Graduate Student CV Example
Written by Mike Potter, Author • Last updated on 3 July 2024

How to Write a Graduate Student CV, with Tips

If you’ve recently graduated and are hoping to continue your studies with a postgraduate course, it can be useful to know how to write a graduate CV. This can help you to show university admissions officers that you’re a suitable candidate for master’s or doctoral level study. In this article, we discuss how to create a graduate CV to showcase your skills and academic achievements, with tips and examples to help you achieve success in your applications.

What is a Graduate CV?

A graduate CV is a CV you might produce when you’re applying for further study beyond an undergraduate degree. Also called an academic CV, the document has a more educational emphasis than a standard CV, which tends to focus more on your work experience. The purpose of a graduate CV is to show university admissions staff that you’re the right candidate for postgraduate studies. You might typically prepare a graduate CV for admissions to a master’s course, or when applying for a PhD.

Key Sections to Include in a Graduate CV

Unlike a standard, reverse-chronological CV for use in job applications, a graduate CV focuses mainly on your educational achievements and academic background. Admissions teams will also want to understand why you’re applying for postgraduate studies, so you’ll need to state your research objectives or your ambitions for a career in academia. As you’ll see from the sections below, an academic CV is typically far longer and includes more details than a CV for job applications.

Below are the sections to include in your graduate CV for postgraduate course applications or research positions. Depending on your levels of experience in academia, it might not be necessary to include all these sections. Only add them if you have something relevant to mention.

CV header

In your CV header, add your basic contact and personal information. Include your name, any professional titles or affiliations, your address (both home, and institutional if you’re currently attached to a university), your email address, your phone number and your LinkedIn profile, if you have one.

Research objective or CV summary

This section serves as a brief introduction to you and your academic ambitions. State your main areas of research interest, your key skills and what you hope to achieve in your academic career.

Here’s an example research objective for a graduate psychologist’s academic CV:

A dedicated and committed psychology graduate seeking Clinical Psychology PhD funding opportunities. Hoping to study and develop innovative therapeutic interventions for mood disorders, particularly major depressive disorder (MDD). Committed to contributing to the mental health knowledge base through rigorous research, effective treatment strategies, and collaboration with multidisciplinary teams.


Unlike the education sections of a CV for job applications, this section should offer a detailed history of your qualifications. For research fellowships and postdoctoral positions, go back as far as your undergraduate studies. For postgraduate courses, such as master’s and doctoral studies, you can go back further to include secondary school and A-level grades.

List your education in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent achievements. For each, list the course name, type of award, institution, location and your dates of study or graduation. You can also include details on any awards you won, dissertation topics or specialist subjects, and societies you were a member of.

Take a look at this example education section for a student applying for doctoral degrees:

MA Political Economy, The University of Manchester, September 2020 – July 2021

  • Received ‘merit’ grade
  • Dissertation on ‘Evaluating the Effectiveness of Austerity vs. Stimulus Measures in the European Union Post-2008’

BA (Hons) Social and Public Policy, University of York, September 2016 – June 2019

  • Achieved 2:1
  • Modules included ‘Economy and Society’, ‘Social Harm and Injustice’ and ‘Policy, Power and Social Progress’
  • Specialised in the study of policy related to criminal justice and inequality


List any academic papers or articles you’ve had published. These could be peer-reviewed publications or other articles you’ve published related to your studies or area of expertise.

Format your publications in the following way:

Hammond, T ‘Policy Responses to Climate Change: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Renewable Energy Policies in the UK and Scandinavia’ Journal of Climate Policy (2023) 24:6526-1854

If you have any experience teaching, or as a teaching assistant while you were studying, list them in this section. This section is different from your work experience section, where you would list teaching appointments if you’re a more experienced academic with greater teaching responsibilities. However, the format of this section can follow the same structure as a standard employment section:

Teaching Assistant, Department of Sociology, The University of Sussex, Brighton, November 2017 – June 2021

  • Supported lecturers to deliver core modules of the BA Sociology degree programme
  • Tutored 20+ students, marking their assignments, providing feedback and discussing dissertation topics
  • Delivered full seminar programme for modules ‘The Foundations of Sociological Thought’ and ‘Media in Contemporary Culture’

Awards, honours, grants and fellowships

You could include awards, honours, grants and fellowships in one section, or split them into two sections (awards and honours together, with grants and fellowships separately). Both sections show the recognition you’ve received from academic institutions, either with awards, or funding for research projects.

