How To Put Coursework On Resume

For most people, putting education on a resume is as easy as Tic Tac Toe. 

 

Name of University, Degree, Graduation Year - Done. 

 

But for others, figuring out how to put your education on a resume is harder than it looks.

 

For example, what should go first in a resume, education or experience? And how do you list education on a resume if you’re still in college? 

 

This article will tell you how to put your education on a resume in every case:

 

  • How to list high school education on a resume, even if you never graduated.
  • How to list education on a resume if you’re still in college, never graduated from college, or did graduate from college. 
  • How to write education on a resume as a professional.

 

Also, you will finally figure out where an education section goes on a resume and what to put in it. We’ve covered all the bases.

 

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1

What Should Go First in a Resume, Education or Experience?

 

Have you ever caught yourself wondering, in what order should I put my education and my work experience on my resume?

 

If you’ve ever looked up resume formats online, I’m sure you’ve seen it both ways. Education and experience can both play leading lady. 

 

So, how do you decide which is best for you?

 

The two best places for your education section are: 

 

  • Before your experience section.
  • After your experience section.

 

If you’ve just graduated, consider putting your education section before your experience section.

 

That’s because you probably have more educational background than work experience at this point in your life. And the top third of your resume is prime real estate for showing off your best accomplishments first.

 

If you’re a professional who recently went back to school to get a new degree, you may also want to consider putting your resume education section first. 

 

That’s especially if your new degree is relevant to the work for which you are applying.

 

Education goes above the work experience too when you're writing an academic CV. For academic posts or fellowhips, your education matters way more than your experience outside of the academia.

 

If you are a seasoned professional, put your experience section before your education.

 

Hiring managers will find your work experience much more relevant at this point in your career.

 

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Pro Tip: If you want to save time and find out how to write a great resume for your profession, take a look at our guides and samples of resumes here.

 

2

Here’s How to Put Your Education on Your Resume

 

For the most part, the education section of your resume is the easiest to write. 

 

Here are the basics:

 

  • Start with your highest degree first.
  • Add all other degrees in reverse-chronological order.
  • If you finished college, don’t add your high school information.

 

What information should you include?

 

  • The type of degree you received.
  • Your major/minor.
  • The name of your school.
  • The school’s location.
  • The year you graduated.

 

Pro Tip: GPA is optional. You should only add it if you graduated within the last three years and if it was above a 3.0. Otherwise, lose it. Most hiring managers won’t care what your GPA was.

 

Hereis an example:

 

Education

 

2009 MA in English Literature 

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 

3.7 GPA

 

2007 BA in English Literature 

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 

4.0 GPA

 

Pretty simple, right? 

 

Here are four extra tips to make it even easier: 

 

  • You can either spell out your degree “Master of Arts” or just use initials “MA.
  • You can either use periods to separate initials “M.A.” - or not “MA.
  • You can write out the name of your major “MA in Psychology” or simply separate your degree from your major with a comma “MA, Psychology.” 
  • You can order the information in various ways.

 

For example, the candidate above graduate from Harvard. 

 

As a literature major, she may feel like her degree isn’t directly related to the job for which she’s applying. That can happen when you’re an English major. 

 

In that case, she may want to lead with the fact that she attended Harvard:

 

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 

MA in English Literature 

Graduated in 2009 with a 3.7 GPA

 

Just make sure that the way you format the entries in your education section remains consistent.

 

For most of you, putting your education on your resume is that straightforward. If you want to add extra information, you can. 

 

The above information is useful for anyone who has some professional experience.

 

If you’re a recent graduate or haven’t finished a degree, read on - we’ve got you covered. Read on...

 

Our resume builder lets you choose from modern or basic resume templates. See more templates here. 

 

See more templates and create your resume here.

 

3

How to Add Your High School Education to a Resume 

 

If your highest level of education is high school, make an entry like this:  

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Graduated in 2005

 

That’s all you have to do. No, I’m not joking.

 

When considering what else you should include on a student resume, stick to things that show off your skills and achievements. 

 

That can range from honors, awards, and extracurricular activities, to any work you had during high school.

 

You’ll want to tailor your resume to the job description. So, pick activities that will illustrate the keyword skills listed there.

