Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The curriculum vitae (CV) provides a detailed overview of your academic and professional history. A common document required by applications to graduate school, postdocs, faculty positions, and other academic positions, the purpose of a CV is to summarize your relevant professional experiences and accomplishments. While the CV is part of a larger genre and is not the only document which will affect whether or not you are hired or admitted to the program, it is often the first document that search committees read. Your goal is to help the committee easily see your strengths and qualities.

Graphic showing common academic job application materials: CV, cover letter, diversity statement, writing sample, recommendation letters

The length of the CV may vary by field and where you are in your career; unlike a resume, which typically remains 1-2 pages, your CV will grow with your career–which means you should update it regularly. The CV represents your academic identity and therefore will change over time as you become more immersed in your scholarly field. You should tailor your CV to the particular position or program that you are applying for. That might mean, for instance, varying the order in which you include major headings like teaching and publications (see below).


  • Use a standard, 10-14 point size. You may vary the size and font for your name at the top header.
  • Single-spaced
  • Left-justified
  • Use headings and subheadings
  • Items should appear in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest)

Basic Components

These components are standard elements of curriculum vitae, though you may vary their order depending on your field and the type of position you’re applying to.

  1. Heading with your name and contact information
  2. Education, listed by degree with name of department, institution, and year of completion
  3. Professional Appointments, which are contract positions. This heading may be skipped if you have not had professional appointments (e.g., most ABDs [“all but dissertation”] will not include this section).
  4. Publications, using subheadings such as: Books, Edited Volumes, Refereed Journal Articles, Conference Proceedings, Manuscripts in Submission, Manuscripts in Preparation
  5. Awards and Honors
  6. Grants and Fellowships
  7. Invited Talks
  8. Conference Participation, which may include subheadings such as: Panels Organized, Papers Presented, Discussant or Respondent
  9. Teaching Experience, listed under institutional subheadings if you’ve taught at more than one institution. Include any TA experience here.
  10. Research Experience, where you can list your RA positions and lab experience
  11. Service to Profession, including journal manuscript review work and leadership in professional organizations
  12. Departmental and/or University Service, where you can include activities like search committees or departmental leadership activities
  13. Professional Membership
  14. References

Additional Optional Components

Depending on your field and your career stage, additional components may include headings for Community Outreach, Media Coverage, Related Professional Skills, and Languages.

Strong CVs

A strong CV will present your best professional self: it will be detailed, concise, and accurate. Any descriptive text will use a confident and forthright tone. A strong CV will be specific to your discipline and the position you are applying for, so don’t hesitate to seek out examples from your field and from people who have jobs like those you’re applying to. To achieve a strong CV, be ready to write multiple drafts and to gain feedback from a range of audiences, including your advisor, committee members, colleagues in your field, and Writers Workshop consultants.

The Graduate CollegeInside Higher Ed, and the Purdue OWL have more in-depth and helpful information on CVs.

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