Curriculum Vitae (CV)

What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

  • A CV is a complete profile of your academic achievements, publications, scholarly interests, and skills developed as a result of academic degrees and related experience
  • It is often requested from undergraduate students applying to research positions, graduate/professional programs, and scholarship
  • It is generally used by those who have completed a master’s or doctoral program to apply to positions in academia
  • A CV’s length is determined solely by the content and not by a set page limit — unlike a resume, which is 2 pages maximum.

* In North America, a CV is a longer document used for academic purposes. Outside of North America, a CV = a resume.

Steps in Writing a CV

  • Draft the CV components document and strategize on the order
  • Improve the formatting and visual appearance
  • Get your CV critiqued by a faculty member or career counsellor
  • Incorporate feedback from critiques, and polish a final draft

Describing Your Experiences

  • Keep a consistent format with dates, titles, and styles
  • Be direct, assertive, honest, but not modest – show off a little!
  • Use point-form statements, beginning with positive action words to describe your responsibilities/accomplishments — include results where available
  • Accomplishment-based words include terms like: achieved, attained, established, improved, motivated, refined, and spearheaded

CV Components

The following categories (and more) could appear on a CV. Choose as per your experiene.

  • Personal Information. This includes name, home address, office address (if applicable), email address, and phone number, which should be up-to-date. It can be helpful to include your citizenship if it makes you eligible to work in the country of the institution you are applying to
  • Academic Information. Include the date of the degree (or expected date of convocation), the degree spelled in full (i.e. Bachelor of Science not B.Sc.), and the institution s listed in reverse chronological order. If you have done any thesis work, put the name of your supervisor and the title of your thesis, and if relevant, a brief summary and further details
  • Academic Honours and Achievements. Highlight the special commendations you have achieved for your academic work. Include a brief line explaining what the award is/was for
  • Research Experience. List all research assistantships or research projects that you have worked on. For each listing, include information on the institution, the supervisor, the research group, the subject, and your specific role. You may include specific skills or tools you learned
  • Teaching Experience. List relevant teaching experience including instructorships, teaching assistantships, tutor roles, or experiences where you served as a marker. Include other relevant information, such as c lass size, and a one-line description of your responsibilities
  • Teaching Interests. If you are a master’s or PhD candidate who is applying to a teaching-intensive institution, you can include this section which would precede the Teaching Experience category
  • Professional Experience. Work outside of academia should be included in your CV. Including this information explains any gaps in your academic work, and if relevant, can show your continued engagement with your research, and demonstrate the diversity of your experience
  • Professional Academic and Administrative Experience. Since any faculty appointment involves some administrative and committee work, this section can demonstrate to a hiring committee that you will be able to fulfill any commitments of this nature
  • Publications. This section typically appears near the end of the CV, followed only by the list of references. Since your publications are a key indicator of your academic potential, it is imperative that you follow conventions (APA style or MLA style). Do not ‘pad’ your list: strong publications can be overshadowed by material included as filler
  • Conference Papers. If you have only given a few of each type of paper, it may be better to group them together with Conference Proceedings or Publications; use your judgment
  • Conference Proceedings. Most departments recommend separating published conference proceedings from publications that appear in books or journals. This is because conference proceedings are often either non-refereed or reviewed with less rigour than journals
  • Papers and Presentations. Undergraduates applying to professional/graduate school often have no publications or conferences to report on. You can include strong, relevant essays/reports and presentations from classes, especially from upper-year classes
  • Academic Associations, Affiliations, and Services. List any memberships of academic associations in your discipline, such as the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)
  • Languages. This category is most common for scholars in the humanities and social sciences and allows you an opportunity to specify your reading, writing, and oral fluency in languages
  • References. Many people leave out this category since the letters are solicited in the application advertisement. If you list your referees, include their title, department, phone number and e-mail address

Please note:
You are NOT required to provide any of the following on a CV, application, or resume:

  • Date and/or place of birth
  • Maiden name
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Medical History
  • Citizenship
  • Credit rating history and/or personal finances
  • Family status (e.g. married or single, children or none)
  • Religious or political affiliation

Applying for Academic Positions?

On-Campus Resources

Online Resources

Please note: While every effort is made to avoid errors, requirements for CVs vary. Follow guidelines when they are provided.

Last update: September 2014