Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Write a Resume for a Ph.D. Application: Steps, Tips, Template and Examples

March 18, 2021

It is common for universities to require Ph.D. applicants to submit a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) when applying for a Ph.D. program. A Ph.D. application CV or resume will vary from that of a job applicant as it must portray the individual's academic history and accomplishments as well as their ability to participate in a Ph.D. program. In this article, we discuss how to write a resume for a Ph.D. application in a way that will gain the attention of interviewees and provide tips, a template and examples you can use when creating your own Ph.D. application resume.

What is a resume for a Ph.D. application?

A resume for a Ph.D. application is a resume that clearly highlights a person's abilities and qualifications as they relate to the Ph.D. program being applied for. Most Ph.D. programs require applicants to submit a resume or curriculum vitae (CV)—in addition to other requirements—to be considered for the Ph.D. position. The resume or CV should clearly highlight a person's academic history and accomplishments, any relevant work, research or teaching experience and the relevant skills they possess.

A Ph.D. application resume or CV typically includes the following sections:

  • Contact information
  • Research interests
  • Academic history
  • Research, teaching and/or relevant work experience
  • Skills
  • Awards and/or honors
  • References/referees

The resume or CV you submit for a Ph.D. program should be tailored to the specifications of the program and edited for each different program you apply for.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

How to write a resume for a Ph.D. application

The following are steps to follow when writing a resume or CV to apply for a Ph.D. program:

  1. Review the Ph.D. application and determine all relevant information you need to include in your resume.
  2. Decide what sections you will include in your resume/CV.
  3. Fill out all resume/CV sections with relevant information.
  4. Include references if requested.
  5. Tailor your Ph.D. application resume to suit each program you apply for.
  6. Proofread your resume/CV.

1. Review the Ph.D. application and determine all relevant information you need to include in your resume

Before you begin writing your resume or CV for your Ph.D. application, you should first review the application and note the specific information as well as the qualifications the admissions committee is looking for. This information can help you decide what you should include in your resume. Information to look for includes specific skills, academic achievements and experience.

2. Decide what sections you will include in your resume/CV

Once you know the qualifications that the admissions committee is looking for in applicants, you can decide which sections to include your resume/CV to highlight these qualifications. Sections that should always be included are your contact information, academic history and relevant experience. Optional sections to consider including are:

  • Honors and awards
  • Skills
  • Publications
  • Professional and/or academic memberships
  • Teaching or research interests
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Technical abilities
  • References/referees

3. Fill out all resume/CV sections with relevant information

After determining what sections you will include in your resume, you should take your time filling them out to ensure you include only relevant information. Focus on your experiences and academic history that directly relate to the program you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a Ph.D. program in English, emphasize your classes and experience that detail your work in the field of English. Minimize or leave out information that does not relate to the program you are applying for.

4. Include references/referees if requested

Most Ph.D. applications will request that you list references in your CV or resume. For a CV, this section will be titled "referees" as opposed to references. Include academic and professional references who can attest to your qualifications for the program. List their full names, professional titles, company or university and contact information (typically email and phone number).

5. Tailor your Ph.D. application resume to suit each program you apply for

It's important to revise each resume or CV you submit to ensure it is as relevant as possible to the program you are applying for. If one program requests a certain qualification but another program does not, you should remove the mention of this qualification in the resume you submit to the latter program. The more specific your resume or CV is in relation to the Ph.D. program you are applying for, the more likely you will be noticed by the admissions committee.

6. Proofread your resume/CV

Before submitting a resume or CV as part of your Ph.D. application, it is imperative that you proofread your document for accuracy, clarity and relevance. Proofread your resume at least twice and consider having someone else look at your document as well. Grammar mistakes, misspellings and other errors can have a negative impact on your chances of being considered for a Ph.D. program.

Related: Academic CV Guide

Best verbs to use for resume for a Ph.D. application

The following is a list of a few of the best action verbs to incorporate into your Ph.D. application resume:

  • Accomplished
  • Achieved
  • Earned
  • Increased
  • Produced
  • Advised
  • Consulted
  • Facilitated
  • Participated
  • Coordinated
  • Established
  • Maintained
  • Performed
  • Supported
  • Initiated
  • Managed
  • Supervised
  • Addressed
  • Demonstrated
  • Presented
  • Authored
  • Developed
  • Designed

The best place to include these action verbs is when listing your duties or experiences as part of your education, research, teaching or work sections.

