Whether you’re looking to start your Ph.D. or you’re an experienced professional in your academic field, navigating academic expectations and standards can feel overwhelming when preparing your CV.
And, like it or not, a CV can be the difference between landing the position you have your eyes set on or your application going completely unnoticed.
But there’s good news.
We’ve prepared a detailed guide to turn your CV into a compelling presentation of your accomplishments and academic potential and help you take the next step in your academic career.
Some things we’re going to cover include:
- Academic CV Example
- How to Format an Academic CV
- 11 Academic CV Layout Tips
- Academic CV Templates
- What to Include in an Academic CV
Let’s get started!
Academic CV Example
Here’s a great academic CV example made with our very own CV builder:
The CV example above covers the candidate’s entire educational history, is formatted the right way, and has all the other essential experiences documented.
Want your academic CV to look just as impressive?
Browse our free templates!
How to Format an Academic CV
The first thing you want to do is pick the right format for your academic CV.
You want your CV to be well-structured and easy to read, as well as to highlight your greatest achievements to date.
This is where the reverse-chronological CV format comes in.
It’s the most popular format out there, and since it starts with your most recent experiences and works its way back, it also does a great job showing off your most recent achievements first.
While different formats may apply to other job hunts, academics should always stick to this classic CV format.
Academic CV Vs Resume
If this is your first time preparing an academic CV, you might be wondering - what is a CV anyway?
The term CV is an abbreviation of the Latin words Curriculum Vitae, and it means “the course of your life”.
Across most of the world, the differences between a CV and a resume are superficial if you’re applying for most jobs.
But in the academic context, a CV is a very in-depth document.
Essentially, your CV is a comprehensive description of everything you’ve ever done. It details your work experience, education, all the achievements you’re proud of, and any publications you have to your name.
Any time you accomplish something new, you should add it to your CV. This includes when you earn a new certificate, finish a new publication, or get a new job.
An academic CV is typically used for applying to post-graduate or graduate institutions, either as a student or as a faculty member. For some colleges, if it isn’t specified that a CV is necessary, you can use a college application resume instead.
Here’s a visual representation of how a CV is different from a resume:
In academic CVs, education comes before work experience, which is the opposite of the typical resume rule. In fact, work experience might not even make the cut if it isn’t relevant to the academic position you’re applying for.
11 Academic CV Layout Tips
There are several things you should keep in mind when making your academic CV, starting with:
- Keep it visually simple. An academic CV is not the place to show how creative you are with design and colors. Keep the background plain white, with only one or two complementary colors at most to highlight section headings, icons, and links.
- Use the right font style and size. Some CV fonts should never make it to an academic CV. Sticking to a professional font is the way to go. When it comes to size, use 10-12 pt for the main body of your text. Your headings and subheadings can be between 14 and 16 pt, but make sure to keep the font size consistent throughout the CV.
- Make the CV as long as necessary. The goal of an academic CV is to list your whole career path, so there’s no limit to how long a CV should be. Use as many pages as you need to show everything relevant to your career so far.
- Tailor the CV to the position. Research your employer beforehand. Find out what the department you’re applying for values and is looking for, and emphasize that in your CV. Your most impressive and relevant accomplishments should always go first, so if they want experienced educators, put your professional appointments or teaching experience before your other achievements.
- Stay concise. There’s no need to overexplain your academic record or use bullet points to list all your achievements in each education or work entry. A couple of short sentences that convey the point are enough.
- Skip irrelevant information. If you had a part-time job while getting through college, you shouldn’t list it unless it’s related to your field of study. When applying for a position as a professor of mathematics, mentioning your brief teenage gig as a cashier is irrelevant. But your time spent tutoring classmates could make the cut.
- Avoid field jargon. Everyone should have an easy time reading your CV, not just experts in your field. University admissions departments, grant reviewers, and hiring committees alike may not be well-versed in your field but they will be reviewing your application, so make it as accessible as possible.
