HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu

Curriculum Vitae

Differences Between a Résumé and Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Résumés and CVs, in the United States, are similar but not necessarily interchangeable. Resumes are 1-2 page shorthand documents containing relevant information, whereas CVs are exhaustive, a bit more autobiographical, and can be very, very long. Which should you use? The one the employer asks for, of course. Depending on your discipline, field or career you might have one or the other, or even both (and versions thereof). For instance, a nurse might use a resume to apply for a hospital job and a CV to apply for a nursing professorship in a college. Pay attention to the expectancies of the situation for which you are creating the document.

CVs are most commonly used in higher education, research, and science fields, and have headings that contain lists of publications and presentations, classes taught and research projects. Most ABDs and recent PhDs have 2-3 page CVs that will only continue to grow in length over time.

Resumes for traditional-aged undergraduates are usually one page. A first reading of a resume can happen in seconds - less if the employer is using a resume database. Resumes contain only relevant information - and relevancy is determined by the situation for which the document is being written. If the resume has a second page, there is a strong chance that no one will even look at it the first time through, so the most important information needs to be arranged clearly on the first page.

Customizing CVs to Your Field and Potential Employers

Each discipline groups the relevant academic information in a curriculum vita a little differently. Talk with your professors, look at fellow grad students’ CVs, go online and look at CVs from potential colleagues at the institution you are applying to for examples. Once you have embarked upon your faculty, science or research career, your CV will not change so much as it will grow. But to get those first couple of jobs, you may want to pay particular attention to the priority of the employer’s needs as evidenced in the job opening description. Perhaps one institution focuses on teaching and another on research. Consider changing which heading comes first after the education section in your CV. If they are looking for specific experiences, such as “Community Involvement” or evidence of successful grant writing, make sure that information is easily accessible.

Sections of a CV

  • Applicant Contact Information
  • Education
  • Dissertation Title and Advisor (especially if ABD or recent PhD)
  • Teaching Experience
  • Research Experience
  • Awards/Honors/Patents
  • Grants/Fellowships
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Related Professional Experience
  • Memberships/Associations
  • Conferences
  • Languages/Travel/Study Abroad

Some Other CV Tips

  • All entries are in reverse chronological order beneath each heading.
  • Use one font type and stay between 10-14 point size.
  • It should be easy to read quickly; do not overuse bold/italics/underlines; beware crowding.
  • Include page numbers and applicant name on each page after the first.
  • Consistently format within a section the What/Where/When of each entry.
  • Use standard bibliographic form for publications.
  • Do not include marital status, race, religion, or place/date of birth.


List your references on a separate page, and include all useful contact information: address, phone, fax, and email. The letters of reference you will have been asked to send (Career Services has a Credentials Service) will arrive separately. This page is designed to serve as a quick and easy resource should they want to communicate directly with any of your advocates.

The Elements and How to Put Them Together


Listed below are the dozen plus categories of information, that are most often included in a CV (It is also useful to think of them as modules that can be moved around to suit particular openings and circumstances). It would be rare for someone to use all of them in a single CV.

Aside from the first three (identification, education, and dissertation) which generally lead, the order that follows depends on your own particular strengths and/or the nature of the job you are applying for. If you have published an article or won a prestigious fellowship, you want that right up front. If the position is at a small college that emphasizes teaching, than your teaching experience and any other evidence of close interaction with students should follow the first two slots.

There is no standard format or recipe. Remember, the key organizing principle behind your CV is what will make the most effective presentation of your ability to fulfill the requirements of the job at hand. Consequently, you should expect to have anywhere between two and five versions of your CV by the end of the application process. In addition, some disciplines have idiosyncratic conventions about how certain types of information should be conveyed. Be sure to have your CV reviewed by a member of your department before sending it out into the great beyond.

Personal Information

The CV is always headed with your name and contact information including address, phone number and email. Graduate students often include an institutional address as well (their department or lab) to indicate their on-going affiliation with the university. Your name should stand out in some fashion using a combination of ALL CAPS, bold, and/or larger font size. You should also put your first initial and last name plus the page number at the top right of every page after the first. At some point in the process, the sheets of your CV will have to be unstapled in order to make copies, and we don't want your first page attached to someone else's second.

