How to write your graduate school resume

When you apply for graduate school, you’ll usually be asked to submit a resume or CV along with your application. A graduate school resume should give a focused, concise overview of relevant experiences and achievements.

The exact sections you include depend on your experiences and on the focus of the program you’re applying to. Ensure your resume gives full details of:

  • Your college education
  • Relevant work experience
  • Relevant voluntary and extracurricular experience
  • Any awards, honors, publications, or other relevant achievements
  • Any relevant skills, certifications, and memberships

The main difference from a regular resume is that you’ll put more emphasis on your education and academic interests to show that you’re a good candidate for graduate school.

Download the Word templates and adjust them to your own purposes.

Resume template 1 Resume Template 2

Step 1: Plan the structure and layout

Before you start writing, you need to decide how you’ll organize the information. Which sections you include, and in which order, depends on your experience and the program you are applying to.

If you’re applying for a research-focused program in the sciences, social sciences or humanities, emphasize your academic skills and achievements. Awards, publications, grants, fellowships, and teaching experience should take center stage. If you don’t have many academic achievements yet, you can focus on your courses, grades, and research interests.

If you’re applying to a professionally-focused program, you’ll probably want to emphasize your work experience and practical skills. Internships, jobs, and voluntary work should all be included.

Keep the layout clean and simple. Make sure all headings are the same size and font, and use text boxes or dividing lines to separate the sections.

Example of a resume outline

Step 2: Create a heading with your personal information

At the very top of your resume, you need to include:

  • Your name (usually in a larger font size)
  • Your address
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number

You can also include a sentence summarizing your background and stating your objective.

  • Don’t write “resume” in the heading – just your name is fine.
  • Do include links to relevant professional or academic profiles, such as LinkedIn, Academia.edu, or ResearchGate.

Step 2: Detail your education

A graduate school resume should always start with your educational history. For each program you’ve completed (or are soon to complete), always list:

  • The degree (e.g. Bachelor of Arts in English Literature)
  • The college and location
  • The month and year of graduation
  • Your GPA

If you’re applying for a research-focused program, you can also give the title of your thesis and go into slightly more detail about your studies – for example, by listing 2–3 advanced courses that demonstrate relevant academic skills.

  • Don’t include your high school education.
  • Do include other applicable information such as your minor(s), study abroad programs, and other relevant educational experiences.

Awards and honors

If you’ve received any awards, honors, scholarships, or grants, make sure to include these too. If you have several such academic achievements, it’s worth including a separate section on your resume to make sure they stand out.

Step 3: Outline your work experience

Next, your resume should give an overview of your professional and voluntary experience. If you have varied experience, you might want to split it up into separate sections:

In a resume for an academic program, you could include headings for teaching experience and research experience.

A professionally-focused resume could be divided into sections for employment, internships, and voluntary work, or headings for managerial and administrative roles.

Each section should be organized in reverse chronological order. For each role, list:

  • Your job title
  • The dates of employment
  • The organization’s name and location
  • A bullet-point list of your main responsibilities

Be concise and specific when describing your work.

  • Don’t attempt to list everything you did in every job.
  • Do pick out some key achievements that show what you learned and how you succeeded.

For example, instead of:

  • Made lesson plans
  • Taught students
  • Graded papers
  • Attended departmental meetings

You could write:

  • Designed lessons in academic writing skills
  • Taught classes of 20–30 undergraduate students
  • Graded practical assignments and coordinated peer feedback sessions
  • Contributed to the evaluation and redevelopment of the curriculum

Step 4: Highlight other relevant skills and achievements

The other sections of your resume depend on what you want to emphasize. You can include some of the section headings listed below, or combine them into larger sections.

Publications and presentations

Publishing in academic journals or presenting at conferences is a big selling point on a graduate school resume. List any publications (including co-author credits) or papers you have presented.

You can also include pending publications – that is, articles that have been accepted by a journal but not yet published. Make sure to note what stage the publication is at (e.g. under review, in press).

Certifications and memberships

If you have participated in professional development or other relevant training courses, list your certifications.

Are you a member of any professional bodies or organizations? You can list these too to demonstrate your involvement in an academic or professional community.

Languages and technical skills

If you speak more than one language, list your level of fluency (with certification if applicable).

There’s usually no need to include standard computer skills like Microsoft Word, but do highlight your proficiency in specialist softwares or tools relevant to the program (such as statistical programs and design software).

Extracurricular activities

Don’t include irrelevant hobbies or try to show off how busy you were in college, but do list any community or voluntary activities that demonstrate your skills in things like leadership and communication, or that are directly related to the subject you want to study.

Examples of the kinds of things that are worth including might be:

  • Organizing events
  • Editing a college paper, magazine, or journal
  • Being president of a club
  • Being involved in a community project

Step 5: Proofread and save as a PDF

Make sure to carefully proofread your resume (and the rest of your application) before you submit. Also, check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services to see what we can do for you.

To ensure your formatting stays consistent, it’s generally best to save your resume as a PDF file (unless the university specifies another format).

Frequently asked questions about graduate school resumes

How long is a graduate school resume?

A resume for a graduate school application is typically no more than 1–2 pages long.

Note, however, that if you are asked to submit a CV (curriculum vitae), you should give comprehensive details of all your academic experience. An academic CV can be much longer than a normal resume.

Always carefully check the instructions and adhere to any length requirements for each application.

How should I organize a graduate school resume?

The sections in your graduate school resume depend on two things: your experience, and the focus of the program you’re applying to.

Always start with your education. If you have more than one degree, list the most recent one first.

The title and order of the other sections depend on what you want to emphasize. You might include things like:

  • Professional experience
  • Voluntary and extracurricular activities
  • Publications
  • Awards and honors
  • Skills and certifications

The resume should aim for a balance between two things: giving a snapshot of what you’ve done with your life so far, and showing that you’re a good candidate for graduate study.

Should high school education be included in a grad school resume?

No, don’t include your high school courses and grades. The education section should only detail your college education.

If you want to discuss aspects of high school in your graduate school application, you can include this in your personal statement.

What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?

A resume is typically shorter than a CV, giving only the most relevant professional and educational highlights.

An academic CV should give full details of your education and career, including lists of publications and presentations, certifications, memberships, grants, and research projects. Because it is more comprehensive, it’s acceptable for an academic CV to be many pages long.

Note that, outside of the US, resume and CV are often used interchangeably.

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Shona McCombes

Shona has a bachelor's and two master's degrees, so she's an expert at writing a great thesis. She has also worked as an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.

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