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Learning to Write Education on Resume Documents

Tristin Zeman

Copywriter, Human Resources Manager, and Marketing Expert


Before you start with an infographic-inspired ratings charts and professional-looking headshots, the three must-haves of your resume include your contact information, your experience, and your education. Whether you’re currently in school, have received a diploma, or have an unfinished degree, here are the best ways of putting your educational history on a CV, resume, or job application. 

Getting started: Listing education on resumes

How to list education on resume documents

No matter what kind of job you are seeking, your educational background is one of the most basic components of your resume. Even if you have no advanced degrees or additional certificates, it’s still a good idea to include your high school information on your resume. 

Before you start to format your resume or CV, it’s a good idea to get all your information together. The resume education section can include schooling as far back as appropriate. It can also include any certificates or additional non-academic coursework. In general, you should always include your highest level of education, but in many cases, it’s up to you to decide if you want to include earlier education. 

For example, if you have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree, your middle or high school achievements may not be particularly helpful or relevant to a recruiter. In this case, that precious resume real estate could be better used to showcase your more recent accomplishments. On the other hand, if you were applying for a high school teaching position at your old alma mater, it could be to your advantage to include this on your resume. 

Alternatively, if you’ve earned additional certifications or completed new programs after your highest level or most relevant experience, you may decide to omit those from your resume. 

When to omit education on resume

Instead of sharing every one of your credentials on your resume, it may be wise to hand-select only the best and most relevant. For example, if you are applying for a middle school math teaching position, it’s likely not helpful to put that you are also a certified Reiki healer. 

This isn’t to say that you should never add unrelated education on a resume. Doing so can be a good way to show a more complete picture of yourself and make you stand out from the crowd. However, the most important thing is to create a strong picture of yourself as the perfect candidate for a specific role. If including an exhaustive list of your education means having to eliminate any relevant work experience or other information, it likely is not worth it. 

Why include education on resume

Some job seekers are reluctant to include their education in their resumes for a variety of reasons. This can include embarrassment over having an unfinished degree, fearing stigma from receiving alternative credentials (ie a GED vs a diploma), or because they have a lot of experience and minimal education in their field. 

In almost all cases, listing education on resume is a good idea. You do not need to have completed a degree or program to include it on your resume. Current degrees in progress should always be listed as it shows recent experience and drive.

If you decide to list degrees that you have not completed and are not pursuing, it is a good idea to make sure that is clear on your resume. You’ll want to avoid any potentially embarrassing misunderstandings during an interview.

How to decide when to put experience or education first on a resume

Experience or education first on resume

Your desired role and amount of previous exposure to that position or field will determine if you should list experience or education first on a resume. When you are compiling all the information needed to create your resume, it should quickly become apparent if you have more education or work experience. 

You can then create a main resume that highlights whichever area is the strongest for you personally. If you’re applying to a wide variety of jobs, especially those where you have either education or work history, it may be hard to tell which is more important to focus on.

In these cases, you may want to create another version of your resume with a template that highlights the opposite. This way whether you choose to have your resume education or experience first on your main resume, you’ll have a quality option that can be quickly sent for exciting opportunities that arise.

How to list education on resume

Like all other parts of a resume, when adding education information, it’s important to be concise. High school and college students may find that their education resume section is much bigger than the other resume sections. While that’s perfectly acceptable, remember that those with more work experience should try to keep the education portion in check. In general, the more experience you have, the less you should focus on your education. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, it’s important to add more description and detail to your education section. 

How to list education on resume example templates

For current students:

  • Name of School
  • School location (City/State is acceptable)
  • The degree you are pursuing & field of study (High school students can omit)
  • Graduation year (or expected graduation month/year)
  • GPA (should only be included if it is above 3.0 or requested by the job posting)
  • Honors, achievements, relevant coursework, internships, programs, etc

For recent graduates or those with little job experience:

  • Name of School & location (City/State is acceptable)
  • Degree obtained, Graduation year
  • Field of study 
  • Honors & achievements (can include GPA-related honors)
  • Internships, programs, etc 

For those with more relevant experience than recent education:

  • Name of School & location (City/State is acceptable)
  • Degree obtained, Graduation year
  • Field of study 

How to write your degree on a resume: Formatting

The education section of your resume starts with your degree. Depending on how you format the rest of your resume, you may want to list your degree first and then follow with the name of the school you attended. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of work experience and the employment section of your resume is formatted with the job title as the main focus and the employer as the secondary. 

