For recent graduates, the education section of your resume carries a lot of importance. When you don’t have much prior work experience, being able to feature a robust educational background on your resume can give you a real edge in your job search. And even if you’ve been out of education for a while, being able to showcase a formal qualification on your resume can demonstrate an important past success to hiring managers in any field.
But to get the most out of your education section, you need to make sure that it’s formatted correctly. A good education section should be readable and to-the-point, so that anyone reading your resume can understand it at a glance. Plus, being able to show that you know the formatting conventions of your education section will make your resume more credible to hiring managers—and boost your chances of landing your dream role.
To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to the education format in your resume. In this article, we’ll cover the following points:
Much like the work experience section, the education section on your resume has a simple and widely-recognized standard format. While there are obviously exceptions, most of the time you’ll do just fine if you follow these simple steps:
Educational qualifications should be listed in reverse chronological order. If there’s overlap, put your most advanced degree first—it’s the more impressive qualification, so you should aim to call more attention to it. That means doctoral degrees should usually appear before master’s degrees, which will usually appear before bachelor’s or associate’s degrees.
Typically, the institution where you studied should be listed after the degree you earned. But if your degree is less relevant to the job you want—for example, if you have a degree in English Literature but you’re hoping to work in plumbing—you can list the school where you studied first, instead. Remember to include the location of the school!
When listing the dates of your education, it’s usually fine to list the month and the year when you started and ended your studies. If you completed your degree several years ago, you can simply list the years and leave out the months. It’s generally considered overkill to list the specific days when your course began and ended!
As with your work experience section, you can also use bullet points to flag up any key achievements you earned during your studies. This may look a little excessive if you’ve been out of education for a while—at that point, you should have more workplace-specific achievements to focus on instead. But recent graduates and current students can use this space to list their GPA (provided it’s above a 3.5), as well as any honors or prizes they’ve been awarded.
But what do you do if you’re still in the middle of your studies? Fortunately, there’s an easy way to format education in progress for your resume, too.
To make it clear right away that you’re still working on your degree, consider adding ‘in progress’ to the first line of your education listing. Instead of “BA in Economics,” write “BA in Economics in progress.” That way, nobody will find themselves wondering why you haven’t included an end date for your studies!
When the time comes to list the dates for your education in progress, you have a few options. You can leave them out altogether, since you’ve already mentioned that your studies are in progress. Or you can include an expected graduation date—which is as simple as writing “Expected to graduate June 2023” where the date range would normally go.
If you want to include a start date for your degree as well, turn the date range into two sentences instead of one. That would look something like “Commenced 2019. Expected to graduate June 2023.”
All the other relevant information about your degree—such as your school and its location, as well as any prizes or honors you’ve earned so far—can be included as usual.
Studying abroad reflects serious skills and achievements that any employer will recognize. If you’ve been lucky enough to study abroad, you should absolutely make sure you list that experience on your resume! But how do you go about including it in your education section?
No matter how short, your study abroad experience can be featured as its own listing within your education section. It should appear underneath your actual degree, though—as a substantial qualification in its own right, that should always take priority.
List the institution where you studied abroad, as well as the country where it’s based. Include the dates of your overseas study, and remember that if you only spent a semester overseas, it’s fine just to list that specific semester. And if you earned any particular achievements or awards during your study abroad, list them as bullet points, just as you would for a regular education listing!
Still not sure where to start? Here are a range of examples of great education formatting for your resume. Whatever your circumstances, you’ll be able to see exactly what you need to do to show off your education to best effect!
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature New York University, New York October 2018-June 2022
This is the standard way to format your education section for your resume. If your degree is relevant to the job you want, this is the way to go!
New York University, New York Bachelor of Arts in English Literature October 2018-June 2022
If your degree is less relevant to the job you’re applying for, consider listing your school first instead! This example shows what that should look like in practice.
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (In Progress) New York University, New York
If you’re still in the middle of your degree, you can still list your education as normal! All you have to do is tweak the date listings, to make it clear that your degree is still ongoing. You can also add “in progress” to the header, so it’s obvious right away that you’re still a student.
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature New York University, New York
International Exchange Program Oxford University, UK
As we discussed earlier in the article, you can list any study abroad experience underneath your main degree. While it gets its own listing, it should still be secondary to your more substantial qualification.
New York University, New York 70 credits toward Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
Even if you didn’t finish your degree, the work you did still counts! All you have to do is specify that you earned credits toward a degree, rather than a full degree. This is another great time to list your school first, so hiring managers aren’t immediately confronted with the fact that you didn’t reach the end of your program.
As we explained earlier, your most recent degree (which will usually also be your highest degree) should appear first in your education section. Here’s an example of how that looks in practice!
Master of Arts in English (In Progress) New York University, New York
Bachelor of Arts in English New York University, New York
Content Writer + Resume Expert
Waverly is a freelance writer, former HR officer and current international traveller. They believe in doing your research, showing up prepared, and bringing your passions with you to work. They've helped countless job seekers create better resumes and cover letters to improve and grow their careers.
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