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Tips and Advice to Help You Write a CV

a phd cv

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV), or Resume, is your personal advertisement and chance to make a good first impression with a prospective employer. There is a lot riding on this first impression with up to 90% of CVs being rejected by recruiters in as little as 8 seconds. Understanding what recruiters are looking for in these crucial seconds will help you write a first-class CV which can help you move to the next stage of the recruitment process. Following the below tips and advice will help you make a great first impression every time.

Personal Information

The first section of your CV should always be your personal information. This does not need a title and is where you state your full name and contact details including address, telephone number(s) and email address(es).

It is becoming increasingly common to only include the town and country in the address, however, you may also include your full postal address if you prefer. Please also make sure any email address you provide is professional and appropriate.

If your LinkedIn profile is accurate and up to date, you may also choose to include it in this section. It is no longer considered appropriate to include personal information such as marital status, religion, age or ethnicity.


Next should be some form of introduction, career objective or personal statement. Clearly explain, in a sentence or two, why you are the best person for this particular job, or what experience you have to offer.

Work Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent or current position. You should also provide volunteering or internship positions in this section. Each position should be listed separately and include the following information:

Don’t leave large gaps in your work history. If possible, provide a reason for any gaps, for example, travel, maternity leave or studying.

Education and/or Training

Include the name of your University or College, graduation date and the title of your Degree(s). It is unnecessary to include high school information unless you did not attend college. You should also include all the details of any additional training or study you have undertaken if it is relevant to the position.

Other Sections – As Required

Depending on the position you are applying for, you may consider including some or all of the following:

Remember to only include information if it is relevant.

The perfect length for a CV will be argued as long as the earth turns, however, the general consensus is around two pages. For a highly-skilled, technical position, an additional page may be required. It is unlikely you will fit all of the above information on just one page, so clear formatting is a must.

Make sure you use a clear, easy to read font in an appropriate size. Fancy fonts look great on your personal projects but do not present a professional image in your CV. If you are printing your CV, serif style fonts are the clearest and easiest to read – Times New Roman, Georgia and Century Gothic are serif style fonts. For electronic versions, sans-serif styles make for easier reading – Arial, Helvetica and Calibri are popular sans serif fonts.

Font size is also important. 11 or 12 point font is the most popular, however, it may be appropriate to increase or decrease slightly in certain situations. It is not recommended to go below 9 point or above 14 point in the main body of your CV.

Use headings, bullet points and short sentences. Do not be afraid of white space. White space can increase readability, and keeping the recruiter reading is your main goal.

Check spelling, grammar and formatting. Then check it again. If necessary, check a third time. Make sure you use the same margins, font and size throughout. If you have any doubts at all, ask someone else to check it for you too. Spell check is great, but there are times when you have used a correctly spelled word in the wrong place. Spell check will not single out “from” when you really meant to say “form”.

Your CV needs to be customized for each individual position you are applying for. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all as you will want to highlight different experiences and skills for each particular role you apply for. Taking time to research your prospective employer and adjusting your CV to meet their requirements will be obvious to the recruiters and may help you land an interview.

Keep it Current and Accurate

Keep your CV current at all times. It is easier to update your latest achievements, certificates and training as they occur, rather than scramble to remember what you did and when if you find yourself applying for a position.

It’s not ok to lie or exaggerate on your CV. It can be hard to give ourselves credit for things we have done well but don’t cross the line by making things up. You will be found out at some stage and that could make for an embarrassing situation. You have things to be proud of, point them out in a clear, non-bragging way. If you follow these tips, you can write a CV which stands out from the crowd and gets the right attention from the recruiter.


a phd cv

a phd cv


So you are nearing the end of your current degree or making a return to education, and you’ve decided to make your next step a PhD. While the road ahead will be filled with much excitement, you’ll need to secure your position first. This will all begin with a strong PhD application and an equally impressive academic CV and personal statement or cover letter.

Together with your personal statement or cover letter, your CV will show who you are as an individual and what you have to offer. It needs to be concise, correctly formatted and well written to convince your preferred university and supervisor that you are the right student for the project.

This step-by-step guide will get you on your way to creating an outstanding academic CV for your next PhD application. We’ll discuss the sections your CV should be structured into, what each of these sections should include, and how it should be written. We’ll also give you valuable tips that are sure to get your readers’ attention.

What Is an Academic CV?

When applying for a PhD position, it’s common for the university to request a curriculum vitae (CV) from you to accompany your application.

An academic CV may appear similar to a standard CV used for job applications, but they are two relatively unique documents.

Where a standard CV focuses mostly on what your previous responsibilities have been and what you have accomplished to date, an academic CV concentrates on your academic background, achievements and experiences . Your academic CV will be used by a PhD supervisor to determine whether you can meet the challenges associated with undertaking a demanding PhD research project, as not everyone can.

How to Write an Academic CV for A PhD Application

A good academic CV should be broken into nine section headings:

Below, we discuss what each of these sections should contain and how they should be written.

1. Contact Information

Start your CV by providing your contact details. All of the following should be included:

NOTE:  Some individuals include a profile photo but be careful before doing so. While this would be expected in some countries such as those in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, this would not be the case in other countries such as the UK and US. This is because it can lead to complications with labour and anti-discrimination laws and potentially cost you your application. We therefore strongly advise you to look into the norms and regulations of the host country before deciding to do so.

2. Research Interests / Personal Profile

For an academic CV written for a PhD position, your ‘research interests’ section will double as you ‘personal profile’. As a brief introduction to yourself, this will be an important section as it sets the first impression of you for the reader.