If you have more education in resume than job experience: 

University of Gotham — Arkham

Bachelor of Computer Science, Graduated: 2018

If you have more experience than education: 

Bachelor of Computer Science

University of Gotham — Arkham, Graduated 2018

5 best tips of how to put education on resume

  1. Put the most recent experience at the top. This includes degrees in progress. 
  2. If your educational experience is more impressive or relevant than your job experience, put it near the top of your resume.
  3. Tailor your educational experience to the job by choosing to highlight certain projects, internships, or coursework.
  4. Treat your educational experience similar to job experience if you lack job experience by including bullet points or a longer description. 
  5. Eliminate educational experiences from your resume as they become less relevant to your current professional status.

3 resume education examples to stay away from 

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important and knowing what to do. Here are some resume fails to stay away from. 

Sample 1: 

Sunnyvale High School

Sunnyvale, California

Expected graduation: 2008

This example shows a resume that has not been updated in more than a decade. This tells a recruiter or hiring manager that the applicant is not detail-oriented. It may also look as if you are not that interested in the specific job. Those preconceived notions could be the difference between getting an interview and radio silence. 


Sample 2: 

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusettes

Expected graduation: 2022

Field of Study: Law

GPA: 3.9

While this sample shows a likely impressive and intelligent candidate, this education on resume example forgets one key detail — the type of degree the applicant is completing. While high schools only have one type of degree and tech schools offer certificate programs and associate degrees, universities can offer several types of degrees. These include bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and specialized degrees. In this example, it would be impossible for a recruiter or hiring manager to understand if the applicant met the education standards for the position. 


Sample 3: 

Southern Alaska Technical Institute

Anchorage, Alaska

Graduated: 2010

Field of Study: Fashion Merchandising 

GPA: 3.3

Awards & Accolades: Winner of 2009 Alaska Designs competition, Recipient of 2010 Southern Alaska Technical Institute Fashion Icon Award, First place winner in the 2008 fashion business design competition.

If this job applicant was working in the fashion or retail field and was looking for a related field, this would be a perfect example of how to list education on a resume. However, if this person had spent the last 10 years of their career working as a crew member on a fishing boat as was applying for a new position in a field related to that, this education section would be taking up valuable space without actually showing their skills for qualification level for the role they are applying to do. 

Education section of resume examples done the right way

These samples can be used to inspire ideas of how to format or what information should be included when listing education on a resume. 

Sample #1: High school

George Washington High School

Phoenix, Arizona | Expected Graduation: 2023

GPA: 3.75

Involvement: 

  • Honor Roll
  • Student Body Representative
  • 2020 All-State Track Athlete
  • Lead Tuba, GWHS Marching Band

Sample #2: College + Student

St. Francis University

Baton Rouge, Lousiana | Expected Graduation: 2024

Fields of Study: Master’s of Science – Information Technology 

GPA: 3.75

Achievements: 

  • Dean’s List
  • Arthur Daniels Scholarship Grant Recipient
  • Founder, Students Against Werewolves

Sample #3: Post-college

Master’s of Science in Information Technology 

St. Francis University

Baton Rouge, Lousiana | Graduated: 2012

2 things that change how to list degree on resume

Like most things when it comes to job searching the best practices of your resume can change based on surrounding circumstances. Here are the top two things that can change the best way of how to put a degree on a resume.

Timing

Degrees should almost always be listed in the way they were earned in reverse chronological order. This means that your most recently achieved degree should be at the top of your resume education section.

Relevance

If you have multiple degrees or had more than one field of study, put the most relevant ones at the top or closest to the right side of your resume. You may also find that eliminating irrelevant educational experience is one of the easiest ways to create more space on your resume. As you begin to have more work experience, you can drop things like high school information or unrelated credentials. 

How to write education on resume for a first job

When applying for a first job, education should be the main focus of the resume. In this case, education isn’t strictly referring to only your coursework, but also any other activities you participate in including:

  • Extracurriculars
  • Athletics
  • Student groups
  • After-school clubs
  • Volunteer organizations

Instead of trying to take a standard resume template and retrofit it to your needs, it’s a good idea to find a resume template built with a focus on education in resume layout. 

How to clarify education in a resume when you are still in school

It is a good idea to post your grade level or degree progress in both a cover letter and in the resume education section. This can help an employer get a better sense of who you are and what your current goals are, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience or if you’re shifting industries. It is helpful to include your estimated graduation or degree completion date in the education section of a resume especially when applying for a position where you must complete a specific program or licensing process. 

How to list Master’s degree on resume

Achieving a Master’s degree is a great way to gain advanced knowledge in your field. Master’s degrees typically require an additional two years of study on top of a four-year bachelor’s degree. There are several Master-level programs including: 

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  • Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

When it comes to deciding between spelling out the entire degree name and using the abbreviation, the layout of your resume can dictate the best way of how to list a master’s degree on your resume.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways of how to list education on a resume. Even the hard-and-fast rules are meant to be broken. The great debate of whether you should list experience or education first on a resume comes down to thinking about what the most useful and attractive option would be for the recruiter or hiring manager who is making the decision. 

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