Where to place your degree on your resume and how much information you need to share about it gets many answers from many different resume writers. There are some general guidelines that most people are aware of, but some of the finer nuances of the placement and details about the degree is not known and sometimes the lack of this knowledge can hurt your chance for getting a job interview or offer. Traditionally the Education section follows your work history, but there are exceptions. So let’s look at the 3 major options and the many variations you need to consider.
1 – Recent graduate with little or no work experience.
Your degree is your biggest selling point. You’re a new graduate, so make sure you lead with this information as the very first item after the Objective statement (if you’re using one). For undergraduates you should show any GPA above about 3.4 (just 2 digits):
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City, June 2009
— Specialty in finance; Dean’s List; GPA 3.8
2 – Recent degree for an experienced worker
As proud as you are about getting that new degree (whether an undergraduate or a even a doctorate), the information should go at the end of your resume immediately after your work experience. We don’t list the GPAs of graduate degrees, so you also drop the GPA of your undergraduate and the months the degrees were earned. Remember, this is a “plus” to your work experience, so those smaller details aren’t as important as for those seeking their first job:
Master of Science (MS) in Information Technology, Large City University, Large City, 2009
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City, 2005
3 – Career Changer in mid or late career
So you’ve been working in retail, but now want to be a rocket scientist. With little or no experience in that field, but a recent degree relevant to your new target career, this needs to be up-top. You probably want a Summary Statement or strong Objective Line that indicates your desire to switch careers and/or industries. Then put your degree info directly in front of your work history:
Doctor of Aerospace Engineering (PhD), Major City University, Major City, 2009
Master of Science (MS) in Information Technology, Large City University, Large City, 2003
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City, 2000
Here are some miscellaneous rules:
— If your degree is over 20 years old, consider dropping the year you graduated:
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City
— If you were granted an honorary degree, make it clear…that’s very different from an earned degree:
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, Major City University, Major City, granted 2009
— If your degree is from another country, list the equivalent degree type below it:
Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Foreign City College, Foreign City, Other Country, June 2001
(Equivalent to Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in This Country)
— If your degree (e.g. BA in Art Appreciation) isn’t relevant to your career pursuit, just list the degree type:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Little City College, Little City, June 2001
— If you attended college, didn’t get a degree, and are no longer enrolled, indicate the dates attended:
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City, attended 2001-2003
— If enrolled and currently attending college, but not yet graduated, indicate planned graduation date:
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Little City College, Little City, expected graduation June 2010
— If you’ve completed the coursework on an advanced degree and are still working on your dissertation or thesis, this needs to be indicated:
Doctor of Education (Ph.D. Candidate), Major City University, Major City, courses completed June 2009
A noted exception to this resume advice is if you are a college professor or are pursuing other higher-education work (researcher, etc.) and not looking to be employed in the corporate world, you will probably be writing a CV (Curriculum Vitæ), so this advice is not for you.
Bottom Line: A recent graduate with little work experience or a career changer with a new degree will have the Education section Above the Fold. Everyone else will have the Education section after the Work Experience section. List your degrees top-down with the highest level degree first. Don’t mislead or lie…the news is full of people that exaggerated their degrees to get hired and then later got fired (and sometimes sued).
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