Use bullet points or a brief paragraph to summarise who you are, your relevant qualifications, your research interests and your relevant skills and experience. When writing this section, your focus should be on two aspects: demonstrating your  ability to conduct a PhD  and your  enthusiasm for the project .

To create an impactful research interests’ section, adhere to the following:

3. Education

A PhD CV is all about academic achievements and qualifications, so your education section should be given high importance and form the bulk of your CV, especially as it will be used to determine if have the core skills required for the position.

Working in reverse chronological order, provide a breakdown of your current academic qualifications. For most of you, this will be an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree and a postgraduate Master’s degree.

When listing your qualifications, provide the full name of the degree, the degree type, and the duration in terms of its start and end year. You do not need to limit this to your past qualifications; if you’re currently studying or taking an external course, include them as well, but state that they are ongoing and provide an expected grade if you have one.

If your degree is relevant to the PhD project you are applying to, include a list of the modules you completed and your corresponding marks; the same applies to your final year dissertation project.

Note:  If you list your relevant modules, streamline their names by removing any course codes. For example, “FN01 Fluid Dynamics” should become “Fluid Dynamics”. Course codes are only used for internal purposes, and each university will have its own system, so remove them to avoid any possible confusion.

Feel free to also list your GCSEs, A-Levels or other relevant academic qualifications if applicable to the field you are applying to, however, this isn’t necessary, and most supervisors will not ask for them. The exception to this is if your university degree is not directly related to the project you are applying for, but your previous qualifications are. In these cases, include them to help demonstrate the suitability of your academic background.

Finally, list any honours, awards and prizes that you have won or any other notable academic achievements that will help to strengthen your application.

4. Research and Work Experience

Your research and relevant work experience is just as, if not more, important than your educational background. This is because most applicants applying for the position will have similar qualifications, so your research experience can often be the deciding factor when all other things are considered equal.

Your research experience may include both paid and voluntary, full-time and part-time work, as well as university project work. However, in all cases, the experience you mention should be relevant to the project you are applying for or have helped you develop skills that make you a more capable researcher. For example, it’s not necessary to mention your time in retail, but any previous time as a laboratory or teaching assistant or teaching support absolutely will be.

If you any discuss research that you have done as part of your studies, present them as individual project listed in reverse chronological order, as before. You can also include research projects you are currently working on, regardless of how developed they are.

When discussing any projects, include the following:

5. Teaching Experience

Since one of the main career paths after a PhD is an academic career, teaching experience can significantly strengthen your academic CV. However, it is generally accepted that not all applicants will have teaching experience, but if you do, include it here.

When discussing your teaching experience, state what level it was at, e.g. undergraduate or postgraduate, and what it involved, i.e. marking, teaching, supervising or organising.

6. Relevant Skills and Experience

This section should describe all other skills and experiences that will help strengthen your application.

They should be specific to the PhD project or demonstrate your potential to become a competent researcher. This includes:

7. Publications and Conferences

Most students won’t have academic publications, but if you do, list them here. Formal publications can include anything from journal articles, which is most likely to an adaptation of your final year dissertation project if you do have one, and published reports. If you have these, list them in reverse chronological order using the reference system adopted by the university you are applying to, as this is what the PhD supervisor will most likely be used to.

If you aren’t a published author or co-author, you can still include other text publications that you may have been involved in, such as online articles, magazines, newsletters and blogs. The topics of these publications should relate to your field or academia in general and be written in a formal tone that showcases your critical thinking and writing skills.

If you’ve ever given a conference presentation, include it here with details of the name, date and location of the conference, the title of your presentation and a summary of what it was about.

Even if you haven’t presented in conferences, you should still list any you have attended, including any seminars or talks. This is a useful way to illustrate your interest in the subject and your commitment to gaining new knowledge within your field.

TIP:  If you haven’t attended many conferences or seminars, consider attending several upcoming ones relevant to the research area you’re interested in. Not only is this a great way to learn more about the field in terms of its latest developments and gaps, but it can also be an effective way to make your academic CV more relevant if it’s currently light on research experience.

8. Professional Memberships

Being affiliated with an academic group, society or professional body demonstrates your enthusiasm for your field and for connecting with other like-minded individuals within the community.

When listing these, include the name of the group, the associated membership dates and the position you have held within it.

9. Referees / References

Your references will form the last section of your academic CV.

Your PhD application should specify the number of referees you should include, but if it does not, try to include at least two, but ideally three.

Two of the referees should be academic, with most students choosing their personal tutor and their final year’s dissertation project supervisor. It can be other staff members, but the essential requirement is that it is someone who knows you well enough to be able to substantiate your abilities and character.

If you don’t have two academic referees, you can use a professional referee as long as they are still relevant to the project you are applying for. This will most likely be the case for those who have worked in industry for some time before deciding to return to education.

When creating your reference list, list your referees in order of relevance and how well they know you, not in alphabetical order. This is so if only the first referee is called upon, it will be the individual who can provide you the most useful reference. The following information should be provided:

It’s imperative that you first seek permission from the individuals before listing them as a referee. It would also be beneficial to send them a copy of your CV, cover letter and application form so they can familiarise themselves with the broader details in case they are called upon.

Tips for Creating a Standout Academic CV

Research CV for PhD Application - Tips

No matter how impressive your academic achievements are or how much experience you have accumulated in your field, the PhD supervisor may never find out if your CV is too difficult to read. With this in mind, here are a few tips for achieving a high degree of clarity:

Formatting for Clarity

Keep It Concise

NOTE:  Remember that you will also submit a cover letter or personal statement alongside your CV, so don’t feel the need to cover everything to a high level of detail here as you will have the opportunity to do so elsewhere.

