How to write an academic CV

One of the questions I often get asked by graduate students or higher education professionals looking to move in academic circles is how to write a curriculum vitae or CV for short.  Curriculum vitae is Latin for “the course of my life” and your CV should should provide a description of the basic blocks of your academic life.  Of course, every field and discipline has slightly different expectations and norms for how CVs should look.  However, in today’s post, I will share the basics of how to write an academic CV that should largely work regardless of your specific field.

Photo credit: Russell McNeil

There is no single convention or style that you should use on a CV.  You should, however, remember a couple of rules of thumb.

First, this isn’t a resume.  You aren’t restricted to the page limits, sections, or templates of a resume.  In particular, do not include a career goals statement that you often see in resumes.

Second, the best guides for CVs are new faculty in your field.  New assistant professors will have the most updated versions of their CVs online and they are at a career stage that makes it easier to translate for your purposes especially if you are writing your first.  It won’t hurt to look at a well-published professor with 25 years of experience, but it is a harder to envision how to models yours.

Formatting

You should have one inch margins and 12 point font throughout the CV (with the possible exception of your name which may be a bit larger).  Everything should be left justified.  I would suggest double spaces between sections but single space within.  In addition, I would bold section headings.  Avoid formatting the document in columns, with boxes, or other fancy style aspects.  The document should be a pretty straightforward list of your academic accomplishments.  This isn’t the time to try out the newest format or font.

Heading

Include your name centered and at the top.  This can be in a larger type (14-18 point font) and bolded.    Provide your institutional and/or home address including telephone number and email address.  I would also include page numbers and a footer with the date last updated so people know how recently updated when they review it.

Content

1.  Education.  In reverse chronological order, list all academic degrees and institutions.  I would suggest only including the completion year not the full range of dates attended.  For early career or new academics, I would suggest adding your dissertation topic and possibly your advisor.

2.  Academic appointments.  This should only include your full-time academic appointments (post-doc, lecturer, or faculty).  Do not include adjunct appointments or short term positions.  Graduate students might include research assistantships under this section.  If you do not have any academic appointments, you can relabel this section as professional appointments and include administrative higher education positions.  If you have work experience outside of higher education that you want to include, do so in another section called Other Professional Experiences (or something similar) toward the end of the CV.

3.  Publications.  This section should include all publications including (and generally in this order) books, articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, book reviews, articles for practitioners and the public, manuscripts under reviews, manuscripts under preparation.  If forthcoming works have been accepted, you may include them under the relevant heading.  I have a publication section called for practitioners and the public where I include items such as op-eds or practitioner-based publications that are separate from my scholarly work.

4.  Presentations.  For those writing their first CV, this may be the section you have the most information to add.  Include conference presentations that you have made in reverse chronological order.  If you have both scholarly and practitioner presentations, you might split these into two sections.  Additionally, if you have a large number of presentations, you can call the section “selected presentations” and only list representative presentations.  If you don’t have as many presentations, you might include campus or department level talks you’ve given.

5.  Grants and Fellowships.  If relevant, add the funder, year received, amount of funding, and your role on the project.

6.  Teaching experience.  List the courses you have taught (only the titles, no course numbers).  You can separate by undergraduate and graduate if you have a large number to include.  For those where you were a teaching assistant or lab assistant, you can note this.  However, if you were the instructor of record as a teaching assistant, make sure you include this detail as it is important.

7.  Service.  Include the service work that you have done for the profession, university, school/college, and your department.  You might list conference or journal reviewer, positions with professional associations, or committees you have served on for your professional organization.  Likewise, list committee work and other service activities at your home institution.  If you have a large number of these (for example, you serve on committees as part of your administrative role), list the most significant or those that you held a leadership role (i.e. Committee co-chair).

8.  Media mentions.  If relevant, coverage of your work by the media.

9.  Professional memberships.  List all professional organizations that you belong as a member.

10.  Honors and Awards.  If relevant, list honors and awards you have received including scholarships or fellowships.

11.  References.  This is (very) optional, but you can list the names and references for 3-4 references.

I want to reiterate that there are many different options in how to create a CV.  However, these main categories will be pretty standard for most CVs that you would create or encounter.  I hope you find these helpful.  If you have specific questions beyond this list, reach out on Twitter (@HEProfessor) and I would welcome the chance to continue discussing this.

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