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Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

Graduate School Resume Example & Writing Guide

Ready to take your education to the next level? If you’ve got your sights set on academic excellence, we’ve got you covered. Read our guide on how to create a stellar graduate school resume that gets your foot in the door.
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Graduate School Resume Example & Writing Guide
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You’ve been bitten by the academic bug. Your bachelor’s degree may be over but you’re not ready to end your education there. Now that you’ve whet your appetite, you’re ready to take things a step further. Yes, graduate school is calling your name. Since you’ve made your mind up, it’s time to start the application process. To get things moving, you’re going to need a graduate school resume that ticks all of the boxes. So, how do you get started?

Your graduate school resume will differ from standardized resumes. However, the sections that you include — and much of the content — will be similar. Chances are, you’re scratching your head wondering where to start. If it’s your first time writing a document of this nature, it’s no wonder you’re confused. You’ve come to the right place. 

Here at Resume.io, we have everything you need to create impressive applications. We provide expert-backed resume guides and resume examples for 350+ professions. Let us guide the way when you’re writing your next application. In the following guide, and the accompanying resume example, we will delve into these core topics: 

  • Why you should go to graduate school
  • How to write a graduate school resume (tips and tricks)
  • The best layout for a graduate school resume
  • Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
  • Professional resume layout and design hints.

Why should you go to graduate school?

Looking to get ahead in your career? Going to graduate school can have a major impact here. Candidates with master’s degrees earn between 5.5 and 30% more than those with undergraduate degrees, according to information from the National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE)

Deciding to take your education further is all about investing in your future. This path shows employers that you have more than a surface-level interest in your chosen field. You may also find that you can enter the working world in a higher position than you would otherwise get. If you have passion for your subject, continuing to study is a wise move.

Statistical insight

Thinking of applying to graduate school?

The competition for places may be tough. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, applications to graduate school rose significantly by 7.3%. If you’re looking to get ahead of the pack, you need to make sure that every part of your graduate school application is on point. 

While you will have more space to make your case in your cover letter, your resume does much of the heavy lifting. Making sure that it includes the right information is the first step in this process. Luckily, our guide will take you through the simple steps. 

Want to work alongside your master’s degree? You’re not alone. A massive 87% of master’s students in the United States also have a full or part-time job. While it may be hard to balance your work life and studies, this option allows you to fund your education.

How to write a graduate school resume

As a fully-fledged academic, you will be au fait with the writing process. Much like any essay, your graduate school resume follows a static structure. You introduce the subject matter, back up your argument, and then close with a strong conclusion. With that in mind, you should include the following elements in this application document: 

  • The resume header
  • The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
  • The employment history section
  • The resume skills section
  • The education section

Make sure you understand the assignment. Applying to multiple graduate programs? A one-size-fits-all approach is not the way to go. When you’re writing your graduate school resume, you need to tailor it to the program at hand. Before you put figurative pen to paper, you need to have fully researched the syllabus. The aim of the game is to ensure that your application aligns closely with the requirements of the postgraduate degree. 

Be mindful of the language you use in your graduate school resume. While this should be an academic document, you need to steer clear of jargon or impenetrable language. The course director or tutor will likely be the one reading your resume. They may understand your lingo. However, the wider departmental team members could also take a cursory glance at it. For that reason, ensure that your cover letter is in plain English.

Following the above advice could mean that you’re a shoe in the door. If you want more information on how to write a resume, take a sneak peek at our comprehensive guide.

Expert tip

Optimize your resume for the ATS! 

Before the course director gets to see your resume, it may have to beat the bots. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software that filters applications. The system uses predetermined keywords to determine which resumes are the “best match”. Only the creme de la creme of resumes ends up being seen by an actual human being. 

Want to give yourself a competitive edge? There’s a simple answer. Refer back to the program specification and pick out keywords from the list. Using these specific phrases throughout your resume may increase your chances of success. 

Choosing the best resume format for a graduate school

When you’re writing your graduate school resume, the most obvious choice is a reverse chronological approach. That means that you start with your most recent education and experience at the top of your page. As you move down the page, work your way back in time. This resume format gives the course leader a clear view of your expertise. At a quick glance, they can determine whether you meet the course criteria or fall short of the mark.

Of course, since you’ve been studying for the majority of your adult life, you may lack real-world work experience. If that’s the case, you can use the functional structure instead. This approach puts more emphasis on your skills than your experience. It may allow you to place your education front and center. Take a look at our resume formatting guide here. 

Resume summary example

Your resume summary is a blurb at the top of the document — a short introduction to you as an academic. It’s the most freeform part of your resume. Here, you have three-to-four lines where you can wax lyrical about your education thus far. You don’t have to cram the details in here. You will have more space in your statement of purpose (i.e. cover letter). 