Check and Revise

Save in PDF Format

If the submission method allows for it, convert your CV to PDF format. This significantly reduces the likelihood of compatibility and reformatting issues when opened by the supervisor.

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CV for PhD Application: How to Write One Like a True Scholar (+CV Example)

Last edit October 18, 2022

A PhD is the highest level of academic qualification you can achieve. To secure your position, however, you first need an impressive CV for your PhD application.

Earning a PhD degree requires you to produce extensive research in a narrowly defined subject within a certain discipline and to make a considerable original contribution to your field.

Hence why PhD programs are always very selective. The admission rates hover around 10% and only about half of the admitted candidates actually finish the degree, according to a recent psychology research .

As a result, less than 1% of the population attains a PhD.

So, how do you become a part of the 1%?

The process of attaining a PhD starts with a strong application which includes an impressive academic CV .

A CV for PhD application needs to be carefully crafted, well formatted, and contain specific sections.

We'll show you how to craft a stellar PhD application CV, and a sample academic CV from a real person admitted to a PhD program in France.

Table of Contents

Click on a section to skip

What is an academic CV?

What to include in an academic cv for phd application.

Tips on how to write a CV for PhD application

Phd cv example.

First, there are two types of career documents job seekers widely use. A resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV).

These two documents are similar but not identical.

So, let's have a look at the key differences between a CV vs a resume :

There are even more types of CVs. A general CV, an industry (professional) CV, or an academic (research) CV — which is exactly the one you'll need.

In a nutshell, an academic CV is a career document that provides extensive information about your educational and research background. Scholars and researchers use this document when applying for jobs in academia — such as a PhD application.

Lastly, an academic resume is a term you can often come across, too. To avoid any confusion, it's the same as an academic CV. A more appropriate term is, however, the latter.

Rules are important in academia. That's why all academic CVs usually follow pretty strict structures regarding their content and formatting.

First, let's have a look at the resume sections you should include in a CV for PhD application:

Let's have a closer look at each of the 8 CV sections in the next chapter.

How to write an academic CV for a PhD application ?

Applying for a PhD will be a lot less stressful if you follow this quick guide on how to write a CV for a PhD application:

You should always start your CV or your resume by providing your contact details. Include your full name, your professional email address, and your mobile number. Additionally, you can include your location. However, we don't advise including your full home address for privacy reasons. Entering the country and city you reside in is usually enough. Since a CV is a bit different than a resume, we don't recommend including links to your social media .

Research objective is basically a brief paragraph at the beginning of your CV outlining your research plans, interests, and strategies. It paints a picture of you as a person and will guarantee that the admissions committee will be interested in reading and learning more about your professional background. Your research plans and strategies should align with the PhD project you're applying for. Hence, read the project description carefully and make sure to tailor your objective accordingly. Ideally, without making stuff up.

The education section should form the bulk of an academic CV. No one expects a potential PhD candidate to have 10 years of experience in the field. But what's expected is an appropriate educational background. A common practice is to list your education in a reverse chronological order. This means listing your Master's degree first and then a Bachelor's degree. For each degree, provide the full name of the degree, the type, its duration, the relevant courses and modules, the corresponding (or expected) marks, GPA , and any relevant projects or presentations. Also, include the name and the description of your final year dissertation project.

In this section, introduce all of the research projects you worked on, whether they were a part of your undergraduate degree, your master's degree, or you have undertaken this project elsewhere. You can include any voluntary , part-time , or full-time work experience you deem relevant for the PhD project of your choice. For instance, skip the part-time bartending job and rather include a teaching experience or a voluntary project you undertook.

Of course, it's okay if you don't have any publications yet. If that's the case, simply skip this section. However, if you do have any work published at this stage, list it in this section. The publications can include anything from journal articles, published reports, contributions to peer-reviewed journals, or an adaptation of your dissertation project. Make sure to check the citation style your institution or field prefers and use it consistently in your publications section. The most common ones are APA, MLA, and Chicago.

In this CV section, list relevant honors, achievements, or awards you earned for going beyond average — again in reversed chronological order. It includes scholarships, university fellowships, competitions, work-related awards, or academic awards . For instance, you can mention a very high GPA, subject-specific awards, or any grants you received. However, keep in mind that mentioning how much money was involved is only common in scientific fields.

The skills you mention in your academic CV should be relevant to the PhD project you're applying for or show that you have what it takes to succeed as a researcher. Between the two types of skills , hard and soft, hard skills are more appropriate to include in your CV for PhD application. Examples of hard skills include Python, data analysis, SEO analysis, C++, SEM, Ahrefs , or languages . However, completing a PhD degree usually also involves demonstrating your teaching abilities. For this reason, listing soft skills such as a good oral communication and presenting is also a good idea.

While a references section in a regular resume is pretty much redundant, in a CV for PhD application it's a must-have . Why? Well, having a person attest to your skills and achievements is a great way to leverage your professional experience. The person you ask should be articulate and in a reputable position. Your best bet is to ask your dissertation supervisor, a professor you had a good relationship with, or one who taught the subject most relevant for the desired PhD program. Finally, don't forget that your references have to agree with having their contact information shared, first. Read our quick guide on how do you ask someone to be your reference .

Too busy to craft a PhD CV?

Let AI help you.

Apart from making sure the content of your CV is spot on, you should also follow some well-established formatting tips.

A clear layout and composition ensure your CV is professional and easy to read.

Here are a few tips to help you achieve that:

Too much to keep in mind? Kickresume's CV & resume builder can save you the headache and provides useful templates with appropriate formatting designed by career professionals.

Only need to make a few tweaks to your CV?

All you need is your phone.

