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The Purpose, Content & Structure of a Curriculum Vitae

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a document outlining an overview of biographical, educational, and experiential information, typically relevant to a job application. Learn the structure and content of a CV, and the ideal formatting and style. Updated: 11/15/2021

Curriculum Vitae Definition & Purpose

Marcy just received her Ph.D. in astrophysics. Now, she has to get a job. She wants to work as a professor at a university where she can teach and research.

Her first step in applying to the academic positions she desires is to prepare a curriculum vitae, often referred to as simply a CV. Curriculum vitae is a Latin phrase that means 'course of one's life,' which gives you a good hint about what a CV is. A curriculum vitae is a detailed biographical overview of a person's education, relevant experience, and other information that demonstrates the person's professional qualifications. A CV is much longer and more detailed than a resume, which is written to be shorter with a focus on the specific job one is seeking.

While many people, just like Marcy, compose their initial CV to apply for a job, CVs are used for other purposes too. For example, CVs are used for:

  • Research grant applications
  • Submissions for publication
  • Consulting work
  • Demonstrating qualifications for professional presentations
  • Leadership positions

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  • 4:02 Formatting & Style
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Structure & Content of a CV

Marcy has collected all the information about her education and professional experience and is ready to write her CV. She knows organization is important in order to send a clear message to her readers. She decides to include the following sections in her CV:

  • Marcy includes a relevant section giving her general identification information, including her name, address, phone, fax, email, and her professional website.
  • She includes her educational background, including all academic degrees, the institution where she received each degree, and the year each degree was conferred.
  • Marcy includes her dissertation abstract and her past and current postdoctoral research as well as a short statement of her research interests under a 'research experience and interests' section.
  • Marcy lists all the awards and academic honors she received during and after graduate school, including the years each was received and the conferring institution.
  • She also lists the fellowships she has held and grants she has been awarded, including the relevant dates and institutions for each.
  • She lists all the academic work that has been published as well as a subsection on her work in progress that has not been published under a publications section.
  • Marcy lists all the presentations she has given at professional workshops and seminars.
  • Marcy includes her teaching experience as a graduate assistant as well as her teaching interests.
  • Marcy happens to be fluent in Japanese so she includes it under a languages section.
  • In a professional training section, she includes workshops and seminars she has attended and all academic certificates she has received relevant to her field.
  • Marcy lists her memberships to relevant professional organizations under professional affiliations.
  • She lists her community service activities and any leadership roles she has held.
  • Marcy includes three references.

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