a weighted GPA scale, which can go higher than 4.0 (up to 5.0 or even higher) for students taking advanced placement (AP) or honors classes.

In these cases, an A in these more challenging courses is worth more than in regular classes.

What is a Good GPA?

What constitutes a “good” GPA can vary depending on the context, such as the level of education (high school vs. college), the field of study, and the specific goals of the student (like graduate school admission or a particular career path).

Generally, a GPA of 3.0 or above is considered good in most U.S. high schools and colleges.

For more competitive environments, such as top-tier universities or certain professional fields, a higher GPA (3.5 to 4.0) might be considered good.

Now, let’s find out what is the highest GPA college in the US.

#25. Carelton College

  • Average GPA: 3.861
  • Acceptance Rate: 21 percent
  • Location: Northfield, Minn.

Carleton is widely considered among the 10 best liberal arts colleges in the country and has the lowest acceptance rate of any school in Minnesota. With an average SAT score of 2135 and ACT score of 31, Carleton has high standards, so it will take even more than a stellar GPA to gain admittance.

#24. Cornell University

  • Average GPA: 3.862
  • Acceptance Rate: 14.9 percent
  • Location: Ithaca, N.Y.

The first of six Ivy League schools in the top 25, Cornell is among the top universities in New York. Cornell has the highest acceptance rate of any Ivy League school and also has the lowest average SAT score (2120). Still, students accepted to Cornell have a higher average GPA than those accepted at Harvard (3.83) or Columbia (3.84), so you still have your work cut out for you.

#23. Williams College

  • Average GPA: 3.864
  • Acceptance Rate: 17 percent
  • Location: Williamstown, Mass.

Williams College ranks behind only Harvard and MIT as Massachusetts’ top colleges, placing it with some elite company. Williams has the sixth-highest average GPA of accepted students among all liberal arts colleges, and among the liberal arts schools on this list has the second-highest acceptance rate.

#22. Washington and Lee University

  • Average GPA: 3.865
  • Acceptance Rate: 18.4 percent
  • Location: Lexington, Va.

Washington and Lee has the lowest acceptance rate of any university in Virginia, so getting in would put you in an exclusive club. Its tuition is over $44,000, making it the second-most expensive school in the state behind the University of Richmond.

#21. UCLA

  • Average GPA: 3.865
  • Acceptance Rate: 22 percent
  • Location: Los Angeles, Calif.

UCLA is the first of five California universities to make the list, and one of just two public schools from the Golden State. Compared to the other 24 schools on this list, UCLA has the fifth-highest acceptance rate.

#20. Yale University

  • Average GPA: 3.866
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.5 percent
  • Location: New Haven, Conn.

Yale has the third-lowest acceptance rate among Ivy League schools and the fifth-lowest among all universities. Yale is tied with Princeton and the University of Chicago for the third-highest average SAT score (2255) and has long been considered among the most elite universities in the country.

#19. College of William and Mary

  • Average GPA: 3.871
  • Acceptance Rate: 33.2 percent
  • Location: Williamsburg, Va.

The second-oldest college in the country is also among the stingiest when it comes to evaluating the GPA of its applicants. W&M has the second-highest acceptance rate of all the schools on this list, so it clearly weighs other factors heavily beyond a student’s high school GPA.

#18. Washington University in St. Louis

  • Average GPA: 3.874
  • Acceptance Rate: 15.6 percent
  • Location: St. Louis, Mo.

Washington University in St. Louis is widely considered the top school in Missouri, and it boasts the highest average GPA and SAT score (2220) of any university in the state. The school’s average SAT score is the seventh-highest among all private universities in America.

#17. Barnard College

  • Average GPA: 3.874
  • Acceptance Rate: 20.5 percent
  • Location: New York, N.Y.

Barnard has the fourth-highest average GPA among all liberal art colleges. It has the highest average GPA of all schools in New York, and its average SAT score (2035) is ninth-highest among private schools in the Empire State.

#16. Whitman College

  • Average GPA: 3.878
  • Acceptance Rate: 57 percent
  • Location: Walla Walla, Wash.

The most lenient school on the list in terms of accepting students, Whitman College has by far the highest acceptance rate at 57 percent. Whitman also has an average SAT score of 1975—highest in the state of Washington—so while the school does admit a high rate of its applicants, it still maintains very high standards.

#15. Dartmouth College

  • Average GPA: 3.880
  • Acceptance Rate: 10.3 percent
  • Location: Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth has the fourth-highest average GPA among Ivy League schools and the fifth-highest average SAT score (2190). Dartmouth’s 10.3 percent acceptance rate is seventh-highest among schools on this list, and its $46,752 tuition rate is the 14th-highest in the country.

#14. Georgetown University

  • Average GPA: 3.884
  • Acceptance Rate: 17 percent
  • Location: Washington, D.C.

Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit college in America, and its high GPA and SAT score standards put it among the nation’s most selective schools.

#13. Brown University

  • Average GPA: 3.885
  • Acceptance Rate: 8.5 percent
  • Location: Providence, R.I.

Brown ranks third among Ivy League schools in average GPA, but the school has the second-lowest average SAT score (2155) among the Ivies and the lowest average ACT score (31).

#12. UC Berkeley

  • Average GPA: 3.885
  • Acceptance Rate: 18 percent
  • Location: Berkeley, Calif.

UC Berkeley has the highest average GPA among California public schools. Its average SAT score of 2040 is the eighth-highest in the state, and its 18 percent acceptance rate makes it California’s most selective public school.

#11. University of Notre Dame

  • Average GPA: 3.887
  • Acceptance Rate: 22.3 percent
  • Location: Notre Dame, Ind.

Notre Dame has the fourth-highest acceptance rate among schools on this list. Only two schools in the country—MIT and Caltech—have a higher average ACT score than Notre Dame’s 33.

#10. Stanford University

  • Average GPA: 3.888
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.1 percent
  • Location: Stanford, Calif.

Stanford has the second-lowest acceptance rate in the country, and the lowest of any school on this list. Stanford’s enrollment is more than six times larger than the combined enrollment of the California schools ahead of it on this list—Harvey Mudd and Caltech.

#9. Princeton University

  • Average GPA: 3.890
  • Acceptance Rate: 7 percent
  • Location: Princeton, N.J.

Princeton trails only Harvard among Ivy League schools in average SAT and ACT scores. Princeton had the second-lowest number of applicants compared to other Ivy League schools in 2014 with 27,290. Only Dartmouth had fewer, with 20,504 applicants.

#8. Rice University

  • Average GPA: 3.892
  • Acceptance Rate: 16.7 percent
  • Location: Houston, Texas.

Rice has the highest average SAT and ACT scores and the lowest acceptance rates in Texas. At 16.7 percent, Rice has the second-highest acceptance rate among the schools in the top 10 of this list, and that figure has not risen since 2007, when it was at 25.1 percent.

#7. Swarthmore College

  • Average GPA: 3.892
  • Acceptance Rate: 14.3 percent
  • Location: Swarthmore, Pa.

Swarthmore has the second-highest average GPA of all liberal arts schools in the country. It has the third-lowest acceptance rate among all Pennsylvania schools, and only three liberal arts schools in the country—Pomona, Harvey Mudd and Williams—have higher average SAT scores.

#6. University of VIrginia

  • Average GPA: 3.894
  • Acceptance Rate: 30 percent
  • Location: Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia has the highest average GPA of any public school in the country. Its acceptance rate is the third-highest among the schools on this list, and its average SAT score of 2025 is the third-highest of any school in the state, trailing only Washington and Lee University and the College of William and Mary.

#5. University of Pennsylvania

  • Average GPA: 3.894
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.9 percent
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

Penn has the highest average GPA of accepted students among all Ivy League schools and the third-highest number of applicants (37,267) in 2014, behind only Cornell and Harvard. Penn has the highest average SAT (2185) and ACT (32) scores in the state. Its acceptance rate is the third-highest among Ivy League schools, with only Dartmouth (10.3 percent) and Cornell (14.9) having higher rates.

#4. Duke University

  • Average GPA: 3.911
  • Acceptance Rate: 13.4 percent
  • Location: Durham, N.C.

Duke has the highest average SAT (2185) and ACT (32) scores in North Carolina, and it also has the lowest acceptance rate. Its tuition of just over $45,000 makes it the most expensive school in the state.

#3. Harvey Mudd College

  • Average GPA: 3.919
  • Acceptance Rate: 18.2 percent
  • Location: Claremont, Calif.

As the top-ranked liberal arts school on this list, Harvey Mudd is one of the most prestigious schools in California. With just 807 total students, it is the smallest school on this list, though its standards are among the toughest. Only Pomona College, Stanford and Caltech have higher average SAT scores than Harvey Mudd (2195), and CalTech is the only school with a higher average ACT score than Harvey Mudd’s average of 33.

#2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Average GPA: 3.924
  • Acceptance Rate: 8.2 percent
  • Location: Cambridge, Mass.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is widely considered one of the best universities in the country, and the school’s rigorous admission standards reflect that. MIT is tied with Caltech for the highest average ACT score (34) of any school in the country. Among schools on this list, MIT has the fourth-lowest acceptance rate, with only Princeton, Yale and Stanford having lower rates.

#1. California Institute of Technology

  • Average GPA: 3.933
  • Acceptance Rate: 10.6 percent
  • Location: Pasadena, Calif.

No college in the country has a higher average SAT score than Caltech’s average of 2300. Caltech trails only Stanford (5.1 percent) among California schools with the lowest acceptance rates. The school’s average ACT score is 34, tying it with MIT for highest in the nation.