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A curriculum vitae (Latin for “the course of one’s life”), or CV, is a comprehensive statement of your educational background, teaching and research experience, and other academic qualifications and activities.  

In academic circles, the CV is the foundation of any application for employment, funding, awards, fellowships, or grants. Many search committees will look at the CVs of job candidates before anything else in screening applications, so remember to keep your audience in mind. For instance, in seeking employment at academic institutions whose missions and objectives may differ, you should rethink the presentation and arrangement of the information on your CV for each audience. 

Resumes vs. CV’s: when do you use which?

A resume is a snapshot of your qualifications for a particular position or type of work, whereas a CV should present a trajectory of your life as a scholar, teacher, and researcher from the time you began your academic career. If you’re not sure which to use, contact the organization and ask. You can also use Going Global to understand international standards and differences for CVs and Resumes.  

  Resume CV Both
Length 1-2 pages 2-4 pages
  • Tailored to highlight strengths
  • Always think of your audience
  • Use proper jargon
  • Reverse chronological order
Key Parts
  • Name & Contact Info
  • Education
  • Work Experience
  • Name & Contact Info
  • Areas of Interest
  • Education
  • Grants/Honors/Awards
  • Publications and Presentations
  • Work Experience
  • Scholarly and Professional memberships
  • References
Use Applying to non-academic jobs and many graduate schools at the Master's level Applying for academic jobs and PhD programs or research

Elements of the CV

Identification

This section opens your CV, omit the heading

Include your name (at top of the first page, using boldface, capitalization, a larger font size, etc.), address, complete telephone number/s, and e-mail address. Some people include both personal and department addresses to emphasize their current academic affiliation. In some fields, especially for funding considerations, you may include citizenship and the date/place of birth, but follow the norm of the field.

Education

List all institutions, degrees, and graduation dates in reverse chronological order. If you attended an institution but did not earn a degree, you do not need to list it on your CV unless the training you received was vital to your career.

Dissertation/Dissertation Abstract

You may list the title of your dissertation beneath the information on your doctoral degree, as well as the name of your chair/advisor and/or committee members. Some fields require a longer description (about a paragraph) of the dissertation on your CV, generally under a separate section titled “Dissertation Abstract,” while other fields expect dissertation research to be listed under “Research Experience.” Follow the norm in your field. If an abstract is not required, you may elect to include a very brief description after the title – two to three sentences at most.

Awards, Fellowships, Honors, Grants

List all relevant academic distinctions, teaching awards, fellowships, honors, or grants you have received since you entered graduate school in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the department and institution bestowing the honor. Include undergraduate honors and fellowships if they are relevant to your field or indicate exceptional academic achievement (e.g., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, etc.).

Publications, Creative Work

Include bibliographic citations of articles, research reports, and book reviews that you have published. If applicable to your field, poems, musical recitals, or art exhibits may be included in this section. As you gain experience, you may further separate these items into different categories, such as “book review,” “articles in refereed journals,” “books,” etc. Use the form of citation appropriate to your field (MLA, APA, Chicago Style etc.). In order to list something as “forthcoming” in this section, you should have a reasonably firm sense of when the publication will appear in print, unless otherwise directed by your advisor.

Presentations/Meeting Abstracts

List all papers/talks you have given, along with the names, dates, and locations of the conferences or meetings where you presented that work. If you have numerous publications, you may choose to list only invited talks or selected abstracts.

Work Submitted, Work in Progress

In some fields, it is fairly standard for scholars to add sections titled “Work Submitted” and “Work in Progress” to their CVs. These can also be listed under a subheading in the publications section. If you have an article or book under review at a refereed journal or academic press, you should list it under the category “Work Submitted for Publication.” In this way, you can inform employers that you have enough confidence in your work to submit it for publication. If you are an experienced candidate, or want to change jobs, you will want to indicate the potential publication on new projects by reporting your progress in a section title “Work in Progress.”

Research Experience

This category can include dissertation and possibly undergraduate and internship research. Typically, you describe your project(s) and list the affiliated lab and/or professor.

