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How to Write an Undergraduate CV

by Soheila Battaglia, studioD

If you are applying for an undergraduate grant, study abroad fellowship or admission to a graduate program, you will need to write a curriculum vitae. In addition to your personal information -- your name, address, phone number, email address and any website or blogs you run -- your CV also needs to include your current and past educational history, achievements and professional experience.


Since you are either a student or have recently graduated, your CV should begin with an Education section. This segment can include your major field of study, any notable coursework, projects or fieldwork you have accomplished thus far, study abroad experience, teaching assistant positions and research projects. If you have already graduated from an institution, list your year of graduation, GPA and class ranking. List also your degree or certification earned as well as the academic discipline in which it was awarded.

Achievements and Skills

One section of your CV should include all the achievements for which you were nominated and awarded, including those that are still pending. This includes grants, fellowships, awards, contests, competitions, publications and honors. Be discerning in the achievements you include -- if you are applying for a master's program in psychology, don't list your latest water polo victory. Also use this portion to communicate your skills and other areas of ability and expertise, including foreign language fluency, proficiency in computer programs and professional certifications.

Professional Experience

The professional category should convey that you are a responsible and hard-working candidate. This portion should include both paid an unpaid jobs, internships and work-study programs dating back to high school. For example, list that you have worked at an ice scream store, worked as a baby sitter, volunteered at a local hospital and interned at the city newspaper. List the jobs in reverse chronological order -- with the newest jobs at the top. Emerson College advises students to "include name of the company, city and state, dates employed, your job title, and a brief job description." In the description section, you should emphasize your strengths and accomplishments in each job.

Keep It Clear

The format and organization of your CV impacts how well the content is received by the reader. Use a clear and simple font -- such as Arial or Times New Roman font sized between 10 and 12 -- while maintaining consistent formatting from start to finish. Emerson College suggests using "bulleted action verbs" and skill rather than task-based descriptions. For example, rather than writing "graded papers," write "evaluated and scored students' work." Finally, ask someone to proofread the text carefully for spelling errors and verb inconsistencies.

About the Author

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.

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