Related: Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)

Tips for writing a resume for a Ph.D. application

Here are a few tips to consider when composing your resume or CV as part of a Ph.D. program application:

Use consistent formatting throughout the entirety of your resume

Keeping your formatting as consistent as possible can ensure an easy-to-read document that is not confusing and clearly depicts your qualifications. Use the same font size and font type, spacing and grammar in every section of your resume or CV.

Highlight important information with italics or bolding

Key information that you want the person reviewing your resume to see should be bolded, italicized or in some other way clearly highlighted.

Be specific

When listing your experience, be as specific and detailed as possible to clearly show the reader what you did and the skills or experience you gained. For example, rather than saying that you "worked in the chemistry lab," detail what you did in the lab by writing something like "designed weekly PowerPoint presentations for chemistry students based on the week's topic for study."

Keep your resume concise

Try to keep your resume or CV to a maximum of two pages. Proofread each element of your resume and eliminate any piece of information that is not absolutely necessary to demonstrate your qualifications for the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. application resume template

The following is a template you can follow when creating a resume for your Ph.D. application:

Full name
City, State, Zip code
Phone

Research interests/summary (optional): Use this section to write a brief description of your research experience and interests as well as the interests you have related to the Ph.D. program you are applying for. You can use a bulleted list or two to three sentences.

Education: List your education history with the most advanced degree first. Include the title of your degree, the field you majored or specialized in, the university/college you received your degree and the years in which you participated in the degree program.

Relevant research and/or work experience: Include any research or work experience that is directly related to the Ph.D. program you are applying for. List this section in reverse chronological order.

Teaching experience: If you have teaching experience, include this section in your resume. Mention the duties you performed and the skills you exhibited for each teaching position.

Awards/honors: Use this section to highlight any awards, grants and honors you received in your academic history.

Skills: Use this section to highlight your technical and other skills as they related to the Ph.D. program you are applying for.

Referees/references: Depending on the requirements listed on the Ph.D. application, you may need to include two to three references on your resume. List them in this section and include their name, job title, company and contact information.

Ph.D. application resume example

Here is an example of a resume created as part of a Ph.D. application:

Andy Adams
764 Tree Street
Tampa, Florida 33761
andyadams09@email.com
(750) 810-5555

Education

University of Tampa
Master of Arts in Psychology (M.A.)
2014-2016

University of South Florida
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (B.A.)
2010-2014

Teaching Experience

Psychology Discussion Leader, University of Tampa Psychology Program, 2015-2016
University of Tampa

  • Created topics of discussion related to various components of psychology
  • Led weekly discussion with 50+ students on psychology topics

Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Psychology, 2014
Dr. Tims, University of Tampa

  • Taught one lesson plan week independently of Dr. Tims
  • Planned assignments and lessons
  • Graded tests, exams and essays

Research Experience

Research Assistant, 2015-2016
Department of Psychology, University of Tampa

  • Assisted Dr. Tims in primary and secondary research on various psychological topics
  • Organized student studies to support research aims
  • Conducted research studies and documented all findings and results

Honors and Awards

  • Spring 2015 Teaching Assistant Award, University of Tampa
  • Psychology Research Grant, University of Tampa
  • Academic Scholarship, University of South Florida

Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • American Psychological Association of Graduate Students
  • Psi Chi

References

*Dr. Simon Tims, Director of Psychology*
University of Tampa
(515) 879-2345, stims@email.com

*Jacob Stevens, Professor of Abnormal Psychology*
University of Tampa
(515) 769-5123, jstevens@email.com

*Elinor Linus, Professor of Child Psychology*
University of South Florida
(515) 243-7923, elinus@email.com

Ph.D. application resume FAQs

The following are answers to frequently asked questions related to resumes for Ph.D. applications:

How long should a resume that is part of a Ph.D. program application be?

You should try to keep your resume as short and concise as possible and do not exceed more than two pages total.

What format should you submit your resume in?

You should consider saving your resume as both a Word document (.doc or .docx) as well as a plain text file or Text-Only document that you can copy and paste into the submission field. Both of these formats should be readable by application software.

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