How To Write A Resume For Grad School Applications

You may be asked to submit a resume or a Curriculum Vitae (CV), depending on the type of grad school program to which you’re applying. Typically, writing a resume for grad school applications demonstrate your academic credentials, like research/awards earned, as well as your professional experience, although there is a tremendous amount of overlap.

Generally, PhD and academic-based programs require CVs, and other grad programs ask for resumes. If you want to be a teacher, you’ll write a CV, and if you want work professionally, you’ll write a resume. But, make sure you know exactly which one you’re supposed to write. Contact your school if necessary to confirm, as an error will likely automatically disqualify you.

Your grad school resume is one of the key factors in your grad school application process. Most schools look at your GRE score and undergrad grades first; then move on to your resume, application essay, and interview. See more on how to improve your GRE score and improving your graduate school application.

                                                   Graduate School Application Resume Checklist
 Contact Information  Your name, email address, phone number.
 Personal Statement  What are your goals for attending the graduate program?
 List of Research Projects  Describe relevant research projects to which you've contributed.
 Work Experience  List out prior jobs you've held, particularly those relevant to the field of study.
 Undergraduate Education  Detail your undergraduate degree and major.
 Additional Skills  E.g. Computer skills, foreign languages, any other skills relevant to the program.
 Interests  Describe additional activities or passions that may be relevant to the graduate program.

While the above checklist is a handy tool to keep yourself organized, be sure to review each of those tasks in more detail below...

Start a new resume for your grad school application

Most students use previous resumes from internships or jobs for grad school. And that’s exactly why most fall flat. You need to tailor your resume specifically to the grad school program you’re applying for. If you mash it together, it will be painfully obvious..

Grad school personal statement

What are you going to do in your career? Be a practicing psychologist? Engineer cars? Build computers? You need to directly state this in your personal statement and then elaborate on it throughout your resume. But, you need to say something more interesting than just “I will build cars.” Add in how you’ll help solve the energy crisis by creating fuel-efficient hybrids, or how you’re interested in driver/passenger safety. The more focused you can be, the better.


  • Energy expert who will use Stanford’s Engineering Graduate Program to help solve the global oil crisis by creating more fuel efficient automobiles.
  • Safety expert who will use Stanford’s Engineering Graduate Program to save more lives by engineering safer automobiles.

At this point, all you have to do is prove your statement, and you’re in.

Don’t use summary/objective statement

It will feel too immature. Instead, use a personal statement described above.

Research applicable to grad school

If you haven’t completed a research project, it’s time to start. Take your personal statement and create a research project. For example, something on alternate energy sources for cars, or opportunities for improved safety.

But, if you have completed research, then direct your entire resume around it. If you researched the psychological effects of learning and found students learn best in one-on-one tutoring scenarios; then use that as your personal statement/theme. List everywhere you have been published (if applicable).

Work experience

You need to do more than just list your previous work experience. You have to use it to prove your personal statement. So, if you interned or worked professionally as an engineer, don’t just list what you did. Make it prove your personal statement and sell it. If all you did at your internship was Google alternate fuel methods in cars, you still need to find a way to sell it. Here’s how:


  • Explored opportunities for improved fuel efficiency with solar power, natural gas, and other resources in Toyota automobiles.
  • Plant is still considering discovered opportunities, pending government legislation.

Education prior to grad school

Emphasize your work experience first, but you will still need one sentence stating what your degree was, when you graduated and your GPA. Then, describe the clubs or organizations you were in and what you accomplished. Try to relate this back to your theme, if possible.

Created blueprints for a fully-functional automobile that would reduce gas consumption by 20% through The Ohio State University Engineering club [or class you attended].

Volunteer work

Just like research, if you don’t have any, it’s time to start!


If you’ve done something cool like biking across America, include it here. Grad schools want to know who you are, and this gives your resume a personal touch.

Applying to grad school can feel overwhelming:  the GRE, resumes, interviews, applications, letters of recommendation — and your head starts spinning. But, Varsity Tutors can make your process easier and improve your chances of getting into your dream grad program, starting with the best GRE tutors. Contact Varsity Tutors today and let us help you get into a great grad program.


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