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How to Write a Curriculum Vitae for Graduate School

by Kristie Sweet, studioD

Professionals with a graduate degree may earn nearly twice the salary in their fields as someone who only has a Bachelor's degree, and obtaining an advanced degree allows graduates to learn more about their chosen field, practice their craft and network with peers. Competition for many graduate programs is fierce, however. For instance, the University of North Carolina accepts only about one-third of applicants. Creating the most effective curriculum vitae, or CV, for your application may give you the edge needed to be part of the accepted group at your chosen school.

Type your name and contact information, including address, phone and email, at the top of the CV. As you would for a resume, use an email address that reflects a professional persona, such as one that uses your name. Consider placing this information in a header for the document so it appears on every page of your CV.

Create an education section that lists your degrees obtained, schools attended and dates. If you received merit scholarships, you may want to include those in this section to emphasize your academic prowess. Place the information in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent.

Develop a section for academic projects that highlights research, presentations, publications, internships and any coursework applicable to the graduate program you are applying for. Use bullets to format this section, and place the details in reverse chronological order.

Write a section for your employment history. Give positions, employers and dates in reverse chronological order. Include only two or three phrases with each position to emphasize how the experience makes you a suitable candidate for graduate school.

List community projects and extra-curricular campus activities in another section. Include activities that illustrate your skills in organizing, leading and managing, along with any other skills that show you will be successful in graduate work.

Add other sections for information appropriate for the school you wish to attend, such as accolades, memberships, certifications or other skills such as languages.

Organize the CV so the most relevant information appears first. If you just graduated, the education portion should probably be at the top. If you have extensive or prestigious work history since graduating, the employment section might come first. Use bold, italics and different font sizes to clearly differentiate the sections and information on the CV to create an attractive, consistent easy-to-read document.

Proofread carefully. Run a spell check. Then read through the CV on your own, paying particular attention to names. Use parallel grammatical structures and proper punctuation throughout the document.

Read through the requirements for the CV closely. Follow the school's guidelines regarding length and information.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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