The phone number listed should have an answering machine that can be accessed from any touch tone phone and has a professional sounding message that preferably includes your full name.

You should not include information about your age, marital status, children, or place of birth.

Jayne Smith
4268 Arch Street
Amherst, MA 01002
(510) 868-4260


Department of Comparative Literature
408 Herter  #2570
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003



For graduate students and PhDs with less than two or three years of experience beyond UMass, your educational background comes next both because it is the primary qualification you bring to the job and because your PhD is from an institution that represents a powerful, positive imprimatur in most disciplines.

Your degrees should be listed in reverse chronological order. If you are ABD, put (expected) after May 1999 or December 1999 and be prepared to explain the basis for your confidence that you can finish by that date. If you graduated with Latin honors and/or Phi Beta Kappa from your undergraduate institution and don't plan on having a separate honors section, you can list them after the undergraduate degree.

You need not list every college and university you have attended. If you spent a year at another institution in the course of your graduate studies without receiving a degree and think it helps you, list it under UMass. If not, forget about it. If you went to two undergraduate institutions, you need list only the one from which you received your degree. If, however, you went to a small, liberal arts college and then transferred to a large university and are applying to a similar small college, you may want to include it in order to be able to say in your cover letter that, based on your experience, you understand the particular needs and opportunities of such an institution as opposed to the very different demands of a large, research university.



University of Massachusetts Amherst
Anthropology, May 2010.


Universität de Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, BRD
Visiting Scholar, 2008-2009


University of California, Berkeley
Anthropology, May 2005.


Occidental College, Phi Beta Kappa
History, 1994.



Next to your academic pedigree, the nature of your dissertation and the reputation of your advisors are usually the most important feature of your CV. The title should be set off in a way that makes it easy to read, and, unless the conventions of your discipline are to the contrary, list all of the members of your committee and not just your chair. They all represent an endorsement of your work as a scholar, and the other members may be more recognizable to members of the search committee outside of your specialty than your chair. Even if you attach an abstract, think about including a brief two to five line description of the work, especially if the title does not convey the subject matter. Especially at smaller schools, most readers will not be very familiar with your area of expertise. Make it easy for them.

Some people include the title of their master's thesis, especially if it communicates expertise in an area germane to the job description. In this case it is easier to have the dissertation and thesis information fall under each degree. It is also common practice in many disciplines to list your examination fields in this section of the CV.



University of Massachusetts Amherst
Political Science, 2005


Creating Comparative Advantage: The Development of the South Korean Automobile Industry
Chalmers Johnson (chair), Martin Landau, and Kim Voss


Examination Fields: Comparative Politics, East Asia, Methodology 


University of California, Berkeley
Political Science, 1999


The Politics of Neo-Classical Economic Development Models
 J. Das Gupta


Occidental College
Economics, 1992 

What follows next depends on your strengths and the type of position the CV is being used for. The idea is to have a strategy for a given set of jobs and design the CV as part of the means of implementing that strategy. If you have two or more honors/fellowships (especially prestigious and competitive ones) create a separate section and put them front and center. If you have even one publication in a reputable journal (especially in a field where they are rare for someone at your stage) get it on the first page. If you have extensive teaching experience and/or awards and it is for schools that values teaching highly put it next. What do you want them to know about you?


List your awards in reverse chronological order. Don't overestimate the recognizability of your awards and honors beyond your immediate circle. Include enough information for the reader to understand the magnitude and importance of especially noteworthy ones.

Chancellor's Fellowship for Dissertation Research, University of Massachusetts Amherst   2009-2010
One of three awarded campus-wide from over two hundred submissions.

Again you are looking to distinguish yourself. This is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments.

