The Education on your CV

The best way to list your academic background
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The Education Section on the CV

The education section on your CV is a base to your work experience and provides employers with an understanding of your specialised knowledge, education and qualifications. The qualifications and courses you choose to mention in this section depend highly on the stage of your career and consequently, are different for everyone.

This guide encompasses what you should include in the education section on your CV whether you’ve just finished school, university, other studies, or have lots of work experience. It also explains how to list your education on your CV and extra tips for writing the education section.

If you’ve never written a basic CV before and are looking for tips and information, you may find it more useful to read up on how to write a CV before reading this section.

Work Experience or Education: What to include first

This depends heavily on your career stage and is different for every case.

Firstly, you can choose how to lay out your CV and decide which are the more suitable options according to your current study/employment status.

In general, those with a few years of experience under their belt or more will want to list their work history before their education background. The work experience you have is likely to be more applicable and influential in showing hiring managers your skills, talents and abilities.

Those who are still at school, studying or have recently graduated, may want to prioritise their degree and include the education section before the work experience section.

What to include in the education section of your CV

No matter whether you’re starting from scratch or you’re an expert, it can be difficult to prioritise and choose what to include in the education section of your CV. This section is designated towards those who are still studying, have just finished school, are a graduate student, have recently gained qualifications and have work experience already.

Still studying

Despite not having completed your course or qualification, you can still list it as the most recent entry in the education section, providing you indicate that the qualification is in process. This keeps employers up to date and enables them to see what you are currently doing, and the knowledge you are gaining.

If you are studying a specific subject or area, you can elaborate on the modules of the subject, as this may help employers to see areas in which you specialise.

Another point to consider is including completion dates; this way there is no confusion about when you can or can’t work. It also means employers are able to plan accordingly when it comes to offering you a job.


GCSEs and A levels are the most relevant qualifications to list on your CV if you’ve just left school. You can create a table listing the subjects and grades, hereby hiring managers can see which subjects you chose, your interests and areas of knowledge. Passing English and Maths is significant for many companies or organisations, as well.

Graduate students

As a recent graduate student with a degree fresh out of university, your priority is listing your degree first. You can choose how much of the rest of your educational experience and qualifications you would like to list, as your biggest qualification and main focus is your degree.

Including modules is optional and can be advantageous depending on the job you are seeking. If your studies are relevant, you should list modules to show hiring managers your areas of expertise and knowledge.

Below your degree, you can list your A levels or relevant college qualifications you achieved before attending university. A levels are more relevant than GCSEs and seeing as there are only 3 to 4, they are not too consuming in terms of space.

GCSEs are the least important and therefore not worth listing on your CV, although you can choose to include them if you wish. A good alternative to listing every single GCSE subject and grade, is simply listing the amount you have and the grades achieved. This way you are including your GCSEs, but keeping your CV relevant and uncluttered!

For example: 10 GCSEs Grades A*-B

You may also want to give priority to your academic profile and list it above your work experience. This is not mandatory, as if you have work experience in a relevant field and would prefer to prioritise the work experience section of your CV you should do so.

Recently gained qualifications

Perhaps you went to university 10 years ago and have decided to return or take a professional course or other training in order to update your CV. This course or qualification should be listed first and foremost, as the chances are it is most relevant to the field of work in which you wish to enter or already work.

Never exclude your degree from your CV! Regardless of its relevance, as many value the possession of a degree considerably and often the subject or area of study is not scrutinised, but instead appreciated. It is a key element of the education section on your CV!

Experienced worker

The education section of the CV is still important for those with work experience, but not crucial. In this case, focus on your most impressive academic achievements and list only the relevant or impressive qualifications and courses of your educational background.

It is unessential to list each qualification or achievement in great depth, as employers will mainly be focused on your job history. As a consequence, it’s better to summarise your academic background without lengthy descriptions or long lists of modules and areas of knowledge.

How to list your education on your CV

Similarly to your work experience section on the CV, the education section needs to be clear, concise. It also needs to be in reverse chronological order. Your most recent educational course or achievement needs to be listed first.

When listing a qualification or course, you need to include:

  • Course/qualification name
  • Academic organisation/school/university name
  • Start and finish date
  • Grades
  • Subjects and modules (if relevant to the job specification or a PhD)

Usually it is unnecessary to include subjects, modules or other information to great detail. However, if you have a PhD, you should be more specific about the depth of study and also list the names of any supervisors or tutors you had.

For more information, inspiration and ideas on organising the education section of your CV, have a look at our CV templates. Alternatively, use our online CV maker to create your own personalised CV quickly and effortlessly!

Tips for writing your education on your CV

Here are a few tips and points that you may not have considered.

Ensure that your CV is formatted correctly and that the education section on your CV follows the same format as the other sections.

Education systems function differently in every country, so if you are applying to for a job in a foreign country, or you studied abroad at some point during your education, it may be appropriate to explain certificates or qualifications. Similarly, if you are applying for jobs in a foreign country, don’t forget that other CV formats, structures and norms are different in other countries, as well!

When writing a cover letter, it is a good idea to mention the last qualification or academic achievement that you gained, providing that it was recent, especially if you are a graduate student or recently completed a masters or PhD study.

Don’t forget:

  • Your academic background should be listed according to your own personal profile and also the job specification
  • Highlight key achievements and influential qualifications
  • Always include your degree
  • Choose whether to put the work experience or education section first depending on your own personal circumstances
  • Don’t include certificates or qualifications that aren’t relevant to the job
  • Make sure abbreviations are spelt correctly e.g. PhD and not PHD

Last modified on 15 October 2020

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