Academic/Admission CV/Resume: What it is and how to Write an Effective one

Admission CV for Graduate Program

An admission CV for doctoral program, or simply graduate school CV, is a piece of admission document that summarizes one’s academic, educational, and research experience. It’s an essential piece of writing, which in addition to a Statement of Purpose for PhD, is a prerequisite to applying for admission to a doctoral program.

Yet many PhD prospective/graduate school applicants do not know how to write a compelling admission CV. This article will delve into the subtleties of writing a winning graduate/doctoral Academic CV.

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Admission CV vs. Regular CV

A doctoral admission CV, like the name suggests, is tailored for academic audience and purpose. On the other hand, a regular CV is written for a different audience, mainly the hiring team. Because a graduate CV is meant to secure admission to an educational institution and for a masters and doctoral program, it accentuates certain attributes such as one’s educational background as opposed to work experience, the latter being emphasized in a regular CV.

A PhD admission CV will therefore underscore one’s research and teaching experience, educational institutions attended, publications and papers presented; events and academic conferences attended, and grants and honors attained in the course of one’s academic journey.

A doctoral admission CV should be written to focus on the specific requirements of the educational institution and the doctoral program. Just like the PhD statement of purpose, a CV should not too general.

Why you Need an Academic/Admission CV

Graduate school, encompassing masters and PhD studies, represent the highest level of learning. Competition for places in these programs is typically stiff, making it a no-brainer to craft admission documents that stand out from the crowd.

It’s however important to note that not all PhD programs require an admission CV in addition to other documents such as Statement of Purpose and Letters of Recommendation. But if there’s an option to provide one, do not blow it away.

An admission CV provides the admission committee with a chance to understand your academic and professional background as well as your research experience, skills, and personality. It is therefore imperative to make your CV easy to read and concise by following the following format.

Format and Sections of a Graduate CV

The sections/format in an admission CV may vary with different education institutions prescribing different sections. Generally however, a standard admission CV has the following sections.

Contact Information

This is the first thing that the admission panel sees when they open your CV. It’s typically prominently displayed at the central, top part of the CV. The font should be bigger than for the other sections, 16-18 pt being recommendable.

You don’t want your contact information part to miss your official name, physical address, and contact details specifically phone number and email address. If you’ve online presence, such as a website or LinkedIn profile, you may also add it here but only if it’s relevant.

Example of a contact information section

Duncan Edward
Tutorial Fellow
Boston, Ma, +1(943) 321 745,  
Personal Information


Given that a PhD admission CV is an academic document meant to be consumed by an academic audience, it’s vitally important that the education section is emphasized. Ensure that all your academic credentials come out clearly to give you an advantage should it come down to that during the vetting process.

When writing about your education, start from the latest degree going down in a chronological order to the oldest. Start with the name of the university/educational institution, where it is located, the degree you attained and the dates you attended the institution.

While this requirement may vary from university to university and program to program, you may also include the grades you attained, the areas you focused your research one, topics for your thesis, and any other information that you feel is relevant.

An example is provided here:

Masters in Teaching of English as a Second Language
Tulane University Boston,
BA in Linguistics
Tulane University,
Boston, MA  

Research Experience

The research experience section is crucial for any PhD admission CV. This section is a chance to show the kind of research you have undertaken and your specific role in the process. Typically, it’s expected that you’ll name your role, what institution it was and the time that you worked there. You’ll also mention your supervisor and in case you have any published work, you’ll highlight it here.

An example is as follows:

Research Experience
Department of Languages and Linguistics, Boston University
1. Performed data analysis and interpretation under supervision of Dr. Michael Steen
2. Co-authored a research paper titled “Emerging Dialects and their Impact on English Language Semantics”  
Research Experience

Teaching Experience

If you’ve taught before, this is the place to briefly explain that. Ensure you’ve captured your tutoring and teaching assistant experience by stating the role, where you taught, dates, and duties.

Teaching Experience
Teaching Assistant
Department of Linguistics, Boston University
1. Provided personalized tuition to students
2. Led class discussion
3. Answered students queries
4. Assisted teachers and lecturers with exam supervision and entry of marks  
Teaching Experience

Awards and Honors

This section is a chance to show off the important accolades that you have accumulated over the years. They should serve as evidence of your achievements and that you have been recognized by your seniors and peers. It’s also a way to show that you have a track record of performance in the academic, which counts a lot during consideration for doctoral admission.

Some of the important honors to include in this section include:

  • GPA
  • Fellowships
  • Scholarships
  • Awards and grants

Pro Tip 1: Arrange the award section based on the value or importance of the award as opposed to when it was awarded.


Awards and Honors
1. Masters Outstanding Project Award University of Boston,
January 2019
2. Undergraduate Student of the Year University of Cape South, July 2018  
Awards and Honors

Technical Skills

At masters or PhD level, you certainly have acquired certain technical skills along the way. However, not all of them need to make their way into your admission CV. Ideally, you should read the doctoral requirements and see what skills are required then list them in your CV.

