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Curriculum vitae (CV)

The curriculum vitae, also known as a CV, is a comprehensive statement of your educational background, teaching, and research experience. It is the standard representation of credentials within academia. It should be divided into sections based on subject matter, including: 

  • Education
  • Relevant experience
  • Publications and presentations
  • Volunteer and outreach
  • Awards and honors
  • Additional optional sections 

We will go into more detail about the contents of each of these sections below, followed by formatting guidance and some general tips to help you make a great CV. At the end, you will find some links to further guidance, as well as example CVs, which you can reference or download in order to use the formatting. When writing your CV, it is important to remember that review committees will spend at most 2-5 minutes looking at your CV, so it should be succinct and clear, with simple formatting.

Sections

Heading:

  • Name, email address
  • Optional: mailing address, phone number, and social media

Education:

  • Undergraduate institution, degree, major, minors
  • Honors: E.g. Summa, Magna, Cum Laude; dean’s list (do not list all awards here, just general academic awards)
  • GPA: optional
  • Thesis title: optional

Publications and presentations:

  • Peer-reviewed publications
    • Can list “in prep”, “under review” if it has not been published yet
  • Presentations at symposiums/conferences
    • Remember to include virtual presentations, too!
  • Senior/honors thesis projects
  • Include all co-author names, bold your name

Research experience (one of the most important parts of grad school application CV):

  • Include the title of project, lab/organization name, city and state, and dates position was held
  • Explain the project in about ~2 sentences
  • Be specific about the skills that you have gained 
  • Emphasize independence where appropriate
  • Include result of research (e.g. poster, paper, grant, etc.)

Teaching experience:  

  • For each position, include the title, organization name, city and state, and dates position was held. Provide a short description of the position, including your responsibilities and contribution to the class/learning experience.
  • Examples of teaching experience:
    • Undergraduate TA-ships
    • Tutoring (science, writing)
    • Guest lectures

Volunteer and Outreach/Extension:

  • For each experience, include organization name, dates, and position title, when relevant. Provide a short description of the experience.
  • Typically only include post-high school activities 
  • Emphasize leadership, management roles

Awards, Honors, and Grants:

  • Competitive scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships
    • Include award name and granting agency
  • Optional: include award amount
  • Scholastic honors, teaching, or research awards
  • Grants
    • Include name of grant, name of granting agency, date received, and title of research project
    • Optional: include award amount

Optional Sections:

  • Skills: A summary of relevant strengths or skills
    • Lab techniques  (e.g. PCR, etc.)
    • Field techniques (e.g. mist-netting)
    • Personnel/volunteer management
    • Advanced software skills (R, perl, etc.)
    • Language proficiency
    • Soft skills (e.g. conflict mediation, leadership, teamwork, etc.)
    • Do not include Microsoft office (Word and Excel)
  • Certifications: Relevant certifications and the year received (e.g. insecticide application)
  • Professional Society Membership: List relevant professional societies of which you are a member (e.g. Entomological Society of America). 
    • Topic areas in which you have substantial expertise/experience: If there is a specific subject in which you have a lot of experience, you can create a subsection specifically for that subject. For example, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or Science Communication. This will highlight your experience and dedication to that subject.
  • Extracurriculars: This can be a great way to highlight the skills and/or leadership you have gained through clubs, sports, etc.
    • Non-research work experience: It is important for the review committee to know if you have spent substantial time on non-research work. This takes time away from available time to work on research/academics. You can also gain important skills through this work.
    • This resource provides some good ideas about skills/traits to emphasize in regard to work and hobbies.
  • Hobbies: If you have hobbies that are important to you, this can be interesting for the committee to see.
  • Professional social media accounts: If you have a Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/etc devoted to science communication, this can be great for the review committee to see! 

Formatting

  • Organize with categories/sections 
  • Arrange categories in order of importance (to reader - e.g. for a research program, put research experience near the top)
  • Within categories, list experiences/positions in reverse chronological order 
  • In general, place leadership positions within the title of the activity (e.g. President of Entomology Club)
  • Place associated dates on the right
  • Use succinct phrases and action words (e.g. “researched” instead of “research was performed”)
  • Keep formatting clean and simple
  • Be concise and to the point
  • Be consistent (e.g. Jan. 2021 vs. January, 2021)
  • Leave empty space (margins, section spacing, etc.)
  • Font should be readable and professional, 11-13 pt. font with Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Times New Roman fonts
  • Use bold, CAPs, underline, italics for emphasis
  • Save and send as a PDF - formatting can change slightly between computers when opened in Word. Double check that your PDF is formatted correctly.

Tips

  • Align your experiences and skills to the lab/position you are applying to
  • Identify your strengths and emphasize them on your CV (e.g. by creating an additional CV section to highlight your strengths)
  • Focus on clarity – don’t try to take up space (a short CV is normal at this stage)
  • Ask others to proofread your CV!
  • Have a master CV with all of your experiences and positions which then you can tailor for the specific position you are applying for
  • Remember to update your CV frequently! It is easy to forget things that you did.

Additional resources: