When contemplating how to list education on a resume, you need to realize that it is an essential component of your job search story. In today’s knowledge-hungry world, it’s common to have diverse educational experiences that could include things like high school, college, graduate school, online certificates, bootcamps, licenses, and beyond.
If you are curious and ambitious, education carries on long after your graduation day. There are so many micro-learning opportunities that do not have to take three years to complete, but are definitely worth mentioning on a resume. Technology is broadening access to education, and when you invest the time to develop your skills it makes sense the share it with a prospective employer.
This guide will teach you:
- The basics of how to add education on resume
- Special circumstances such as incomplete or in-progress programs, certifications, courses, and more
- How longevity of career affects the type of education that you should list
- What about writing a resume with no education included?
- How you list different kinds of education?
- Expert tips and examples of how to put education on your resume
Let’s start with basics of how to list education on resume
In terms of a layout, a resume's education section includes:
- Name of the institution
- School location
- Date of graduation
- GPA (only when over 3.0)
When wondering how to list education on resume:
- Start with your highest qualification and work your way back in reverse-chronological order
- Only include high school if you did not attend college, attended a prestigious private academy or recently graduated.
- The placement of the education section of your resume depends on your graduation date, if you’re a recent graduate education on your resume is more important and should be added closer to the top of your resume.
Every resume should contain an element of education. No matter how you did at school or college, include the basics. If education is absent entirely, employers will definitely question your level of intelligence and motivation.
Do employers verify education? You might think that no employer has time to check references or verify education, but no matter what the level of hire, it is actually incredibly easy to do a basic check. A quick 5-minute phone call will suffice and every university will have easy access to previous graduate results. While this isn't industry standard, if there is any hint at all that you are bending the truth with your educational claims, it is not hard to verify what you have listed. It is a sackable offence if you lie in such a way on your resume.
How to put education on a resume in unique educational situations?
Unfinished programs - if you started a degree or some other type of program but didn’t finish, only put it if the experience gained is relevant to the position. For example, if you’re applying for a sales position and you have 40 credits toward a Geology degree, it’s probably not worth mentioning unless it was at a prestigious institution.
How do you add your education on your resume if you are applying to work in a museum, with an unfinished art history program? Include it as you can always discuss the circumstances at interview. Keep in mind anything you add, including education on your resume, is fair game for discussion.
High school - when your highest education is high school, it’s usually a good idea to list your diploma on your resume if you graduated in the last 5 - 10 years or are currently enrolled. If you’re currently enrolled in high school, the education section on your resume is a great place to add information about your extracurriculars, relevant coursework, and academic accomplishments.
If you’re in high school and you’re creating a resume for a part-time job, first good for you - great job, and second you’re likely not getting this job because of your work experience so use this section to highlight the type of student you are, your work ethic, and passions.
Certifications - recent and relevant certifications are usually a good to put in your resume unless they are expired or otherwise assumed by your experiences. Careful not to use too many abbreviations or jargons on your resume to describe your certifications, keep the resume professional and stick with full names of certifications and institutions.
Only share certifications that are directly relevant to the job in question. You might be reluctant to slim down your list of education, but if it isn't relevant then it is just taking up vital space for more of your career story. a 100% relevant resume is a compelling proposition for any hiring manager. Don't let slightly irrelevant education spoil the impression.
Bootcamps & Workshops - recent participation in education outside an academic institution like a code camp, yoga workshop, healthcare certification, or trade school should be considered when wondering how to list education on a resume.
Keep any descriptions short and to the point, or skip elaborating altogether. Adding a hyperlink to the program or organization can help give context if a program is uncommon. You want the hiring manager to be thinking about your application for the maximum time possible, soincluding a hyperlink to an impressive provider is a great idea.
Internships - if you were an intern, even while in school, instead of adding the internship under education on your resume, consider adding these details under work experience or even a dedicated Internships section. The education section is usually glanced over on a quick skim to cover the requirements. The bullet descriptions outlining your internship experience are a lot more likely to be read in the work history or a custom section closer to the top of your resume.