- Touch base with advisors. Every academic department has a slightly different way of doing things when it comes to CVs. After all, arts and humanities differ from economics, sciences, and mathematics. Expand your professional network and talk to someone more experienced in the field you’re applying for to clear up any confusion.
- Save your CV in the right format. Unless stated otherwise, always save your CV as a PDF. It’s the best file format guaranteed to keep your CV looking as you intended it across any software or device, whereas Word or Google Doc files might be skewed.
- Name the file appropriately. This might be a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning. The file containing your CV should be named some variation of your full name, rather than a placeholder name. E.g. John-Doe-Academic-CV.pdf, not draft1final.pdf
- Adjust the file size. If you’re sending your CV through an application portal, there might be a file size limit. Consider compressing your documents with a tool like ILOVEPDF.
Academic CV Templates
You can gain a competitive advantage not just from what your academic CV contains, but also from how it looks.
So, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, take your CV design to the next level with one of our templates.
Our professional CV builder comes with a dozen of modern and professional CV templates you can choose from to easily make a detailed CV while keeping your formatting intact.
Any of Novorésumé’s templates can be adapted to suit your needs, whether you’re a research candidate or an academic looking to become a tenured professor.
What to Include in an Academic CV
The academic CV has many of the same sections as a resume. They include:
- Contact Information
- Work Experience
But there are also some critical differences between the two.
For starters, academic CVs put education above work experience. This is especially important when it comes to Ph.D. candidates since research is at the forefront of their position.
Some sections which are considered optional for resumes are mandatory for an academic CV. Examples of this include publications, conferences, or research experience.
Overall, an academic CV should include the following sections, in this order:
- Contact Information
- Personal Profile/Research Objective
- Professional Appointments
- Grants and Fellowships
- Awards and Honors
- Conferences and Talks
- Teaching Experience
- Research Experience
- Other Activities
- Hobbies and Interests
If you don’t have enough experience in one of the sections listed, there’s no need to add those to your CV. For example, if you don’t have any fellowships or conferences to showcase, you can just skip those sections.
Now, let’s break down how each CV section should be written:
#1. Contact Information
This section should be the easiest to spot, so it should always go at the top of your CV.
Here’s what you should include in the contact information section of an academic CV:
- Full Name. It’s recommended that you use your name as it is in your passport, including any middle names, particularly if you’re a Ph.D. candidate. Adding your middle name or even just the initial to your CV is only optional if you’re already an established academic, and it’s necessary if your middle name is included in your formal academic name.
- Professional Title and Affiliation. If you’re a professor, this is where you should list your title, as well as the institution you’re affiliated with.
- Institutional Address. This should be the mailing address of the institution you’re formally affiliated with or based in. For example, if you’re an assistant researcher at the University of Columbia, you want to give the university’s exact mailing address.
- Home address. Provide your home mailing address.
- Email address. If you have a formal email address provided by the institution you’re affiliated with, you should list that. If not, use a personal email address with some variation of your first and last name (e.g. email@example.com).
- Telephone number. Be sure to include the international dialing code for your number, especially if you’re applying for a position abroad.
- Optional links. For some fields, such as business and marketing, a LinkedIn profile fits in, while for IT-related departments, GitHub can be more appropriate. Other academics could benefit from adding a Google Scholar or ORCiD profile.
Your academic name should be consistent throughout your career as that’s how you’ll be credited when your research is used. If you legally change your name during the course of your career, you might want to keep your academic name the same as it was when you started.
#2. Personal Statement or Research Objective
The next thing you want the admissions committee to see is a short paragraph at the top of your CV, similar to a resume profile.
This short pitch can be a personal statement or research objective, depending on what you’re applying for exactly.
If you’re applying for a research position, such as a Ph.D. or a grant, you should write a research objective. Even if you’ve provided a different document that already details your research goals, your CV’s objective should provide a concise summary that outlines your plans.
Here’s an example of a research objective on an academic CV:
Nutrition and Dietology MA student at Harvard University. Graduated BA in Psychology magna cum laude. Looking to undertake postgraduate research on the connection between digestive inflammation and mental health in adolescents in the USA in the twenty-first century.