Finally, to help you tie everything we talked about together, we thought one picture is worth a thousand words.

Here's a CV sample from a person who managed to get accepted into a PhD program at the university of Lyon in France.

There are several things Herrera included to ensure her CV was successful:

Lyon University PhD Student Resume Sample

This resume sample was contributed by a real person who got hired with Kickresume’s help.

Klara recently graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. After having written resumes for many of her fellow students, she got an opportunity to write full-time for Kickresume. Klara is our go-to person for all things related to student or 'no experience resumes'. At the same time, she has written some of the most popular resume advice articles on this blog. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her chasing dogs or people-watching while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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Written by Chris Banyard

Writing a CV for your PhD application is an important part of the process. A CV for a PhD application needs to be an academic CV . These differ from traditional CVs in several key ways. They provide a great opportunity for you to display your education background and any relevant research experience in a short and concise way.

This page explains how to write a CV for a PhD application , as well as including several PhD CV examples to give you an idea of how to format your own resume. We’ve also given some handy tips for making a good impression with your PhD CV.

On this page

What is an academic cv.

An academic CV is similar to a standard CV, so the same general guidelines apply.

Keep it professional, up-to-date, relevant, clear and concise. All information should be presented in reverse-chronological order (most recent first).

Any CV should always be tailored to the specific application. And so for a PhD you should ldirectly reference the project specification if possible. The most important and most relevant aspects of you PhD CV should be at the top.

However, there are some key differences between the two documents. An academic CV for a PhD application focuses on academic experience and accomplishments . Anything not relevant to this shouldn’t be included.

How long should an academic CV be?

There can be more pages in an academic CV template compared to a general CV. This is due to the additional sections and information that may be required for academia. For late career researchers, CVs can cover lots of pages. But, for an early career researcher such as a PhD student, an academic CV should last no more than four pages . However, you should still make an effort to keep the CV relevant and concise – in most cases two pages should still be enough.

PhD cover letters

An academic CV is often accompanied by a PhD cover letter. This will give you the chance to expand on the experience you've laid our in your CV and fill in any gaps.

Read more about PhD cover letters .

PhD CV format

An academic CV has several additional sections compared to a standard CV .

1. Personal profile and research interests

2. publications, 3. research experience, 4. teaching experience, 5. funding and awards, 6. professional society membership.

This section is often found at the top of an academic CV. It is usually a short summary of your research experience and your specific interests. This should directly address the job or project application. This could be in the form of bullet points, short sentences, or a short paragraph.

As with all aspects of a PhD CV, it is better to show, not tell . Give evidence of skills, interest and enthusiasm where possible rather than just stating it outright.

If you are deeper into your academic career, and have lots of publications and research experience, you may not need to have a research interests section – it should be fairly clear from your research experience.

I’m enthusiastic about Science and I really like learning. My research interest is Physics. I’ve got undergraduate and Masters degrees in Physics, so I want to do a PhD next.

This should include any journal articles, books (or chapters), reports and patents. Again, these should be in reverse chronological order. Ensure the referencing style is consistent and embolden your name where there are several authors.

You can include works in progress if necessary – just ensure this is clearly labelled.

If this is a long list, it may be better suited as an appendix .

This includes invited research projects , talks , conference attendance / participation, and other presentations .

It could be arranged by project (in reverse chronological order) or by experience (i.e. laboratory experience, presentations etc., in order of relevance). You can include your current research – this could be worthy of greater detail.

It may be useful to focus on the expert and technical skills involved in this experience, especially if they are relevant to the application.

Include the names of supervisors for each research project / experience, plus a brief summary of each (highlighting relevant or impressive aspects).

Research experience is arguably the most important part of an academic CV. It’s what many employers / project supervisors will look for and could be a deciding factor in the application process.

2017-present: Investigation into Viral Capsid Protein Self-Assembly

Masters degree research project, supervised by Prof J. Bloggs. Developed in-depth knowledge of literature searching, basic molecular biology techniques, and in vitro protein analysis. Presented research at several academic conferences through posters and oral presentations.

2016: Redox Sensors of Bacillus subtilis

Undergraduate research project under the supervision of Dr S. Smyth. Gained experience of protein crystallisation and bioinformatic analysis. My research report for this project was awarded a First Class mark.

Laboratory research. I have research experience in Molecular Biology laboratories at the Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee, developing relevant skills such as PCR, genetic cloning, protein purification, and protein crystallisation.

Presenting. I have presented research using a variety of techniques, including talks, posters, and workshops. These have been presented to academic experts at national conferences.

Academic writing. I have written many pieces of assessed research writing. These include literature reviews, research reports, and meta-analyses. All marks shown in Education section.

Teaching is an increasingly important part of academia, and teaching skills or experience are useful to have on an academic CV (provided they are relevant to the application).

Show any teaching, training, demonstrating, mentoring and supervision experience. Include the level of the students (i.e. undergraduate, postgraduate), and any additional work you did to accompany this such as marking, planning or organisation.

Here you can list any grants, awards, bursaries, scholarships, and fellowships you may have.

This may be for things such as:

Funding and awards are competitive and demonstrating an ability to succeed with them is an important skill in academia.

Again, list these in reverse chronological order, and include the award or funding monetary amount if it’s the convention in the particular research field.

Being a member of a professional society (for example the Biochemical Society) is a good way to show enthusiasm and commitment for a research area. Always include the dates of your membership.

What if I don’t have publications / experience?

As a PhD applicant, it is unlikely that you will already have lots of publications, research experience or academic funding / awards.

If you do, this will go a long way to building a successful application.

However, as an undergraduate or new postgraduate student you will not be expected to have lots of this.

