Education is one of a few key sections employers look for on resumes. This information will inform interviewers of your background, which can be a helpful way to understand more about your fit for the role. If your education is particularly relevant to the position or includes any credentials that are required for the job, this section may quickly set you apart from other candidates.
You have several options when it comes to choosing where and how you list education on your resume. You can identify the best place to put your education on your resume by carefully reading job descriptions. This will often help you understand whether certain levels of education are essential, nice-to-have or unnecessary for each role.
Information to include in your resume education section
Hiring managers are looking for a few basic pieces of information when they scan your education section, including:
- The name of your school
- Location of your school
- The degree you obtained (if applicable)
- Your field of study
- Graduation year (if applicable)
- Your GPA (Note: You may not want to include this if it’s not above 3.4)
- Any relevant honors or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education
Though varying levels of detail are required for different jobs, the education section is often the shortest portion of the resume — try keeping it around 15–30 words.
It’s important to format your educational experience to match the requirements of the job you’re applying for. For example, a recent graduate will want to include more detail and place the education section in a prominent position on their resume because this is the bulk of their experience.
Alternatively, a person who has been in the workforce for several years will move their education section below their professional experience and keep this section short because their interviewers will be more interested in the work they’ve done at previous employers.
What employers look for in the education section of your resume
Each employer searches for different things in your education and what they look for depends on the requirements for the job. If you’re applying for an entry-level job, the hiring manager might want to see that you have a high school diploma or college degree. A recruiter seeking a director of a department might be looking for business or managerial training, like an MBA.
The educational requirements of a job are often listed under a “requirements” or “education” section on the job description, so read carefully to see if your background is a good match.
There are some professions such as finance or healthcare where specific certifications or degrees are essential to getting the job. If you know a potential employer will need to see that you have the right credentials before considering your other experience, place your education at the top of the page just below your contact information and professional summary.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you document your education is honesty. Potential employers may conduct a background check before offering you a job. If they come across information that’s different from what’s on your resume, this could hurt your chances of getting the job.
How to list completed education (with examples)
Recent Graduate (1–5 years)
If you’ve recently graduated, place your education section before or in line with your work experience. Your schooling is likely the most prominent piece of your resume, so it is acceptable to make this one of the first sections for employers to see. You can also include your attendance dates, any honors received (cum laude, etc.) and GPA if above 3.4. If you attended multiple schools, include the most prominent one where you were most involved. Here’s an example:
Experienced Professional (5 or more years)
If you’ve been in the workforce for several years, move your education section below your professional experience. Your interviewers will be more interested in what you’ve achieved in recent years rather than in your academic career. You can also remove more specific details of your education section like attendance dates and GPA, if you’d like. The more you can create interest around your work experience, the better. If you have advanced degrees like your masters or PhD, include those in rank order of level (ex. PhD, Master’s, Bachelor’s, etc.). In this example, the candidate included two diplomas:
How to list incomplete or in progress education (with examples)
In progress education
If you’re not finished with your degree, you can still include work you’ve done and when you plan to graduate. Employers are interested in what you’re studying and any specific coursework or special recognitions relevant to the job. If you’re still a student, place the education section just below your contact information and summary statement.
Be sure to include the following information:
- Name of institution
- Degree type
- Year of intended graduation
If appropriate, consider adding these pieces of optional information:
- Honors or other academic achievements
- Your GPA, if its a 3.4 or above
- Relevant coursework
- Extracurricular activities or organizations
Here are a couple examples of high school and college student education sections for reference if this is applicable for your situation:
If you have incomplete education, you can list any completed coursework in your education section. You can take steps to boost the section with certifications or other professional development achievements. You can even consider having a separate professional development section, showcasing how you’ve continued education relevant to the job. This is often just as valuable to employers if directly related to experiences you’ll have on the job. Here are a few examples:
You have a few choices on what to include in the education section of your resume, where to place it and how to make it appealing to potential employers. For placement on your resume, think about where you are in your career and what you want to emphasize. If education is the most prominent part of your experience, place it towards the top. If you have several years of experience, you may want to place education below that.
When deciding on content, be honest and strategic. Include important pieces of your ongoing education that are relevant to the position. That can include coursework, certifications, honors, organizations and more.
When you get an interview, plan to discuss your background. Your interviewer may ask you to explain or give more detail on the educational experiences you’ve listed, so be prepared to answer this and any other follow-up questions they may have on your qualifications.