How to Write an Academic CV for Graduate School that Gets You Accepted

by | Nov 21, 2022 | Admissions

An academic CV for graduate school isn’t like your standard CV. It’s typically tailored to the graduate school you are applying to, highlighting relevant skills and experiences. The goal is to show admission officers that your skills and experiences make you a great fit for the program.

When writing an academic CV, conciseness is key—you only have a limited amount of space to showcase your accomplishments.

The admissions committee will use your academic CV together with other requirements to gauge whether to grant you admission. Other common requirements for graduate school applications include:

To earn your spot in a competitive program, it’s important to give writing an academic CV your best effort.

By following the tips below, you will be equipped to create an outstanding academic CV that will increase your chances of being accepted into your dream graduate program.

CV or Resume: What’s the Difference?

Many people use “CV” and “resume” interchangeably. However, the two documents have distinct differences.

  • Resume: A one or two-page summary of your professional accomplishments.
  • Curriculum Vitae: highlights all your accomplishments, both academic and professional.

To differentiate the two, remember that Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for “course of life”, while resume is French for “summary.”

Graduate school applications typically require a CV that highlights your academic and professional achievements. Your academic CV should include publications and descriptions of research projects.

Let’s compare academic CVs and resumes in the table below:

Curriculum Vitae           Resume
  • Highlights both professional and academic achievements
  • Highlights professional achievements
  • Emphasizes academic achievements
  • Emphasizes skills
  • No longer than two pages
  • Length varies depending on experience and achievements



The Basics of an Academic CV for Graduate School

Just like a standard CV, an academic CV should include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Relevant awards

However, unlike the standard CV, it should also highlight publications, presentations, and grants that you’ve received.

A graduate school CV isn’t expected to be long—try not to exceed two pages. Remember to tailor your CV to each individual graduate school application.

How to Format a CV for Graduate School

When formatting your CV for graduate school, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, your CV should be clear and concise. It should be free of any errors, including typos and grammatical mistakes.

Second, your CV should be tailored to the specific program you’re applying to. This means including relevant coursework, research experience, and extracurricular activities.

Finally, make sure to have someone proofread your CV before you submit it. This will help ensure that it is error-free and that it makes a good impression on the admissions committee.

What to Include in an Academic CV for Graduate School

When it comes to writing a CV for graduate school, there are a few things you need to include in order to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

First, make sure to list your educational background, including any relevant coursework or research experience. Secondly, list any relevant work experience, including any internships or jobs you may have had. Finally, be sure to list any skills or abilities that could be relevant to the program you’re applying to.

By including these key elements in your CV, you’re increasing your chances of getting accepted into the graduate program of your choice.

What Not to Include in an Academic CV for Graduate School

You’re likely to be wondering, “What information should I not include in my academic CV?”

As a general rule of thumb, anything that doesn’t directly support your case for admission shouldn’t be on your CV. That means you shouldn’t include a list of hobbies and interests, no matter how impressive they may be.

Similarly, avoid adding any personal information that isn’t relevant to your application. Admission officials aren’t interested in your age, marital status, and any other details that are not directly related to your ability to succeed in graduate school.

Most importantly, don’t include anything that could potentially damage your chances of being accepted. That includes any academic failures and professional experiences that could cast you in a bad light.

Tips for Creating a Winning Academic CV for Graduate School

Your CV is one of the most important documents that will be used to decide on your graduate school admission. It pays to put in the work to write a winning academic CV.

With that in mind, here are our tips to help you write a CV that gets you accepted to top graduate schools abroad:

Focus on Your Academic Background

The golden rule of academic CVs is to emphasize on education achievements over professional ones. As this isn’t a resume, you’ll still have to include your professional experience—but without too much detail.

Make sure to include the following details on your academic experience:

  • Your alma mater
  • The diploma you earned
  • When you graduated
  • Relevant courses you took
  • Academic awards you earned (particularly those relevant to the program)
  • Research experiences

However, don’t go overboard with descriptions. Only include the most important information, with each entry containing two to four bullet points.

Highlight Relevant Work Experience

After providing your academic background, the next section of your CV should highlight relevant work experience. Since this is an academic CV, only include professional details that are relevant to the graduate program.

Here are professional details to include:

  • Name of organizations you’ve worked for
  • Your job title
  • Your employment basis (whether full-time or part-time)
  • Employment dates
  • The country you worked in
  • Brief details of what you achieved while in the role, especially if it’s relevant to the program

Bear in mind that internships and volunteer positions also count as part of your work experience. 

Include a Section for Publications & Conference Presentations

Publications and presentations give weight to your application—so don’t forget to include them. Create a list of your relevant publications such as:

  • Books
  • Book chapters
  • Articles
  • Reviews

Use bibliographic citations for each publication in an appropriate format for your particular field of study.

Additionally, list any key presentations and talks you’ve given that are relevant for your field of study. Provide a brief description of the subject of each presentation.

Include Other Relevant Achievements, Skills, and Memberships

Did you have impressive GRE scores? Including that information in your academic CV is important. GMAT and English proficiency test scores, and relevant professional memberships can also help strengthen your CV.

Don’t forget to mention relevant professional skills that you feel will make you a great candidate. Every detail counts.

Use Keywords

To make sure your CV is targeted to each individual graduate program, make use of keywords. Keywords are particular words or phrases that describe your skills and experience.

To find the right keywords to use, look at the graduate program’s website and look for buzzwords that are used to describe the ideal candidate. For example, if a program is looking for someone who is “innovative,” “team-oriented,” and “analytical,” make sure to include those keywords in your academic CV.

Proofread Your CV

Don’t submit your CV without thoroughly proofreading it. Grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors in your CV could cost you a spot in your dream graduate school program.

In addition to checking for these errors, you should also ensure that your CV contains accurate information and the right structure.

Reading your CV out loud can help you catch errors that you might have overlooked. It’s advisable to have another person also have a look at your academic CV before submission.

Final Words

A graduate school CV is a tool to sell yourself in the application process. It should be a snapshot of your accomplishments, experiences, and skills that show you’re the best candidate for the program.

Putting in the work to write an excellent academic CV is an investment for your future. Take the time to learn everything you need to learn about writing an academic CV to ensure that you give it your best shot. 


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