You’ve wrapped up your degree and are keen to embark on your PhD journey.
But before you can get stuck in, you’ll need to secure your place by putting forward a compelling PhD application and CV.
If you’ve never written an academic-style CV before, the process can be daunting. That’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to writing aCV for a PhD application.
I’ve also included a PhD CV example, to give you a better idea of what you need to include. Here’s what I’ll cover in the guide:
- PhD application CV example
- Structuring and formatting your CV
- Writing your CV profile
- Detailingyour education
- Detailing your relevant experience
PhD application CV example
As you can see from the CV example above, a PhDCV isstructured differently to a traditional CV. Instead of focusing on work experience,academic experience and accomplishments are prioritised.
However, thefundamental CV writingrules stay the same. Therefore, the candidate has put forward their information in a way which is clear, concise and formatted for easy reading.
PhD applicationCV structure & format
PhD programmes receive thousands of applications, meaning the university admissions teams are generally verytime-strapped.
As such, you need tostructure and formatyour CV to make it as easy as possible for them to review.
First impressions count and a cluttered or disorganised application won’t do you any favours.
Instead, you should aim for a clean, well-organised andprofessional appearance throughout.
- Length: While academic CVs are generally longer than standardCVs, it’s still best to aim for a short, relevant and concise document. For PhD applications, a length of one or two A4 pages is ideal. This is more than enough space to highlight your suitability withoutoverwhelmingthe reader with irrelevant information or excessive detail.
- Readability: Theinformation on your CV should be laid out logically, with clear section headings for easy navigation. Break up largechunks of text into small, snappy paragraphs and include bullet points where appropriate.
- Design:Opt for a clear, legible font and stick to it throughout – consistency is important. Ensure your headings are formatted for attention by using bold text or a slightly larger font size.
- Things to avoid:Steer clear of elaborate designs, fancy fonts, images or logos – they’re simply not needed and might distract from the all-important written content.
- Things to consider: CVs ‘rules’ differ from country to country, so if you’re applying to an international university, take some time to research what’s expected of you.
Structuring your CV
Organise your content into the following sections for ease-of-reading:
- Contact details – These should always be at the very top of your CV.
- Personal statement–A brief introductory summary of your qualifications, skills and experience in relation to the PhD.
- Core skills – A short and snappy list of your most relevant skills, tailored to the PhD.
- Education–A detailed breakdown of your relevant qualifications, especially your undergraduate and postgraduate degree(s).
- Career summary/researchexperience – An overview of any relevant work or research experience,angled towardsyour chosen field of study.
- Additional information –A space to detail any other relevant information which may boost your application.
Quick tip:While the simple CV format above is usually ideal,academic institutions often have their own preferred structure. Double-check their guidelines before you start writing – their preferences should be prioritised – and use a CV template if you want to speed things up without sacrificing quality.
CV Contact Details
Commence your CVby sharing your basic contact details
- Phone number
- Email address
- Location– Rather than listing your full address, your town or city, such as ‘Manchester’ or ‘Exeter’, is enough.
- If you have one, add a link to your LinkedIn profileor a portfolio of work.
CV for PhD Personal Statement
Your profile/personal statementis essentially your first impression on the reader and is a great way to hook their attention.
It should provide a snappy summary of who you are and why your qualifications, skills and ambitions make you a perfect candidate for the PhD.
Tips to consider when creating your personal statement:
- Tailor to the PhD:Every PhD programme should have a description available, whichyou can use to tailor your personal statement (and your CV as a whole). Focus on proving you have the appropriate educational background, skillset and knowledge to carry out the project.
- Prove your enthusiasm: It’s important to put forward your drive and motivation for yourfield and explain why the specific PhD is so well-matched to your wider interests and ambitions.
- Avoid clichés:Clichés and generic phrases like “I’m a motivated team player”and“gives 110%”won’t impress the admissions team.
- Keep it short:A paragraph length of around 8-15 lines is perfect. This is only an introduction – the detail can come later on in your CV.
What to include in your CV for PhD personal statement?
