The Curriculum Vitae (CV) is primarily used for academic positions, fellowships and grants, as well as many research, government, and related fields.  Depending on the state, community colleges may prefer CVs as well. The CV is a document that offers a comprehensive yet succinct overview of your skills, qualifications, discipline studies, and accomplishments in your academic career.

For advanced PhD students, 3-5 pages is the typical length, and you can expect your CV to grow longer as you gain more experience (sometimes up to 10 pages or more). All CVs have a similar formalities, however norms do exist for specific disciplines, so you should consult a member of your department and/or your advisor after creating your CV.

The CV is a “living document,” which means you will be adding to it constantly throughout your academic career. The good news is: once you have a solid start to your CV, on-going updates should be minor.

CV Writing Tips

A few tips to writing a good CV include:

  • Create a master CV that has a complete list of all your accomplishments
  • Adjust and re-order sections as necessary based on where you are applying (e.g., research-based university will want to see research and publication sections before teaching sections)
  • Share and get feedback on your CV
  • Look at CVs in your department from your peers or advisors, review CV books from the Career Resource Room, schedule one-on-one feedback with a graduate peer or career counselor
  • 12-point, easy-to-read font, 1-inch margins, 3-5 pages is typical for advanced graduate students
  • For the address section, list home and institution
  • Use white space effectively and put important words and phrases in boldface
  • Err on the side of clean and clear black text, versus fancy and frills
  • Make your name stand out with choice of font size and formatting
  • Provide clear section titles
  • Use consistent formatting and be consistent with placement of dates
  • Put your name and page numbers in a header or footer on every page after the first page

CV Sections

Use the following sections to structure your CV. Remeber that sections can be adjusted and re-ordered to further highlight your expereince based on where you are applying, but remember to be clear and concise.

Identifying Information
  • Name, address, email
  • Departmental address (as opposed to your personal address) is common on CVs
  • Do not include marital status, children, or other personal characteristics
  • List institutions and year of graduation
  • Do not include high school
  • Put in reverse chronological order
  • List honors awarded for each institution (if not listed elsewhere)
  • Can put dissertation title under PhD program information
  • If you are within 1 year of graduating, put expected graduation date (otherwise put “In Progress” next to PhD)
  • Can list under Education section or in its own section
  • Put title and possibly a brief abstract
  • Can put advisor name and/or other committee members
  • Avoid long descriptions about your work here (that should go into the Research Statement)

Awards, Grants, Fellowships, Honors, and Scholarships

  • Don’t be shy – here is your time to shine!
  • If you have more than 2 of something (e.g. grants, fellowships, etc.), you can create separate sub-sections to highlight them further
  • Optional to include award amounts or state competiveness of award if it distinguishes you further or if it is something a general audience wouldn’t know

Research /Professional/Fieldwork, etc. Experience

  • List title of project or role and institution
  • These sections require utilization of action verbs when describing tasks and should be written in a brief narrative style (not achievement-oriented like a resume) – brevity is important
  • Use bullet points sparingly and use other types of formatting (white space, boldface, italics) to set apart important information
  • Separate sub-sections for Teaching Assistant and Teaching Associate (Instructor of Record) positions, if applicable
  • Note if you developed course material or lectured extensively in any positions
  • List full course name, dates taught, and institution
  • Don’t include course numbers, but you can optionally include a brief course description if the course title isn’t sufficient
Academic Service
  • Include university-wide groups, task forces, committees that you’ve been involved in
  • Consider department, university, and/or discipline groups you’ve  participated in
  • List your references on a separate page, include contact information for each (current title, address, phone, email)
  • 3-4 references is usually adequate
  • Other Relevant Professional Experiences: If you’ve had other paid/non-paid experience that is relevant to your work as an academic, add it here (with brief explanations as appropriate)
Other Possible Sections
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Specialized Professional Training
  • Languages

Final Steps

Once you have your CV complete, make sure you review it one more time to ensure that everything is in order. Follow the tips below to ensure you submit your CV in the most professional manner.

Last Minute Reminders
  • Remember, this is a “weeding-out” document. For most positions, an initial review will be brief (as short as 30 seconds). If you make it past that round, then a few more people will read your CV more seriously. What that means is that you need to make sure that your CV is crisp, clear, and shows your strengths and qualities for the position in an obvious way
  • Proofread! Check and double check your CV, and have it critiqued by several people in your department for content and grammar. Bring your résumé to Career Services to have it reviewed by a career counselor.
Submitting Process
  • When printing: Print on writing paper (20, 24, or 28 lb) and remove hyperlinks
  • When emailing: Black text is preferred (since most people don’t print in color) and send in PDF format