Teaching Experience

Include all full-time, part-time, and adjunct teaching experience. For each position, list your title, the dates of employment (or semester and year), and the name (not the mnemonic) of each course you taught. Include a brief description of your responsibilities and the size of the course. Since job titles vary from one university to another, you need to tell the employer something about your level of involvement in the course design, preparation of materials, weekly instruction, and grading.

Research Interests, Teaching Interests/Competencies (separate sections)

In some fields, it is effective to list your current research and/or teaching interests. When listing your teaching interests or competencies, be sure to list general as well as specialized categories so that employers know you are capable and willing to teach the undergraduate and general education requirements offered in their departments. This is especially important for junior scholars who may not have yet had the opportunity to teach all areas of their expertise.

Professional Training/Related Work Experience

List any special professional training you received in your department or through a professional organization in this section. Such training may include special courses on pedagogy or teaching techniques, professional seminars, or technical training completed in addition to your regular coursework. If you have non-academic work experience that is relevant to your application, list and describe such experience here.

Languages

List your language skills, as well as some indication of your level of expertise (e.g., “Reading knowledge of French and German” or “Fluent in Hindi”; working knowledge of Swahili”).

Professional Affiliations and Service

List the major professional organizations to which you belong or with which you are affiliated. If you have served actively in or more of these organizations, you may wish to indicate the level of your involvement as well.

Academic Service, Community Outreach

If you have served on any committees (ex: graduate advisory or search committees in your department), list the experience here. You may also note in this category any talks you gave or meetings you arranged in your department about professional issues in your field. If you have volunteered your time in other ways related to your discipline with the community at large (e.g., judging a science fair, school and museum outreach, etc.), you can list such activities here as well.

References

Either at the end of your CV or in a separate “References” document, list the names, titles, and academic affiliations of your references. List your references in order of importance. It is customary to list the mailing and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of your references. Follow the standard practice in your field.

General Tips on Form and Style

Even though content determines the length of your CV, you should aim for a tightly constructed, succinct and efficient presentation of your credentials. There is no excuse for typographical errors in your CV. Begin your CV well before you need to submit it to allow time for critiques and proofreading.

It is also exceedingly important to be clear and consistent both in form and content. Use unambiguous, concise descriptive language that facilitates speedy processing of critical information. Avoid overly dense text with little white space separating entries. Create an organizational hierarchy and apply it consistently throughout your CV.

  • The title heading “Curriculum Vitae” is commonly used but optional.
  • Each page after the first should bear your name and the page number in a header or footer. Because maintaining a CV is iterative, you should get in the practice of updating it at least every six months to a year. Many scholars include a “revised” date in a footer on the first page.
  • Use an 11- or 12-point font size with 1”- to 1 ½”-inch margins.
  • Use actions verbs, measured descriptions, parallel grammar, no first-person pronouns, and little punctuation.
  • Be careful not to pluralize section headings that cover one entry only.
  • Keep dates to the right as opposed to listing them first in your sections. The reader’s eye naturally gravitates to the left – you want your biggest selling points there (e.g., your pedigree/school, your job title, etc.).
  • Use boldface, italics, and spacing to highlight information, but be consistent and sparing in your use.
  • Avoid graphics, shading, and underlining; if you use lines, put at least 1/4” inch of white space around them.
  • References to electronic materials/web links: Feel free to cite electronic references to articles, portfolios, courses, etc. Personal web pages should be referenced only if all material presented is professional.
  • All CVs should be laser-printed in black ink on white or light-colored, 8 ½” x 11” bond paper (look for “resume paper” at the UVA Bookstore).
  • Because CV styles and norms vary from one discipline to another, you should also have your CV reviewed by faculty in your department/field before sending it out!

Headshot Photograph

It has become more common to see headshot photographs on CVs, particularly in the natural sciences and abroad. Think about what information the text communicates and be aware that some search committees may cover up the photo in adherence to anti-discriminatory policies.