Tips | Curriculum Vitae for Undergraduates
1. Curriculum Vitae Overview
Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) are often a part of the graduate school application package, particularly research / academic programs. Traditionally, CVs have an academic focus - they present a complete picture of your academic achievements, publications (if any) and scholarly interests, as well as skills developed through academic degrees and related teaching or research experience. If you are applying to a more applied graduate program, you may be asked for a resume rather than a CV.
Since a majority of upper-year undergraduate students do not have many of the typical elements of a CV such as publications, extensive research or teaching experience and scholarships, students must consider repackaging their experiences using headings that will emphasize their relevant experiences to the admissions committee.
As you begin to compile your CV, here are some questions to consider:
- Do I know what types of skills and experiences the admissions committee is looking for?
- What relevant experiences have I had? (Look under “Suggested Sections of the Curriculum Vitae” for ideas on what constitutes relevant experience)
- What would I like to emphasize in my document?
- Have I completed any major assignments or projects in the subject area that I am considering for graduate school?
- Am I a member of any associations/student clubs relevant to my field of study?
- Have I omitted any information that might be relevant such as relevant projects, extra-curricular activities etc.?
2. Curriculum Vitae Suggested Sections
The following are suggested categories for your CV. Select and order your categories to highlight your relevant skills, experiences and achievements to appeal to the priorities of your intended program of study. When organizing the information within each category, list items in reverse chronological order, with the most recent information appearing first.
Name, email and phone number. DO NOT INCLUDE Information on marital status, dependents, religious affiliation, gender or ethnicity when applying to programs in North America.
List your research interests - matching them with the research topics / areas of the program you are applying to as well as those of the program faculty you may be interested in learning from. Use bulleted points.
Include date, degree conferred or will be conferred; program of study, name of institution. You may also include selected coursework relevant to your area of study.
Honours and Achievements / Academic Honours and Awards / Awards and Certificates
List academic awards, accomplishments and/or certificates. If the award or certificate will not be familiar to those who will be reading your CV, include a brief explanation. You may also include the value of the award/scholarship if significant.
List research experiences (paid and/or volunteer) and/or significant research projects. Include project title, supervisor’s name, and if applicable lab or centre name. Provide information regarding your specific role. Consider including independent research courses, ROP experiences, research-related internships, 300 and 400 level coursework, work-study positions, volunteer/paid work experiences, as well as thesis / Independent Research Projects.
List relevant teaching experiences including instructorships, teaching assistantships, Facilitated Study Group Leader experience or experiences where you served as a marker. Include your title, the course title, the course code/level, name of the supervising professor, and the dates for each listing. Provide a brief description including information, such as class size and an overview of tasks performed.
Publications, Major Reports, Senior Thesis or Literature Reviews
You may mention publications of your work here. If your work is unpublished, consider reports from independent research courses, ROP’s, 300/400 level research reports including literature reviews unless already listed elsewhere. Use academic reference format.
Conference Presentations or Major Presentations or In-Class Presentations
Consider conference, senior-level course presentations, poster presentations and/or community presentations. List title, class or organization, city or university, and date.
You may also include the name, location and dates of any conferences, symposia or enrichment seminars attended outside of regular lectures but relevant to your program of study.
Associations and Affiliations or Clubs and Memberships
List any memberships in university/student clubs, academic associations or professional associations. Indicate your title (e.g. member, VP Marketing), organization name, institution or city, date. Provide a brief description, if needed.
List title, company/organization, city and dates. Provide brief description for each experience. Include only experiences that you gained during university. Work experiences unrelated to your intended discipline may be included. Be sure to highlight research, data analysis, teaching, presenting skills and project management.
On-Campus Involvement / Community Involvement / Volunteer Experience
List activities that you engage in on-campus or in the community. Provide your title, name of organization, institution, date as well as some details about skills and accomplishments.
You may want to highlight any additional skills that may bolster your application. Examples include specific lab skills, software skills, fieldwork or interviewing skills & statistical expertise.
This category is most common for scholars in the humanities and social sciences and allows you an opportunity to specify your reading, writing and oral fluency in foreign languages.
List name, title of referee, department or company, institution or city. Three references with at least two who can attest to your academic potential (e.g. professors) are optimal.
3. Additional Resources Via UTM Career Centre
- The “Road to Graduate School” - learn about applying to graduate programs
- “Mastering the Personal Statement” workshop and e-module:
- Various professional school workshops on admissions to Law, Medicine, and Teaching
- The CV Handbook by Will Coghill-Behrends and Rebecca Anthony (2011)
- Looking ahead to your career post-grad school, check our graduate student career resources.
- Tip sheets: Considering Grad School; Applying to Grad School; Funding Graduate School
- Have your CV critiqued by a Career Counsellor. Book an appointment today - come in and talk to staff or give us a call. 905-828-5451
Information is subject to change. Updated September 2021. Refer to the original sources for the most up-to-date information.