 

You might also want to include a coursework description, adding classes that are relevant to the work you will do in your new job. 

 

But what if you didn’t graduate high school?

 

Here is an example of what to put: 

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Attended school from 2003 - 2005

 

Just write the name of your school and the years you attended.

 

If you are still in high school write it like this:

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Expected to graduate in 2009

 

If you didn’t graduate high school but completed a GED later write it like this: 

 

GED High School Equivalency Diploma

Cherryville Adult Learning Center, Ohio, 2009

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Attended school from 2003-2005

 

Let’s say you graduated high school and then received a license or certificate that is directly related to the job for which you are applying.

 

Put your license or certificate first followed by your high school information.

 

Cosmetology License - 2009

Cherryville Beauty Academy, Cherryville, OH

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Graduated in 2005

 

 

4

Yes, You Can Put Unfinished Higher Education on Your Resume

 

Let’s say you went to college and then realized $30,000 worth of student debt per year wasn’t for you. 

 

That doesn’t mean you can’t use what you did finish. 

 

If you started and didn’t finish a college or university level degree, you can still put it on your resume. All you have to do is write in the credits you did manage to get.

 

List your high school education after like this:

 

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

2005 -2007 Completed 60 credits toward BA in Psychology

 

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH

Graduated in 2005

 

If you paid for it, it’s yours. If the coursework is relevant, you can put it on your resume. 

 

Which brings us to higher education that is still in progress. In the middle of obtaining a degree?

 

Easy. 

 

Put it on your resume like this:

 

BA in English Literature in Progress

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY

 

Here is a handy list of phrases you can use to describe degrees that are still in progress:

 

  • In progress
  • Anticipated + date
  • Expected + date
  • Expected Graduation + date
  • To be completed + date

 

5

Here’s How to Put Your Higher Education on Your Resume

 

As mentioned above, you’ll put your highest degree first if you’ve graduated from university. 

 

But what else would you want to include in an education section?

 

Let’s say you’ve got little to no work experience. 

 

It’s not a bad idea to include some extra points in that case.

 

  • Awards and Honors
  • A Coursework Description
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Publications

 

If you’ve graduated from an honors program, graduated with Latin honors (magna cum laude or summa cum laude), or were the valedictorian or salutatorian of your class, put this next to your degree in your education section. 

 

Example: 

 

Honors BS in Biology, Valedictorian, Magna Cum Laude

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Graduated in 2012 

 

Other honors and awards could include: 

 

  • Any academic award or scholarship.
  • Academic honors besides being in an honors program including making the Dean’s List or acceptance into honors societies (campus, national, or international). 

 

Note, you can make a separate Honors and Awards section if you feel that you have too many awards to list or want to draw special attention to them.

 

The same goes for academic publications for Ph.D. students.

 

You can either list your publications under your degree or add a separate section if there are several you’d like to mention on your non-academic resume. 

 

Do keep in mind that the length of a student resume should be short and not exceed one page.

 

If you’re struggling to fill up space, adding sections (e.g., Hobbies and Interests) can be great. But don’t add so many that you’re resume spills over onto a second page.

 

Another nice thing to add to a student resume is a coursework description. Make sure that you choose courses that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. 

 

If you have little to no work experience, a coursework description can show that you have the knowledge and skills required for the job through your education. 

 

Also, if you have a degree in a different field, you can show that you took courses relevant to your professional field as well. For example, you’re applying for a job in marketing, but have a degree in psychology.

 

Did you take any business or communication classes? Those would be good to put in your coursework description. 

 

Example: 

 

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

The University of California, Berkeley, CA

Relevant Coursework: Business Communication, Social Psychology, English Language Studies, Grammar and Editing

 

If you feel like going into more detail here, that’s also okay. You could explain an overarching course of study that gave you a particular skill set that you want employers to notice.

 

You can also list extracurricular roles if you’ve graduated within the last three years and need to flesh out your resume. 

 

Just avoid adding anything controversial (political or religious). 

 

Here is a list of skills employers like to see on student resumes:

 

  • Leadership
  • Ability to Work on a Team
  • Communication Skills (Written)
  • Problem-solving Skills
  • Communication Skills (Verbal)

 

If you participated in any activity that would highlight these skills, you can add it to your education section. 