It is important to include any experience you have (for example, a research project at Masters level) and show an enthusiasm for research.

It could be worth changing your PhD CV to a more skills-based format. In this way, you can put more focus on transferable skills that are useful in academia, and less focus on research experience.

If your CV still seems bare, it may be beneficial for your academic CV if you can find ways to get research experience or develop research skills.

Academic CV flexibility

There is some flexibility in writing a CV – you can change the sections included to better suit you or better suit the application.

General CV sections

Some of the same sections as a general CV should be included in an academic CV. However, these may need to be adjusted to be appropriate for a position in academia.

This should be your name, fairly large and clear, at the top of the page. It is not necessary to write “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae” – this should be obvious to the reader.

Include your contact information below this, such as your address, phone number and email.

For an academic CV, this is an important section and usually is found near the top of the CV. List by degree, plus titles, with the most advanced first (i.e. PhD, Masters, Bachelors etc.). It is acceptable to include your current degree, clearly noted.

This section is vital to show the hard skills necessary to be eligible for the position. For example, if a PhD project description states that applicants require a Masters degree, then your relevant Masters degree should be prominent here.

If useful to the application, you can include individual courses on a degree with their marks. But, give course titles and do not include course codes – these are usually just for internal administration purposes.

Results pending

A student applicant may not have received exam / dissertation results at the time of applying. This is acceptable – just include any results or marks you have already.

Other skills

Research and teaching skills may already be included in specific sections, but this section may serve for any other relevant skills .

This can include things like administrative experience, professional development, additional training, and languages (with proficiency noted).

I like reading books. I have experience of working in a local shop. Good with animals. Can do 46 keepie-uppies in a row. . .

Discussion of CV content at the interview

If you are shortlisted for a PhD interview , you may be asked to discuss the contents of your CV. Therefore, you can keep the CV concise and clear, and expand later at the interview if it is relevant.

For an academic CV, you will have referees , not references. This section will be at the bottom of your CV.

Check the application information regarding the number and nature of referees to include. There are usually two or three referees, at least two of which are academic. Non-academic referees may be included if specified or required, particularly if you’ve taken some time out of education before applying for the programme in question.

Keep the referencing style consistent.

Check that your referees are aware of their inclusion on your CV and have given you permission.

Should I include a photo of myself?

In the UK, USA and Canada, a photo should not be included. In some professions, this will cause the CV to immediately be discarded due to anti-discrimination laws.

However, in some countries, for example in continental Europe, photos are often included at the top of a CV. Always check the conventions of the country you are applying to.

Layout and formatting

Most of the same rules apply for a general CV as for an academic CV. However, it may be useful to check the common PhD resume format conventions for a specific academic field – these can sometimes vary.


For all CVs, the most important parts for the application are placed at the top. Generally speaking, you should follow this PhD CV template when ordering the sections of your resume:

The exact order of these can be adjusted to better suit the application and the applicant.

There is some flexibility in the PhD resume formats. You may choose a style that you like, but it should follow the following rules.

The format of the CV should always be clear, with a readable, normal-sized font and line-spacing where possible. Make sure the format is consistent throughout.

Headings and subheadings can be larger and / or emboldened. There should be clear spaces or definitions between each section.

UK and Canada CV vs. USA CV

There can be differences in the layout and formatting of CVs in different countries. UK / Canadian CVs tend to be shorter and more condensed than their American counterparts. Always check the conventions of the country you are applying to.

Tips for writing an academic CV

As you write your academic CV for a PhD application, there are plenty of things you should bear in mind to make sure that you give a strong impression to those reading it. These are our tips for producing a great academic CV:

Finally, always get additional advice and opinions. Not all advice is good, but you should always get help to find any mistakes or opportunities for improvement. Advice from someone who is experienced in the research field – perhaps a PhD graduate themselves – who can offer discipline-specific help on the academic CV will be particularly useful.

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a phd cv

Thinking of applying for the Doctor of Engineering (EngD)? Our guide covers everything you need to know about the qualification, including costs, applications, programme content, and how it differs from a PhD.

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A quick guide to a CV for a PhD application

How is a phd cv different from other cvs.


Whilst it may include a lot of the same information, a CV for a PhD can be slightly different from a CV for a graduate job. Here are some key things to consider when writing a CV for a PhD application:

How is a PhD CV similar to a CV for a graduate job?

What should I include in my CV?

Personal details.

Include your full name and contact details at the top of your CV.

Research interests

You can include a short summary of your research interests as an introduction to your CV. Make sure this is relevant to the PhD you are applying for to show your motivation towards that field.

Include the title, dates, institution and grades for your previous degrees. You may also include titles of relevant modules and research projects/dissertations.

Research experience

Summarise your Undergraduate and Masters research projects and any other research projects you have undertaken, either as part of your studies or elsewhere.

Additional experience/Positions of responsibility 

This section is an opportunity to showcase any additional experience and skills you have which are relevant to the PhD. If you will be taking some teaching duties as part of the PhD, you should include any experience you have that is relevant. Choose a title for this section that best fits your experience. Highlight transferable skills which will be useful for the PhD and give examples of how you have developed them. Also, highlight membership of any relevant societies or professional bodies.


If you have had any work published at this stage, make sure you include it. You will not be expected to have published work at this stage, so exclude this section if you haven’t.


You can include attendance at relevant conferences, particularly if you have presented. If this does not apply to you, exclude this section.

Provide a brief summary of your relevant extra-curricular interests. Use this section if your hobbies demonstrate an interest in your subject and/or research, or if your hobbies help you to demonstrate skills you will need to undertake a PhD (e.g. creativity, self-motivation) that you can’t show through your education or work experience.


