Applying to graduate programs? Chances are, you’ll need to submit a resume with your application. Maybe you already have a resume, or maybe this is the first time you’re putting one together—either way, writing a graduate school resume is a specific exercise.
Make sure to check and see if any of the programs you’re applying to have specific guidelines for how they want you to write and submit your resume. Otherwise, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Just as with a regular business resume, you’re going to want to include information about your education, work experience, and your skills. However, you’ll also want to include any publications and conference papers you’ve written and/or presented, and possibly a list of extracurriculars. Keep in mind that a resume for graduate school can be longer than a standard job resume (but try to keep it to 2-3 pages). Here’s an outline:
Work and Volunteer Experience
Publications and Conference Presentations
Skills and Certifications
These will be the titles of your sections. At the top of the first page, you’ll of course give your name and contact information (address, email, and telephone). Below are details for what each of these sections should include on a graduate school resume.
When describing your education, you should be more detailed than on a standard resume. List your undergraduate degree (B.A., B.S.…) and also your major(s) and minor(s). If you’ve already completed, or are in the process of completing a master’s degree, list this as well. For each degree, include “with distinction,” “with honors,” “with highest honors”—whatever applies. Also include (magna/summa) cum laude. Include the title of your undergraduate thesis, if you wrote one, and/or your master’s thesis, and also your GPA.
You should also include a line for each study abroad program you participated in, as applicable.
Also include any academic awards you earned in college and/or a master’s program.
Finally, you may consider including a list of relevant courses you took in college. This is optional. It makes the most sense for students who are applying to a graduate program that is not in the same field as their previous degree(s). My master’s degree wasn’t at all related to the PhD program I applied for, but I had taken many relevant courses as a master’s student, and so was sure to list them.
Work and Volunteer Experience
This seems rather straight forward, but one of the major differences between a resume for a job and a resume for graduate school is that, unless otherwise specified by your graduate program(s), you want to include entrees for any volunteer work in this section when applying to master’s and Ph.D. programs.
For example, when I applied for my doctoral program, I listed the various paid teaching jobs, tutoring and editing jobs I’d had, and also the extensive unpaid work I’d done as a TA and tutor in college, and as a translator after college.
For each entry, list:
Where you worked;
Your title or position;
Dates for the position.
Make sure you describe in short sentences your responsibilities and achievements. Quantify when possible (number of hours per week, and any quantifiable results of your work).
Publications and Conference Papers
Unlike a potential employer, graduate programs you’re applying to will be very interested in any work you’ve gotten published, or have presented. Be clear about whether articles and/or chapters were written solely by you or co-authored with another student or a professor. Include all the information you would include in a bibliography (title, where the piece was published/presented, when, etc.).
Skills and Certifications
These will vary greatly depending on the experience you have, and the kind of graduate program you are applying to. They may include: foreign languages and level of proficiency; computer software skills or coding languages; any certifications (teaching certifications, etc.). You should also list here any other awards you have earned which are not linked to your education.
Extracurricular Experiences (optional)
Include any relevant extracurriculars. The graduate school application process is not the same as the college application process, by which I mean that the pharmacology program you’re applying to may not be interested in your college jazz band or your love of yoga.
You may, however, want to show a master’s program in European studies that you were a leader in your college’s history and political science society, or say a little bit about your college robotics club if you’re applying to a PhD program in… robotics.
You may also want to include extracurriculars that demonstrate characteristics that are valuable to graduate programs. Let’s say you dedicated serious time to mentoring high school students in college: this experience may demonstrate that you have valuable skills when it comes to activities like teaching.
You may consider including a completely unrelated extracurricular experience if you think it demonstrates other personal qualities—if, for example, you spent 20 hours a week all throughout college on something you’re passionate about, and you feel this will show your commitment, dedication, and, especially, leadership.
Finally, you may want to include information about an extracurricular activity if it is in some way consistent with your profile as an applicant: let’s say you want to do eco-criticism as part of your PhD in literature. You may want to share that throughout college you worked on a farm, or participated in a project related to environmentalism.