Your CV - Gearing Up for Grad School

Planning to apply for grad school? Although not all grad schools require you to submit a curriculum vitae (CV), many do. It’s important to note what to and what not to include in your CV, along with the length of the document.

A standard resume which is used for seeking jobs, will not work when it comes to applying for a grad school. Even a standard single page academic resume won’t do the job. Grad schools focus on academic work and so, it’s recommended that you prepare a multi-page CV strongly emphasizing your academic background, achievements and skills. Although your CV may also include your most recent employment history, extra-curricular activities and personal interests, the focus should be solely on the academic data which is relevant to the program you’re applying. Here’s a brief overview of the sections which should be included in your CV.

Contact Information

This section includes your name, phone number, email and mailing address. The email ID should definitely be very professional, simple and recognizable. The best email ID format is a combination of your first and last name. The phone number should be directed to you. The address should be your current address where you can receive mail any time soon. Introducing yourself with a single webpage using tools like CakeResume and adding the site link to your CV can also be a brilliant idea.

Educational Qualifications

List the educational institutions which you have attended, the years of attendance and the degree received. If you’re still to graduate from your most recent institution, you can just list your major and mention the expected date of completion. It’s recommended not to include information of your GPA, standardized test scores and awards in this section. You should enlist them in separate sections.

Academic Achievements

List all your honors, awards and significant papers (e.g. your college thesis) in this section. You can mention both your published and unpublished works here. Make sure to include the year, name of the award and also a brief explanation for the criteria for the award.

Teaching Experience

Mention in details the teaching experience you have. Include the courses taught, years taught, the name of the supervisor and the institution. If you’re an undergrad student, you are not really expected to have any teaching experience. However, if you do, it’s important to highlight that experience if you’re interested to apply for a graduate teaching assistantship position.

Research Experience

If you have any formal research experience under a faculty member, that information goes in this section. You can also include your undergrad thesis details as part of the research experience. The name of the institution, duration of the research, topic and following papers or publications should be clearly mentioned here.


All your publications relevant to the prospective graduate program should be mentioned in this section of your CV. This is very important since grad schools judge your analytical abilities and your determination to carry out long term research from your publications and research experience.

Professional Experience

This section will include your employment history. Typically, it’s recommended that you go back as far as five years. Provide specific details about the jobs, including the name of the employer, designation, duration of employment and a bullet list of your basic duties and responsibilities. Make sure not to lengthen this section, since this is not the prime concern of your CV.


This is a common section for all CVs. When it comes to grad school applications, most schools require you to submit two or three letters of recommendations. Unless the grad school specifically asks for this information in your CV, it’s okay if you skip this section.

The length of a CV is not limited. Usually it can run any length between 3 to 5 pages. If your CV is not more than 2 pages, but still includes all the relevant information, that is an acceptable length as well. You can also use a number of easy tools to build your CV or resume and track its performance. Here’s a final note, make sure to get your CV reviewed by at least one person before you mark it as ‘final’. Having multiple pairs of eyes looking at your document can really help identify errors and deficiencies in your CV. Good luck with your grad school application!

Further Reading: Looking for a standard CV format for graduate school applications? Check out this CV Sample and Guidelines as per the instructions of the Graduate School of University of Illinois at Chicago!

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