You can present these entries in your CV in a simple bullet list, as follows:

  • 2023 Helen Arnold Award for Best Dissertation in Biological Sciences, University of Bristol
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology

Professional associations

If you’re a member of any professional associations, you can add a simple list of them in this section. Follow the same bullet point format shown above.

Conferences and presentations

In this section, list any conferences you’ve presented at, or other presentations or lectures you’ve delivered. Include the name of your presentation, as well as the name and date of the conference or event.

Here’s an example of how to format a conference or presentation section:

‘Evaluating the Impact of Participatory Health Interventions on Community Wellbeing’, UK Active Communities Conference, London, 2023

Research experience

Add any academic research posts you’ve held in this section. This is most relevant if you’ve been employed in academia for some time, and might not be so relevant for those applying for postgraduate study. This section should follow the same structure as your employment and teaching experience section. Include the job title, organisation or institution name, location, dates and some bullet points outlining your responsibilities.


Here you can mention any relevant work experience outside the scope of academia, that you haven’t included in any other section of your CV. List your job title, the name of the employer and the dates you worked there, along with some bullet points describing your responsibilities and achievements in the role. You can list your previous employments in the same format as in the ‘teaching experience’ section above.

Additional skills

This section is ideal for listing any skills that you feel are relevant to your postgraduate studies, or a position in academia, but that you haven’t covered elsewhere in your CV. Add these in a simple bullet list format.

Additional activities

Similar to the skills section above, here you can list any activities you’ve taken part in that might benefit your studies and make you stand out as a candidate. This could be voluntary work, hobbies or pastimes that enable you to develop relevant skills for the course or role.


Unlike a standard CV, graduate student CVs tend to include references. Add up to three referees, including their name, job title, organisation and contact details. Your referees could be academic supervisors, tutors and mentors, or managers from relevant jobs you’ve had in the past. Make sure you receive permission from your referees before adding them to your CV.

Format your references as below:

Prof. Alan Holland, Head of Politics, Department of Politics, Warwick University, 01926 362754,

Deborah Nicholson, Managing Director, The Social Policy Institute, 07451 776967,

Tips for Writing a Graduate CV

If you’re applying for postgraduate study or a position in academia, take a look at these tips to maximise your chances of success:

  • Don’t worry about your CV length: while traditional CVs for job applications are usually brief documents that attempt to quickly grab the attention of the reader, academics will expect a more thorough document. As such, don’t worry about how long your CV is getting, but instead focus on including all the relevant information.
  • Use an academic CV format: the main two CV structures for job applications are traditional/reverse-chronological and functional or skills-based. However, graduate CVs don’t follow either of these structures. The academic CV format has many more sections than either of these.
  • Tailor your CV for every application: one of the most valuable things you can do is tailor your CV for every application. This might not mean including or excluding certain details from your CV (as every academic CV is a comprehensive document). However, it will mean tailoring its content to be as relevant as possible for the role or course you’re applying for.
  • Review example CVs: if you’ve never written a graduate CV before, familiarise yourself with the layout and structure by reading some CV samples. This will help you to get into the right mindset to produce a winning graduate CV.
  • Use a clean, professional CV layout: a graduate CV can easily become a cluttered, dry document. Elevate your CV by using an eye-catching CV template with subtle design elements, that can help to hold the attention of the reader.
  • Re-draft and proofread your CV: it’s likely to take a few attempts to get the right tone and content for your postgraduate CV. Re-draft your CV until you’re happy with its contents, and proofread the document for spelling and grammar errors before sending it.

Key Takeaways for a Graduate CV

Graduate CVs follow a different format and structure to CVs you might have prepared for job applications in the past. Be detailed and comprehensive about your academic history and educational achievements, and make sure you tailor your CV for every application. CVwizard has various tools and CV articles to help you craft a compelling CV that can enhance your chances of success in academic applications. Sign up today to see how CVwizard can help you create a perfect graduate student CV.

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Mike Potter
Mike Potter
Mike Potter is an experienced copywriter specialising in careers and professional development. He uses extensive knowledge of workplace culture to create insightful and actionable articles on CV writing and career pathways.

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