 

Example: 

 

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

The University of California, Berkeley, CA

Relevant Coursework: Business Communication, Social Psychology, English Language Studies, Grammar and Editing

Extracurricular Activities: Captain of the Lacrosse Team

 

Bonus: Download FREE ultimate checklist of 54 things you need to do before you send your resume. “Resume 101 Checklist.”

 

 

The thing to remember is that there are no hard and fast rules about how to add education to your resume. 

 

You can put your education section before or after your experience section. And you can add as much or as little information as you need. 

 

For students, your education section can do the heavy lifting until you’ve gained enough professional experience. Even if you didn’t finish a degree, the courses you did finish are yours to put on your resume.

 

In the end, you should think of your education section as an opportunity to position yourself just ahead of the rest. 

 

Do you have any other questions about how to put your educational background on a resume? Let me know in the comments.

About a week ago, I received a resume from a job seeker interested in a technical sales position one of my recruiting clients has available. All was going well—until I reached the education section of his resume.

Here’s what it said:

Graduate, and ongoing student

School of Life, Multiple Locations


I wanted to admire his creativity, I really did. But instead, I just felt sort of annoyed and duped. I wondered why this job seeker, who had tons of great work experience and plenty of continuing education coursework under his belt, felt like he had to invent something to put into this section of his resume.

The more I pondered, the more I realized: Resumes are just damned hard for most people to craft, even under the most straightforward of circumstances. This challenge becomes even more daunting when you have to strategize on something sensitive or complex, like having no degree or a non-completed degree.

And then there’s the whole, “Where do I put my education on the resume, top or bottom?” thing. And how about dates? Do you list them, or not? Do you cite GPA, courses completed? Committee memberships?

The education section is tough. And truthfully, there aren’t unbendable laws on it. But to avoid this job seeker’s mistake (and others), here are a few bits of advice on how to best manage this piece of your resume:

Don’t be Overly Cutesy (or Lie)

Most of us have stuff in our past that we’d like to disguise on our resumes. If it happens that your Achilles heel falls in the education section, be strategic, of course, but not cheesy (see above) or dishonest. It probably won’t end well. If you feel your education section is a little light, load this section with continuing education and professional coursework.

Put Advanced Degrees First (Usually)

Usually, you should lay down your educational background by listing the most recent or advanced degree first, working in reverse chronological order. But there are exceptions. Say you earned a degree in geography, but are now working in the field of online marketing. If you more recently completed coursework specific to social media or digital marketing, list that first to grab the reviewer’s attention.

Lose the Dates, Unless You’re a Recent Grad

Unless you’re a recent graduate (one to three years out of school), you really don’t need to list the graduation dates. The reviewer cares more about whether or not you have the degree than when you earned it. And, as you progress in your career (that’s code for “as that gray hair starts springing out”), listing dates can work against you.

Don’t List Everywhere You Ever Attended

If you attended one or two colleges before landing at the one from which you graduated, it’s not necessary to list them all out. Again, the degree is what the reviewer is looking for, not an autobiographical account of the four colleges you hopped to and from before finally graduating.

Is there anyone who would say no to that?

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Didn’t Quite Earn the Degree? Mention it Anyway

Last week, I counseled a woman who had completed her master’s program, but not the thesis. She wondered if it was OK to list that she’d completed the coursework, or if would it appear deceptive. Um, mention it. Absolutely mention it. I’d frame it something like this:

Master of Business Administration degree candidate

Thesis under development; anticipated completion June 2013

Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, OR

List Honors, Not GPA

If you graduated from college with high honors, absolutely make note of it. While you don’t need to list your GPA (especially if it’s under 3.5 or if you’ve been out of school for more than three years), don’t be afraid to showcase that summa cum laude status or the fact that you were in the honors college at your university.

Position it Strategically

Most people list educational background at the end of the resume, which is perfectly fine. However, if you have a degree from a prestigious university or one that may serve as an advantage for the types of positions you’re pursuing, consider listing your education at the beginning of your resume instead.



Above all, be strategic about anything you put in your education section. Like anything else on your resume, it should be working for you, not against.

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