Education is a fundamental section of a resume that offers recruiters a holistic view of your qualifications for a position, alongside work experience and skills. Some job roles may necessitate a particular degree, and failing to appropriately showcase this information could impact your chances of making a positive impression on a potential employer.
In this article, we will show you how to correctly list education on your resume, regardless your background: graduate with an honor degree, not yet graduated or incomplete education.
Without anymore fuss, let's dive right in!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The education section of a resume is an essential section that provides a concise overview of your academic background and qualifications. Typically, it includes details about the educational institutions you attended, degrees you obtained, attendance or graduation dates, and any relevant honors or achievements.
The primary goal of this section is to highlight your level of formal education and often serves as a foundational element for employers to assess your qualifications for a specific job role. Furthermore, it can demonstrate your dedication to continuous learning and personal growth.
Employers rely on the education section to determine if your academic background aligns with the job requirements. Although the level of detail in this section may vary based on your experience and the position you're seeking, it's crucial to present this information in a clear and accurate manner to make a favorable impression on potential employers.
You might find people put different information in their education section, but there are four most important pieces of information that can't be omitted, those are:
Besides the mentioned information, you can consider adding more details to make your resume more compelling (especially if you're a fresh graduate).
Be sure to customize the content to align with your unique background and level of expertise. For instance, if you're a current student or recent graduate, consider including your GPA or academic distinctions, but only if your GPA is above 3. Additionally, when it comes to extracurricular activities, you can either create a separate section or incorporate them within the education section. The same principle applies to licenses, certifications, or courses you've completed; if you have a substantial number to showcase, consider creating a separate section for these accomplishments. Otherwise, including them all in the education section is sufficient enough.
📚 Further reading: List of 50+ Best Extracurricular Activities for Resume (Guide & Examples)
Writing the education section of a resume is actually straightforward. In the majority of cases, you simply need to highlight the school first. Also, if the degree you hold does not correlate to the role you are applying for, it is suggested to write the name of your school first, to help take the recruiter or hiring manager’s focus away from the details.
Don't forget to specify what your field of study and degree are in the resume education section. This can be done by either spelling out the full title such as “Master of Science” or using the initials “MS”. You should also list your majors or minors after your degree.
💡 Pro Tip: If you have more than one degree, it is appropriate that you first list the most recent one you have, and put the rest in a reverse-chronological order.
At no point should you forget the dates when listing education on resume. This means you should include the year in which you began the degree and the year of graduation.
💡 Pro Tip: If you happen to earned your degree more than 5 years ago, it is suggested not to add the graduation date on the resume to avoid age discrimination. (in U.S.)
When it comes to the date format, it doesn’t have to be specific to the day. You simply need to write down the year & month of the start and end date. Another thing to note when writing your major/minor is that you need to be consistent with the chosen date format. If you write the month and year for one program, you have to do the same for others.
💡 Pro Tip: Remember to be consistent with the date format throughout the entire resume
If you're someone who's still in school or has an unfinished degree, keep reading to know how to list it in the How to Write a Resume's Education Section for Different Job Seeker Background section below
Don't know how to format the education section on a resume? You can utilize the resume education format below to effectively list your academic qualifications. Bear in mind that except for the essential education details, you should only add information that relates to the role you are applying for.
The School ． The City, Country ． Duration of Study
The Degree, The Major
Moreover, when it comes to the ideal order of listing education on a resume, you should follow the instructions:
For most people, writing the education section of a resume happens to be the easiest endeavor. You simply need to write the institution you graduated from, the graduation date, and of course, the degree and it is done.
However, for some applicants, it is not as simple.
For example, how do you write the resume education section if you happened to switch schools a couple of times before finishing the degree? Or if you're still in school? Or what if you were unable to finish a program?
Continue to read to learn how to put together an education section for different job seeker backgrounds.
If a high school diploma is the highest education level you have attained, let's take a look at the below examples:
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (VA, U.S.) | 2016 - 2020
However, if you happen to still be in school, you just need to twist a little bit in the year by adding the expected year of graduation:
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (VA, U.S.) | 2021 - 2024
You don't necessarily have to explicitly state that you haven't graduated. Simply providing the expected graduation year can convey this information to recruiters effectively. However, for added clarity, you can consider the method in the next paragraph.
