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Creating an Undergraduate CV
Your curriculum vitae (CV) is a representation of your scholarly identity and trajectory in your field.
A CV is used to apply to research roles or other academic positions. It shows your academic credentials and achievements, experience conducting research in your field, and other experience relevant to the opportunity you’re targeting.
Your goal is to convey your interest in the field, as well as the relevant skills and knowledge that will prepare you to excel in the target opportunity.
When might I use a CV as an undergraduate?
You may be asked for a CV when you’re applying to a research position, to a fellowship, or to graduate school in the sciences. If you’re applying to a research position in industry, pay attention to whether they ask for a resume or a CV in their posting, as they may prefer a resume. In your cover letter, you can let them know that a CV is available upon request.
Many faculty may be happy to receive either a resume or a CV from undergrads looking to conduct research with them. Remember that in this case, whichever document you submit should still be tailored toward research in their field! If you haven’t done research before, convey your interest and preparedness by showing the transferable skills and knowledge you’ve built through your coursework and other experiences.
What should my CV look like as an undergraduate?
Unlike your one-page resume, your undergraduate CV can be two pages.
Sections on a CV
The sections on a CV are designed to feature the experiences that academics (like professors or researchers) acquire over time. As an undergrad, the sections on your CV will depend on the experience you’ve had so far—and the professors or researchers interested in hiring undergrads won’t expect you to have graduate-level experience. So, don’t worry if you don’t have information to go in all of these categories!
Start with these mandatory sections:
Include your name, address, phone number, email address, and professional website or profile (if you have one).
Include the degree-granting institution and school, the degree you’re receiving, your major or concentration, and your expected graduation date. If you’re writing a departmental thesis, include the title and the names of your thesis advisers. You can include relevant coursework, which we generally recommend keeping to two lines of text or less.
If you have additional higher education, you can also include it. If you’ve studied abroad, for instance, you can include the institution name, the month and year range you attended, and relevant coursework you took during this program.
Your CV may include some of the following sections:
Include the name of the lab or department and institution, the position you held, the location, and your dates of involvement. We recommend including a brief description of the project, your role, the primary methods used, and key findings.
This section includes scholarly publications such as journal articles, book chapters, and published conference proceedings.
Format each bibliographic entry according to your discipline’s style guide, with the article or chapter title, journal name, and publication information. Include authors in publication order, bolding your name.
Include publication status if the piece is not yet published—e.g., in preparation, under review, forthcoming. We recommend listing the DOI if the article has been accepted but does not yet have page numbers.
This section showcases scholarly presentations you’ve made, usually at conferences or symposia.
Include the author(s) and title of presentation, the conference or symposium name, and the location and date (or month if a range) of the presentation. Specify the format of the presentation—e.g., poster or oral presentation.
Grants / Awards / Academic Honors
List any academic awards, fellowships, grants, or funding received. In each entry, include the award name, award-granting institution, and year of the award.
If the nature of the award will not be clear based on the award name, you can briefly clarify parenthetically.
Include the name of the course and institution, the position you held (e.g., Teaching Assistant, Instructor of Record), the location, and month-year range of the teaching engagement. We encourge you to include a brief description of your role.
Additional Professional Experience
On a CV, you may include recent professional experience that is pertinent to your scholarly trajectory. You can title this section by the job area if helpful—e.g., Additional Engineering Experience, Editorial Experience, Museum Experience.
Include the name of the organization, your job title, and the location and month-year range of the experience. You can include a brief description of your role and accomplishments to highlight relevant transferable skills.
Leadership / Activities / Service / Volunteer Work
Include the organization, your position title, the location, and dates of your involvement. You can include a brief description of your role and accomplishments.
Professional Memberships or Affiliations
List any memberships you maintain to professional organizations in your field. Many scholarly associations have low-cost student memberships.
Include any relevant certifications or licensures you hold.
Create categories for your skills, such as languages, technical or computer (software, hardware, coding languages), laboratory, machining, and design. In each category, list the relevant items—e.g., language names, tools, programs. For languages, we recommend indicating your proficiency level. Keep each category to 3 lines maximum.
This includes a list of relevant references, including their name, title, institution, and contact information (phone and/or email).
How should I format my CV?
CVs typically have a much simpler format than resumes. You’ll left-justify the content, use one-inch margins all around, and a size 11 or 12 font. Use bold and italics sparingly, and avoid extra design elements. Include a right-justified header includes your last name and page numbers (#/#).
How should I describe my experiences on my CV?
Typically, undergraduate CVs include short descriptions of your experience that focus on field-related content such as a description of the research project and the methods you used. Remember, your reader is likely another scholar in your discipline who will be able to interpret this technical language. It is more common to display these descriptions in paragraph form, but some people prefer bullet points for clarity.
