Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Include Relevant Coursework on a Student Resume

November 17, 2020

If you are a student, you might not have a large volume of work experience to list on your resume. This is common, and employers will take your student status into account when reviewing your resume. However, adding coursework that’s relevant to the job or internship you’re applying for can help employers understand the skills you’re developing and why you’d be a good fit for the job. In this article, we explain how students or recent graduates can include relevant coursework on a resume.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

When to include (and exclude) relevant coursework

“Relevant coursework” is an optional entry-level resume section that includes coursework you’ve completed related to the job you’re applying to. Additionally, this section can include projects, academic achievements, extracurriculars and volunteer opportunities.

If you are a student or have just graduated, relevant coursework is a good way to demonstrate your expertise even if you don’t yet have professional experience.

If you’ve been in the workforce for over a year, this section may not be right for you. Instead, focus on the professional experiences and achievements you’ve made. Additionally, if you’re applying for a job that won’t find relevant coursework helpful in the hiring process (like a waiter or cashier), this section might not be necessary. Instead, consider prioritizing technical skills and past experience.

Related: How to Write a College Student Cover Letter (With Template and Examples)

If you’re applying for a job that emphasizes the importance of academic experience, like an internship or other education-focused position, consider including a relevant coursework section on your resume.

For clues, look to the job description to help you understand what the employer is looking for. If they’re looking for a certain diploma, certification, portfolio or GPA, these are indicators that including coursework would be helpful.

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

Ways to include your coursework on a resume

You have a couple of options when including relevant coursework on your resume, including a column format and detailed format. Here are three common ways to organize your coursework.

1. Use a single-column format

The single-column format looks similar to the education section on your resume, simply displaying your relevant coursework in list form. For example, a candidate applying for a journalism job might include the following:

Relevant Editorial Coursework

  • Ethical Journalism
  • Global Journalism
  • Fuller Times Student Paper, Editor

2. Use a multi-column format

You can also group the columns into sections if the job you’re applying to requires expertise in multiple fields.

For example:

Relevant Editorial Coursework

Journalism

  • Ethical Journalism
  • Global Journalism
  • Fuller Times Student Paper, Editor

English

  • Technical Writing
  • Research Internship
  • Oral Communications

Related: 7 College Resume Tips (With Examples)

3. Use a detailed format

Alternatively, the detailed format provides more information on the courses you choose to include. This format will look more like what you would typically see under a professional experience section, noting the course and school name, dates you took the course and two to four bullet points highlighting relevant learnings or achievements from the course.

Here’s an example:

Relevant Editorial Coursework

Ethical Journalism, Fuller School of Journalism, Hartford College
Fall 2016–present

  • Understand guiding principles and values of ethical journalism
  • Develop and follow a rational process for figuring out your options when faced with an ethics problem
  • Justify decisions to editors, colleagues and your audience in year-end

Global Journalism, Fuller School of Journalism, Hartford College
Fall 2016–present

  • Learn advanced principles for conducting accurate, effective journalism for a global audience
  • Independent year-end study with the opportunity to report from Greece, won honorable mention

Editor, Fuller Times, Hartford College
Spring 2015

  • Lead a team of 10 journalists covering global, national, and local topics for the school paper
  • Winner, best student newspaper from the Bureau of College Journalism

Related: 27 Proofreading Tips That Will Improve Your Resume

Another decision you’ll have to make as you work to include a relevant coursework section is where to place it on your resume. If you feel this would simply be a helpful supplement to the rest of your resume for an employer, it might be best placed below the education section of your resume.

If the relevant coursework section will be the primary feature of your experience, consider placing it at the top or “main” part of your resume, where a professional experience section would normally go. If you’ve decided the latter is appropriate, opt for the detailed format.

Including a relevant coursework section on your student resume can be an extremely helpful way to communicate the value you’ll bring to the employer’s team. Keep the job description top-of-mind when deciding what information to include in the coursework section, and where to place it on your resume.

Related: The New Graduate's Guide to Job Search)