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.

General Formatting:

These are not hard and fast rules. What’s important is that the information on your cv be easy to find at a glance. The reader should be able to skim over the content and get a sense of who you are and what you have accomplished before proceeding to the more narrative cover letter or statement of purpose.

  • Use the same font throughout the document.
  • Use bold and caps to set off section and sub-section headers. Be consistent in your use of these.
  • Use 1-inch margins and keep in mind that an American reader may print your document on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper rather than A4. Try to keep sections together on the page.
  • No bullet points.
  • Italicize all journal and book titles.
  • When listing publications, stick to the citation format most common in your field (APA, Chicago).
  • No narrative of any kind (descriptions of job duties, etc.). The academic cv is purely a list.

Key Sections:

  Personal Information: Name, academic affiliation, contact information


  • List your highest degree first
  • List degrees you are currently pursuing as “in progress” with an expected graduation date.
  • Use initials (M.A., B.A., etc.)
  • If relevant, list the title of your thesis and the name of your thesis advisor

  Academic Appointments:

  • Largely irrelevant if you are still a student.
  • List academic jobs by job title beginning with the most recent


  • Create sub-headings for each of the following: publications, invited talks, conference and symposium presentations. Leave out sections that do not apply to you.
  • Prioritize the most impressive achievements (publications over conferences, peer reviewed over non-peer-reviewed). After that, list items beginning with the most recent.

  Grants and Fellowships:

  • List the name of the granting body and their location.
  • Include the amount of the grant if available.

  Awards and Scholarships:

  • List any academic awards that you have received since entering university (no secondary school achievements).
  • Begin with the most recent.

  Teaching/Job Experience:

  • List any relevant work experience, beginning with your most recent position
  • Include work done as a TA or other academic assistant
  • Do not describe your job duties as you would in a resume for a job


  • Volunteer work that you have performed in or outside of NES.


  • List all languages you speak with proficiency levels
  • Give test scores (IELTS) if available


  • List 3 to 5 people who are willing to offer a reference for you
  • Include their academic titles (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor), affiliation, and contact information.

“But my CV is really short”

If you are only just about to graduate with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you are at the very beginning of your academic career. It is understood that your CV will be thin. A single page CV is perfectly appropriate at this stage. Make sure that you include all relevant academic achievements, even if you worked in a different field or research specialty than the one in which you are pursuing your next degree. The important thing is to show continuity of engagement with the academic world. 

Download a Sample CV