Learning About CV Conventions in Your Field
Many professors, postdocs, and graduate students post their CVs on their departmental or lab website. Their CVs will be a lot longer than yours—some professors’ CVs run up to 15 pages. You may notice that faculty CVs will be, in most cases, less detailed than your undergraduate one, with fewer descriptions: they may be serving as records of research and teaching conducted, rather than job-search documents. Nevertheless, these CVs can help you understand trends and conventions in your discipline.
Can I see what a CV might look like?
Sure! We’ve created a couple of sample undergraduate CVs for your reference.
- Sample Undergraduate Science CV
- Sample Undergraduate Humanities / Social Science CV
Where can I get feedback on my CV?
You can get feedback on your CV from your previous research mentors (faculty, postdocs, grad students), instructors of relevant courses you’ve taken, career counselors , fellowship advisers , or writing consultants .
We recommend always seeking feedback from mentors in your field, as they will be able to offer discipline-specific insights and tips.
Finding an Undergraduate Research Position
Getting research experience during your time as an undergraduate can aid in your pursuit for graduate school or certain career opportunities. There are many opportunities available to conduct research alongside faculty at Columbia or other universities and research institutes.
CV for University Application example
Getting into university and getting a degree will give you a huge head-start in your career, but getting into university isn’t easy
This guide contains an example University Applicant CV and plenty of tips on how to create your own winning CV, so you can stand out amongst the other candidates and get into the university of your dreams.
CV for University Application example 1
Cv for university application example 2.
- Structuring and formatting your CV
- Writing your CV profile
- Detailing work experience
- Your education
Unsure of what your University Applicant CV should look like?
Have a look at the CV example above to get familiar with the structure, layout and format of a professional CV.
As you can see, it provides plenty of relevant information about the applicant but is still very easy to read, and brief – which will please busy university recruiters.
University Applicant CV structure and format
The format and structure of your CV is important because it will determine how easy it is for recruiters and employers to read your CV.
If they can find the information they need quickly, they’ll be happy; but if they struggle, your application could be overlooked.
A simple and logical structure will always create a better reading experience than a complex structure, and with a few simple formatting tricks, you’ll be good to go.
- Length: Recruiters will be immediately put off by lengthy CVs – with hundreds of applications to read through, they simply don’t have the time! Grabbing their attention with a short, snappy and highly relevant CV is far more likely to lead to success. Aim for two sides of A4 or less.
- Readability : Make sure your CV is easy to read and looks professional by applying some simple formatting tricks. Bullet points are great for making large paragraphs more digestible, while formatting your headings with bold or coloured text will help the reader to find the information they need, with speed.
- Design: It’s generally best to stick to a simple CV design, as funky or elaborate designs rarely add any value to your application. A clear, modern font and a subtle colour scheme work perfectly and allow your skills, experience and achievements to speak for themselves.
- Avoid photos: Logos, profile photos or other images aren’t necessary and rarely add any value – save the space for written content, instead!
Structuring your CV
As you write your CV , work to the simple but effective structure below:
- Name and contact details – Pop them at the top of your CV, so it’s easy for recruiters to contact you.
- CV profile – Write a snappy overview of what makes you a good fit for the role; discussing your key experience, skills and accomplishments.
- Core skills section – Add a short but snappy list of your relevant skills and knowledge.
- Work experience – A list of your relevant work experience, starting with your current role.
- Education – A summary of your relevant qualifications and professional/vocational training.
- Hobbies and interests – An optional sections, which you could use to write a short description of any relevant hobbies or interests.
Now I’ll guide you through exactly what you should include in each CV section.
CV Contact Details
Tuck your contact details into the corner of your CV, so that they don’t take up too much space. Stick to the basic details, such as:
- Mobile number
- Email address – It should sound professional, such as your full name.
- Location -Just write your rough location, rather than your full address.
- LinkedIn profile or portfolio URL – If you include these, ensure they’re sleek, professional and up-to-date.
University Applicant CV Profile
Recruiters read through countless applications every day.
If they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they’ll simply move onto the next one.
That’s what makes your CV profile (or personal statement , if you’re an entry-level/graduate candidate) so important.
This short and snappy summary sits at the top of your CV, and should give a high-level overview of why you’re a good match for the university.
This way, you can ensure that busy recruiters see your suitability from the outset, and so, feel your CV is worth their time.
Tips for creating an impactful CV profile:
- Keep it brief: It might be tempting to submit a page-long CV profile, but recruiters won’t have the time to read it. To ensure every word gets read, it’s best to include high-level information only; sticking to a length of 3-5 lines.