- Your academic background–Give a brief overview of your undergraduate degree and/or masters and how they’ve brought you towards this PhD.
- Impressive results– PhD students are normally academically extraordinary, so make sure to point out any impressive results or feedback – whether that’s your degree as a whole or a particularly relevant assignment/project grade.
- Relevant skills– Use the PhD project description to find out what the university is looking for in candidates. Then, try to incorporate the core skills into your profile.
- Relevant experience – Not everyone will have any relevant research or work experience to their name at this stage, but if you do, make sure to briefly highlight it here.
- Interests, goals & motivations– Give a brief insight into your motivation for taking on a PhD, why you’re so committed to your specific research topics(s) and what you think you can add. It’s also helpful to summarise how the course will fit into your wider career ambitions/goals.
Core skills section
Next, create a punchy list ofcore skills, organised into 2 or 3 columns of bullet points.
Use the project description to identify the required skills and knowledge, then use your findings to inform your list.
This will help the busy admissions team to see that the PhD is right for you at a glance.
Education & Qualifications
A PhD CV isall about academic achievements and qualifications, so this section should make up the bulk of your CV.
Working in reverse chronological order, provide a detailed breakdown of your undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.
If you have any GCSEs, A-Levels or other academic qualifications that are particularly relevant to the PhD subject, they might be worth listing, too.
Structuring your education
By working to a considered structure, you can ensure your education is easy to navigate and that your key achievements stand out.
For each of your relevant qualifications, break up information into the following sections.
Start by detailing the type of qualification, the title, the achieved grade, the academic institution at which you studied and the year you graduated.
MSc – Environmental Engineering (Distinction)
Middlesex University (2018)
Next, discussyour thesis or dissertation title (if applicable), the modules you studied and any relevant projects you were involved in.
What you choose to write here should be tailored to the PhD you’re applying for – focus the detail on the most relevant aspects of the qualification.
Thesis: “Identification of the Bacterial Profusion and Variety in Nuclear Waste Disposal”.
Modules: System Analysis in Urban Water Management; Process Engineering in Urban Water Management; Air Quality Control; Waste Management; Ecological Systems Design, and Remote Sensing and Earth Observation.
Project: “Research Study for Anaerobic Wastewater Treatment”
Key achievements (optional)
Finish up with a snappy list of key results,accomplishments or learning outcomes you achieved.
This might be an impressive grade for a highly relevant assignment, an award you won or a quote of exemplary feedback from a tutor.
Career & Research Experience
Next up is your career & research summary, which should be tailored to the PhD in question.
You could includerelevant research experience here, as well as any related employment (even if temporary or voluntary).
Make sure to be selective with the type of employment you list, though. For example, a part-time waiting on job isn’t worth including, but a laboratory or tutoring job might be. Ultimately, it should be related to your field or have helped you develop relevant skills or knowledge.
When discussing your research roles, make sure to detail the techniques you used, the skills developed and any interesting findings.
Structuring yourexperience section
Ensure your career & research section is clear, scannable and easy to read by working to the following structure:
Outline the dates of employment/contract, the role title and the organisation or institution you worked for.
Aug 2018 – Sep 2019 Research Intern Hydro Continental, London
Give abrief overview of theposition or research project as a whole, discussing the team you worked with (or lead), who you reported to and what the goal of the project was.
“Undertook a short-term assignment pertaining to the Economics of climate change in order to research and drive improvements in energy consumption and emissions; reported to the Executive Engineer.”
Then use bullet points to pinpoint your duties and responsibilities within the role, making sure to mention any relevant techniques or skills used that could benefit your candidacy.
- Employed the Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) curve tool to present carbon emissions abatement options.
- Built partnerships and participated in open discussions with other country modellers and research associates.
- Amassed and processed varied data from multiple sources.
Writing your CV for PhD
Applying for a PhD is a daunting yet exciting time, but a flawless CV can help you achieve your goals.
Remember to tailor your CV to the specific PhD you’re applying for and aim to make acompelling case for your suitability and aligned goals.
