CV and Cover Letter Basics - Workshop Materials

The files and samples distributed at our WCC Workshop in March are located here

Applying for Graduate School: General Strategies


The purpose of this article is to help you begin thinking the way you need to think before you start pitching yourself to various graduate programs. In addition to providing a set of strategies you should adopt as you research programs and begin writing your cv and statement of purpose, this article discusses the important differences between BA/MA and PhD programs and what that means for your application.

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Writing an Academic CV

What Is a Curriculum Vitae?

The phrase "curriculum vitae," in a literal sense, means "course (or path) of life." Thus in American English the written genre we call a "curriculum vitae" (CV) is a document that summarizes the path you have followed in your professional life. As such, a CV grows and changes with its author,—it grows and changes is a rather unusual genre, in so far as it is one thatAs a genre, a curriculum vitae (cv) should thereforeIn American English, a CV, or “curriculum vitae,” and a resume are not the same thing. Resumes are brief and tailored for a specific objective, which dictates the type of information one includes. A CV should be more comprehensive. In fact, the phrase “curriculum vitae” literally means “course [or path] of life,” and thus a CV should grow and develop as you do.

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The Academic Curriculum Vitae


The curriculum vitae (CV) provides an overview of your achievements in the academic realm and should ideally provide a sense of continuity between what you have done in the past and what you plan to do in the future. There are different standards for American and British/Canadian cvs. This article focuses on the American cv.

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Statements of Purpose


Graduate school is a long-term investment on the part of the student that requires considerable self-discipline, focus, and internal motivation as well as intelligence. Even very, very smart people do not finish. Indeed, many finish their coursework only to stall at the dissertation stage.

Admitting a PhD student also represents a significant investment of resources for the program in terms of stipend money and mentorship. The return graduate programs want from that investment is for you to finish and get a good job. Those who make admissions decisions for graduate programs are looking for evidence that you will do this, which isn’t always easy to tell from your grades and GRE scores.

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