- Tailor it: Before writing your CV, make sure to do some research. Figure out exactly what your desired employers are looking for and make sure that you are making those requirements prominent in your CV profile, and throughout.
- Don’t add an objective: Leave your career objectives or goals out of your profile. You only have limited space to work with, so they’re best suited to your cover letter .
- Avoid cliches: “Determined team player who always gives 110%” might seem like a good way to fill up your CV profile, but generic phrases like this won’t land you an interview. Recruiters hear them time and time again and have no real reason to believe them. Instead, pack your profile with your hard skills and tangible achievements.
What to include in your University Applicant CV profile?
- Summary of experience: Recruiters will want to know what type of companies you’ve worked for, industries you have knowledge of, and the type of work you’ve carried out in the past, so give them a summary of this in your profile.
- Relevant skills: Highlight your skills which are most relevant, to ensure that recruiters see your most in-demand skills as soon as they open your CV.
- Essential qualifications: Be sure to outline your relevant qualifications, so that anyone reading the CV can instantly see you are qualified for the universities you are applying to.
Quick tip: Your CV is your first impression on recruiters, so it’s vital to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes if you want to appear professional. Use our CV builder to add pre-written content that has been crafted by recruitment experts.
Core skills section
In addition to your CV profile, your core skills section provides an easily digestible snapshot of your skills – perfect for grabbing the attention of busy hiring managers.
As University places might receive a huge pile of applications, this is a great way to stand out and show off your suitability for the role.
It should be made up of 2-3 columns of bullet points and be made up of skills that are highly relevant to the universities you are targeting.
Work experience/Career history
Next up is your work experience section, which is normally the longest part of your CV.
Start with your current (or most recent) job and work your way backwards through your experience.
Can’t fit all your roles? Allow more space for your recent career history and shorten down descriptions for your older roles.
Structuring your roles
If you don’t pay attention to the structure of your career history section, it could quickly become bulky and overwhelming.
Get in recruiters’ good books by creating a pleasant reading experience, using the 3-step structure below:
Begin with a summary of your role, detailing what the purpose of your job was, who you reported to and what size of team you were part of (or led).
Next, write up a punchy list of your daily duties and responsibilities, using bullet points.
Wherever you can, point out how you put your hard skills and knowledge to use – especially skills which are applicable to your target role.
Finish off by showcasing 1-3 key achievements made within the role.
This could be anything that had a positive effect on your company, clients or customers, such as saving time or money, receiving exemplary feedback or receiving an award.
At the bottom of your CV is your full education section. You can list your formal academic qualifications, such as:
As well as any specific qualifications that are essential to the jobs you are applying for. Note down the name of the qualification, the organisation at which you studied, and the date of completion.
Interests and hobbies
This section is entirely optional, so you’ll have to use your own judgement to figure out if it’s worth including.
If your hobbies and interests could make you appear more suitable for your dream job, then they are definitely worth adding.
Interests which are related to the industry, or hobbies like sports teams or volunteering, which display valuable transferable skills might be worth including.
Writing your University Applicant CV
An interview-winning CV for a University Application needs to be both visually pleasing and packed with targeted content.
Whilst it needs to detail your experience, accomplishments and relevant skills, it also needs to be as clear and easy to read as possible.
Remember to research the role and review the university before applying, so you’re able to match yourself up to the requirements.
If you follow these guidelines and keep motivated in your university search, you should land an interview in no time.
Best of luck with your next application!
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Resume/CV/Cover Letter Templates
Recommended websites, ocs curated lists.
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) details all your educational and academic credentials and achievements, and may include teaching experiences, publications, and academic honors and awards. A CV in the U.S. is typically used for seeking jobs in academia as well as for applying for academic postdoctoral research opportunities, grants, and fellowships.
Your CV may include some of the following sections: How should I format my CV? CVs typically have a much simpler format than resumes. You’ll left-justify the content, use one-inch margins all around, and a size 11 or 12 font. Use bold and italics sparingly, and avoid extra design elements.
Writing your University Applicant CV An interview-winning CV for a University Application needs to be both visually pleasing and packed with targeted content. Whilst it needs to detail your experience, accomplishments and relevant skills, it also needs to be as clear and easy to read as possible.
Resume/CV/Cover Letter Templates Show more Resume/CV/Cover Letter Templates. GSAS PhD Resume & Cover Letter Guide; GSAS Master’s Resume & Cover Letter Guide; GSAS Scientist’s Resume & Cover Letter Guide; HES Resume & Cover Letter Guide; Harvard College Bullet Point Resume Template; Harvard College Paragraph Resume Template
2 . grad.illinois.edu/CareerDevelopment . SECTIONS TO INCLUDE The Basic Sections . Heading: Name, email address, mailing address (only one), and phone number