You will normally need at least two academic referees. Ensure you ask their permission before you include their contact details.


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In this article, you will learn about:

How to Write a Good CV for a PhD Application

What to include in an academic cv for a phd application, tips for writing the best phd application cv , how to pick the best academic cv template for a phd application.

During the process of applying for a PhD, there are many documents that are required, and an academic CV for your PhD application is one of them.

It’s important to write an impressive academic CV during a PhD application, so that you can present an overview of your educational background and display your ability to pursue a PhD. 

In this article, CakeResume will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to create an academic CV for your PhD application, along with a sample academic CV for a PhD application at the end of this article.

Step 1: Research on the desired school and program.

First of all, you should begin by narrowing down your choices. What is your desired school? What program do you want to attend?

It’s important to keep your mind set on a certain goal before starting on the process of writing your CV to apply for a PhD, so that you can create a customized academic CV that best fits the PhD program you are applying for.

Make sure to do a thorough background research on the school and program you want to attend.

Step 2: Choose the right CV format for your PhD application. 

Most applicants prefer using the reverse chronological CV format for their PhD CVs.

It’s a suitable CV format for prospective PhD students, because you can list your qualifications and publications from the most recent to the oldest, which helps the admission board understand your current educational background, while providing information on your research interest and past achievements. 

Step 3: Look up PhD CV templates & examples online for reference.

After picking a suitable resume format for your PhD application, the next step is to find some inspiration.

If it’s your first time writing a CV for a PhD application, it’s completely okay to rely on online resources, as long as you do not plagiarize any content. 

If you want to find the best CV template for your PhD application, consider searching the keywords “PhD student CV template” or “academic CV for PhD application template” online to find a suitable CV template for your PhD application. 

After you’ve chosen a resume template for your PhD application, it’s time to look for some actual resume examples.

Typing the keywords “CV for PhD application sample” or “PhD candidate CV example” into the search engine may help you find some good CV examples for a PhD application. 

Step 4: Tailor your PhD CV to the school and research topic. 

Now that you’ve got the basics down, the next step is to tailor your PhD CV to your desired school and program.

It’s important to create an academic CV that fits your research topic, so the school will know that you are goal-driven and clear on what you want to study during your PhD. 

Step 5: Proofread.

There’s one last important step to writing a CV for a PhD application. Make sure to double check and proofread your CV before submitting your PhD application.

An academic CV for a PhD admission should be free of mistakes, so the school will see how dedicated and detail-oriented you are.

1. CV Header

A CV header should include personal details  and is crucial in a CV for a PhD admission. This section is usually located at the top of your academic CV and includes basic information, such as your full name and contact details, location, along with a brief phrase that states your educational background and interest in specific research topics. 

2. Research Interests

Since you are writing an academic CV, describing your research interests in a clear and concise way is important so that you can demonstrate your dedication and passion for your chosen field of study and the PhD program.

This is similar to a career objective for your PhD application. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to write, consider searching the keywords “sample career objective for PhD application” online for references.

3. Education/Academic History

Your academic history should be listed in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest. If you’re still pursuing a degree, state it clearly in your PhD CV.

This part of your PhD candidate CV is important, because it helps the institute see that you are qualified to study for a PhD with the hard skills you currently possess. 

If there are a few courses where you performed exceptionally well academically, consider including them in your PhD application resume. 

4. Work, Research, or Teaching Experience

Next is the “work experience” segment of your CV for a PhD admission. In this part, list your relevant work, research or teaching experience.

Since most candidates applying for the same PhD as you may have a similar level of education, including the details on your past work experience may help you stand out from other applicants. 

Keep in mind that you should try to include research experience that is relevant to the PhD program you are applying for in your CV. This shows your dedication and in-depth knowledge in this particular field of study. 

Now, let’s start working on the “skills” section of your PhD application resume. In this section, you should include any hard or soft skills that could help prove that you are capable of becoming a successful researcher. 

You can consider including:

6. Publications

Most undergraduate or postgraduate students do not have publications under their names, but if you do, remember to include them on your PhD student CV.

If you have publications to list, for example any journal articles, books or chapters, published reports and patents, list them in this section of your PhD CV in reverse chronological order. Pay close attention to details, such as the format style (choose either MLA or APA style) when you are referencing your works.

Further reading:   How to List Publications on Resume (+ Format & Examples)

7. Awards, Honors or Funding

We’re almost finished with creating your CV to apply for a PhD! In this part of your PhD CV, you can include any relevant awards, grants, scholarships and funding you’ve received in the past.

Including your awards and funding can show your competency as a researcher and add some bonus points to your PhD application resume. 

8. Additional Information

Last but not least, here’s a list of additional information you can consider including in your CV for a PhD application. 

✅ Tip 1: Customize your PhD CV for the school.

As we mentioned previously, it’s important to have knowledge on the institute and research program you are applying for. It’s even better to do research on your instructors and have a clear understanding of their research topics. It’s important to customize your PhD CV, so they can see that you are goal-oriented and clear on what type of research you want to focus on.

✅ Tip 2: Highlight what makes you unique.

Since most applicants probably have outstanding educational qualifications, it’s crucial to highlight what makes you unique. This is why you should list your relevant research experience, skills, publications and honors in your CV for PhD applications. 

✅ Tip 3: Quantify results on your PhD student CV .

Just like any other CV you would create to apply for a job, you should quantify results on an academic CV for a PhD. Having quantifiable results can prove your competency in a research field. 

✅ Tip 4: Adopt CV action words .

CV action words are verbs that you can use to provide a clearer overview of  your ability when you're listing your qualifications in a CV for a PhD application. 