Teaching Experience & Interests

For many schools this category is of paramount importance so take the time to clearly convey the depth and breadth of your experience. Graduate students at UMass Amherst teach in a range of capacities and with differing levels of responsibilities, but, almost inevitably, all of this experience is grouped under formal title of Teaching Assistant. At one end of the spectrum, teaching assistants are adjuncts who follow in the wake of the professor (though often times the person following the circus elephant with a shovel may seem a more apt analogy). At the other end, instructors are professors absent the PhD running their own courses with little or no supervision. To more accurately communicate the nature and extent of you experience you may use the following four categories:

  • Teaching Assistants: Run sections/labs & Grade problem sets, papers and exams
  • Teaching Associates: Give lectures to the whole class (15-49 percent of the total) Have some influence on the content of the syllabus Run sections/labs & Grade problem sets, papers and exams
  • Lecturers: Give at least half the lectures Have some influence on the content of the syllabus Run sections/labs & Grade problem sets, papers and exams
  • Instructors: Give most or all of the lectures Have substantial influence on the content of the syllabus Run sections/labs & Grade problem sets, papers and exams

If you have a lot of teaching experience, think about breaking it out by level of responsibility. In a similar manner, separate teaching experience at Berkeley from courses taught at other institutions, especially if they offered the opportunity to develop your own syllabi and lecturing ability.

When you describe courses, don't bother to list Berkeley course numbers, and if the formal title doesn't convey all of the relevant information, add a descriptive line.

Teaching Experience

Occidental College, Department of English, Spring 2003
European Cultures II - The Enlightenment to the Present
Team-taught, multidisciplinary survey course required for all freshmen.

Contested Territories: Ethnic/Racial Literatures of the U.S. "Southwest"
Upper Division; study of texts which treat the "Southwest" as a determining and originary site of cultural interaction and expressive production.

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of English, 1999-2003
Junior Seminar - The Augustan Age
Intensive study of critical and methodological problems in the study of literature.

Teaching Assistant
Reading and Composition - Lawyers & the Law in Contemporary Society
Reading and Composition - Travel Fiction of the Nineteenth Century
American Literature: Before 1800 (Upper Division)

If you have teaching experience in a course or sub-field that is rare and possibly more sought after (such as methodology and/or quantitative analysis in many of the social sciences) make sure it is clear from the course description. If you have only limited teaching experience or if most of it was in courses other than those you want to teach in the future, you can add a section that lists teaching interests either in the form of broad areas (19th Century American Literature) and/or as course titles. Possible headings for this section include: Teaching Interests or Prepared to Teach. If the you are using the CV for a job which calls for teaching in an area you have not taught before but are confident you could handle, help demonstrate this ability by listing specific courses you would offer in that sub-field. If the list of courses you are prepared to teach is lengthy, you may want to list them on a separate sheet.

Scholarly Development: Publications, Work Submitted, Work in Progress and Research Interests

These elements of your CV, in addition to your dissertation, collectively testify to your development as a scholar and a nascent member of a scholarly community. ABDs especially should not be overly distracted by the compulsion to have something in one or more of these categories. The most important academic credential you will bring to the job market is a compelling, completed dissertation that produces strong letters of recommendation and generates interest and respect among others working in your field.

Publications, Creative Work

If you have publications (especially in a refereed journal) even if they are only book reviews, they nonetheless demonstrate engagement in the profession. Publications should be listed in reverse chronological order with a full citation. If you have a refereed article or a chapter in an edited volume, you may want to break it out from other, less rarefied publications.

For books and journal articles, use the bibliographic conventions of your field.  Examples of other common, graduate student publications are listed below.  For rarer, more exotic forms, check chapter six of the Chicago Manual of Style available at the reference desk of most libraries.

Book Review
Review of Asia's Next Giant, by Alice Amsden, Journal of Japanese Studies, XXI (Winter 1996): 237-239.

Co-Authored Article
Andrew E. Green and William Rose, "The Professor's Dream: Getting Students to Talk and Read Intelligently," Political Science, 97 (December 1996): 1287-89.

Chapter in an Edited Book
"Thursday Nights at the Providence Bridge Club." In Post-War Rhode Island Cultural History, edited by G. Sheldon Lowell, Providence: The Friar Press, 1996.

