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You’ve just come to the resume education section.
Oh, that’s simple.
School, degree, dates, GPA, and presto—I’m done.
Sure, you could do that…
…and you also could lose out to the other candidates.
Here’s how to format education on a resume in a way which schools all the rest.
In this resume guide, we’ll show you:
- The only resume education format recruiters expect.
- How to list education on your resume to prove what you know.
- How to show off your academic achievements: honors, awards and accomplishments.
- Where to put relevant coursework on a resume and what to do with your GPA.
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By the way, this guide is about writing a resume’s education section. If you are just starting your professional career and want to learn how to write your resume check out these guides:
1. Why is a Resume Education Section Important?
Like numbers quantifying accomplishments in other parts of a resume, education is proven by degrees and diplomas earned.
On top of that, a resume education section helps show direction—
Employers want hires who are willing to learn and improve, and your education on resume shows that.
When you dress it up with impressive extracurricular activities, relevant coursework, and honors—all the better!
Expert Hint: Double-check if there are no typos in your resume. They undermine your education—and your chances for employment. 58% of employers auto-reject resumes that contain typos.
2. Where to Put Education on Resume?
Like a hotel in Monopoly, you’ve got to locate it strategically.
In the vast majority of cases, put the education resume section just below your work experience section.
- You’ve just graduated.
- You ‘re writing an academic resume.
- You’re a professional returning to school.
If you've got little or no experience, put it above the experience section to focus the recruiter's attention on what you have rather than what you don't have.
Expert Hint: Went to a prestigious university? You might want to show that off to make use of the halo effect. This cognitive bias basically says that, because you went to Cornell, you’ve got to be an impressive candidate.
3. What to Put on Your Resume Education Section
An outstanding education section of resume has its must-include items and for-chrissakes-don’t-add-that details.
In your educational background section, include:
Items to Include for Education in Resume
- Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, associate, etc.)
- Degree major
- School name
- School city and state/country
- Your minor, especially if it is relevant to the job
- Relevant coursework
- Honors and awards, such as Latin honors cum laude and magna cum laude, and others like the Dean’s List
- School clubs, but only if it’s relevant (no adding drama club if you’re becoming a programmer)
The top 4 items are must-haves. The rest will give you an edge over other candidates.
However, if you've got X years of experience, mentioning those extra items will look awkward as your experience is what matters to employers (i.e., don't say you were a good student, if you've already been expected to be a great professional).
And, don’t weaken your resume education section with these:
Not Recommended Items for Education in Resume
- High school information if you’ve completed a university degree (we’ll cover this more in a bit)
- GPA on resume, especially if it is too low
- Graduation year or dates in school, especially if it is more than a decade in the past.
What to do if you have some extracurricular certifications or development courses to list?
These should be listed in its own certifications and awards resume section.
Also, if you are a member of a learned society or academic association, add that to a membership section.
Expert Hint: Consistency is key. If you format your dates as November, 2018 in your job descriptions, stick to that same dating format in the resume academic section.
4. How to List Education on Resume?
We’re about to show you varying degrees of a great resume education section.
Here is how to list education on resume:
- Start with your most recent academic experience.
- Add the degree earned if you completed it.
- Include the school name, city, and state.
- List the program or major if the schooling is yet unfinished.
- Add extras to make the education section soar, such as honors, awards, relevant coursework, and minors.
- Use a second educational entry if the first one is unfinished.
Here is a no-frills basic sample of education listed on a resume:
Education on Resume—General Example
BS in Biology
New York University, New York, NY
That’s for a completed university span, but it would also work for a high school graduate resume.
Expert Hint: If you’ve earned more than one degree, list them separately, even if they’re from the same university.
Now, let’s look at some academic resume examples which include our recommended additions.
Education on Resume—Relevant Coursework
BA in Network Administration
City University of New York, New York, NY
Relevant Coursework: network & security applications, internet-of-things, cloud foundations.
Education on Resume—Minor
BS in Computer Engineering
Pace University, New York, NY
Minor: Business Management
Education on Resume—Publications
BA in Economics
Columbia University, New York, NY
“Methods of Utilizing a Line of Text to Say Absolutely Nothing”
Education on Resume—Awards, Honors, Latin Honors
BS in Business Administration
Juilliard School, New York, NY
Honors & Awards
- Dean’s List (past 5 semesters)
- Phi Beta Kappa
- Summa cum laude
- Magna cum laude
Expert Hint: Always put Latin honors (cum laude, summa cum laude & magna cum laude) in lowercase italics. Also, cum laude on your resume might make adding Dean’s List redundant, but better have them roll their eyes than lose that achievement!
Education on Resume—Clubs and Extracurricular Activities
BA in Sociology
Baruch College, New York, NY
- Softball team captain
- Engineering Club
- Student Government
- Environmental Student Organization
- Museum of Science Student Guild
Some even suggest adding your thesis as an educational element. “You may want to include a separate ‘Thesis’ subsection under the appropriate educational degree and indicate the title of your thesis in italics,” states Harvard Law School.
Our advice is, if it’s relevant, go right ahead!
Please note, of course, that two or more of the various education subsections above may be combined. Just stack them one atop the other.
Expert Hint: Only add extracurricular activities in your education section if they are relevant and affiliated with your time at the school. Otherwise, list relevant activities in a resume hobbies and interests section.
5. How to List Education In Progress on Resume?
Perhaps you’re still in school now, looking for a job to make ends meet.
Here’s how to put college on resume if you haven't graduated yet:
Majoring in IT Infrastructure
Hunter College, New York, NY
Expected Graduation: 2020
That resume expected graduation can also be listed as: anticipated graduation or completed by.
Additionally, you could style it with credits instead of a date, like so:
LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, NY
Completed 50 credits toward BA in Network Administration
And what if you dropped out of college or life got in the way and you don’t know when you’ll finish?
Here’s how to list unfinished college on resume when you’re not taking classes anymore:
Queens College, Flushing, NY
Completed 50 credits toward BA in Network Administration
This means that you should add high school below, like so:
Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, NY
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6. Should You Put High School on Resume?
If high school is your only education, that’s fine!
Just add it as your sole education entry, exactly as in the previous example.
Here is an example of high school education on resume:
Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
What if you only have high school, but haven’t finished yet?
Here is a high school student resume example for someone still in school:
Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, NY
Expected graduation: 2020
Here’s how to list high school if you’ve left:
Beacon School, New York, NY
Years Attended: 2016–2018
Here’s how to list GED (General Educational Development) on your resume:
GED High School Equivalency Diploma
Bronx Adult Learning Center, Bronx, NY
Or a Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC):
TASC High School Equivalency Diploma
Brooklyn College Adult Literacy Program, Brooklyn, NY
Finally, here’s the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE):
CSBE Certificate of Proficiency
Clayton Valley High School, Concord, CA
Expert Hint: We don’t recommend dates on finished degrees and diplomas, especially if they’re more than 10 years in the past, but they are useful when the program remains unfinished.
7. B.A. or BA? They’re NOT All the Same
When ATS software scans your resume and parses it for resume keywords, do you feel confident you have the right phrasing?
It’s a trap.
Also in the case of describing your degrees.
Look at the first sentence of the Wikipedia page for a Bachelor of Science:
“A Bachelor of Science (Latin Baccalaureus Scientiae, B.S., BS, B.Sc., BSc, or B.Sc; or, less commonly, S.B., SB, or Sc.B., from the equivalent Latin Scientiae Baccalaureus) is an undergraduate academic degree awarded…”
That’s nine variations to refer to the same degree (without even saying bachelor’s degree)!
How to Write Degree on Resume?
First, check the job listing—it’s the perfect cheat sheet.
Refer to your diploma the same way your future employer talks about it.
If they say BA, you say BA.
If they say B.A., add those periods.
But here's a great trick: when talking about diplomas, use the preferred abbreviation and the whole form: Bachelor of Arts (BA).
If the ATS expects to see bachelor not BA, this will double your chances of being understood by those annoying robots.
8. Top Tips for Resumes’ Education Area
Don’t List Everything
Employers have specific requirements. But in the case of education and experience on your resume, you can have too much of a good thing—
My father has three master’s degrees and a bachelor’s degree, all in different fields. Retired now, he recently applied for a job as a part-time security guard to pass the time.
He listed all the degrees on his resume, and it took ages for him to finally land the job. For most companies, he was way overqualified.
You might have paid good money for those diplomas, but don’t list them all just to show off!
Write It Right
It is an associate degree and doctoral degree (no apostrophes), but it becomes possessive when saying bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Western Michigan University says, “Do not use an apostrophe with associate degree or doctoral degree. Do not capitalize the major specialty.”
They also add, “Academic degrees are capitalized only when the full name of the degree is used, such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Social Work.”
A credit shy of a degree is not a degree. Also, don’t round your GPA up. Nowadays, it is easier than ever for an employer to verify what background you listed, so never lie in your education resume section!
Expert Hint: “Should you write a cover letter?” In short, you should. About 80% of hiring managers say a well-written cover letter will help you get to an interview even if your resume isn’t that great.
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- Only include relevant entries on your resume education section.
- If you’ve completed college, don’t add high school.
- If you’re partially on your way to a diploma, add high school.
- Add education subsections such as coursework, minors, clubs, activities, publications, and honors and achievements to boost your chances of employment.
- Consider skipping dates and GPAs on your resume.
Got any questions on how to write a resume education section? Not sure how to list minors, coursework, GPAs, activities, or honors? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!