When applying to grad school, you’ll probably be asked to submit your resume. As grad school admissions become increasingly competitive, it’s critical that you have a strong resume to help you stand out from other applicants and impress the selection committee.
The perfect resume for graduate school is short and concise but persuasive enough to convince your dream grad school that you’re the perfect candidate. An academic resume is quite different to an employment resume, so it’s important to know how to write a winning CV for grad school.
Why Do I Need a Grad School Resume?
When preparing your grad school application, you’re probably consumed with many tasks like chasing down your academic transcripts and preparing for the entrance exam. Your graduate school resume might be the last thing on your mind, but you’ll almost certainly need to prepare one.
Grad school admission requirements vary depending on the school you’re applying to, but you’ll typically need to submit the following for your grad school application:
- Completed application form
- Academic transcript
- Entrance exam
- Reference letters
- Personal statement
You shouldn’t use whatever resume you have on hand from the last time you applied for a job. A grad school resume is quite different from an employment resume, so you’ll need to create one specifically for this purpose. A well-crafted and comprehensive resume helps the admissions team understand your strengths, qualifications, experience, and interests. Ultimately, this will help them determine whether or not they’ll accept you into the program.
Tips for Writing a Winning Graduate School Resume
Follow these tips to show any selection committee that you’re the perfect candidate for their program!
Write a Strong but Concise Introduction
Grad school selection committees go over hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to find candidates who meet their standards and who could be excellent ambassadors for the program. Because of sheer volume, they may spend only a few seconds reviewing each resume.
This makes the introduction critical—this part will grab their attention and persuade them to keep reading. So, take your time to write a brief but strong introduction. In as few words as possible, mention your qualifications and experience, why you want to join the program, and why you’re the perfect candidate.
Include your Contact Details
Your contact details should go at the top of your resume, right below your name.
Be sure to include the following details:
- Your first name and surname
- Your physical address
- Your email address
- At least one contact phone number
- Links to your social media profiles.
You don’t need to include extra information about yourself such as your race, age, or citizenship. In fact, by law, institutions are not allowed to discriminate based on these details; so, it’s best to leave them off your resume entirely.
But, social media links are important, especially LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile already, consider signing up for one. The selection committee may check your profile to verify your connections, work experience, internships, volunteer work, and educational background.
Pay Attention to Formatting
Good formatting is vital for any resume—a sloppy layout will make you look unprofessional and could damage your chances of getting accepted into a grad program. Keep it short, simple, and precise—make it no more than one page if possible. Don’t include any unnecessary details or information that isn’t relevant to the program.
The exact layout can vary, but your grad school resume should include:
- Your name and contact details
- Education history
- Awards and achievements
- Extra-curricular activities
- Volunteer work
- Skills and hobbies
Some grad schools want you to follow a standard format, so be sure to check with the admissions office if they have any grad school resume examples or templates. You can’t expect a call back from the selection committee if you can’t follow a simple format instruction!
For more on formatting, take a look at the sample CVs for graduate school admission later in this article.
Detail your Education History
Many grad schools require candidates to have a minimum level of education in order to be considered for their program. Even if a school doesn’t have strict grade prerequisites, at a minimum you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree. Your education history is one of the first things the selection committee will check when going over your resume.
Because this information is so important, you should outline your education in a prominent spot near the top of your resume. Mention the schools you’ve attended, your qualifications, GPA, and any other courses or certifications you took before or after your undergraduate studies.
Be sure to include these details in the education section:
- Name of the school
- Graduation date
Highlight Your Awards and Achievements
Your achievements set you apart from other candidates so it’s vital to highlight them in your resume. Achievements demonstrate your skills and strengths in a very concrete way, giving the committee a good reason to choose you over other applicants. Achievements could include volunteer awards, leadership positions, prizes won as part of extracurricular activities, academic honors, and internships. Be sure to also briefly mention what you learned from your achievements.
Detailing your achievements can certainly enhance your resume, but it’s not necessary to include every small award you’ve won over the years. Make this section detailed, but without any fluff. Only include awards that are relevant to the program you are applying for.
Include your Skills and Hobbies
At the end of your resume, you should include a section covering your skills and abilities. Detail both the hard and soft skills picked up from your undergraduate program and professional experience. You can also list your hobbies, but remember to avoid fluff – only include extracurricular activities that are relevant to your application.
This doesn’t mean that all the skills and hobbies you mention must be directly related to the graduate program; however, they should show the school that you are a strong candidate for one reason or another. For example, sporting achievements demonstrate dedication and motivation, even if they aren’t directly related to the MBA program you’re applying for. Anything that adds value to your resume will help make your application stand out.
Don’t be Repetitive
Avoid repeating information. If you have only a few achievements to show and you’ve already mentioned them under the education section, you don’t need to create a separate section for achievements and awards. A lengthy resume filled with fluff isn’t going to help you get into your dream school. It’s always better to keep your resume short, concise, and to the point.
Graduate School Resume Template
Here is a sample CV for graduate school admission that shows a helpful example of what to include and how to organize the information. Format your resume to present the most critical information in a clear, concise way:
Grad School Resume FAQs
Is an Academic Resume the Same as a Regular Resume?
A grad school or academic resume is totally different from a resume that you might use to apply for a job. Most students have limited work experience, particularly in the professional sector. Furthermore, grad school selection committees generally look for applicants with a strong academic background. Therefore, an academic resume can focus on qualifications, achievements, test scores, and extracurricular activities.
What Should a Grad School Resume Include?
Contact information, educational qualifications, internship programs, awards and achievements, and any extracurricular activities are the basic essentials you should include in your graduate school resume. You should also have a strong introduction or summary near the top of your resume which tells the selection committee what they need to know at a glance. You can add additional information, such as professional experience and other projects if it’s relevant to the program.
How Long Should My Grad School Resume Be?
Generally speaking, your grad school resume should be no more than one page. However, if you have a lot of experience and a detailed history of qualifications, you can make your resume 1.5-2 pages. But, we don’t recommend going over two pages! The most important thing is to keep your resume both relevant and concise.
Getting into grad school can be tough, especially if you’re applying to one of the Ivy Leagues. These schools receive thousands of applications, so you really need to make sure yours stands out. It’s important to take your time and make the effort to present a strong application, from your academic transcript and GPA to your winning graduate school resume.
Are you putting together a grad school application? Check out these guides to writing the best personal statement and how to ace your grad school interview.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.
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