A personal statement, on the other hand, consists of a few brief sentences that summarize your academic background and biggest achievements. It’s meant to highlight the essential experiences, skills, and qualities that make you the right candidate for the position.
Take a look at this personal statement for inspiration:
Innovative researcher and lecturer with 6+ years of experience teaching courses on undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Supervised 11 BA theses, 4 MA theses, and 1 Ph.D. dissertation. Published over 17 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 3 books.
The most important part of any academic CV is the education section.
It’s no coincidence that this comes listed before any practical work experience. Academic achievements are valued in academia, and your CV is the place to make yours shine.
Your education should always be listed chronologically, with your most recent degree at the top.
List the information on each entry in the following order:
- Name of the degree. E.g. B.A. English Language, Literature, and Culture
- Name of the department. (Optional) E.g. Department of Linguistics and Literature
- Name of the educational institution. E.g. University of Groningen
- Years attended. If you haven’t graduated yet, you can write down the year of expected graduation. E.g. 2020 - 2024
- Honors. While honors are optional in other fields, academics would do well to include them. E.g. Magna Cum Laude.
- Relevant courses. (Optional) The courses you’ve taken could be useful if they’re relevant to the exact position you’re applying for.
- Dissertation. Provide the full title of your dissertation or project.
- Location of the program. (Optional) If the university or school you attended is less renowned, you can specify its location. E.g. University of Marmara, Istanbul, Turkey
- GPA. (Optional) You should only list your GPA if it’s over 3.5, otherwise, it won’t add to your CV’s academic shine. But adding your GPA isn’t necessary for an experienced candidate at all. If it’s been more than five years since you graduated, or you already have honors listed, it’s not something that you should add to your CV.
Here’s an example of education listed on an academic CV:
Ph.D. in French Literature
Department of Linguistics and Literature
University of Maine
2021 - Present
MA in Literary Theory
Department of Linguistics and Literature
Magna Cum Laude
University of Maine
2019 - 2021
Dissertation: The blend of culture, activism, and art in the early work of Richard Guidry
BA in English Language, Literature, and Culture
Louisiana State University
2016 - 2019
- Literary analysis, Phonology, Cultural Theory, French language, Cajun Poetry
#4. Professional Appointments
If you already have the necessary experience in academia under your belt, make a section for your professional appointments.
This should include:
- Position. E.g. Professor of History.
- Name of the institution. E.g. King’s College, London
- Dates employed. E.g. 2015 - 2022
- Description and achievements. Use short paragraphs to describe your professional appointments, not bullet points.
Professor of Architecture
The University of Montana, 2017 - 2023
- Taught 15 undergraduate and 12 postgraduate courses, mainly focused on the history of architecture and principles of interior design.
- Supervised 9 BA and 5 MA theses.
As you can see, this section is similar to how a work experience section would be formatted in a resume.
It’s important to remember that this section pertains exclusively to contracted, professional appointments in universities and similar institutions.
It’s not meant to describe all of your teaching experience, so don’t detail your time as a Teaching Assistant (TA), adjunct professor, or any part-time teaching job. You have the opportunity to do that in a separate section later on in your CV.
Professional appointments take years, hard work, and academic recognition to achieve, so this section is where your career progression can shine. While most academics have experience teaching as TAs during the pursuit of their Ph.D., that experience should be in a separate teaching experience section further down your academic CV.
Has one of your former students reached out to you for help with their postgrad application? Check out our guide on how to write a stellar letter of recommendation.
Having published research brings a lot of value to your academic reputation and, by extension, to your CV. Publications show you’ve done research that’s given back to your field and that you’re a dedicated academic.
In fact, if you’re already an established expert in your field, this section can even be listed ahead of professional appointments or education. Publications in peer-reviewed journals have a lot of value since they’re difficult to achieve.
Your publications should be divided by “peer-reviewed” and “other”, and then further subcategorized by where they were published. Examples include:
- Book chapters
- Book reviews
- Contributions to edited volumes
- Web-based publications
Provide full citations for each of your publications, and list them in their respective categories by year of publication.