Every word matters. Since you only have a few sentences to play with, you should be selective about what you share here. What is it that sets you apart from other academics? Perhaps you took part in a high-profile research study. Maybe you studied under a leader in the field. Whatever it is that makes you stand out for all the right reasons, lead with it. 

Since you’re trying to keep things short and sweet, you can omit any sentence openers such as “I,” “I am,” and “I have”. Get straight to the point instead. You may need to write and rewrite this section of your resume before you perfect it. Luckily, it is worth the effort.

Adaptable summary resume sample

Self-motivated recent graduate, prepared to continue advanced studies focused on Medieval English Literature. Exceptional research and writing skills, adept at analyzing and interpreting primary sources and contributing novel insights to literary criticism. Studied with well-respected academics while completing bachelor's degree.

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Employment history sample

With most resumes, the employment section is the most pertinent. However, with an academic application, it sits lower down on the priority list. As we have already covered, you should use the reverse chronological order when listing your work experience. 

Be selective about what you include here. Consider how each role pertains to the educational program. For example, if you are applying to a sustainability law course, you should list your work with a climate change charity. On the other hand, your part-time job at Starbucks may not be impressive. You might want to leave it out entirely. 

Adaptable employment history resume example

Research Assistant, Stockton University, Department of English, Pomona, NJ
October 2021 - December 2022

  • Collaborated closely with professor to research medieval French literature.
  • Conducted literature reviews and compiled relevant books and articles.
  • Proofread and fact-checked manuscripts for submission to journals.
  • Graded student assignments, including exams and 10-page essays.
     

Reference Department Assistant, Stockton University Library, Stockton, NJ
October 2018 - December 2022

  • Processed and shelved academic journals, bulletins, and other material.
  • Assisted patrons in using library catalog and specialized research databases.
  • Submitted, received, and distributed interlibrary loan requests.
  • Maintained special collections and rotating displays.

 

Assistant Manager, Mrs. Fields' Cookies, Mays Landing, NJ
June 2017 - August 2019

  • Held responsibility for managing opening and closing procedures.
  • Balanced cash drawers, resolved discrepancies, and updated daily sales records.
  • Provided high-quality service to customers in fast-paced environment.
  • Adhered to all food and workplace safety regulations, policies, and procedures.
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CV skills example

As a graduate, you should have some powerful skills that you will want to share on your CV. Make sure that the talents you share are directly applicable to the course you have chosen. For example, you may want to shout about your research, analytical, and time management skills. All of the above will serve you well when it comes to your studies.

Adaptable skills section resume example
  • Microsoft Office Word
  • Literary Criticism
  • Medieval Literature
  • Research & Analysis
  • Academic Writing
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Exam Grading
  • Effective Time Management
  • Project Organization
  • Public Speaking
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Graduate school resume education example

The education section of your graduate school resume is arguably the most important. Since you are applying to a degree program, the course leader will want to know that you have the right academic background. Before you get started, carefully read the course specification to make sure that you meet the requirements set out by the college. 

You should list your prior education in reverse chronological order. Begin with your most recent qualifications and work your way back in time. Include the course name, school or college, and the years you attended. Underneath this vital information, you can add bullet points that shed some light on your educational experiences. Make sure that each nugget of information adds real value to your academic application. 

Adaptable education resume example

Bachelor of Arts in English, Stockton University Pomona, NJ
September 2018 - December 2022

Relevant Courses: Medieval English Literature I & II; Major Author: Chaucer; Independent Study: Margery Kempe; Major Author: Milton; Early French Literature

Capstone Project: Wolfram's Parzival: Picking up the Thread

  • Magna Cum Laude
  • Program Distinction
  • GPA 3.98
  • Editor, Stockton Student Literary Journal
  • Contributor, Student Newspaper
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Resume layout and design

Flashy designs and a rainbow array of colors won’t do you any favors when you’re creating this document! Your graduate school resume is a professional document. You want the course leader to take you seriously. When you’re designing this application, keep things clean and crisp. That means using clear, plain text and a black-and-white style.

If you’re not a whiz when it comes to design, you might need some extra help. We’ve got you covered. Using one of our field-tested resume templates takes all of the hard work out of this process. That way, you can focus on what matters — the content of your resume! 

The average graduate student loan debt balance is $102,913
The average graduate student loan debt balance is $102,913

Key takeaways 

  1. A well-written graduate school resume will help you get into the program of your choice. Use our resume example as inspiration when it comes to creating yours.
  2. Choose your language wisely. Avoid using highbrow academic phrases as you may turn off the reader.
  3. Ensure that the style of your resume is plain and simple. There’s no space for flashy designs or colors when it comes to this document.
  4. Make sure you thoroughly proofread the resume before you submit it!
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