Internships are different to education as they will have some direct relevance to your ability to carry out the role. Make sure that they match up to the job description as closely as possible. ATS systems may even seek out the internships section for an early-career professional, so make sure that you separate this from your work experience section (especially as internships are often unpaid).
What is your highest education level? Your most recent educational qualification may not have been your "highest" level, so put your most significant education first in the list. It does not matter if it is not the most recent. Make sure you list the education on your resume that is most relevant and impressive. This includes industry certifications. A recent industry qualification is more relevant than a degree from a decade ago.
Tips around how to include your education
Even though content will differ across people, industries, experience levels, there are a few general rules of thumb when buttoning down how to include your education on your resume.
Always be honest. No matter what, never stretch the truth about education on your resume. It’s a small world, and it’s extremely easy for someone to verify your education when necessary.
If formal education isn’t the focus of your resume achievements, there are better ways than lying to demonstrate how education (and more importantly learning!) is woven into your professional life. If you have no education to add, beef up the special skills section to focus on soft and hard skills learned outside of the classroom.
Don’t lose confidence about skipping education on your resume all together. If you are qualified for the job, it should come across in your experience, skills, and the overall presentation of your resume. Education only plays a supporting actor role. It is your work experience and potential for career growth that is of interest.
If you are an older professional, consider listing your education as it was, but leave off the graduation dates if you are concerned about age discrimination. This is a common practice if your education was more than 20 years ago (as the exact years are not relevant anymore). Employers will accept this, in the same way that you may not include some of the roles from your early career.
Keep it clean and consistent. We’ll jump into this a bit more below. When wondering how to put education on your resume, keep it short and sweet and pay close attention to the format and consistency. The right resume template can guide toward a clean design or you can use the examples below for inspiration.
Tailor your info. Always customize your resume for each job application — from the hobbies section to work description to the education on your resume. Though college degrees always make the cut, you don’t want to list that you’re trained as a chef if you’re applying for an office job. If any kind of education is not relevant (apart from your main degree), consider cutting it from the resume. Every line in a resume has to earn its spot.
Note honors and awards. Education on a resume rarely includes long bullet points or descriptions like work experience, but you can include important honors societies, high GPAs, notable mentors, scholarships, or awards in this section. The early-career resume will likely have more - senior professionals will have more important recent achievements that they will want to highlight.
Relevant professional development. Certain industries, such as education and the arts, put a lot of weight on who you’ve studied with and on gaining specific training. If you have a large number of classes and workshops, pick out those that could catch the hiring manager’s eye for that specific job.
If you have a high level of academic experiences such as publications, lectures, and studies it’s best to dedicate each of these their own category or section rather than trying to fit everything inside the section for education on your resume.
Listing education where it counts. You’ve just graduated from college and are hitting the intern/job scene for the very first time. In this case, how to include education on a resume is the most critical question. We recommend to list the education section above the work experience section. Don’t stress — hiring managers are thrilled to get people fresh out of college. In this scenario, list it right at the top below your personal statement. Hopefully, you then have some interning or part-time work experience to round off the resume.
- Be 100% factual with timings
- Only include relevant education
- Put education at the end of the resume
- Gloss over any time out
- Pad your resume with "courses"
- Focus on education instead of work experience
Writing a resume with no education?
Listen, you might think that you do not have an education because you did not attend college or university, but even if you did not finish high school there are many roles that are looking for other aspects of life learning than grades and certifications. Adding "education" on your resume might not be as hard as you think:
- List incomplete educational qualifications and even mediocre high school results
- What online learning have you been able to take on board?
- What lessons have you learned in your non-working life that might help?
Education comes at you every minute of every day. If you have not been a hit in the classroom, think hard about what skills you will need on the job and where you may have picked up those skills before. Don't be embarrassed - it won't seem desperate and you are simply demonstrating creativity. It will give you an advantage over those (many) people who leave the education section empty.
Take a good look at the sorts of jobs that you are applying to. More of them than you think will be open to employing someone who doesn't have a stellar education but does have the right attitude. If they do not demand certain educational qualifications in the job description, then you are likely to have some wiggle room.
