How to Write a CV for Graduate School Application?

Admission counsellors are on the lookout for well-rounded candidates. Show them you’re diverse with accomplishments and extracurriculars in a jaw-dropping graduate school CV.

Roger Maftean
Career Expert at ResumeLab
How to Write a CV for Graduate School Application?

How Is a Graduate School CV Different From a Work CV?

Your graduate school CV is an education-focused CV that should include your GPA, 

the title of your undergrad thesis, the list of classes relevant to the program you're applying to, 

and any other info required by the Grad school. Unlike standard CVs, Grad School CVs can be more than one page long.

 

-

 

Online application files, statements of purpose, transcripts, standardised test scores, letters of recommendation—

 

They’re the standard requirements for applying to any graduate program.

 

But—if you’re applying to a program that requires an additional CV or CV, then count yourself lucky.

 

Why? A well-crafted grad school CV is what can set you apart from other candidates. Your extracurriculars show an admissions counsellor you have passions and interests—more so than those who spent 4 years in the confines of the Ivory Tower and didn’t put theory into practise.

 

And here you’re gonna learn how to achieve this effect. Step by step.

 

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • A grad school CV sample to use as a cheat sheet.
  • How to list education on your CV for graduate programs.
  • Best practises for listing work experience and extracurriculars.
  • Expert tips and examples to boost your candidate profile and get accepted.

 

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graduate schoole CV templates

 

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Looking for different academic-related CVs? See our guides:

 

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Graduate School CV Sample You Can Copy and Use

 

Kyla D. Cunningham

 

Personal Info

Phone: 773-351-9338

Email: kyla.d.cunningham@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/kdc93unningham

twitter.com/kc93cunning

 

Objective

Psychology graduate with 3 years of experience as a human services professional. Seeking to build on my theoretical knowledge as an MA student in the Clinical Psychology program at Northwestern University. Bridge the gap as a student between the application of psychological profiling in the workplace to concepts and theory in the classroom.

 

Education 

 

BA in Psychology

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Graduation: 2018

GPA: 3.94/4.00 cumulative, magna cum laude

Relevant Coursework: Developmental psychology, Abnormal psychology, Psychology of learning, Cognitive psychology.

Awards: Dean’s List 2014-2018.

Thesis Title: Examining the Role of Cognitive Bias on High School Student Mental Health

 

School Psychologist Intern

Latino Youth High School

2018–2019

 

  • Helped to assess student behaviour in classrooms and worked with school psychologist to signal when intervention was needed through behaviour and academic performance.
  • Administered different assessments on students (Beck Anxiety Index, Behaviour Assessment System) to test their level of need, affection, and well-being.
  • Measured the academic progress of students through different standardised testing to ensure they follow in line with Illinois State Board of Education standards.

 

Grants, Fellowships & Scholarships

 

  • UChicago First-Generation University Student Scholarship, £20,000 scholarship administered over 4 years.
  • UChicago Partner Schools Scholarship, £10,000 scholarship administered over 2 years.

 

Certifications

 

  • Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABBP)

 

Honours & Awards

 

  • 2019 Best Thesis Award Recipient, Department of Psychology, May 2018.

 

Research & Teaching Experience

 

Research Assistant

EFSCO Grant

University of Chicago, Department of Psychology

2016-2018

Project title: The Multi-Sited Approaches to Mental Health for Senior-Citizens: From Chicago to Cleveland

  • Conducted surveys at over 20 senior assisted living facilities in the Chicagoland area and compiled the results as part of the EFSCO grant project.

 

Memberships

 

  • American Psychological Association - Junior Scholar

 

Key Skills: 

 

  • Analytical
  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Communication
  • Deducer
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Planning and conceptualising
  • Problem-solving
  • Organisational
  • SPSS
  • Team-building
  • Time-management
  • Writing skills

 

References

 

Patricia Thurman

Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago

5848 S. University Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60637

773-702-8861

pthurman@uchicago.edu

 

Patrick Donnelly

Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago

5848 S. University Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60637

773-795-6995

pdonnelly@uchicago.edu

 

Here’s how to write a CV or CV for grad school:

 

1. Use the Best Graduate School CV Format

 

Here’s the thing—requirements differ depending on the program you’re applying to.