Monograph Published as a Part of a Series
Identity Against Ideology: Multiculturalism in the Post-Modern Age, Townsend Center for the Humanities Occasional Papers, no. 13, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.

If you work in a field where publications are not the primary means of scholarly or creative expression, or if much of your work appears in a new or unusual form (e.g., software or published on the internet); make sure to take a couple of lines to explain its significance. The is particularly important if departments in your field tend to be small because the search committee that receives your CV is likely to contain people who either haven't been involved in a search for a while or are seconded from other departments.

If you have had an article or chapter accepted for publication, but it has not yet appeared, you may list it under publications with "forthcoming" replacing the publication date. You should only do this if your work has in fact been accepted, and not if it has only been submitted or is under review.

Many journals will allow graduate students to write book reviews, and you may be tempted to do so to gain a "publication" and a free book. Beware. Book reviews can be very time-consuming, and take away the energy you need to devote to your dissertation. A negative book review in an innocuous-sounding journal can also thrust you into a political/ideological maelstrom far beyond your expectations. The prudent, potential reviewer will talk to their advisor before venturing forth.

Most new PhDs don't have publications, and there are other ways of demonstrating scholarly engagement. If one or more of your chapters stands alone as an interesting article and you have submitted them to a journal, you can list them under a heading titled Work Submitted for Publication. List them in bibliographic form with a phrase describing its current status (e.g., under review or accepted pending revisions).

Works in Progress
If you're not ready to send articles out, but know how you want to frame your work when you do submit it at a later date, you can list prospective titles in a Works in Progress section. If you have finished your dissertation, you can use this section to indicate the anticipated direction of your future research.

Research Interests

More general than the preceding categories, this rubric allows you to communicate areas of interest and future research without having to commit to specific titles or circumscribed topics. Be prepared to discuss the areas of interest you list at a general level in an interview, and to indicate the relationship between them and your previous work.

Scholarly Development: Presentations

Another marker of professional development is giving presentations at conferences, colloquia, and meetings. Whether at the national, regional or local level, meetings and conferences offer the opportunity to present and get feedback on your work, meet others involved in similar research, and practice your presentation skills. They also serve as evidence of your ability and desire to enter into the scholarly fray.

List all the papers and presentations you have delivered or will deliver, along with the names, dates, and locations of the conferences or meetings where you presented the work. If you have given a number of presentations at regional and national meetings, you may want to pull out the presentations at national meetings or other venues where there is a screening process and some degree of competition. Formal presentations at a workshop or colloquium at UMass count as well; go ahead and list them.

Professional Affiliations

List memberships in all major professional associations. If you have been active in one or more, you may want to describe the nature of your involvement.

Professional Training

List any special training you have received through your department, the university or some other professional organization. Such training might include courses on teaching, quantitative methods, computer applications, etc.

Quantitative Methodology Summer Workshop: Statistics & Formal Modeling
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2000


In many fields, languages are a marker of the scholarly caste, even if you do not use them in your research. In recent years, some schools have received foundation funding for courses (or more often, parts of courses) taught in a foreign language (e.g., Latin American Social Movements with a weekly meeting conducted in Spanish), and are on the lookout for with the ability to participate in such programs. Provide some indication of your level of expertise.

Other Professional Experience

If you have experience (either paid or volunteer) that is relevant to you work as an academic, list it here. For example, if your field is education and you served on the board of a charter school, or if you are in Asian studies and worked as an associate director of the Japan Society of Western Massachusetts. If the connection between your professional experience and your current field is readily apparent, briefly explain it. If you can't, it probably doesn't belong here.

University/Department/Professional Service

If you have served on any committees, or in any appointed or elected positions, go ahead and list them. If you have helped found or expand a study group, committee, or other organization and your work there demonstrates your initiative and ability to make things happen, convey that vitality in your description.


List your references on a separate page, and include all useful contact information: address, phone, fax, and email. Your letters will arrive separately. This page is designed to serve as a quick and easy resource should they want to communicate directly with any of your advocates