How to Write a CV for a Graduate School Application

A CV for graduate school application is an overview of your academic accomplishments.

A curriculum vitae—Latin for course of life, roughly—is similar in some ways to a resume but is usually longer and has less standardized formatting. A CV emphasizes scholarly pursuits and achievements over professional qualifications. Graduate programs often require applicants to submit CVs. Your CV for graduate school application should provide an overview of your academic accomplishments along with your contact information, professional affiliations, work experience, relevant extracurricular activities and your references. References in this case should include professors and advisers from your undergraduate years.

Start your CV with your name and contact information, including your address, phone number and email address.

Write your personal objective statement. Explain your professional and academic goals in attending graduate school. If you are applying to multiple graduate programs, tailor the personal statement in each CV to the specific graduate program you are submitting it to.

Name the university from which you earned your undergraduate degree and specify your majors and minors. Include the year and month that you graduated. Don't abbreviate school names or degree names.

List your employment experience, including employer, job title and job description.

Describe any undergraduate research projects you had the opportunity to contribute to. If you haven't yet had any significant research experience, mention the research-related skills that you do possess, for example familiarity with statistical programs.

Cite any articles that you have had published in scholarly journals. If you have a pending publication, you can list that as well. You can also mention any presentations you've made at academic conferences. Remember to use appropriate formatting when citing your publications—MLA, APA or otherwise, depending on your field.

Describe any academic awards or honors you've achieved. Write the full name of the award and the year in which you received it.

Describe any community involvement or volunteer work experiences you have had, and include the name of the organization you were involved with as well as the types of projects or services you contributed to.

Describe any relevant extracurricular activities or leadership experiences you've been involved in. If you belong to any honors societies or professional organizations that are related to the your field of graduate study, mention these as well.

Provide references at the end of your CV. Find out how many references the graduate program to which you are applying requires. Include the name, title and contact information for each reference. Make sure that each of your references is aware that you have provided their names and give each of your references a copy of your CV.

  • Two features that a CV shares with a resume are "gapping" and "parallelism." Gapping is the use of incomplete sentences to cut out unnecessary words and describe information concisely. For example, instead of writing: "I contributed to my adviser's research on sustainable development," write "Contributed to adviser's research on sustainable development." Parallelism means using consistent sentence structure throughout the CV for a crisper, stronger sound. If you use verb phrases in one section of the CV, use them in the same way throughout.
  • Do not mention awards or honors earned in high school—these are considered extraneous and may give the impression that you are trying to pad your CV.
  • List employment, community involvement and educational experiences in reverse chronological order with most recent experiences first.