If you are still studying, simply add “in progress” next to the particular course, or include the "expected year of graduation" as the example below:
🎓 B.S. in Engineering (in progress)｜Massachusetts Institute of Technology
🎓 High school (2015 - 2019)｜Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science
🎓 GEAR Innovative School．Bangalore, IN (Expected to graduate in 2022)
If you have an unfinished degree, don't be ashamed of this. In most cases, it's advisable to include an incomplete degree on your resume, mainly if your target job requires it. Naturally, you may be concerned about how potential employers perceive this unfinished degree.
However, research indicates that 40% of undergraduate college students don't finish their degrees. Therefore, what matters most is how you frame this information rather than whether you include it.
Moreover, your circumstances may vary; you might be planning to return to school to complete your degree soon, or you may have faced significant obstacles that prevented you from finishing college. Regardless of the reason, the key is to portray your incomplete degree on your resume in a positive manner.
To list an unfinished education on a resume, you should list the number of credits you have earned towards that program, or the knowledge you've learned. Your high school information should also be added underneath it if you have no other educational credential.
Here are many examples for your reference:
🎓 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
2018 - 2020: Completed 30 credits towards B.S. in Engineering
🎓Bachelor of Marketing, City College, NY USA
Planned graduation date: December 2026
🎓 Bachelor of Landscape Architectural Design, Melbourne City, AU
Completed 30 credits coursework from 2020 - 2023 and took an academic leave
It can be quite confusing to know if you need to put your education at the top or the bottom of a resume. But this actually depends on your background and level of experience.
For entry-level job seekers:
If you are still in university or recently graduated, you are more likely to have additional credentials related to the job you are applying for as a student, rather than as a professional. You might also be concerned that your past job titles (such as part-time jobs) could cause hiring managers to overlook the achievements and qualities listed below, even if those are essential to the role you intend to work in.
If you have just graduated from university and you are entering the job market for the first time, your education is likely to be the peak of your resume. It is recommended to list the education section of your resume above your work experience section.
This is why it is important to first list your education before your experience. You should see it as the very first step to convince prospective employers that you have the required qualifications as a fresher.
For experienced job seekers
If you are an experienced job seeker or a general job seeker (with more than 2 years of relevant work experience), it is always best to add the resume education section at the bottom, typically below the skill and work experience sections.
While it might be tempting to include a whole lot more about your education in the resume, you should keep the educational background & details short and concise. By design, resumes intend to tell a lot using a limited amount of information. This is especially true when it comes to the education section on the resume of an experienced job seeker.
Employers usually pay less attention to your college coursework and GPA if you've already had working experience as a profession. Typically, the school’s name and the degree program are sufficiently enough to highlight the significance of your education to the hiring managers.
Here are a few examples:
Only put your high school education on resume if you are a high school student, or it happens to be your highest attained education level. When you put your high school education on your resume, you should focus on the skills and knowledge you learned to help overshadow your lack of work experience.
Formal education today, can seamlessly be replaced by alternative training and learning offered by MOOCs (Massive open online courses) and e-learning providers. This is particularly useful if you do not have a degree to put on your resume. Numerous prestigious universities offer online courses for free and issue completion certificates.
Additionally, you could add any niche credentials that you obtain. These can help make up for your lack of experience while also demonstrating the fact that you have updated hands-on skills. You can also write down relevant on-the-job training you have received, including industry certifications, online courses, conferences and more.
Now that you have know everything you need to know about writing a good education section for a resume. It's time for more examples:
B.A. in English Language (Minor in Teaching) · 2016 - 2019
University of Lyon (Lyon, France)｜GPA: 3.84
B.A. in Business Administration｜University of Georgia (2014 - 2018), Minor in Finance
UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)｜2010 - 2015
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering｜Johns Hopkins University｜2015
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering (Expected to graduate in 2021)
Stanford University (Stanford, California)
Awards & Honors:
B.A. in International Relations｜NYU (NY, U.S.)
2005 - 2010
B.A. in Sociology｜Minor in Early Child Development
University of Groningen (Netherlands) · 2016
🎓 Georgia State University (Georgia, U.S.)｜2012 - 2016
Minor: English Literature
Awards: Summa Cum Laude
If there happens to be quite a lot of information that you have to include in your education section of the resume, you should definitely consider segmenting that section using subsections. The larger section should contain your degrees and schools, while other sections can contain other pertinent information such as Certifications, Professional Development, Honors & Awards.
No matter what you put on your resume, it is important that you are completely honest at all times. Not only does lying paint a negative picture of you, but it can also be quite easy for a prospective employer to confirm if the education information you have provided in your resume is true. Your transcript can easily be checked, so if your GPA is not the best, it is better to completely omit it, rather than randomly fudge the numbers. Always be honest.
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