An Example is provided here:

Technical Skills
AutoCAD, C++ Networking System maintenance  
Show off your technical skills

Related Work Experience

This section lists relevant work experience; to mean only work that amplifies your academic or educational interest. Since a PhD admission CV is typically short, you do not need to list work experience that has nothing to do with the application. You can also meet the brevity requirement by avoiding repetition.

If your work experience is academic or research in nature and you had listed it in the previous sections, you need not repeat it. If you’ve been a research or teaching assistant and you’ve captured it earlier, you don’t need to write it here.

Pro-Tip: A work experience section is arranged in a chronological order staring from the most recent going backward. State your role, the name and location of the organization and the dates when you worked there followed by a brief description of your roles. An example is shown below.

Related Work Experience
Research Assistant
Boston University
1. Assisted the teaching staff in conducting field work
2. Collected and analyzed data
3. Maintained data systems
Only capture relevant work experience


This section details all the academic work that you’ve published or contributed to. The part shows your interest and work in the chosen area of study. You may list the books, articles, journals, and research papers that you have published.

Pro Tip: The citation style to be used while listing your publication is determined by the style typically used in your field. If it’s a law doctoral program, Oscola style is recommended while the MLA is recommended for literature and language applications.

An example of how this section should appear is shown below:

Edwards, D. T. (2015). A study on the Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Hotel Industry 9(4), 1-17
List all your publications

Conferences and Presentations

At graduate level, conferences and presentations are the norm rather than an exception. If you’ve attended any or made presentations, let it show on your Admission CV. Start by stating the title of the presentation you made, the name of the particular event, where it was held and when, and finally a concise description of your contribution.

An example of how this part should appear is shown below.

Conferences and Presentations
Emerging Trends in New Languages Language Association of Europe London, UK
1. Conducted field research
2. Collated, analyzed, and interpreted data
3. Presented the findings  
List the conferences you’ve attended and presentations you’ve made and state your roles

Professional Membership

In case you belong to any professional or academic group, state it on your CV. Ensure that you state the name of the group, length of your membership and roles played.

The section appears as it is below:

Academic and Professional Membership
1. Association of Professional Accountants (Global) 2010-Present Group’s secretary (Boston branch)Contributor to annual magazine  
List your membership and any roles that you perform

Volunteer Experience

This section should be included only if the volunteer experience has not been captured previously, in which case it should have been noted as such. If you’d included the volunteer experience as part of the related professional experience, you can save on space. If that’s not the case, this is the section where you draw attention to volunteer work that is relevant to the doctoral program you’re applying to.

This is an example of how the section should appear:

Volunteer Experience
Orientation officer
Boston University
1. Provided tuition in Linguistics to foundational year students
2. Facilitated group discussions and debate to improve spoken English proficiency for foreign students  
Volunteer experience should be captured especially if it’s academic in nature

Five Tips that will Make your Graduate CV Stand out

Every year, top universities receive thousands of application for doctoral placement against very few slots. The admission committees have to sieve all these documents and evaluate each candidate against a set criterion. To be noticed, your Admission CV should be nothing short of impeccable. You can follow some of the tips here:

Customize your CV

The worst thing that you can do is to present a generic admission CV for consideration. Ensure that you tailor your CV to the program’s and institution’s requirements so that the admission panel sees right away that you’re a good fit.

Take your time and go through the requirement details, mostly outlined in the institution’s website or advertisement for the position. Look at your CV blow by blow and tailor your academic and professional background, skills, and language to the listed requirements.

(This tip applies to all admission documents you may be asked for. If you’re writing a SOP, you also need to customize it by following the steps document here. If you’re applying for a program different from what you studied in other levels, we also have a handy guide)

Accentuate your Academic and Professional Background

Always have at the back of your mind that you’re applying for an academic slot not a job. Accentuate your academic achievements and mention all the accolades that you’ve attained in your academic journey. Mention your research experience and any professional or volunteer experience that is aligned with the program requirements.

Keep it Brief and Simple

The ideal length of a PhD admission CV is 2 pages although this may vary depending on the particular university requirements. It’s therefore best to keep it simple, organized, and easy to follow.

While there isn’t a recommended font, avoid fancy fonts. Use clear headings, ideally bigger than the body part, at 16-18 pt. The body should be 10-12 pt. The CV format provide above is easy to read and you may use it.

Follow the Program Requirements

If the program or educational institutions has outlined an application policy, disregard everything you’ve read elsewhere and follow the rules to the letter.

Review/edit/standardize your CV

After writing your CV proofread and edit it. If you need an expert to have a look at it and give the thumb of approval, click the link


PhD Statements of Purpose