How to List Education on a Resume

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn how to highlight your education to make your resume shine.

[Featured image] A woman adds an education section to her resume.

Education is an important section to include on your resume, as it helps potential employers build a picture of your qualifications for the job. Some roles may even require a particular degree, and your resume is the best place to show that you have it.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to format the education section of your resume (and where you should position it), as well as walk through some specific educational situations.

How to format your education section

There’s more than one way to format your education section, depending on the amount of work experience you have and what details may be most relevant to the job you’re applying for. For each school you have attended, consider including some combination of the following (always include the three bolded items):

  • School name

  • Degree obtained

  • Location

  • Dates attended or graduation date

  • Field of study (major and minors)

  • GPA if it was above 3.5 

  • Honors, achievements, relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, or study abroad programs

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you format this section of your resume:

List in reverse chronological order.

Rank your highest degrees first and continue in reverse chronological order. And remember, when ranking your educational achievements, it’s not necessary to list your high school graduation if you have completed a college degree. If you haven't completed college, list your high school education.

Make it relevant.

Employers want to see that your education meets the requirements listed in their job post. They will also look to see that you have the certifications they require for the job. Study the job listing for the role you’re applying for to help guide what to highlight. Make sure to include anything listed under the “requirements” or “education” sections of a job listing. 

If you’re applying for a nursing job, for example, you may be required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since the field of study is key, you may choose to list your degree first and institution second, like this:

Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 2019

Arizona State University | Tempe, AZ

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If your degree isn’t particularly relevant to the job but you graduated from a prestigious university, consider listing the institution name first:

Dartmouth College | Hanover, NH

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, 2006-2010

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Consider your work experience.

In general, the more work experience you have, the less detail you’ll need to include in this section. If you just graduated, for example, you may choose to include your GPA and highlight that you were the president of the National Honor Society (particularly if you’re applying for a job where leadership skills are important). If you’ve been in the workforce for several years, the school name, location, and degree will likely suffice. 

If you graduated more than five years ago, consider leaving off your graduation date to help avoid age discrimination.

Keep your formatting consistent.

While there are many different ways to format the contents of your education, consistency between each is key. Once you decide on a format, stick with it for your entire resume. 

Keep it concise.

In many cases, the education section should be one of the shortest on your resume. 

How to handle unique education situations

While many resumes will have straightforward education sections, some will have an incomplete or complex education history. Thankfully, there are easy ways to ensure that your resume showcases your positive qualities and qualifications.

Incomplete education

If your resume will include any incomplete education, it’s important to avoid words like “unfinished” or “incomplete” that could cast a negative shadow over your qualifications. 

If you’re in the process of completing your degree, include your expected graduation date. This lets employers know that you are still working on your degree while avoiding any confusion or misrepresentation of your qualifications. For example:

University of Michigan

BS in Computer Science candidate

Expected to graduate in 2023 

3.9 GPA

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If you’re wondering how to list education on your resume when you don’t have a degree, there’s a format for that, too. Say you’ve completed part of a degree, but do not intend to finish. You can still use it on your resume. List the number of credit hours completed toward a degree in place of graduation date, and include any courses relevant to the job you’re applying for.

University of Michigan

Completed 30 credit hours toward a BS in Computer Science

Relevant coursework: Web development, Object-oriented programming, Agile software projects

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If you have not attended college but have completed trade school or a certification program, it’s good to include that information under the education section of your resume. Listing certifications as a graduate can be beneficial, too. This shows employers that you are continually learning and staying up to date with trends and technology.

Complex education

Whether you attended multiple schools to earn one degree or earned multiple degrees from multiple schools, listing your education is only as complex as its formatting.

Attending a few different colleges before landing at the one you graduated from does not mean you have to list every school. Employers are mainly interested in the school from which your degree was earned. It is, however, a good idea to list every school that you have received a degree from.

If you have earned multiple degrees at the same level, you should list all of them. In terms of order, it is okay to list either your most recent or most relevant first. 

Where to place your education section

Where you place the education section on your resume depends on a few different factors: your education history, your work history, and the job for which you are applying.

If you are a recent graduate with minimal work history, it’s appropriate to list your education first. Education will be your more impressive section, and you’ll want it to be the first seen when employers are viewing your application. 

If you are pursuing a job that requires a particular degree or credential, you should also list your education first. Employers will be interested in making sure you have those certifications before moving forward with your resume.

If you’ve been working for several years, your work history is likely more relevant than your education history, so it may make sense to list it first. This is particularly true if the field of study of our degree isn’t particularly relevant to the job or industry you’re targeting.

Resume vs. curriculum vitae

If you’re applying for a PhD or research program or a job in academia, you may be asked to submit a curriculum vitae, or CV, instead of a resume. If this is the case, your education section should come before your work experience. CVs are generally longer than resumes, so you can include your complete academic history, including all certifications and achievements.

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Next steps 

A resume is an important document intended to organize and exemplify your education history, work experience, qualifications, and skills. Don’t forget to include your completed Coursera courses or certificates to your resume. For more resume writing tips, take Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters from the University of Maryland.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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