Craft a new resume for graduate school

April 01, 2019

woman writing resume at desk in front of a laptop

A graduate school application typically consists of an application form, resume, personal statement, transcripts, recommendations and other supporting documents as requested. The entire application works together to present a holistic view of the applicant.

Crafting an effective resume for your application is often overlooked but is an important part of optimizing your application to demonstrate that you are a strong candidate for your chosen program.

The first and probably most important piece of advice we can provide is: don’t just upload your current resume.

A resume for a job focuses on duties and responsibilities with the goal to get you an interview, while one for graduate school provides the committee with information on your potential academic success.

Craft a new resume focusing on your academic and professional accomplishments and how they are relevant to the program.

If a student is applying to a business analytics program, the admission committee will want to see if they have experience in analytics through courses taken, work experience, internships, etc.

The goal of earning a master’s degree should be observable in the entire application package including evidence of practice on the resume.

Keep it organized

Present your career and education history to the admission committee in a way that is logical and powerful. You want to create a pathway that is easy to follow. Highlight relevant and important pieces of your background with headings that connect your skills to the program.

We recommend your resume should be no more than two pages in length with the most relevant information on the first page.


A resume for graduate school should focus more on education than a traditional resume. Always include the name of the degree granting university, date graduated, major/minor and GPA.

You may want to consider listing your education near the top of your resume rather than at the end. This is especially beneficial if you earned high marks in your previous educational endeavors.

You may also want to include academic achievements, relevant coursework, internships and study abroad. If you have multiple publications or research, add a separate heading; otherwise, list them here.

Work history

The two most common ways to organize your work experience are in chronological order, with the most recent and relevant jobs at the top, and by a category such as leadership or marketing.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you choose the format that works towards your goal of connecting your experience to the graduate program you are applying to.

Other headings to consider:

  • Publications/Research
  • Technical Skills
  • Professional Certifications/Memberships
  • Volunteer Work

You may want to add selected accomplishments you have earned, both academic and professional. This section is reserved for those distinctions that are outside of normal duties that will make you stand out among other applicants.

High achievers are motivated and passionate people who are assets to their graduate programs. Be sure to include any additional training or certifications you have earned. Find out more about listing these here:

Tailor your resume

An admission committee looks for a correlation among your work history and your goals with the program. Read the program details and use relevant phrases to highlight your experience.

Add quantifiable accomplishments that demonstrate measurable results. Use impactful language to make a difference in the consideration of your graduate school application. Never exaggerate your experiences and roles, nor use words that do not reflect your true accomplishments.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Connect your work experience to the program.
  • Showcase applicable professional accomplishments.
  • Quantify achievements that are results-oriented.
  • Demonstrate recent professional achievements.
  • Use action verbs like develop, demonstrate, foster.

Learn more about how to set yourself apart using powerful language here: How to Write an Achievement Oriented Resume

Leverage style for effect

No matter the type of program you are applying to, your graduate school resume should be easy to read and scannable from top to bottom. Make effective use of white space while utilizing clear headings that follow a logical order.

Set the stage visually before they read the first word of your resume.

Follow these basic formatting tips to help you get started:

  • Align your text to the left margin.
  • Utilize standard margins.
  • Use font styles consistently and sparingly, like bold, to draw importance to key information.
  • Create bullets so information is easily digestible.
  • Use the right amount of white space to create a well-organized and friendly resume.

The use of color, lines, symbols and other style elements are your judgment call.

You want to make choices where information is easy to find, aesthetically pleasing and leaves the reader knowing exactly what you want them to know.

Your style choice can also be determined by your background or degree choice. Graphic design applicants will choose a different approach to their resume than a business student.

The designer might add images, symbols and color to show off their creative side. This works well for their program. A business student may want to stick to a more traditionally formatted resume.

However you choose to approach these elements, be consistent and relevant. Learn more about resume formatting guidelines to create a superior resume:


A well-written, error-free resume shows that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure that your resume is perfect as this will reflect positively on you.

In addition to removing typos or errors, proofreading provides an excellent opportunity to ensure you are not overusing certain words and varying your sentence structure for improved clarity.

Whenever possible, have someone you trust proof your resume for content, errors and readability. A well-planned resume shows your professionalism and preparedness.


Each line of your resume works toward your goal of getting into graduate school. Your resume tells your professional journey from college to now and gives the admission committee a good picture of your potential as a member of their program.

Take your time with each element of your application to ensure you present a strong case for admission.

This may seem like a significant amount of work, but this is one beneficial way to help your application stand out. The process will improve your likelihood of gaining admission into your program and help you improve your resume writing skills.

Most applicants we talk with are looking to advance their careers, which often means applying for a new job or promotion. Practicing the art of crafting a purpose-based resume will help you land that next big promotion.

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