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Curriculum Vitae

What is a CV?

The academic curriculum vitae (CV or simply, vita) is more than a resume. It is a biographical statement detailing your professional activities and qualifications. Unlike a resume, a CV is typically several pages long, and it provides details about education, research experience, teaching responsibilities, university service, membership in professional organizations, publications and presentations, as well as other professional activities.

What should be included?

Although most academic positions require a CV, each field stresses different aspects of your professional experience. For example, someone in the health sciences might showcase clinical work, a researcher in the natural sciences would highlight grant-funded research, and someone in the humanities would likely stress their teaching experience and writing. Moreover, as each individual has particular strengths and interests, even within a field there can be great variation among CVs.

Here is a list of items that can be included in a CV:

Note: These are not listed in any particular order and this list is not meant to be exhaustive, nor should anyone be expected to include all of these items. See sample CVs from your discipline for more ideas.

  • A heading with name, addresses (home and school), phone number (with area code) and e-mail address.
  • Education. List academic degrees beginning with most recent. If you have not finished your degree yet, list this first, with in progress or expected month/year for the date.
  • Dissertation or Thesis topic or title and advisor's name
  • Honors and awards including scholarships, assistantships, fellowships and teaching or research awards.
  • Teaching experience. List most recent courses first with course title and date. Make sure to include your title (Teaching Assistant, Adjunct Instructor, Lecturer, etc.) If TA, list scope of responsibilities (e.g., responsible for all aspects of course, assisted instructor with grading, led discussion sections).
  • Research experience. List most recent projects first. Indicate principal and other investigators, funding sources and location.
  • Presentations. List most recent first. Include date, title, co-presenters, title and location of conference. Indicate if invited presentation.
  • Publications in peer-reviewed journals. List most recent first.
  • Membership and leadership roles in professional organizations.
  • University service. List any committees you have served on.
  • References. List names and contact information of three to five individuals who have agreed to write recommendations for you. They should have a close knowledge of your work.
  • Certifications or licenses and year received
  • Technical skills and certifications
  • Publications in non-peer reviewed sources. Be clear about what type of publication (e.g., graduate student journal, teaching newsletter, etc.)
  • Research interests
  • Volunteer experience or community involvement that pertains to your field (e.g., helping to run and teach summer science programs for children).
  • Other professional experience related to your field. For example, if you spent time working in your field prior to or during your graduate training, you may want to list these positions with a brief description of your duties.

Do not include:

  • Anything (honors awards or experience) prior to graduate school unless it stands out as exceptional. Such things to include might be a presentation at a national conference, a publication in a peer reviewed article, membership in an honor society such as Phi Beta Kappa or Psi Chi. Don't include articles published in student journals or membership in social clubs while in college.
  • Personal information such as age, marital status, names of children, and hobbies.
  • Excessive details. For example, if you were a research assistant, you do not need to list every aspect of your position (contacting participants, scheduling sessions, etc.).
  • Padding or misleading information. Be straightforward about your experience.

How is it formatted?

CV formats vary, but current contact information and education are always listed first, followed by the sections most important to your career. For example, if you are primarily a research scientist applying for research positions, you would list research experience first. If you are more focused on teaching and are applying for a teaching position, such as at a community college, you would list teaching experience first.

The best way to learn about formatting a CV is to see some examples. Please contact CTE for examples from Duquesne faculty members and graduate students/alumni from various disciplines.

You can also visit the CV doctor from the Chronicle of Higher Education. In this and other linked articles, the authors present and critique several sample CVs from various disciplines.

Finally, make sure to have others proofread and critique your CV. Try to have at least one faculty member from your department look it over and offer advice.

What about a cover letter?

When applying for an academic position, you will often send a cover letter accompanying the CV. This letter should be no longer than two pages and should address the requirements advertised by the position. Tailor each letter for the unique attributes of the position and communicate enthusiasm. Research the mission statement of the department and the institution and think about how your own philosophy might be aligned with their views on teaching and research. As with the CV, make sure to have others read the letter for editorial and general feedback.

The article How to Write Appealing Cover Letters from The Chronicle of Higher Education offers more specific advice and sample letters.

Where can I find other resources?

Writing your Curriculum Vitae

This website from Dartmouth College offers brief descriptions of the most common components of a CV.

A Psychology Student Handbook -- How to Prepare a Vita

This website from the Hanover University Psychology Department is geared toward psychology graduate students; however, the format they suggest is applicable for those from other disciplines as well.