5 Expert Tips for Writing a Stand-Out Grad School Resumé

By Northeastern University - Graduate Programs Modified on January 13, 2022
Tags : Academics

Improve your chances of going to grad school with these resumé-building tips!

 5 Expert Tips for Writing a Stand-Out Grad School Resumé

Congratulations! You’re investing in your future by applying to graduate school. Your grad school resumé is an integral piece of the admissions process. Admissions counselors rely on resumés as an assessment of the student, his or her strengths, work experience, skills, education, and interests to help them decide whether a prospective student is a good fit for the program.

Grad school resumés should emphasize your education, work and volunteer experience, and specific skills relevant to the particular program you’re applying to. Attention to detail is paramount when creating your resumé for grad school. Here’s a look at what should be included on your resumé, plus five tips to help you craft one that’s memorable and impactful.

What to include in a resumé for graduate school

In general, your grad school resumé will be similar to a resumé you’d create when applying for a job. Keep in mind, however, that this document should be tailored to your desired program of study in order to show the admissions team that you’re a good fit.

Your graduate school resumé should include:

  • A header, including basic information like your name and email address
  • Your education history, including your undergraduate degree and institution
  • Relevant experiences, such as current or previous professional roles, internships, and leadership experience
  • Research and publications, including any research projects, articles, or other publications you’ve contributed to through your academic or professional career
  • Skills and certifications, especially those closely related to your field of study
  • Volunteering and extracurricular activities, if applicable to your program of interest

If you’re unsure whether a particular experience or skill should be included on your resumé, ask yourself how it relates to the program or institution that you’re applying to. If it doesn’t speak directly to your interests and strengths, it’s likely unnecessary to include.

Writing your grad school resumé: 5 tips for success

1. Tailor your resumé to the program

When graduate schools review your resumé, they’re weighing the relevancy of your previous experience and education with the program you’re applying to. In other words, they want to see a correlation between what you’ve done and where you’re going.

Review the homepage of the program you’re interested in before writing your resumé. Some programs require two or three years of work experience or a portfolio, so make sure you qualify for the program you’re applying to.

2. Highlight all relevant experience

While some prospective students apply to grad school from the field, others apply to programs upon completion of their undergraduate degree. For this reason, not all students will have professional experience to list on their resumé — and that’s ok.

Other than professional experience, admissions committees are interested in volunteer work and internships you’ve completed. This experience is just as relevant. For all experience — professional or otherwise — it’s important to showcase the duties you performed in those roles, and both the hard and soft skills you learned. This might include leading teams or projects, honing communication skills, or specific software or programs you learned and became proficient in.

3. Showcase your skills

Your resumé should include a skills section that highlights technologies, skills, and other competencies relevant to the graduate program you’re applying to.

If you’re applying to the Master of Science in Computer Science program, for example, your resumé should list the programming languages you know (e.g. Python, C++, Ruby on Rails), computer applications you’ve used, and software or systems that you’re experienced in.

4. Include professional achievements

In addition to your experience and skills, admissions committees are interested in the professional certifications you earned, professional training you’ve completed, professional organizations of which you’re a member, and any instances in which you’ve been published.

Prospective students interested in a Master of Science in Human Resource Management should note their membership to the Society for Human Resource Management. These achievements and memberships add another dimension to your resumé, showcasing your efforts outside your job, volunteer work, or internships to further your career and improve your experience.

5. Keep it clean

Your grad school resumé should be succinct, only rarely exceeding one page. It should go without saying, too, that your resumé should be clean, well-formatted, easy-to-read, and free of typos or grammatical errors.

“We’re looking for a well-organized resumé that shows that care has been taken in creating it,” says Jared Pierce, former associate director of enrollment quality assurance at Northeastern University. “Don’t just list out your experience in bullet points; tell us what duties you performed and how it correlates to the program you’re applying to. Your resumé is a reflection of you — we want to see that it’s polished and detailed, and understand what your background is like and what your experiences have been.”

Good luck writing your grad school resumé!

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