Tips for creating a résumé for graduate school applications

  • Tips for creating a résumé for graduate school applications

    Graduate school applications require several different components, such as letters of recommendation, personal statements and transcripts. A résumé is often also required, and while you may be familiar with writing résumés for job applications, a graduate school résumé has its own set of characteristics that make it a unique document.

    Like the other materials included in graduate school applications, your résumé tells the story of your accomplishments, your passions and your qualifications for the program. The better your résumé is, the better the chance you have of sticking out from the crowd and leaving admissions panels interested in accepting you into their programs.

    Make sure your graduate school résumé is top-notch with the following tips:

    Highlight academic achievements
    A major way that graduate school résumés differ from job résumés is that they include much more information about academic achievements. Application panels want to see that you excelled in your previous program and that you are ambitious and driven to succeed, so list accomplishments like honors and awards that you received as well as conferences at which you presented and papers you’ve published.

    Describe relevant courses
    The Career Services department of the University of Wisconsin – Superior recommends that in addition to the basic details about your academic experience, such as your graduation date and GPA, you should also include information about the courses you took that are most relevant. Don’t list every course you took – instead, choose those that highlight any intensive projects or research you undertook.

    “You want your résumé to tell a dynamic story about who you are.”

    Include professional experience
    While the focus of the résumé may be on academics, some graduate schools require professional experience, and including jobs on the résumé can help give a well-rounded view of your skills and accomplishments. This experience doesn’t only have to be paid positions – it can also be volunteer work or internships. You should include only the most relevant roles that show your commitment to and knowledge about the area of study to which you are applying.

    As an article from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill noted, you want your résumé to tell a dynamic story about who you are and what you bring to the table, so curate your résumé to include the experiences that help tell this story.

    Keep your résumé concise 
    While you want to tell a story about your accomplishments and capabilities through your résumé, you also want to make it easy and quick for admissions officials to read – they’ll be receiving hundreds if not thousands of application materials that they have to comb through. Use bullet points instead of large paragraphs to convey details about your skills and experiences, and format the résumé with clear headers. Don’t make the margins tiny or crowd the page with lots of small text – instead, make sure there’s enough white space to make it easy to read.

    A graduate school résumé differs from résumés you submit for jobs.

    When it comes to length, while you’re typically advised to keep job résumés to one page, graduate school résumés can generally be one or two pages. However, make sure that you’re only including the most important information – don’t stretch it to two pages to just fill space.

    Customize your résumé for each application
    Customizing your résumé to suit each program you’re applying to can make your application stronger. Some of your professional and academic experiences, skills and past courses may be more relevant for some programs than others. To make preparing customized résumés easier, McGill University’s Career Planning Service recommended making a “master” résumé that includes all of your achievements and then picking and choosing what to include as you create your unique résumé for each program.

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