Use your education to show you have the knowledge to land the job
Your education is an essential detail to include on your resume, as it indicates that you're trained in your field. Even if your formal education isn't directly related to your current career path (perhaps you made a career change, for instance), it's still worthwhile to show that you succeeded in a high-level learning environment.
As with much of resume writing, the content and format of your resume Education section is fluid and will depend on where you are in your career. Still, it's important that you get it right to prove you're qualified for the job you want.
In this article, you'll learn how to list education on your resume and see examples that you can use for inspiration as you craft your own.
What to include under Education on a resume
It sounds simple – you list the degrees you've obtained and the schools where you got them.
But, wait! There's more.
In some instances, it may be appropriate to include your GPA, some relevant coursework, or even give a nod to some major project you worked on. Much of this depends on whether you're fresh out of school or have some experience under your belt.
Here are some other things to consider when writing the Education section of your resume:
Does your education section go at the top or bottom of your resume?
Do you include a degree if you're still working on it?
Does high school belong on my resume?
Let's start with the basics.
1. Degree earned
When you finally graduated and received your diploma, what did it say? For example, you may have achieved a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Whatever it was, it's the most important education detail you can put on your resume, because it's the official evidence of your education.
One of the most important things to remember is that you should list your degrees in reverse chronological order. That means you start with the most recent one (which is likely to be your highest) and work backward. Also, once you get into college there is no reason to add high school. Employers know that you have to finish high school to get into college, so they'll assume you graduated.
Remember that one degree type can be applied to a variety of fields of study. For example, a Bachelor of Science degree can be earned for both physics and computer science. Therefore, in addition to the degree itself, you must include the major for which the degree was earned. This way, a hiring manager knows exactly what topics you've studied.
If you completed any minors or concentrations, you can include those too.
3. University, college, or institution
Add some context to your education by listing the university, college, or institution where you went to school. This is especially important if you attended a well-respected program in your field, because it will make you seem all the more impressive.
4. Years attended
The timeframe that you were in school is generally something you don't need to worry about including unless you're still in school or graduated within the last year. Additionally, you might add the dates you were in school if you need to take care of a gap in employment. Outside of these conditions, you should leave off the timeframe you were in school.
Whether or not you include your GPA in the Education section of a resume depends on many factors. If you earned your degree 20 years ago, your GPA is likely a defunct measure of your current abilities. If you earned your degree recently, however, adding your GPA can be a great move – but only if it's 3.5 or higher. You can also indicate any distinctions you earned based on your grades, such as summa cum laude, if applicable.
6. Extracurricular activities
If you were in an honors society, you can list your membership. If you were part of a fraternity or sorority, it's a toss-up. While you might think this is a good inclusion because it demonstrates you were participating in service-related activities or so on, Greek rivalries can extend way past college years and you wouldn't want to accidentally tip off your hiring manager that you belonged to a rival group.
Outside of formal education, you may also have taken the initiative to earn supplementary certifications or complete online courses that are relevant to your field. Highlight these in your resume Education section, especially if they are on niche or high-level topics that prove your expertise far beyond a more generalized curriculum.
Here's an example of what all that looks like:
EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS
Bachelor of Business Administration | ABC University | 2021-2024
Dean's list - summa cum laude
President - Marketing Club
Project Management Professional (PMP) | Project Management Institute
Conditions to consider, aside from the basics
Some of those basics may be optional - as we mentioned, you wouldn't include the dates of your degree program if you've been out of school for more than a year. When you begin to craft the Education section of your resume, there are other things to consider as well.
You completed high school
Attending college may not be among the goals you've set for your life. That's okay!
If you decide to graduate high school and go straight to work, your career can still be rich and full. At this point, though, a lot of people ask if they should include high school on their resume.
A few rules of thumb about adding high school to the Education section of your resume:
Exclude high school altogether if you go to college
Exclude high school if you've attended trade school
Include high school if you have no additional education, professional development, or certifications
Include high school if the job description specifically mentions that you need a high school diploma
Include high school if you're applying for a job while still in high school
This is what the Education section of your resume would look like if all you have to put in it is high school:
Diploma or GED [whichever is appropriate] | DEF High School
Relevant courses: Accounting, Business Law, and Ethics
Just because high school is the highest education you've obtained, doesn't mean you can't take the opportunity to inject some relevant keywords into your resume.
PRO TIP: Check out our article on tailoring your resume to different jobs to understand how important relevant keywords are when writing your resume.
You have an undergrad degree
Once you graduate from college and start searching for your first entry-level position, it's assumed that you'll remove any information that refers to your high school activities and focus on your new undergrad degree.
Go back to the basics to build your Education section when you earn your Bachelor's degree.
Include your degree and major
Add the name of the school where you obtained the degree
Throw in some extras, like achievements, coursework, and affiliations
The last point – about adding extras – is extremely important if you have little to no work experience. Adding that you were a Resident Advisor or won first place in a robotics competition could be the thing that puts your resume at the top of the yes pile.
You have an advanced degree
Once you enter the world of Master's degrees and PhDs the Education section of your resume becomes more robust and might include things like the title of a dissertation, fellowships or internships.
As before, always start with your highest degree and work backward. Here's an example of an Education section with advanced degrees:
EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – Leadership Studies | CCC University
International Student Scholar
Dissertation: Exploring the Relationships of Principal Preparation Programs and Leadership Styles on School Accountability Indices
Master of Arts (MA) – Counseling | BBB University
Bachelor of Science – Psychology (cum laude) | University of AAA
You started college at one place but finished somewhere else
If you attended college at one institution – perhaps a community college – and then completed your education in another place, you only need to list the university where you completed your degree. All the employer wants to know is which college supplied you with your degree at the end of your education; they don't necessarily care or need to know how you arrived at this place. Save that resume space for more important information.
You didn't attend or finish college
If you attended college but didn't graduate, you may want to list the relevant courses you took, especially if you made it to some of the higher-level classes, to demonstrate the skills you built or the disciplines you were exposed to during your coursework.
You're still pursuing a college degree (undergrad or grad program)
If you're still attending college for either your undergraduate or graduate degree, you can simply add an expected graduation year to this information. You can add a list of a few courses you've completed if
They're higher-level courses that are relevant to your job goals
You don't have a lot of relevant work experience to market on your resume.
You earned your degree more than 5 years ago
If you earned a degree or certification more than 5 years ago, place your Education at the bottom of your resume and remove the graduation date. It's important to demonstrate you've earned the degree, but there's no need to draw attention to how long ago this occurred.
Doing so will allow you to focus your resume on your skills, accomplishments, and professional history. For those who have many years of professional experience, education becomes less important because you should be moving forward in your career.
Where does the Education section of your resume go?
If you're new to the workforce and your new degree is your best selling point, the Education section should appear toward the top of your resume, because
You most likely have limited professional experience to list on your resume
Your education is the core competency that you wish to highlight for an employer
After you have a few years of relevant experience under your belt, the education section gets shifted to the bottom of your resume, and your work history will get pushed farther up on the page.
Presenting your education on your resume in a thoughtful way will open a lot of employment doors. Here's what you should keep in mind as you write the Education section of your resume:
You list education on your resume in a certain way based on what stage of your career you're at
The main components of your Education section are degree, major, school, years attended, and certifications
Tailor your Education section based on keywords and qualifications mentioned in the job description
Be honest about ongoing education or degrees you've decided not to complete
Your Education section is fluid
Remember, there isn't one resume format that fits all job seekers. Be strategic when placing your Education information by considering where you are in your career and how it will help you to land the jobs you're after.
Find out if you are showcasing your education on your resume - get a free resume review from TopResume.