Educational background is one of the key components of a resume, although there are nuances regarding how to list education on a resume.
Depending on how recent your educational experiences are and their relevance to the position you’re applying for, you may want to give them a more prominent place on your resume or include different details.
This article provides guidance on what to include (and not include) in the education section of your resume, where to place the education section on your resume, and what employers are looking for in your educational background.
What Should I Include in the Education Section of My Resume?
Here are the basic elements to include in your resume’s education section:
- Institution name
- Institution location (city and state)
- Dates attended or expected graduation date
- Credential received (degree, diploma, certificate)
- Major or area of study
- Academic honors (dean’s list, graduation honors)
- Relevant coursework
If you have multiple degrees, list the highest degree first, followed by all other degrees in reverse chronological order (most recent educational experience first).
While the education section of your resume is important, it should be brief, as you’re primarily listing names, dates, and other information. You can save more detailed descriptions for different sections of your resume.
How to list additional education on your resume
You may also have educational experiences that didn’t result in a degree or weren’t offered in a traditional academic setting but are still relevant to the position you seek. This education experience can include continuing education classes, professional development workshops, or individual online courses.
You can include these educational experiences on your resume in a sub-section titled “Additional Education” after your degrees by listing the course title and the name of the organization or course provider.
What not to include in the education section of your resume
While you want to provide enough information about your education to give potential employees a complete picture of your background and abilities, there are a few things you’ll want to exclude:
- Inaccurate information: It may be tempting to embellish or lie about your educational background, especially if you’re worried about being a competitive candidate. However, employers can disqualify you from consideration or rescind job offers if they find out your application contains false information. Employers may verify information about your academic record, including schools you attended, degrees you received, and your GPA. Therefore, it’s best to present this information as accurately as possible.
- Low GPA: You’re not required to include your GPA on your resume. If your GPA is lower (typically below 3.0), it’s usually best to leave it off. A GPA is only one metric of your abilities. If your other experiences and skills demonstrate your suitability for a job, you want to avoid drawing attention to any potential negatives in your background.
- All courses you’ve taken: Only include what’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. If an employer wants to see all the coursework you’ve completed, they’ll request transcripts from the school or schools you’ve attended.
- High school information: If you’ve completed education beyond a high school diploma, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree, you no longer have to include high school information on your resume.
What employers want to see on your resume
The job description you’re applying for is the most helpful tool in knowing what an employer wants to see on your resume.
It is where you’ll find the level of education an employer seeks for a position, such as an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, and any specific areas of study, coursework, or certifications.
Review job descriptions carefully to ensure that you include relevant information in all sections of your resume, including the education portion. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) software to do an initial scan of resumes to confirm only qualified candidates are passed through to human resources. Including relevant keywords from the job description in the education section of your resume can help ensure you receive full consideration as a job candidate.
Where Should I Place Education Information on My Resume?
Outside of the header and objective on your resume, you have some flexibility in the order of sections. The placement of the education section typically depends on your recent educational experiences and how much professional experience you have in the field relevant to the job you’re seeking.
For example, if you’re currently in college or recently graduated, your education should be listed high on your resume, as this is likely your most relevant experience. Employers want to see that you have educational experiences that align with the job requirements. Also, a high GPA and other academic honors are strong recommendations for you as a motivated, skilled potential employee.
Once you have a few years of professional experience (typically around five years or more), potential employers will be more interested in that than your education. Therefore, listing your work experience first and moving the education section lower on your resume is okay.
You can also remove some details about your education experience, like dates attended and GPA, if you like, as those facts are less relevant to a potential employer than the responsibilities and professional accomplishments you’ve achieved in past employment situations.
However, if you’ve changed careers and have recently earned a degree that is more relevant to the type of job you’re seeking, you can place your education section more prominently than unrelated professional experience. Review the job description and highlight what is most relevant to the employer, whether education or experience.
How to list high school education on your resume
If high school is the highest level of education you’ve completed, include your high school on your resume. Once you achieve a higher level of education, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree, you can remove high school from your resume.
Centerville High School
Honor roll student, 8 semesters
How to list an undergraduate degree on your resume
Undergraduate degrees include associate and bachelor’s degrees and are the most common types employers seek.
Oregon State University
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Graduated summa cum laude
Relevant coursework: Cybersecurity, network security, digital forensics, cryptography
How to list multiple degrees on your resume
When listing multiple degrees on a resume, place the highest degree first, followed by the rest in reverse chronological order. If you have multiple degrees at the same level, such as two bachelor’s degrees, list the most relevant to the job you’re seeking first.
Arizona State University
Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Graduated magna cum laude
Western New Mexico University
Silver City, NM
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
How to list in-progress education on your resume
If you’re applying for jobs while working on a degree, you should still include that educational experience on your resume if it’s relevant. You’ll indicate to potential employers that your education is in progress by having an expected graduation date where your attendance dates would typically go.
Ohio State University
Expected graduation date: June 2024
Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Current GPA: 3.5
How to list incomplete education on your resume
You can also list incomplete educational experiences on your resume even if you have no plans to return to the institution and finish your degree. You can list any relevant courses for which you received credit, as the knowledge and skills you gained in those classes may still be useful to you for the job you seek.
University of Colorado, Denver
Completed coursework: Fundamentals of Communication, Business and Professional Speaking, Introduction to Media Studies, Intercultural Communication, Social Media for Social Change