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Don't have much to say in my academic CV/Resume


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Hello everyone,

So this post isn't as much how to make an academic cv/resume, but more along the lines of I don't have much to include. There are maybe one or 2 interesting classes I could include, and 2 jobs that would be relevant to what I'm applying for. I've only presented at 3 conferences (won awards in them though), and have no published publications, manuals, manuscripts, etc. Outside of restating my transcript, a very brief work experience history (2 entries), and my 3 poster presentations and their awards, I don't have much to say. At the moment, my academic CV/Resume is a little over a page and a half (and that's just because things are nicely spaced out). Is this expected since I'm going from an undergrad to PhD program? Is this acceptable? Is there anything I'm not including  that I should include to help fill it up a little? Thank you ahead of time!


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The length of your academic CV is fine for an undergrad applying to grad school. Don't add things just to fill space. You should not include courses because it is on your transcript. Do you have any extracurricular activities related to academics? (e.g. student leadership, tutoring, etc.)

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8 hours ago, TakeruK said:

The length of your academic CV is fine for an undergrad applying to grad school. Don't add things just to fill space. You should not include courses because it is on your transcript. Do you have any extracurricular activities related to academics? (e.g. student leadership, tutoring, etc.)

I did private tutoring on the side, but outside of that, nothing really academic. At least not in regards to leadership roles (e.g. I was part of a feminism club at our school, but not in any type of position). So if I don't include courses, GPA, or GRE scores. Is it just a list of publications, presentations/conferences, and related work experience (e.g. tutoring or my undergrad lab and current job)?

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It's up to you if you want to include the private tutoring or not. I did not include mine, but I did include tutoring as part of work (volunteer and paid) with educational organizations (e.g. freshman physics exam review run by the physics student club and free tutoring run by the student government).

Typically, an academic CV/resume has these sections, in roughly this order, for an undergrad applying to grad school. You should probably have Education first all the time, but the 2nd and 3rd sections can be adjusted to make it look good and to emphasize whatever you have more of. The "if applicable" sections at the end can also be in any order that you want depending on how much you have to say, but I roughly put them in the order that committees may care about. I left out sections that you might find in academic CVs for more advanced researchers since I am assuming (but correct me if I'm wrong) that you don't have them. Namely, sections for grants PI'ed, students supervised, invited seminars, etc.

- List schools and degrees. Only detail necessary is your thesis title and advisor name (if applicable) and any notes/honours/etc associated with your degree
- Exception: Some schools specifically ask for GPA or list of courses here, so in those cases do that of course. Often they don't want to see it in your CV though.

- Especially competitive awards granted based on your research, or based on your academic profile in order to fund research. But also include academic awards that are meaningful. Do not include things from high school or earlier, unless it's a very high level of achievement.

- List all your research experiences. It does not have to be limited to the field of your grad study. You can add a few points to describe each appointment and what you did and what you achieve. Typically, grad students start to remove these bullet points and eventually these just become 1 or 2 lines by the time you leave grad school. But it's okay to be a little more verbose in the application stage

Publications and presentations
- Typically people subdivide this into "peer-reviewed" things like journal articles and non-peer reviewed things like conference proceedings and presentations. If you have a lot of peer-reviewed articles (e.g. 2 or more) then you can consider just having two separate sections
- When you list publications, you should list the full and complete citation. Often people will bold their names so it's clear where they are in the author list. For a grad school applicant, reverse chronological order is probably best. When you have more publications, consider listing your first author works in reverse chronological order, followed by your co-authored works in reverse chronological order.
- For some fields, it makes sense to include patents here too

Volunteering/Service/Leadership (if applicable)
- Pick one of the titles or make up your own that best suits what you're going to put here. Extracurricular activitiess goes here. Keep them short and limited to leadership roles especially if there is a lot (these entries aren't that important so you don't want it to take up a disproportionate amount of space).

Teaching (if applicable)
- Only include this if you have experience.

Other experience (if applicable)
- Here, you can list non-academic / non-research jobs if you want. It could be interesting or helpful. Depends on the story you want to tell. For example, if you had to work side jobs to support yourself through school, that's something the committee might want to know about and it's a good thing to have put down.


I know you said you know what is supposed to go in but I figure I would list it out anyways. Maybe it will help another reader. But you seem to be worried that there isn't enough. So I hope showing you what typically goes in will help you see that your situation is pretty common. A 1-2 page CV is the typical length for an application. Take a look at grad student CVs on the internet and you'll see that it's not much more.

Finally, it's optional to include one or two lines at the top that summarizes what your skills/experience are and what you are seeking in graduate school. Some people do this, some people don't. I don't think it's a big deal, unless you do it poorly. So it's up to you!

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I'm not sure if this will help, but I have 5 years of technician experience and 3 years undergraduate experience.  My CV, with everything included, is approximately 2 1/2 pages.

I have, in order:

1) Education:  lists my degree, major, where I earned my degree, and any honors associated with that (did you graduate summa, magna, cum laude?  Did you graduate with honors?)

 2) Research experience: this is also my employment history, but I only list relevant research/lab employment history (i.e. any industry tech positions, clinical lab positions).  I include my undergrad research here, and also give a brief one-sentence blurb on my projects.

3) Teaching/Tutoring experience:  I did tutoring and was a TA, and it's included here.  Some places asked for any teaching experience and I think it helps.  Especially if those programs have TA requirements

4) Next are publications followed by poster/conference presentations.  If you have any presentations with authors and titles you should definitely include them!

5) Next I would put any awards or honors associated with your conference presentations that you received.  If you submitted or received grant awards for your research they could go here too

6) Volunteer experience:  field-related volunteer experience (i.e. science fairs, volunteering at a museum, help-line work, etc).  I volunteered as a science fair judge and a science fair mentor for a year, so I included that in there.  This will be different depending on your field.


That's how mine is generally laid out.  I think you have stuff to put in there that is substantial.  The reason you see extremely long CVs is because those people have a lot of conference presentations, invited talks, posters, publications, etc.  For young scientists like us, we don't have quite that much, and that's okay.

Edited by StemCellFan
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