 

Most graduate programs we’ve come across don’t require a CV. Some do, but the majority of time, they are optional.

 

Even if it’s optional, it’s best to include a CV or a CV for graduate school, regardless of whether you’re applying to an MA program or Ph.D. program.

 

Why?

 

Academic counsellors are flooded with applications. Grad school CVs are a quick and easy way for them to see your profile in one document. No need to hunt down proof of your extracurricular activities.

 

But—your CV format needs to look clean and clear from first glance. Here’s how:

 

Grad School Application CV Format

 

  • Use the reverse-chronological format to highlight your achievements. This format is the standard most counsellors want to see.
  • Choose CV fonts like Cambria or Times New Roman in 10–12pt.
  • Embrace white space by using 1-inch margins.
  • Submit no more than 2–3 pages. Check specific CV length guidelines offered by the program you’re applying to.

 

After you’ve written your CV, save it as a PDF to keep the layout aligned and in-line with all software and devices.

 

Some require a CV for graduate school. Structure it in the same way as the CV format but include additional sections only if they are relevant. Think quality over quantity. Here’s a list of different sections for you to consider:

 

Sample Graduate School CV Template—CV Sections

 

  • Address & Contact Information
  • CV Objective
  • Education (learn more about how to list education on your CV)
  • Non-Academic Job Experience
  • Grants, Fellowships & Scholarships
  • Academic Publications
  • Honours & Awards
  • Research and Teaching Experience
  • Memberships
  • Skills & Abilities
  • References

Expert Hint: Last year, humanities and social science programs acceptance rate for MA and Ph.D. programs ranged from 5–13%. With such low acceptance rates, you’ll need to make sure your application documents are formatted to perfection so counsellors focus on your merit.

2. Personalise Your Graduate School CV Objective

 

Admissions counsellors know your SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and class rank.

 

Seems enough, right?

 

Here’s the thing—everyone is a number in their system. You need a way to tell your story behind the numbers.

 

The way to do so is with a CV profile section, and more specifically, a CV objective. If you’ve studied or worked in a field different from the one you’re applying to, a CV objective helps frame your application to the person reviewing it.

 

Use the following:

 

  1. Who you are now (student, career changer, etc.).
  2. The program you’re applying to.
  3. Relevant education or skills you have.
  4. Your background, work experience, or key achievement.
  5. What your profile brings to the program.

 

Take a look at what works and what doesn’t in these CV objective for graduate school examples:

 

Graduate School CV Objective Statement—Example

Good Example
Psychology graduate with 3 years of experience as a human services professional. Seeking to build on my theoretical knowledge as an MA student in the Clinical Psychology program at Northwestern University. Bridge the gap as a student between the application of psychological profiling in the workplace to concepts and theory in the classroom.
Bad Example
Human services professional with 3 years of experience whose primary research interest is in Clinical Psychology. Seeking to use my expertise in the classroom. Have earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Spot the difference?

 

The first example tells a deeper story behind their desire to attend that specific grad program—and why. As for the second—all potential students applying have an interest in clinical psychology, but it’s a given. It adds nothing to the candidate’s profile.

Expert Hint: Not sure how to write your grad school CV objective? Here’s a hack. Leave it to the end where you’ll have more material to paraphrase your overall candidate profile.

3. Shine the Light on Your Education

 

Back to numbers.

 

The most important aspect of your candidate profile to admissions officers is numerical—

 

GPA, SAT, ACT, GRE.

 

How do you give support to all these three-letter acronyms?

 

With a pumped-up CV education section.

 

It is by far the most important section on your CV. And not all educations are equal—having a 3.2 GPA from University of Chicago is better than a 4.0 at Chicago State University. 

 

This part of your grad school CV or CV shows what level of education you received in comparison to others and where you are on the scale of high-quality degrees. Add as much relevant detail as possible to boost your profile.

 

When listing your educational background, start with the basics:

  • Degree type (Bachelor’s Master’s, Associate, etc.)
  • Degree major
  • School name
  • School city and state/country
  • Graduation year
  • GPA
  • Your minor (if applicable)
  • Relevant coursework
  • Specific honours and awards (magna cum laude, Dean’s list, etc.)
  • Thesis title

 

Remember—quality over quantity. 