Instead of stating that you “did” some research as a student, using action verbs like “identified” or “investigated” specifies your role and makes you look much more professional. If you’re having trouble figuring out what action words to use to describe your experience, consider looking online for PhD application CV examples. 

✅ Tip 5: Write a PhD CV for a specific field of study.

The process of applying for a PhD differs depending on your field of study. If you’re aiming for a PhD in Language Studies, your publications could be the key information that can help you stand out from other candidates.

However, if you are writing a CV for the following fields of study, it’s important to include your experience in laboratory research, such as:

🖋 Q1. How long should a PhD application CV be?

Keep your academic CV for a PhD application short and simple. It should only be around 2-4 pages, depending on the amount of relevant experience you have.

If you are planning to write a PhD CV that is 4 pages long, be sure to include the most vital information in the first two pages. 

🖋 Q2. What is the best font to use in a CV for a PhD admission ?

It’s important to choose fonts that are both formal and easy to read. Consider going along with a font that you use most often when you’re writing research papers:  Times New Roman.

List of fonts for your CV/resume:

💁‍♀️ Reminder:

Adjust your font size and margins according to the layout of your PhD CV, ideally 14-16pt for the headers and 10-12 for the body text. 

🖋 Q3. What format should a CV for PhD applications be in, Word or PDF?

You should definitely send your PhD CV in PDF format, so formatting of your CV does not change when it is viewed on different devices. You should only submit your academic CV in Word format if the institute specifically requests you to do so. 

CV for PhD Application Sample

Lily miller.

Outstanding Alumni of Stanford University

[email protected] 213-785-3065 Los Angeles, California (USA)

Research interests

Social psychology (social cognition, stereotypes and prejudice)

Stanford University M.A. in Psychology 2014 - 2016

Stanford University B.A. in Psychology 2010-2014

Research Assistant Department of Psychology, Stanford University Sept 2016 - May 2017

Teaching Assistant Introduction to Social Psychology, 2015 Sept 2015 - May 2016

Hard Skills

Soft Skills


Awards & honors 

With CakeResume, you can easily create your CV for PhD application online and download your CV in PDF format for free. Try now!

--- Originally written by Celine Chien ---

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With the intention of helping job seekers to fully display their value, CakeResume creates an accessible free resume/CV/biodata builder, for users to build highly-customized resumes. Having a compelling resume is just like a piece of cake!

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Resumes and cvs.

Depending on the type of job, you will need to create a curriculum vitae (CV) or a resume. Both documents put your qualification in writing, but they are used for different audiences and use a different format.

When to use a Resume

In the United States, most employers use resumes for non-academic positions, which are one or two page summaries of your experience, education, and skills.  Employers rarely spend more than a few minutes reviewing a resume, and successful resumes are concise with enough white space on the page to make it easy to scan. 

For more information on developing your resume, please visit  Optimal Resume and Cornell Career Services’ Career Development Toolkit . Students often find it helpful to review resumes from graduate students who got their first job outside of academe.

When to use a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV is a longer synopsis of your educational and academic background as well as teaching and research experience, publications, awards, presentations, honors, and additional details. CVs are used when applying for academic, scientific, or research positions. International employers often use CVs as well.

A CV is a comprehensive statement emphasizing:

A CV can vary from two pages to several pages. Professionals seeking academic positions and non-academic positions in science, higher education, research, and health care typically use a CV. It is also used to seek a fellowship or grant and is expected for some positions overseas. Consult with faculty members in your field to determine what is expected and appropriate for your field.

Guidelines for Preparing a CV

Electronic Version of CV

When sending electronic versions, attach a file or cut and paste the CV into the text of the email message. State your objectives and career interests in the first few lines since they may be the only items seen on a screen. Other tips:

Many employers use websites for applicants to apply for positions. Although each form may be different, some elements may be similar. Save parts of your CV in a format that can be cut and pasted for each individual web-based form, such as saving a bulleted list of work experience.

Transforming Your CV into a Resume

You may need both a CV and a resume for your job search. Sending the appropriate document (CV or resume) tells employers that you can distinguish the differences between the academic and non-academic environments and that you can adapt your skills to either environment. Most employers in industry prefer a resume. When rearranging your CV to make it a resume:

StandOut CV

CV for PhD application example

Andrew Fennell

You’ve wrapped up your degree and are keen to embark on your PhD journey.

But before you can get stuck in, you’ll need to secure your place by putting forward a compelling PhD application and CV.

If you’ve never written an academic-style CV before, the process can be daunting. That’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to writing a CV for a PhD application.

I’ve also included a PhD CV example, to give you a better idea of what you need to include. Here’s what I’ll cover in the guide:

Guide contents

PhD application CV example

CV templates 

PHD Applicant CV-1

As you can see from the CV example above, a PhD CV is structured differently to a traditional CV. Instead of focusing on work experience, academic experience and accomplishments are prioritised.

However, the fundamental CV writing  rules stay the same. Therefore, the candidate has put forward their information in a way which is clear, concise and formatted for easy reading.

CV builder

PhD application CV structure & format

PhD programmes receive thousands of applications, meaning the university admissions teams are generally very time-strapped.

As such, you need to  structure and format  your CV to make it as easy as possible for them to review.

First impressions count and a cluttered or disorganised application won’t do you any favours.

Instead, you should aim for a clean, well-organised and professional appearance throughout.

Formatting Tips

Structuring your CV

Organise your content into the following sections for ease-of-reading:

Quick tip:  While the simple CV format above is usually ideal, academic institutions often have their own preferred structure. Double-check their guidelines before you start writing – their preferences should be prioritised – and use a CV template if you want to speed things up without sacrificing quality.