Does LinkedIn confirm education? It is not out of the question that the LinkedIn algorithm may possess a capability to verify educational claims at some future point, but currently there is no such capability. However, as with anything online, taking a screenshot is incredibly easy to do, so be careful with what changes you make. You never know who might be watching.
Should you put PhD or MBA after your name on LinkedIn? This is a tough one. If the job that you are applying for places a large emphasis on academia, then certainly consider adding PhD after your title. MBA is a far more common qualification and many people consider it pretentious. By all means, add it in your LinkedIn profile and talk about it prominently in your summary, but including it in your title hints at a certain arrogance.
What are different types of educational qualifications?
While it is always advisable to include your most recent 1-2 educational achievements (grad school students don't need to share their high school successes), there are definitely nuances in terms of listing different kinds of education in a resume.
High school education
In terms of your high school education, as well as your exam results and academic qualifications, you should definitely consider adding any extra-curricular pursuits on the next line. Team sports are impressive in many people-related roles and anything that is remotely related to your desired industry will be of interest.
If you were educated at home or didn't manage to graduate high school, you may well possess a General Education Development Certificate. This is very much a strongly recognised educational qualification by all employers, so just because you took the road less traveled doesn't mean that it is any less meaningful. Actually, being home schooled does bring a whole new list of benefits that you can bring an employer in terms of independent working, time management and motivation.
Whether you have already graduated or whether your degree is ongoing, an undergraduate education is always of interest to prospective employers. Details such as your major are vital to include as well as any minor subjects should you wish. You never know when common interests might crop up in the middle of an interview, so it never hurts to include a bit more detail (as long as it doesn't take up too much space).
Grad school degree
If you have a graduate level education, well, congratulations. That was a lot of hard work and you fully deserve to devote some space to it on your resume. Of course, if you have twenty years of experience, your grad school education may be slightly less relevant, but if you are in your first decade of your career, then by all means include more detail about your dissertations, theses, scholarships or fellowships. Ideally your academia would be relevant for the role, but even if it is not it still shows that you have the capacity for a deeper level of learning.
Should I put my expected graduation date on my resume? If you are in the middle of education, it is certainly a good idea to let your employer know an expected graduation date. Not every course has a standard length and this expected date gives an air of confidence and finality in your ability to see your education through. Starting a part-time qualification as you sense that you will be approaching a job search is a great way of showing a future employer that you are always working on yourself.
Examples of education on your resume
Example #1: Standard
Drew University, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Madison, NJ
Sep. 2005 - May 2009
- Summa Cum Laude
- Spanish Honors Society
Example #2: including a partial degree
Columbia University, New York, NY
Completed 40 credits toward a Bachelor of Arts in English
September 2008-May 2009
Example #3: moving the date
UCLA, Master of Fine Arts in Acting September 2013-June 2015
Example #4: mid-progress degree
Florida State University, Bachelor of Science, Tallahassee, FL
Jan. 2016 - Present
- Graduating 2020
Example #5: professional development
National Institute for Non-Profit Development San Diego, CA
Certificate in Grant Writing and Proposal Tracking
How do you list an incomplete PhD on a resume? How do you list an incomplete MBA on a resume? Some people might feel a certain level of shame at not completing a PhD or MBA, but there are often deeper reasons that are well worth exploring in an interview. Failure is a part of life and there is no shame in aiming high and falling short. If you are not exploring your past shortcomings in your interview, you are not fully exploring who you are. Be human, be humble and list it down (as long you lasted longer than a few short months). This will provide a ready answer to the "tell me about your greatest disappointment" question in an interview.
Hopefully you have now realized that there is more than meets the eye when considering how to include education on a resume. It is certainly not an afterthought in the job search process.
As tempting as it can be to write more about education on your resume, save the relevant details about your education for an interview. Resumes aim to say a lot with very little, especially the education section. Usually the name of the school and the program are enough to help hiring managers understand the significance of your education.
A varied education on your resume sums up the value that your learnings and background will bring to job.