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How to Write a Curriculum Vitae

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A curriculum vitae, known as a CV, is a structured, in-depth document that represents your complete academic history. Unlike a resume, which is a brief synopsis of your work experience, the CV includes detailed information and can be several pages in length. Generally used by graduate students and other academics to apply for university teaching positions, fellowships, grants and research positions, a CV establishes your professional image as an academic.

Cover Letter

A cover letter, no longer than one page, is a concise document that states your interest in a position. It states why you are interested in the position and briefly describes your qualifications and achievements. It directs the reader to more complete information in the appended CV. It is best to use professional letterhead from your academic department and a professional address.

Formatting Tips

Although there is no page limit to a curriculum vitae, your reader may give it less than one minute of attention. The most relevant information should be on page one, listed in reverse chronological order. Common, readable fonts, such as Times New Roman are best. Active verbs and sentence fragments can enhance your CV while shading and underlining may detract from your presentation. A good CV incorporates jargon common to your field of interest.


Your applicant information, including address, phone number, fax number and email address should be at the top of the first page. Your name and page number should be at the top of each subsequent page. Education, listed in reverse chronological order, includes all degrees with the colleges named and the dates awarded. Academic honors and awards and any fellowships or grants you have received should also be listed. A CV also lists teaching experience, research and any professional presentations you have made or publications you have authored. Candidates who have earned a Ph.D. should include the title of their dissertation. At the end of the CV, applicants can include a list of references.


A curriculum vitae is meant to demonstrate your expertise in a particular field. Your audience should be uppermost in your mind when composing your presentation. For example, if you are applying for a position with a think tank or research institute, you would emphasize research projects by listing them first. If your goal is to teach at a university, you would highlight your most relevant teaching experience. If you are looking to work internationally, give prominence to the languages in which you are fluent.


M.J. Kelly began writing professionally in 2007. Her background includes real estate sales, taxation, college admissions and financial planning. Focused on business, careers and real estate, she has written content that has appeared on numerous lifestyle-related websites. A graduate of Boston University, Kelly has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature.

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