CV Contact Details

CV contact details

Commence your CV by sharing your basic contact details

CV for PhD Personal Statement

Your profile / personal statement  is essentially your first impression on the reader and is a great way to hook their attention.

It should provide a snappy summary of who you are and why your qualifications, skills and ambitions make you a perfect candidate for the PhD.

CV profile

Tips to consider when creating your personal statement:

What to include in your CV for PhD personal statement?

Core skills section

Next, create a punchy list of core skills, organised into 2 or 3 columns of bullet points.

Use the project description to identify the required skills and knowledge, then use your findings to inform your list.

Core skills

This will help the busy admissions team to see that the PhD is right for you at a glance.

Education & Qualifications

A PhD CV is  all about academic achievements and qualifications, so this section should make up the bulk of your CV.

Working in reverse chronological order, provide a detailed breakdown of your undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.

If you have any GCSEs, A-Levels or other academic qualifications that are particularly relevant to the PhD subject, they might be worth listing, too.

Structuring your education

By working to a considered structure, you can ensure your education is easy to navigate and that your key achievements stand out.

For each of your relevant qualifications, break up information into the following sections.

Start by detailing the type of qualification, the title, the achieved grade, the academic institution at which you studied and the year you graduated.

MSc – Environmental Engineering (Distinction)

Middlesex University (2018)

Course content

Next, discuss your thesis or dissertation title (if applicable), the modules you studied and any relevant projects you were involved in.

What you choose to write here should be tailored to the PhD you’re applying for – focus the detail on the most relevant aspects of the qualification.

Thesis: “Identification of the Bacterial Profusion and Variety in Nuclear Waste Disposal”.

Modules: System Analysis in Urban Water Management; Process Engineering in Urban Water Management; Air Quality Control; Waste Management; Ecological Systems Design, and Remote Sensing and Earth Observation.

Project: “Research Study for Anaerobic Wastewater Treatment”

Key achievements (optional)

Finish up with a snappy list of key results,  accomplishments or learning outcomes you achieved.

This might be an impressive grade for a highly relevant assignment, an award you won or a quote of exemplary feedback from a tutor.

Career & Research Experience

Next up is your career & research summary, which should be tailored to the PhD in question.

You could include  relevant research experience here, as well as any related employment (even if temporary or voluntary).

Make sure to be selective with the type of employment you list, though. For example, a part-time waiting on job isn’t worth including, but a laboratory or tutoring job might be. Ultimately, it should be related to your field or have helped you develop relevant skills or knowledge.

When discussing your research roles, make sure to detail the techniques you used, the skills developed and any interesting findings.

Structuring your experience section

Ensure your career & research section is clear, scannable and easy to read by working to the following structure:

Outline the dates of employment/contract, the role title and the organisation or institution you worked for.

Aug 2018 – Sep 2019 Research Intern Hydro Continental, London

Give a brief overview of the position or research project as a whole, discussing the team you worked with (or lead), who you reported to and what the goal of the project was.

“Undertook a short-term assignment pertaining to the Economics of climate change in order to research and drive improvements in energy consumption and emissions; reported to the Executive Engineer.” 

Key responsibilities 

Then use bullet points to pinpoint your duties and responsibilities within the role, making sure to mention any relevant techniques or skills used that could benefit your candidacy. E.g.

Writing your CV for PhD

Applying for a PhD is a daunting yet exciting time, but a flawless CV can help you achieve your goals.

Remember to tailor your CV to the specific PhD you’re applying for and aim to make a compelling case for your suitability and aligned goals.

Before you send off your CV, try to get a second opinion from a current or previous tutor, trusted family member or friend.

It’s also worth checking the finished document with our CV builder , to eliminate the risk of overlooking mistakes.

Best of luck with your PhD application!

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MBA Interview

How to Write Outstanding CV for MS or PhD

Depending on the purpose – applying for a job in the industry or your application for an MS or a PhD or applying for a research or teaching position at some university or research lab – you will need to create a Resume or a CV (Curriculum Vitae)., know how to write a resume for Your MS/MBA/PhD .

Both the documents details your qualification for they differ in extent of details, audience they are written for and their formats.

When to use a Resume?

In the US and most of other countries for non-academic positions, your potential recruiters in most of companies, expect resumes.

Resumes are 1-2 page summaries of your experience, educations, skills and achievements.

Your recruiters would hardly spend 1-2 minutes scanning your resume to get a quick sense of your background and experience.

Hence your resume should be concise with enough white space on the page to make it easy for your recruiters to quickly scan them.

When to use a CV?

You will use a CV to apply for academic, scientific or research position.

You will also use CV when you apply for a fellowship or grant.

A CV is a longer synopsis of your background. It could vary from 2-6 pages, covering -

Guidelines for Preparing a Resume

Guidelines for Preparing a CV

Skeleton of a Resume

Resume tailored for a consulting role that mentions following skills in its job description: problem solving, flexibility, people skills, communication and leadership.

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, striking the right balance between breadth and specifics - **


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


List three to five work experiences or jobs that highlight the set of skills 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 an active past or present tense. For example, rather than saying “was responsible for operation, maintenance, student training, and certification of users for x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, 1992-1995,” say “maintained and operated x-ray fluorescence spectrometer; 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 organization, and year of employment (nobody cares about months)


Something which is not covered already. For example, computer skills and foreign-language skills might come here.


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

Option, but highly effective if you have some great references. Mention about your reference’s full name, job title, place of employment, relationship to you, full address, phone number, and e-mail address

Skeleton of a CV

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 aticle, journal Write in chronological order, but if the most are recent 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.

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