 

You’re tailoring your education section to boost your profile so don’t add irrelevant information. Putting cum laude on your CV makes more sense than saying you aced your Art History class.

 

Here’s the right and wrong way to do it:

 

Graduate School CV Education—Example

Good Example

Education 

 

BA in Psychology

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Graduation: 2018

GPA: 3.94/4.00 cumulative, magna cum laude

Relevant Coursework: Developmental psychology, Abnormal psychology, Psychology of learning, Cognitive psychology.

Awards: Dean’s List 2014-2018.

Thesis Title: Examining the Role of Cognitive Bias on High School Student Mental Health

Bad Example

Education 

 

BA in Psychology

UC, Chicago

2015-2018

3.2 GPA

The first education section example gives more detail and shows more of a specialisation than the second.

 

If you have a lower GPA, don’t list it here and extend your education section to include other accomplishments, classes, or projects you took part in. Add a study abroad program in you’ve done it as well, provided it’s relevant. There’s nothing admission committees hate more than irrelevant info.

Expert Hint: Between 2016–2017, the number of graduate applicants decreased by 2%, according to Council of Graduate Schools. By adding more details to your education section, you can further use this decrease to your benefit by standing out from the competition.

The ResumeLab builder is more than looks. Get specific content to boost your chances of getting the job. Add job descriptions, bullet points, and skills. Easy. Improve your CV in our CV builder now.

 

create your CV now

 

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Nail it all with a splash of colour, choose a clean font, highlight your skills in just a few clicks. You’re the perfect candidate and we’ll prove it. Use the ResumeLab builder now.

 

4. Write a Section On Work Experience and Skills Outside of Academia

 

If you’re fresh out of university or more geared towards academic work, you might not have a long list of work experience to show.

 

That’s fine.

 

Your previous work experience won’t define you in the same way it would if applying for jobs outside of academia.

 

But—if you had working experience, especially ones relevant to the field you’re studying, then this section will signal to the admissions office that you’re more than just a student.

 

Show this in a CV work history section.

 

It’s the place in your graduate CV to showcase how diverse you are as a candidate and what path you took along your way to arrive at this decision to apply for this particular grad program.

 

If you’re applying for a psychology program and have worked with at-risk students in the past, then it is still in line with your overall interest to apply to that grad school.

 

It also can help to explain why you might have taken some time off from when you graduated to now. Just make sure not to throw everything you’ve done in this section. Don’t be as thorough as you would for a regular job CV:

 

Sample CV For Graduate School Application—Work Experience

Good Example

School Psychologist Intern

Latino Youth High School

2018–2019

  • Helped to assess student behaviour in classrooms and worked with school psychologist to signal when intervention was needed through behaviour and academic performance.
  • Administered different assessments on students (Beck Anxiety Index, Behaviour Assessment System) to test their level of need, affection, and well-being.
  • Measured the academic progress of students through different standardised testing to ensure they follow in line with Illinois State Board of Education standards.
Bad Example

Psych School Intern

Latino Youth High School

2018–2019

  • Assistant to school psychologist helping with all administrative duties related to the well-being of the students.
  • Filled out paperwork regarding tests administered by the school psychologist to make sure all criteria is met.

What a difference.

 

If the selection committee sees the first example, they’ll know you understand the basics of psychology because you were actively applying its fundamentals.

 

The second? Not so much.

 

Remember you have to tie in your work experience with your overall candidate profile and what makes you more of a fit for that particular academic institution.

 

If you don’t have much experience but do hold some essential skills to boost your profile, add a CV skills section.

 

Here’s a sample grad school CV with skills listed separately:

 

Skills for a Graduate School CV

 

  • Analytical
  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Planning and conceptualising
  • Problem-solving
  • Organisational
  • Team-building
  • Time-management
  • Writing skills

 

5. Add Extracurriculars To Your Grad School CV With More Sections

 

Okay, basics down, but something’s missing.

 

You didn’t get to show how you successfully balanced the demands of a rigorous course load with numerous extra-curricular activities.

 

And how you spent your time outside of the classroom is extremely important for the selections committee. 