When citing journals and edited volumes, authorship is usually listed by order of contribution. If your paper is the third in the publication listed, your name should be third in the citation. You can underline your name for each of your publications to highlight which contribution is yours.
However, some fields, like mathematics, always list authors alphabetically. In any case, ensure you’re consistent with your citation format throughout your whole academic CV.
If you have publications under review, you can still list them on your CV. Provide the citation as you usually would but swap out the year of publication for “in press”.
But your publications section shouldn’t necessarily include a full bibliography. If you’re a frequently published writer, make sure to limit your listed publications to the most relevant and recent titles.
Let’s see how this section looks on an academic CV:
- Smith, J. (in press). The Mythical Beasts of French Literature: Uncovering Symbolism and Allegory in Magical Creatures. Journal of French Literary Studies, 46(3), 157-179.
- Rousseau, P., Smith, J., & Dubois, M. (2022). Love, Longing, and Lost Letters: Exploring Epistolary Narratives in 18th-Century French Literature. Studies in French Literature and Culture, 27(2), 82-102.
- Smith, J., Martin, L., & Dupont, C. (2021). From Boulevards to Backstreets: Urban Imagery and Identity in Contemporary French Literature. Modern French Studies, 58(4), 223-245.
#6. Grants and Fellowships
This section showcases that your research is deemed valuable enough to fund.
Grants and fellowships on an academic CV are must-haves, as they show agencies and admissions committees that you’re equipped to conduct future research projects successfully.
Depending on how many grants you’ve received or applied for, you can divide them into subcategories for “Active Grants”, “Pending Grants”, and “Completed Grants”.
In each subsection, list the grants in reverse chronological order with the following information:
- Name of institution. Provide the name of the institution which provided the funding.
- Duration of funding. Use the dd/mm/yyyy format. E.g. 15/03/2020 - 15/06/2023
- Role and effort. (Optional) If applicable, give the specific role you were given on the approved grant and what percentage of the total work was designated to you.
- Monetary value. (Optional) Mentioning the monetary value is field-specific, so consider checking in with other experts in your field before adding it.
Simple enough, right? Now let’s see it in practice.
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) - “Challenge America”
01/2021 - 07/2021
- Project Title: Sunshine Street
- Project summary: Facilitated outdoor workshops and organized art programs for children from families below the poverty line in Middleton, NY.
#7. Awards and Honors
A little showing-off never hurts when it comes to an academic CV.
Take your time to list the awards and honors you’ve received so far, including any scholarships. Start with the latest additions first and work your way back.
Be sure to include:
- Name of the award. E.g. The RSPB medal
- Year it was received. E.g. 2023
- The institution it was presented by. E.g. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- A brief description. (Optional) If the name isn’t clear enough, you can give a brief introduction to what the award was for.
Here’s an example:
The RSPB medal, 2023
- The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ most prestigious medal, which is awarded annually to a single individual in recognition of wild bird protection and countryside conservation.
- Awarded for research on the decline of the hawfinch and proposals for reintroduction to its once-native woodlands. The project was successful, with over 45 hawfinch families now nested in Leicestershire.
#8. Conferences and Talks
If you’ve been invited to speak at conferences or as a guest lecturer at other institutions, you should dedicate a special section to it in your CV.
Use subcategories to list them, such as:
- Campus Talks. You lectured at your home institution’s campus.
- Invited Talks. You lectured at other institutions or conferences.
- Conference attendance. You participated in a conference but didn’t give a lecture.
Then list each talk and conference, including the following information:
- Name of the institution. E.g. Queen Mary University of London
- Location. E.g. London, United Kingdom
- Department. If applicable, such as in the case of a university guest talk. E.g. The Department of History.
- Dates. Use the dd/mm/yyyy format.
- Title or brief description. Usually, the title is descriptive enough but if you have space, you can clarify the topic of the event.
