The Curriculum Vitae

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae is a written description of your educational background, honors and awards work, academic achievements, work experience and skills. It is similar to a resumé, though typically more detailed. It is commonly used in the U.S. for applying for graduate and professional school, for scholarships, and for academic jobs. Outside the U.S. and Australia it is the standard form for most job applications.

Curriculum vitae is Latin for the "course of (one's) life” so you might think of it as an outline of a story about yourself. If you are intending to apply to graduate school or professional school, and even more so if you want to apply for a scholarship, your CV needs to be first class and your story needs to be really compelling.

Of course, it needs to be a true story, so you really do need to be actively engaged in scholarship and extra-curricular appropriate to your goals. Do not be tempted to "pad" your CV as this will only lead to immediate elimination from competition when it is discovered. Instead, make sure that you do activities that help you build experiences and qualifications and make sure that you regularly record these accurately and in detail. And review your CV regularly with an advisor to make sure that you are on track.

You can find some suggestions for activities to consider and lots of useful links to opportunities on our Engagement Page.

What do I include in my CV?

Your CV might vary for each purpose just as a story varies slightly as you tell it to different audiences. And it is a personal document so you should try to make it yours. Still, there is a fairly standard content and format which you should usually follow.

Your CV must contain relevant “Personal information” and detail your “Education” to date, but other headings should be included only as it appropriate. You may use other titles for your headings and vary the order, but this is a standard list of contents:

Personal Data

A listing of previous names, address, birth date, social security number


Undergraduates may note high school. May also include your GPA and class standing; SAT and achievement scores.

Include current degree program (e.g. "BA English Honors degree," or "BSc biology Honors degree") and class standing with expected graduation date. May also include your GPA(s). May also include working title of Senior Honors Project.

Graduates usually do not list high school. List degrees earned by date, degree, institution and titles of theses/dissertation.


List any honors or awards received in order starting from the most recently received. Membership of honor societies or the honors program is not an award!

Grants and Scholarships

List any grants and scholarships received in order starting from the most recently received, including dates and amounts.

Related Employment

List the employers, position and dates for work that is relevant to your goals in order starting from the most recent. Distinguish paid work from unpaid internships. Do not list work not related to academic or scholarship goals. List days and hours.

Other Employment

Use this category to list unrelated forms of employment.

Other Relevant Experience

You may include teaching/mentoring and research experience. If you have a lot of experience in either of these categories, you might want to have separate heading. Provides details and dates. List days and hours.


If you have any record of publications or public presentations (outside of class) you should list under a separate heading. Use standard bibliographic references.


If you have any record of publications or public presentations (outside of class) you should list under a separate heading. Use standard bibliographic references.

Organizational memberships

List any honors societies, and relevant campus clubs, community groups, or professional organizations to which you belong, and any offices that you hold with dates.

Volunteer activities

List any notable school and community activities, such as athletics and volunteer efforts. You may want separate headings for these. Provide some details with dates and hours.

Skills and qualifications

You may want to list any special skills you have, especially if they are certified in some way, and should certainly list any languages that you speak (and tell us what level: native, fluent, advanced, intermediate or beginner).

Personal References

You may want to list up to three names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers, but, please, only if you have asked your referees first.

What about format and style?

We recommend the following general rules:

Do you have some examples?

Check out Christy Gilman's CV (Biology, 2009), which she has kindly made available to us.

Some further guidelines

There are also guidelines for CV preparation such as: