How to List Education on a Resume: Tips and Examples for a Perfect Education Section

Education is one of the key sections employers always look for on a resume.

Adding the information about your educational background to your resume is the best way to show off your skills and qualifications. You want people reading your resume to see all the great things you've learned and recognize that they need someone like you on their team. It will help them understand who you are as a professional, what skill set you have, and what value they'll get if they hire you.

As such, education is an essential element of any resume.

Even though listing education on a resume may seem straightforward, it's not always easy to know what information should go to the resume education section or how best to format it.

If you want to make it perfect, read on to learn the following:

Throughout the article, you'll find examples for all educational levels and scenarios, from incomplete high school, to college degrees in progress and unfinished higher education or ongoing online courses.

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Do You Need to List Education on a Resume?

The education section is one of the few mandatory sections on a resume. It's also the second most important part of it, right behind the work experience.

The education section is the second most important part of a resume, right behind the work experience.

The main purpose of this section is to provide insight into the credentials you have obtained and additional courses you have taken.

Recruiters and hiring managers always look for this information because it helps them get a clear picture of your background and skill set. It informs them about your capabilities and knowledge you can bring to the table, helping them understand your fit for the job.

Although the education section may be irrelevant for some jobs, like retail positions where most employees don't need formal qualifications to be successful in their roles, employers still expect to see this info.

On the other hand, if your educational background is closely related to the job or includes any credentials required for the position, this section will give you a competitive edge and be one of your strongest selling points.

So, don't sell yourself short by omitting or downplaying it on your resume. Always add education to your resume.

If you don't have any education, training, certifications or credentials whatsoever, don't worry!

In this case, you can skip this section while emphasizing other parts of your resume to highlight your value. Alternatively, read about what you can do if you don't have relevant qualifications.


What to Include in the Education Section?

Knowing what to include in the education section on a resume is essential for moving forward in the hiring process.

Employers always look for this information, so it needs to be written in a concise and clear way for them to understand how your credentials match the job requirements.

When putting together your resume, add the following:

  1. School name and location

  2. Your degree

  3. Your major (if applicable)

  4. Your minor (if applicable)

  5. Graduation year (month & year if possible)

The above information is mandatory for creating a concise and informative education section that a potential employer will easily read and understand.


What Else Can be Added to the Education Section?

If you have limited work experience, adding information about other academic achievements to your education section is a smart way to accentuate your qualifications.

In this case, consider extending the education section with the following details:

  1. GPA (if you're a recent graduate and your GPA is high; if you had a GPA lower than 3.5, leave this information out unless employers request it)

  2. Academic achievements (honors and awards)

  3. Internships completed as part of a curriculum

  4. Academic scholarships or sponsorships

  5. Coursework completed

  6. Relevant projects

  7. Extracurricular activities

Add internships, coursework, project and extracurricular activities if they add value to your application and relate closely to the job requirements.

Bear in mind that all of the above is optional information that should be put on a resume only if you have limited work experience, so the education section is the place where you need to accentuate your skills and knowledge.

Still, remember that this information works in your favor only if it's directly related to a job vacancy you're applying for.


Where to Put Education on a Resume?

Many job seekers automatically place their education section at the bottom of their resumes.

However, it's better to be strategic about it since the position of the education section actually depends on the level of experience.

Adding education to a resume when you have some work experience:

If you are an experienced professional with over 3 years of work experience, your education section should go after your work experience and be formatted like any other part of your resume.

This means it should be listed in reverse chronological order and include all relevant information such as school, location, degrees earned, and end dates for each degree program.

If you have completed a college degree, omit your high school information.

Here is the summary of the most important rules for formatting the education section for experienced job seekers:

  • Put the education section below your experience.

  • Start with the highest degree first and follow the reverse chronology when listing qualifications.

  • Skip the high school information if you obtained a college degree.

  • Add the basic information only, including school, location, degree and graduation date.

  • Don't add an outdated GPA or coursework as it's not relevant anymore.

Adding education to a resume when you have little to no work experience:

If you have recently graduated and have no work experience yet, then different rules apply.

In this case, the education section is a crucial part of your resume. It's the central place on your resume where you can elaborate on your skills and knowledge and provide details on the value you can bring to your future employer.

If you can add any group leadership positions, courses, projects or internships that are related to the job you're applying for, then be sure to include them in your resume.

As such, it should come before any other sections on the resume.

Also, you should provide details only about those degrees which relate directly to the job vacancy.

Here is the summary of the most important rules for formatting the education section when you have little to no experience:

  • Put the education section above your experience.

  • Start with the highest degree first and follow the reverse chronological order when listing qualifications.

  • Skip the high school information if you obtained a college degree.

  • Extend the education section by providing more details about relevant coursework, projects, honors and awards.

  • Don't add a GPA if it's lower than 3.5 unless requested by an employer.


How to Add Different Levels of Education?

Even though listing education history may come across as easy, best practices for describing education vary depending on the education level.

Read on to learn how to add high school, completed college degrees, unfinished higher education, relevant coursework, academic honors or an online course to your resume.

Adding high school education to a resume

Including high school education in a resume is simple. Just add the name of your high school, location and graduation date. That's it.

  • Queens High School For The Sciences At York College (New York, NY) | 2015

If you haven't gained the high school diploma yet, add the expected graduation date:

  • Queens High School For The Sciences At York College (New York, NY)

  • Expected to graduate in 2022

Or, if you haven't graduated high school, then specify the years you attended:

  • Queens High School For The Sciences At York College (New York, NY)

  • Attended school from 2013 to 2015

Remember that you should list high school education only if it's the highest completed education.

If you have completed a college degree, you don't have to list your high school diploma.

Adding completed college degrees to a resume

If you obtained an undergraduate or graduate college degree, add it to your resume in the following format:

  • MA in Psychology 09/2020

  • New York University (New York, NY)

  • BA in Psychology 08/2017

  • Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto (Porto, Portugal)

To make it even easier, here are a few practical tips:

  • You can choose to spell out your degree or use the shorter form - 'Bachelor's Degree in Arts' or 'BA' (or B.A. - both are fine).

  • Double-check if your degrees are science or arts degrees - Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts (BS or BA; or in case of a master's degree - MS or MA).

  • You may see somewhere that Bachelor of Arts is abbreviated as A.B. The difference arises when the bachelor's degree diploma is in English (BA) or Latin (AB). But there is no other difference besides the order of the letters. They are both a Bachelor of Arts.

  • When deciding whether to spell out or use the shorter form of the college degree, it's best to check how employers have written it in the job ad and apply the same approach. This way, you'll improve the chances of matching your resume content with their applicant tracking system (ATS).

  • You can separate your degree from major and minor with a comma or write out the full name - 'MA, Psychology' or 'MA in Psychology'.

Whichever option you choose from above, make sure you apply it consistently throughout the education section.

Adding unfinished higher education to a resume

Don't despair if you attended college but haven't completed a college degree. You can still add the credits obtained or completed courses to your resume.

In this case, specify the second-highest level of education you've fully completed - either a lower college degree or high school. And make sure it's clear that it's an incomplete education level, not to deceive employers.

  • New York University (New York, NY) 2017 - 2019

  • Completed 50 credits towards MA in Social Psychology

Alternatively, if you're still obtaining a degree, add this information to your resume in the following form:

  • MA in Psychology (in progress)

  • New York University (New York, NY)

Better yet, specify the expected date of graduation:

  • MA in Psychology / Expected Graduation Year 2022

  • New York University (New York, NY)

Adding coursework to a resume

Coursework allows you to explain more about the knowledge you gained with the subject you studied.

Adding relevant coursework makes your resume look more informative and professional.

It allows recruiters and hiring managers to see more information about your skill set and proves you have transferable skills to bring to the position.

For example, if you're applying for a digital marketing specialist position and you studied business administration, you can list a few relevant courses you took in college.

  • BA in Business Administration 11/2020

  • New York Institute of Technology (New York, NY)

  • Coursework: Digital Marketing, Principles of Marketing Research, International Marketing, New Product Development and Marketing

As in the examples above, when adding this information to a resume, don't copy the entire curriculum. Make sure to add only the relevant coursework and aim at having only three to five courses on the list.

Adding academic honors to a resume

Unique honorary titles and awards give you a competitive edge and help you stand out from the rest.

If you received any academic distinctions for high academic achievement (summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude), make sure to add them to your education.

Also, list other academic recognitions and awards such as Dean's List, scholarships, honor societies, etc. Those academic honors will be taken into consideration by recruiters and hiring managers, and give you a serious advantage over other candidates.

Magna Cum Laude Example

  • BS in Civil Engineering 05/2020

  • King's College (Pennsylvania, PA)

  • Honors: Magna Cum Laude (GPA: 3.8/4.0)

Dean's List Example

  • BA in Applied Mathematics 06/2020

  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

  • GPA: 3.7/4.0, Dean's List for six semesters

Scholarship Example

  • BA in Business Administration 09/2020

  • New York Institute of Technology (New York, NY)

  • Jefferson Award, 2016–2020: Four-year full-tuition scholarship awarded for academic excellence in high school.

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Adding an online course to a resume

To list an online course on a resume, follow the same logic as with other types of education.

Add information such as course name, online course academy or institution and completion date - preferably both month and year.

  • Python for Data Science, AI & Development 07/2021

  • IBM Course at Coursera

If you're still attending the course, inform the reader it’s still ongoing or in progress:

  • Python for Data Science, AI & Development (in progress)

  • IBM Course at Coursera

Here are a few more practical tips:

  • If you have completed lots of online courses, select those related to the job you're applying for.

  • If the list of relevant online courses is extensive, consider separating them from other qualifications. Create a separate category called 'Online Courses' 'Online Certifications' or 'Further Education', and add them there.

  • Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. So, don't add more than three to four courses to your resume, especially if their topics are not closely connected with the job opening.

  • Preferably, add online courses with which you gained a certificate of completion.

Adding education to a resume when you have too many credentials

If you have too many credentials or more than one degree, start listing education from the most recent one and move to older ones later in the resume.

  • MSc in International Finance 12/2020

  • ESSCA School of Management (Paris, France)

  • BSc in International Management 04/2017

  • ESSCA School of Management (Paris, France)

  • BA in Liberal Arts and Humanities 09/2009

  • SUNY Alfred State College (Alfred, NY)

Also, don't feel pressured to add all of them.

Job descriptions are there to help you determine what experience and qualifications employers look for in candidates. So, use the job posting to identify which of your degrees or credentials are relevant to the job you're applying for and list only those.

Use the job posting to identify which of your degrees or credentials are relevant to the job you're applying for and list only those.

You can also omit older degrees as they are not as important as the new ones.

For example, if you're applying for an administrative assistant position at a certain company where your duties would involve answering phones and scheduling appointments, you would list and provide further details about your bachelor's degree in Communications from ABC University because it relates directly to these tasks. On the other hand, you should just briefly mention information about your bachelor's degree in Mathematics or omit it because it doesn't relate specifically to this job opening.


Practical Tips for Formatting Education Section on a Resume

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If you want to format the education section on your own, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

  • Highlight your 'Education' heading, and directly under it, add the details about your college degrees, courses and high school.

  • List education in reverse chronological order by starting with the most recent information first.

  • Strategically choose the leading information. For example, if your major is relevant to the job you're applying for, put it first and then follow with the school name. Alternatively, if your major is not related to the position, lead with the school and then list a degree.

  • For a polished and professional look, apply the same formatting style to this section of your resume as to the rest of the document. Use the same font style for the heading and titles as you used for the work experience.

  • Education on a resume shouldn't take up too much space. If a piece of your education history is hanging on the second page of your resume, try to condense it to fit your resume to one page.

  • To compress it, make sure that the education section is written in a concise and easy-to-read format. If possible, put the information about each level of education in one or two rows. To do so, separate the critical information with commas, brackets or dividers.

Here are a few examples:

  • BA in Liberal Arts and Humanities, SUNY Alfred State College (Alfred, NY) 09/2009

  • BA in Liberal Arts and Humanities