Create an Academic CV or Resume for Your MS/MBA/PhD

Confused about how to write a good CV? Not clear about the difference between a CV and a resume? A well-written CV will help your application stand out among thousand other MS or MBA aspirants. It adds value to your profile and highlights your academic achievements in a comprehensive way. Read more to learn about the guidelines of preparing your CV and resume to pursue a degree overseas.

The Curriculum Vitae, commonly called the CV, or the resume, is an integral part of a student’s application. While in India, the two are used interchangeably, in most other countries, there are a few differences between a CV and a resume. A resume is usually shorter and is a brief of one’s accomplishments, while a CV is a far more detailed report of one’s activities. Some universities in the US and most in Australia require students to submit a resume, while a majority of European and US universities require students to submit a CV.


Resumes are 1-2 page summaries of your work experience, education qualifications, skills and achievements.

Chances are universities requesting resumes would spend around 1-2 minutes scanning through your resume to get a brief idea of what your profile is like. To cater to this expectation, your resume needs to be concise with sufficient white space to allow comfortable reading.

When to use a CV

As a CV is a more detailed version of your work experience and education qualifications, the length could vary from 2-6 pages. Your CV will contain information like your academic background; research or teaching experience; accomplishments, recognition, awards and honors; presentations and publications; internships and project work; certifications; professional qualifications and work experience.

Guidelines for Preparing a Resume

  • Do not exceed two pages.
  • Re-evaluate your experience. Think creatively about how your academic experience can be translated into the necessary skills for a non-academic environment.
  • Consider mentioning skills such as project management, leadership, teamwork, effective communication, and meeting deadlines.
  • Choose action verbs to describe your experience. Effective examples of how to describe your experience would be: “Responsible for handling 50+ client calls per day …”, “Exceeded sales goal by 7% …” or “Trained 5 junior team members on compliance procedures …”. This not only tells the reader about your experiences but clearly highlights the outcome of each experience.
  • Listing your experiences in descending order, with the latest experience on top, makes the most sense as the admission committee would want to see your most recent qualifications first.
  • Include a well-written objective; state the type of position and work setting you are seeking, skills or abilities you possess, and long-term goals.
  • Ensure that your resume supports your objective.
  • Emphasize skills and accomplishments.
  • List some of your relevant presentations, publications, and papers, but not all of them.
  • Tailor your resume to the role you are seeking. First look at the description of the job and highlight the experience and skills that seem important. Then, look at your resume with fresh eyes, and consider how you can better incorporate the skills you’ve noticed in the job description.
  • Create several versions of your resume: a hard copy (ready to print and hand out to your network or interviewers), a version that can be scanned (limit the italics and other word processing treatments), and a plain text version (a plain text file or Text-Only document that can be copied and pasted into online applications).
  • Have someone proofread it.


Guidelines for Preparing a CV

  • The order of topics in a CV format is flexible.
  • Arrange sections to highlight strengths for the position you are seeking.
  • Elaborate on accomplishments and skills within categories.
  • List items within each category chronologically, the most recent appearing first.
  • Include additional headings when appropriate to reflect certifications, workshops, seminars, publications, etc.
  • Present information in an easily accessible and attractive style.
  • Use language and acronyms recognized in your field.
  • Avoid using bold, italics, lines or graphics in your CV. In order to emphasize a word or title, you can ensure that all the letters in the word or title are in upper case.
  • When sending your CV via email, state your objectives and career interests in the first few lines so that your target audience is sufficiently interested in your email to read your entire CV. You may attach your CV as a PDF file or cut-and-paste the CV content into the text of the email message, which makes it easier to read on a mobile phone.
  • Highlight your desire to study independently, which is a highly valued quality in the eyes of admission officers.


Skeleton of a Resume

Phone | Email

Describe clearly and succinctly in one sentence why you are applying for the position, summarizing the type of position you are seeking, where you want to work, and what aspect of the field you are interested in.

Employers use summary statements to weed out the clueless from the savvy. Here are some examples that strike the right balance between breadth and specifics:

  • Seeking a challenging position as a computer programmer, incorporating skills in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data mining
  • Desire a position in a management-consulting organization requiring outstanding verbal, analytical, and teamwork skills
  • Looking for a position as an analytical chemist in a semiconductor manufacturing company, specializing in transmission electron microscopy

In 2-3 bullet points, describe your most important qualifications that usually include the most important skills for the job you are applying to, years of experience, credentials or areas of specialization.

Mention in reverse chronological order Name of institution (PhD, master’s, bachelor’s), location of institution and year of graduation, department or major and academic honors (i.e., distinction), and any professional certificates or accreditation or minors.

Don’t mention the titles of your theses (that might go in work experience but only if applicable), the name of your adviser, your GPA (if it is requested, often along with GRE/SAT scores; list it/them separately), and your high school’s name.

List three to five internships or jobs that highlight the skill set that is most desirable to the employer, highlighting how you made a difference by citing specifics and using quantifiable measures of what you did. For example, don’t just say you TA’d a lab section; tell employers that you “taught introductory laboratory chemistry to 23 students.

You should use action verbs in active past or present tense. For example, rather than saying “I was responsible for the operation, maintenance, student training, and certification of users for x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, 1992-1995,” say “I maintained and operated x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. I trained and certified 44 students over 3 years.”

If you are just out of college with little work experience, you can write about something particularly notable in college. For example, I was the technical director of a theater on campus.

To write your experiences, follow this format:
Job title | Name of the organization |  Location (city, state) of the organization, and year of employment (nobody cares about months)

Something which is not covered already. For example, computer skills and foreign-language skills can be included here.

Your hobbies, date of birth, your marital status, the number of children you have, and salary requirements.

While this is optional, including some great references can really help your case. Mention the person’s full name, job title, place of employment, relationship to you, full address, phone number, and e-mail address


Skeleton of a CV

Phone | Email
Indian Institute of Science | Bangalore, India

Date | MS, University Name
Date | B.Tech. University Name

Date | Graduate Student, Indian Institute of Science
Accomplishments, Thesis, Experiments, Publications

Date | Undergraduate Student, Bangalore University
Accomplishments, Thesis, Experiments

Date | Teaching Assistant, Indian Institute of Science
Course taught, advising, mentoring



Your name, author2, author2
Date | Title of the article, journal
Write in chronological order, but if the most recent is not relevant, use a subheading such as “Relevant publications”. Other subheadings could include “Peer reviewed”, “In Progress”, and “Conference Proceedings”.


 Include at least two academic referees who have given you permission to be included in your CV.


CV Template

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