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Writing a Resume to Apply to Graduate School with Examples

written by: Faith Oh•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 1/29/2011

When writing a resume for applying for graduate school, you have to approach differently than you would if you were writing a resume for a professional position. Read on to learn more about what these key differences are and how you can do the best job with your own resume.

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    Most graduate schools ask that applicants submit a resume as part of their application. So in addition to GREs, letters of recommendation, personal statements, research proposals and lengthy application questionnaires, you also have to present a resume. Think of the resume as a documentation of your academic, professional and extracurricular accomplishments. It is a summary document that reminds the admissions committee about why you are special. When an admissions committee member thinks, "who is that candidate again?" your resume should readily answer that question.

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    The Basics of a Grad School Application Resume

    Therefore the next logical question is, when writing a resume for applying for graduate school what should be included and what should it look like? While styles and approaches may vary from one individual to the next, there are some very important things that should be on your resume. In addition, the main difference between a graduate school application resume and a resume for a job is the emphasis on academic accomplishments. Therefore it is more appropriate to lead off with your education than with your work experience. Further, you are not as limited in length as you would be in a job resume, in which for a person with substantial experience, a maximum of two pages is advised and a recent graduate, one page.

    Here are the basic components of an academic resume or as it is more appropriately called, a CV.

    Education: Your education is one of the most important parts of your academic resume because it states succinctly whether or not you are even qualified for the program to which you are applying. You should include the name of the schools you attended, the degrees you received and significant classes you took (or a short description of the kinds of classes, e.g. coursework in international business). If you graduated at the top of your class, you should also include it here.

    Professional Experience: Many graduate programs will like to see that you have been involved in some kind of work experience outside of the classroom even if you are applying directly from your undergraduate program. You should list your internships and other significant work experiences making sure to focus on accomplishments and not just a list of duties.

    Research Experience, Conference Presentations and Publications: If you have any research experience, worked as an intern in a lab, assisted a professor, presented a paper or poster at a conference, have any publications, then make sure you highlight these in a separate category on your resume.

    Awards: Awards, especially when they are academic awards like grants, scholarships, and other competition-based awards are highly regarded in academia. Therefore, there should be a separate category in your resume for all the relevant awards you have won with the academic ones, featuring more prominently. You should also list awards that you declined.

    Extracurricular Activities: Make sure to list the important activities you've been involved in that help paint a picture of a well-rounded individual. If you traveled abroad, lived in another country or culture, started and headed a group, are involved in some kind of service commitment, play a sport, whatever you do, list it here and remember to emphasize accomplishments.

    Skills: Do you have any special skills such as computer programming in particular languages, speaking other languages, the ability to use certain computer programs and so on? If you do, then you should highlight these under skills. This is especially important if any of these skills are relevant to your graduate program.

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    Getting it Right

    Examples of graduate school resumes abound online and you can use these for inspiration to help you decide on things like template, wording, layout and the like. However if the above mentioned components are in your resume, you can't go wrong.