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Preparing an Academic CV

What is a CV?

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is a document of your intellectual and academic accomplishments. It is an intellectual biography written in shorthand. You can get an overview with the CV checklist, for more tips and a sample.

What is the difference between a CV and Resume?

Resumes are brief summaries of an applicant's experiences. They highlight the most relevant positions and skills for a particular industry. The CV is a more comprehensive listing of a scholar's experiences and achievements.

Should I use a CV or Resume?

Typically, CVs are used for university positions, graduate schools, and academic fields that require graduate degrees and are research-intensive. Occasionally, the terms "CV" and "resume" are used interchangeably. Unless you are applying for an academic position, you should use the resume writing guidelines, as that is more common in the United States. However, if possible, find out exactly what an application expects from you.

European-Style CVs

The term 'CV' is often used in other countries instead of 'resume', but they mean the same thing. The formatting is quite different, though, and you should research the norms for the country in which you are applying to see what information is expected. Here is how to write an E.U.-style CV.

Creating a CV
Formatting Tips
  • Can be more than 1 page in length; undergraduate CVs will likely be 1-2 pages
  • Use easy to read font; font size should be 12 point; 14 or 16 point font should only be used for your name
  • Use 1" margins all around
  • Include page numbers; it is also a good idea to include your last name or full name on every page using a header or footer
  • Use bolding, all caps, and underlining to clearly label headings; italics should be reserved for publication titles
  • Include your name, address (graduate students should include their institutional address unless they live far from campus), and contact information at the top
  • Use a hanging indent for entries that are more than one line
  • Within each section, information is listed in reverse chronological order (most recent experience first)
  • Always include dates, i.e. dates of publications, conferences, employment, awards, etc.
  • As a general rule, you should avoid bullet points, narrative statements, and descriptions
  • Avoid having a heading on one page and the content for that heading on a separate page (mind page breaks)
  • Always have a copy as a .PDF file to avoid formatting changes; it is also a good idea to include your name in the title of this document

Please note that the format and content can vary based on discipline and experience. Many academics post CVs online. Try looking for some in your field, for formatting and content ideas.

What NOT to Include
  • High school information
  • G.P.A. - This information will come from a transcript if requested, your academic experience is supposed to speak for itself
  • Bullet points describing your skills and individual responsibilities for every position; this information belongs on a resume, not a CV (the exception being unusual experiences and research projects which need a brief description)
  • Class papers and presentations - unless these were later used in other capacities, i.e. published or presented at a conference, but they should be listed under the appropriate headings
  • Graduate students beyond their first or second year should not include extracurricular activities and academic accomplishments from their undergraduate experiences unless particularly relevant or important to their intellectual biography
  • Personal information - in some countries it is common to include personal information such as marital status, gender, and ethnicity; Do not include this information on a U.S. CV, which could lead to intentional or unintentional discrimination based on race, gender, religion, etc.
  • Headshot/photograph - in some countries it is common to include a headshot; however, this does not belong on a U.S. CV. As part of an official application, including a headshot could lead to intentional or unintentional discrimination based on race, gender, religion, etc.
Defining Your Experience

A CV should be tailored for the position for which you are applying. If you have many varied professional experiences you can divide them into subheadings. Some subheadings may include: Editorial Experience, Teaching Experience, Public History Experience, Lab Experience, Museum Experience, and Research Experience. Then you can order your experiences to highlight the most relevant for the job or institution to which you are applying. You can also highlight your other headings to emphasize certain aspects of your career.

For example, if you apply for a Professorship at a research-focused institution, you should highlight your publications and research fellowships first. If you apply for a teaching-focused institution, highlight your teaching experiences. If applying for a museum position or a museum studies graduate program, place your museum experience higher up on the CV.

As a general rule, you should try to avoid 1 entry per work experience heading. Having too many headings for similar types of experience begins to look like you are trying to "pad" your CV.

You should also avoid describing each experience using bullet points or narrative statements. If a position does require explanation, use brief descriptions and do not use full statements.

What to Include
Name and Contact Information
  • Include your name at the top, making sure that it stands out
  • Mailing address and institutional address (graduate students)
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • Optional: personal website that has more information about your research; professional twitter handle if you use Twitter to engage in academic conversations and share research
  • Degrees and certificates
  • Study abroad
    • For undergraduates; Graduate students should include only if relevant to your research
  • Honors projects and theses
  • Faculty advisors
    • Undergraduates: including a faculty advisor is advisable if they directed an important honors project and/or if you have a good relationship with them
    • Graduate students: it is common to name your faculty advisor and dissertation committee members and it may raise a red flag for readers if your advisor is not named
Professional Experience
  • Teaching, tutoring, TA experiences, etc.
  • Research projects
    • In the social sciences, it is common to include a brief description of the research project
  • Jobs and Internships
  • Volunteer experience, community engagement and service
  • Other professional development experiences, e.g. summer institutes and workshops
Other Academic Experiences and Accomplishments
  • Publications
  • Presentations at conferences, symposia
    • Graduate students: you should also include other conference activity, e.g., member of a roundtable, panel chair or co-chair, etc.
  • Invited lectures
  • Awards, grants, fellowships, scholarships
    • In the social sciences and science disciplines it is common to include the amount awarded, particularly if it is a large amount and shows increasing amounts of financial awards
  • Technical skills and/or certifications
  • Digital projects and/or publications with URL
  • Interviews - radio, television, etc.
    • Include media outlet, title or topic, date
  • Exhibitions
  • Activities
  • Languages - it is a good idea to include your proficiency level
  • Professional Affiliations
  • For graduate students and early career scholars, it is common to list references who write letters of recommendation for you. Include name, title, institutional affiliation, telephone number, e-mail address
Other Tips
  • Always proofread! It is also a good idea to have someone else read over your CV. Graduate students should have faculty advisors review their CVs.
  • Look online for other examples in your field or discipline to see formatting options and types of experiences that should be highlighted.
  • Do not repeat items on your CV.
  • Regularly revise your CV! Add every new accomplishment and corresponding dates before you forget.
  • Share your CV with your advisor. Most are willing to look it over for their students and they should have an updated version so that they can refer to it when writing letters of recommendation for you.