Before you send off your CV, try to get a second opinion from a current or previous tutor, trusted family member or friend.
It’s also worth checking the finished document with our CV builder, to eliminate the risk of overlooking mistakes.
Best of luck with your PhD application!
What should be included in CV for PhD application? ›
- Personal details. Include your full name and contact details at the top of your CV.
- Research interests. ...
- Education. ...
- Research experience. ...
- Additional experience/Positions of responsibility. ...
- Publications. ...
- Conferences. ...
It should be divided into nine sections: (1) contact information, (2) research interests, (3) education, (4) research and work experience, (5) teaching experience, (6) relevant skills and experience, (7) publications and conferences, (8) professional memberships, (9) referees.How long should a CV be for PhD application? ›
For late career researchers, CVs can cover lots of pages. But, for an early career researcher such as a PhD student, an academic CV should last no more than four pages. However, you should still make an effort to keep the CV relevant and concise – in most cases two pages should still be enough.How do you put a PhD student on a CV? ›
- Concisely outline your PhD research and list the discipline.
- List the stage you are currently at with your PhD, such as thesis submitted, VIVA pending or completed.
- Ensure you detail all academic qualifications, including any A-Level, BTEC or professional qualifications you have attained.
The essentials. This includes contact information, resume summary or objective, work experience, education, and skills. The optional sections, including extracurricular activities, projects, awards, training, certifications, hobbies and interests, volunteering experience, and others.What should a CV look like and include? ›
The essential information on your CV includes: contact information, CV summary or objective, work experience, education, and skills. Optional sections may include: certifications and awards, languages, hobbies, interests, and any relevant social media channels.How detailed should an academic CV be? ›
Length. Unlike other CVs, an academic CV does not have a limit and is usually 3 – 5 pages long. You are expected to include detailed information about your teaching experience, research and publications.How should a CV be organized? ›
Work experience should always be listed on a resume in reverse chronological order. Your work history should go back in time from top to bottom: your current or most recent job on top, then the previous one below, all the way to the odest, but still relevant job.How many references are required for a PhD application? ›
As part of your application for doctoral study you may be asked to provide up to three academic referees. The references they provide can make or break your PhD application and are essential to giving you the best chance of being successful. You should therefore think carefully about who your referees will be.Can a PhD resume be 2 pages? ›
If you are a doctoral candidate applying for jobs that require a PhD degree, or if you are being recruited because of your PhD, then having a two page resume is fine.
Should a PhD resume be one page? ›
Resumes should remain concise, but powerful. They should never be more than 2 pages long, they should consist of bullet points instead of paragraphs, and highlight only the most relevant details of your academic career.What is the correct title for a PhD student? ›
During the studies that lead to the degree, the student is called a doctoral student or PhD student; a student who has completed any necessary coursework and related examinations and is working on their thesis/dissertation is sometimes known as a doctoral candidate or PhD candidate.What is the difference between a resume and a CV? ›
The CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, so the length of the document is variable. In contrast, a resume presents a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position, so length tends to be shorter and dictated by years of experience (generally 1-2 pages).Should I put PhD after my name CV? ›
The only academic credentials (degrees) that you should list after your name at the top of the résumé should be doctorate level degrees, such as MD, DO, DDS, DVM, PhD, and EdD. A master's degree or bachelor's degree should never be included after your name.What are the 5 main parts of a CV? ›
There are five essential elements to include in your CV. Your name and contact details, a personal statement, work experience, education and qualifications and key skills.What should not be included in a CV? ›
The CV should be professional and should include your important data. Don't include the following information. These things are not necessary: age; ethnic identity; political affiliation; religious preference; hobbies; marital status; sexual orientation; place of birth; photographs; height; weight and health.What matters most in CV? ›
Arguably, the most crucial section of your whole job application. According to a Jobvite report, 67% of recruiters consider relevant work experience the most important thing they look for on a CV.
- STEP 1 – Think about the Format. ...
- STEP 2 – Introductory Statement. ...
- STEP 3 – Education & Training. ...