- Presentation type. (Optional) This applies to conferences, as they can be a session talk, plenary lecture, or other.
Depending on the amount of experience you have with conferences and talks, you could separate them into one section for Conferences, and a separate section for Talks. Keep one section for conferences where you participated but weren’t a speaker, and one for events where you lectured.
Do you have an upcoming conference or talk? Plan ahead and check out 12 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills [for Work & Life]!
#9. Teaching Experience
With academic CVs, work experience is divided into distinct sections, such as:
- Professional appointments
- Teaching experience
- Research experience
- Other work experience
If you already have experience as a contracted professor, that should be listed in your professional appointments section at the start of your CV.
For aspiring professors, though, the first of these sections should be teaching experience.
This is where you can list any TA or adjunct professor positions in reverse chronological order, and mention the courses you’ve taught.
Provide the following information for each entry:
- Name of the institution. E.g. University of Ohio
- Department. E.g. The Department of History and Classics
- Courses. E.g. Roman Poetry of the Republican Period
- Dates taught. Use the mm/yyyy format. E.g. 09/2017 - 06/2020
- Type. Specify if the course was undergraduate or graduate, and whether the course was taught in person or online.
- Duties. (Optional) For TA positions, you should only include your duties if your institution required you to create and teach your own courses.
If you have a lot of experience in this section, tailor it according to your application.
There’s no need to include all the courses you’ve taught if their number is in the double digits. Focus only on the top ten courses that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Alternatively, if you’re an experienced academic and your professional appointments section already details enough courses, you can be brief here. Just list the institutions where you were a TA and the dates you taught there.
Here’s an example of how to list teaching experience:
Queen Mary’s College, London
Department of History and Classics
01/2022 - present
- Designed courses on Ancient Roman History and Culture, adjusted to students majoring in Art History, Classics, and Theology. Supervised undergraduate dissertations and assessed students’ performance in class.
- Postgraduate courses: Late Roman Mithraism, Imperial Symbolism in Eastern Roman Mosaics
- Undergraduate courses: Roman Poetry of the Republican Period, Latin Grammar, Introduction to Catullus
- Online courses: Roman Orientalism: The Allure of the East
If you’re using your CV to apply for a position at the beginning of your academic career, you might not have any teaching experience yet.
In that case, you can either list informal experience, such as tutoring, or you can remove the section altogether.
Thinking of applying for a job as a teacher? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to write a teacher resume with examples and templates.
#10. Research Experience
Any academic research position is welcome in this section. Start with your most recent post and work your way back.
Be sure to include:
- Name of the institution. E.g. Lund University
- Position. E.g. Research Assistant.
- Dates. E.g. 06/2019 - 08/2021
- Description. Specify the research question and explain how the research was conducted, and what methodologies you used.
If you’re an experienced researcher, you should only list the following positions:
- Full-time Researcher
- Research Associate
- Research Assistant
Here’s how to list it on your academic CV:
09/2017 - 07/2019
- Collected field samples of fungi on expeditions.
- Analyzed mycelium production in different environments.
- Conducted detailed reports on the effects of fungal spores on the human respiratory system and their potential medicinal uses.
For graduates who don’t have experience yet, any research projects can be listed, not just formal research positions.
#11. Other Activities
This is a versatile section where you can list other optional but relevant information. You can divide your entries here into as many subsections as you deem necessary.
Some activities you can list are:
- Professional service. This can include conferences you’ve organized, journals you review for, students you’ve mentored, public outreach programs, and more.
- Professional memberships. If you’re a member of an association or council, you can mention it in this section. E.g. Voting member of ICOM (International Council of Museums) since 2016.
- Other qualifications. All other certifications, licenses, or qualifications go here.
- Extracurricular university activities. Any clubs or communities you were part of while pursuing your degree can make an appearance here.
- Media coverage. Any coverage you’ve received in the media, including talk show attendance or magazine interviews.
- Non-academic work. If you worked in a corporate environment before switching to academia, any of that work experience would be listed here.
