Educational background in CV

Displaying your academic qualifications and education on your CV is an important part of your overall CV writing experience. Along with your professional experience this is going to be the most evaluated section of your CV by a protracted employer. So if you are thinking about whether or not to give this section a second thought, you already have your answer.

Writing about your education on your CV/Resume may seem straightforward at first but then several questions can arise. You may want to know what order you present your education in? Or what elements to include, such as grades? And what to write if you failed to complete an educational path? We take you step by step through these answers when writing your CV. 

With this article we’ll teach you how to present in an orderly and attractive way the education part of your CV. We will make your education part stand out and convey exactly what the employer wants in terms of content. In terms of style we already have you covered with our selection of templates.

How to list education on your CV or Resume?

The first question usually asked is where to list your education in relation to your professional experience. You should aim to keep the two seperate. Any professional experience that was obtained in the context of your studies such as university administration experience should still stay separate from your education part.

From then on the order of professional experience and education experience in your CV depends on the career stage you are at. If you do not have much professional experience then it’s probably best you emphasise your education by putting it first.

Next you need to know in what order you put each entry for an educational experience in. The question often asked here is whether to start with your earliest or latest educational experience. You need to put your latest education qualifications first, or in case of a very specific degree requirement this one first, so that you target the job properly.

In terms of what you include on the line detailing your educational experience, you start with the name of the degree or qualification, the name of the institution that delivered it, the starting year and the year of completion if applicable. Naming the city of the institution can be useful too.

University Degree Education

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What are examples of academic qualifications in a CV?

Your educational experience refers to any courses you attended at a University, technical school or job center as part of building your professional skills. In many cases you will be asked for these courses to be certified. As such, make sure you have proof of attending these institutions as otherwise you may as well leave it blank.

An example of an entry would be :

BA History / University of Warwick / September 2016 – October 2019

You can then add details underneath relevant to the job you are applying to.

You can also put a summer school course :

Course in Conflict Studies / Free University of Berlin / Berlin, Germany / 14-31 August 2017
Data Analysis Course / Leeds Council / Leeds, UK / 1-31 September 2019

In this case it helps if your qualifications are clearly dated from the start of your first course to your graduation course.

For a language course, you should not include it as a line of educational completion, but rather as a core skill. To see how to present skills in your CV, we have a skills on CV guide to help you. Whilst language courses are also training, unless you did an intensive course or it was your main degree there is little need to waste space on it when you can simply add it to the skills section.

When it comes to languages, remember that there is a common ranking system per continent, to evaluate your language level. The European CEFR (Common European Framework for Reference) system of ranking your language level is advised when applying within the EU.  

Who to deal with incomplete degrees on Resume

Shutterstock | Roman Samborskyi

What should I put on my CV if I failed my degree?

What should you do if you started an academic course and never completed it? This can be a very tricky situation as you want to avoid gaps in your CV and may also have learnt some useful knowledge and skills. Failure also shouldn’t be something you necessarily hide.

The important thing is to make sure the uncompleted education you put on your CV is relevant to the job you are applying to. There is also little sense in lying about this. Background checks can now be easily done.

Note too that studies that you are in the course of completing should absolutely figure on your CV or Resume. This is important not only to demonstrate you are not inactive but also to make the employer understand what your employee status could be legally.


Dos and Don’ts for putting education on your CV


  • only include information on the degree relevant to the job you are applying. Whilst adding one line of an irrelevant qualification is acceptable, make sure you don’t
  • order your academic qualifications in the most relevant way. This means prioritizing your qualifications most recently acquired, or simply the qualification that is the most relevant.
  • Try to highlight transferable skills from your academic degrees. If you go to university this may be handy as your academic course may seem initially irrelevant to the job applied to. Yet your academic course may have taught you some hard and soft skills that are transferable. Be creative in what you can bring to the table.
  • Include your exchange program abroad (e.g. Erasmus) alongside your primary academic achievement that went with it, at your home institution. Employers often value people who are bold enough to study in a different culture and comfort zone to their own.


  • Describe your degrees in extensive detail. Stick to describing the core courses or addressing what parts of your degrees are relevant to the job at hand.
  • Include work experience done alongside education in the education section. This belongs in your professional experience section.
  • Let education take up a major part of your CV if you already have enough relevant experience. Particularly mid-career it will start to become less and less relevant.

Now that you have some ideas about presenting your education on your CV, feel free to browse our CV templates to see which one best suits your academic experience and reflects the narrative you want your CV to have.