 

Why? As a student and hopeful graduate of their institution, you’ll be an ambassador for the rest of your career.

 

All eyes on you.

 

To show them your worth, add relevant extra sections to your grad school CV. Here are some

suggestions: 

 

Research and Teaching Experience

 

For candidates applying to MA programs, this section may not be as applicable. It’s mostly for those who are going into Ph.D. programs and worked part-time as a teaching assistant for one of their professors.

 

Also,if you took part in any research projects as a team member, include it in this section.

 

Look at the examples below:

 

Grad School CV—Examples of Research & Teaching Experience

Good Example

Research Assistant

EFSCO Grant

University of Chicago, Department of Psychology

2016-2018

Project title: The Multi-Sited Approaches to Mental Health for Senior-Citizens: From Chicago to Cleveland

  • Conducted surveys at over +20 senior assisted living facilities in the Chicagoland area and compiled the results as part of the EFSCO grant project.
Bad Example

Research Assistant

Department of Psychology, UC

2016-2018

  • Conducted surveys and analysed results for senior professor’s grant project.

The ability to work as a team member on such a project would be essential experience as an academic—and is bound to boost your profile.

 

Grants, Fellowships & Scholarships

 

Attending a top-level university for your Bachelor’s is already an accomplishment. Getting a full ride scholarship to cover all tuition based on merit is unheard of.

 

So— 

 

Impress the selection committee by listing your scholarships, fellowships, and study grants in a dedicated section of your graduate school CV.

 

List the name of the grant, the institution providing the grant, what it was for, the dates, and the amount awarded. 

 

Academic Publications

 

Are you a BA or MA student who had top-notch journal articles published?

 

Count your praises—you’ve done more than most Ph.D. candidates.

 

And you have to show it on your CV for graduate school.

 

List your publications in this section to show the selection committee that you’re on track to bringing more prestige to the university.

 

Honours & Awards

 

In this section of your grad school CV list additional awards or honours you received within academia or outside of it. 

 

Professional Affiliations & Memberships 

 

The academic world is built on networks and these connexions are what sustains it. Prove to the selection committee you know this by adding any affiliations or memberships you’ve been a part of in this way:

  • Organisation name
  • City and state
  • Your title (member) 

 

Extracurricular Activities & Interests

 

Did you spend time volunteering in your community? Did you go door-to-door canvassing voters for an election?

 

List those extracurricular activities in a separate grad school CV section. Think of the following:

 

References 

 

End your CV for graduate school with some institutional weight.

 

Think if you want to have the same references as those who write your letters of recommendation to the university. Often, the letters of recommendation are more targeted to the program itself, like an alumnus who attended, or a leader in your community.

 

In this section, think of 2–3 academic references who know more about your studies. Include the following when adding references on your grad school CV:

  • Full name
  • Professional title (Professor, Lecturer, Dean)
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

 

The final step—

 

Think about how your grad school CV complements your letter of motivation. You don’t want to have much overlap, as your motivation letter will focus on your reasoning for choosing that particular program and institute.

 

Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.

 

create your cover letter now

 

CREATE YOUR COVER LETTER NOW

 

Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.

 

Key Points

 

And that’s it!

 

You’re now one step closer to completing your application process with a great graduate school CV. Let’s recap what you’ve learned:

  • Use the graduate school CV template from the top. It’s concise and meets all the requirements.
  • Make your education shine on your CV for grad schools by detailing relevant coursework, awards, and achievements.
  • Follow our best practises for listing work experience and extracurriculars. Don’t forget to utilise each additional section offered to boost your profile as a candidate.

 

Got questions on how to write a great CV for graduate school? We’re here to help and want to know how the process worked out! Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply.

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Roger Maftean
Roger Maftean is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. His guides and commentary have been published by NBC, Lifehacker, Business News Daily, Content Marketing Institute, WordPress, and VolunteerMatch, among others. As a career advice writer, his goal is to help job candidates maximize their chances of landing the best jobs through expert knowledge driven by data. He also specializes in the psychological aspects of the workplace. Roger holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Government, an M.A. in Philosophy, and focuses on helping people thrive in their professional lives through data-driven solutions.

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