Since these sections are all optional, it’s best to only add impressive activities. Your time as an au pair during your gap year isn’t as interesting as the time you were interviewed for your innovative research.
The rule of thumb for language skills is that you should only list those you know well enough to read academic texts.
List languages by including your proficiency, starting with your native language. Depending on your field or country of origin, you might want to use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERFL) to indicate your level of proficiency.
If you’ve studied one or two foreign languages, you can list your fluency level for reading, writing, and speaking for each. If you’ve studied more than that, you can summarize your fluency with the appropriate CERFL score.
It’s generally best not to list a language if you’re a complete beginner in it. This section is also optional, so if you don’t know any foreign languages, you can skip it entirely.
As a general rule, academic CVs shouldn’t list any skills.
Unlike in the corporate world, where adding skills to your resume is crucial, in academia, it might seem unprofessional.
However, exceptions are made for scientific and technical fields. If the position you’re applying for requires specialized methods that are worth listing, dedicate a section to highlight those skills.
#14. Hobbies and Interests
Another optional section is hobbies and interests.
These can be personal, professional, or research interests. Generally, it’s best to only mention hobbies and interests that are relevant to your field, if any at all.
For example, if you’re interested in historical reenactments, it might add more value to your application to the Department of History. But for a mathematician, it’s irrelevant.
At the end of your academic CV, you can optionally include a list of references.
Choose a few people who are familiar with your work and can refer you. List them vertically and provide the following information for each entry:
- Full name and title. E.g. Jane Donovan, Ph.D.
- Mailing address. This should be a work address, rather than a personal one.
- Telephone number. Be sure to include the country dial code, especially if your CV is going to be reviewed abroad.
- Email address. List their professional email address, not a personal email.
Here’s how it should look on your CV:
Jane Donovan, Ph.D.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Massachusetts
73 Einkorn street
Amherst, MA 94720-3840
Attach an Academic Cover Letter
An academic CV is only one part of your application. Make sure to also include an academic cover letter so you come across as a professional and well-prepared candidate.
Depending on the nature of your application and your field, you might have to write an academic personal statement or an academic cover letter.
The difference between the two is that an academic personal statement focuses primarily on the applicant, and is meant to highlight your knowledge, expertise, and strengths.
The academic cover letter, on the other hand, focuses on the job you are applying for and on what makes you the proper candidate for that job.
Here are the steps you need to follow to write one:
- Choose a cover letter template that matches your CV.
- Provide all the essential details in the header. These should include your contact information, such as your full name, phone number, mailing address, and email address.
- Address the letter to the admissions officer or other appropriate recipient. Include their title, email address, institution name and department, and mailing address. Then add a date to your letter right after.
- Start with a formal opening line, such as “To whom it may concern.”
- Write an attention-grabbing introduction explaining why you’re writing.
- In the body of your cover letter, expand on why you’re the right candidate for the position and why you’re a good choice for the institution you’re applying to.
- Summarize your key points, and use a call to action that asks the reader to take some sort of action, such as calling or otherwise contacting you.
- Finish your letter with the appropriate closing line, such as “Best Regards,” or “Sincerely.”
Are you applying for your postgraduate research degree? Check out our detailed guide to writing a motivational letter for a Ph.D. candidate!
And that’s our guide to academic CVs! Hopefully, you’ll be more confident when writing your CV and applying for that academic position you have your eye on.
To be on the safe side, let’s recap some of the main points we discussed:
- Academic CVs are used for faculty and research applications in universities. These CVs should highlight education, publications, teaching, research, and other experiences and achievements relevant to the position, not skills or general work experience.
- There’s no page limit you have to be wary of when writing your CV. Academics don’t have to worry about Applicant Tracking Systems rejecting their CV or that a hiring manager might only skim through the contents and discard it without reading.
- The sections on your CV are listed in order of importance, depending on the position you’re applying for. The top sections are usually Education, Publications, Professional appointments, and Teaching or Research experience.
- Be sure to pair your CV with an appropriate Motivational Letter, Personal Statement, or any other document relevant to your application.