- STEP 4 – Key Skills Summary. ...
- STEP 5 — Career History. ...
- STEP 6 – Personal Statement. ...
- STEP 7 – Referees.
Include your job title, company name and dates of employment for each role. Then add up to six bullet points starting with action words and structured using accomplishment statements. Education: include details of your degree if you're a uni graduate and your A-levels and GCSEs if you're writing a school-leaver CV.Should a CV include everything? ›
At the very least, a CV should include contact information, education, research experience, teaching experience (if applicable), publications, presentations, and references. Other potential categories are listed below and may include awards, professional affiliations, community or university service, and others.
Do you put your address on a CV? ›
For the protection of your personal data, do not put your full postal address on your CV. Historically, the convention was to include it, but today you must not do this. You should only share your address with an employer if they've offered you the job.
- Start strong. Start with a summary of your skills and key accomplishments. ...
- Emphasize results rather than responsibilities. ...
- Customize for the job you want. ...
- Highlight changes and growth. ...
- Demonstrate that you are connected. ...
- Show industry insight. ...
- Use power words.
- a chronological (or traditional) CV, and.
- a skills-based (or functional) CV.
- Tailor your academic CV for every application. ...
- Highlight your academic achievements and research interests. ...
- Keep jargon to a minimum and write with clarity. ...
- Publications: a reverse chronological list is a prerequisite, best presented as an appendix.
A good CV showcases your skills and your academic and professional achievements concisely and effectively. It's well-organized and easy to read while accurately representing your highest accomplishments. Don't be shy about your achievements, but also remember to be honest about them. Do not exaggerate or lie!How do you make a strong academic CV? ›
- List your contact information. ...
- Write a short professional summary. ...
- Add your skills. ...
- Highlight your academic qualifications. ...
- Feature your professional experience. ...
- Include your publications and conference presentions. ...
- Mention any awards, honours, and grants. ...
- List professional associations.
How long should your CV be? Unless you're applying for an entry-level position, two pages is widely considered to be the perfect length for a CV. However, that's not to say writing a two-page CV should be your goal. Always strive to incorporate only the most relevant facts.What makes a good PhD reference? ›
PhD recommendation letters are very subject specific. Referees should speak of strong subject knowledge as well as analysis traits. Letters of Recommendation should show the student as possessing positive qualities like intelligence, self-motivation, responsibility, and amiableness.What do PhD programs look for in recommendation letters? ›
Recommenders can discuss two or three of the candidate's most relevant achievements or qualifications and provide specific examples to illustrate how well they suit the program. These qualifications may include publications, previous research, or contributions to their field of interest.Do recommendation letters matter for PhD? ›
Recommendation letters are a crucial piece of your graduate school application. An effective letter should provide those making admissions decisions with an assessment of your potential as a graduate student and/or researcher.
How long is a PhD resume? ›
A resume for a graduate school application is typically no more than 1–2 pages long. Note, however, that if you are asked to submit a CV (curriculum vitae), you should give comprehensive details of all your academic experience.What is the ideal number of pages in a PhD thesis? ›
A PhD can be anywhere from 50 pages to over 450 pages long. This equates to between about 20,000 words to 100,000 words. Most PhD theses are between 60,000 and 80,000 words long excluding contents, citations and references.What is the line spacing for academic CV? ›
The typical line spacing for a resume is anywhere between single and 1.5-point spacing. If you don't have a lot of experience to highlight, you may wish to use 1.5-point spacing to fill the page and avoid leaving blank space.What is the CV for PhD in Europe? ›
The Europass CV is a standard CV template widely used in Europe. No matter you intend to study in Europe as an exchange, full-degree or PhD student, or even work while staying with us in Europe, the Europass CV will help you communicate in a compelling and concise manner your academic and work history.What should be included in a CV for Masters application? ›
- Start by adding a header section. ...
- Write a profile section. ...
- Include an education section. ...
- Mention any relevant work experience. ...
- Add other professional work experience. ...
- List any hobbies and interests. ...
- Include references.