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The Ultimate Guide to Craft an Outstanding Grad School CV

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


Table of Contents

  • Introduction

  • The Aim of Your Grad School CV

  • An Effective Structure for Your CV

  • Tailor Your CV to the Graduate program

  • Quantify, Quantify, Quantify

  • Ask for Feedback

  • Conclusion



Applying for grad school can be a flawless experience, but in other cases it reveals to be full of struggles and stress. To minimize the latter and become more confident as your application journey unfolds, it is important to have a step-by-step plan that covers all the phases of this process. Today I will focus on one of these steps, and more specifically I am going to talk about crafting an outstanding grad school CV.

First things first, we all know that a CV (short for Curriculum Vitae) is a widely used document. Most of the time we need it to apply for an internship, to obtain a new job, even to volunteer, and, of course, to apply to a master or phd program. What is important to say is that in each one of these cases the CV focus and the contents that are showcased need to change a bit, and this depends on what kind of institution you are applying for. Considering grad school, a good CV usually presents your academic achievements, your experience with research, and in general the stronger qualities you have that can make you interesting to a particular school. Keeping these words in mind, let’s begin to explore how to craft a perfect grad school CV.

1. Be Aware of the Aim of Your Graduate School CV

Before you start thinking of what contents to insert in your CV, it is a good practice to take a moment to really understand what the purpose of that document should be. Also, keep in mind that, as you work on your CV, you should always find time to stop and ask yourself if what you are writing is still coherent with the purpose you set at the beginning.

Generally speaking, a good grad school CV puts more emphasis on your academic progress rather than on your working experience. So you do not have to forget to include your previous university achievements, your research skills and publications (if any), eventual awards that you have won, and (relevant) extracurricular activities. Lastly and most importantly, all these sections should always showcase that you are ready for grad school and that you will be able to complete the program you are applying for with success.

2. Plan an Effective Structure for Your CV

Whether you are a planning person or not, planning what structure (even a basic one) to follow is key to craft a good CV. Usually, the first step is to write your contact details at the top. Then you can continue with these sections:

  • Education: include the name of the institution, degree earned and what was it about, and graduation date.

TIP: the most recent degree goes first

  • Research Skills: mention any research projects you have participated in. Always include the name of the project, your role, the duration, and a brief description of your contributions.

  • Publications (if applicable): list any research publications, conference presentations, or posters you've authored or co-authored.

  • Awards and Honors

  • Extracurricular Activities: showcase leadership roles, community service, or participation in clubs and organizations that demonstrate your commitment to personal and academic growth.

TIP: this is your chance to make your CV a little more personal. Although all your extracurriculars should be related to the program you are applying for, don’t be shy to show a bit of your personality.

  • Skills: often speaking a foreign language or knowing how to use technological tools can be a plus to your application. Evaluate what of your skills are the most relevant to your program and write them in your CV.

3. Tailor Your CV to the Graduate Program

Every graduate program has its unique mission and focus. Therefore, remember to customize your CV based on these factors. In a few words, you don’t have to demonstrate that you are a good student, but that you are the right student that can match with that faculty.

4. Quantify, Quantify, Quantify

When writing about your results, do not be vague about what you achieved during a particular experience. No matter if it is a research internship, a volunteer project or an important award you received, in all these cases it is much better to show some numbers to your recruiters. The credibility that you will have in this way can determine the success of your application.

5. Ask for Feedback

Professors, mentors, and career advisors can help you receive feedback before finalizing your CV. They often provide students with suggestions to improve the content and structure, as well as spotting any grammatical errors you may have not seen.


In this article we have gone through the main steps that you can follow to craft your grad school CV. As always, these are just suggestions, and you are free to modify them based on your needs and ideas. Having said this, I really hope that they can be helpful and wish you the best of luck with your graduate school journey!

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