Learning About Your Resume Education Section: Tips and Tricks

Correctly formatting your resume education

Mar 6, 2020 · 8 mins read

When skimming a resume, one of the few sections recruiters really pay attention to is your education.

What’s the reason for this?

All the details in your education section say a lot about you and your background, which in turn says a lot about how you are suitable for the role you’re applying for.

Plus...

When you’re applying for a job and your educational qualifications or training credentials are required to complete the job, your education section is going to bring your resume to the top of the pile.

Education Writing tipsThe information in your Education section should show how suitable you are for the desired job.

In this article, we’re going to show you the different ways to lay out your education section and give you some resume tips for the education section.

Keep reading to find out how to:

  • Write your education section when you’re a professional.
  • Include your high school education, even if you didn’t get your diploma.
  • List your college background if you’re still studying, never finished, or hold a degree.

Along with plenty more important information.

Let’s do this...

What Goes Into Your Resume’s Education Section?

The most vital information that you must include are any degrees you have and the schools you went to. You have to make sure you include:

  • School or institution name
  • Degree subject and level
  • Location of the school
  • Which years you attended

Using that as your starting point, you can add in any academic honors you got, scholarships you received, and any other relevant and applicable achievements.

When it comes to the numbers…

Add in your graduation dates if they weren’t all that long ago.
Don’t include the dates if it’s been a fair few years since you were at school.

Pro-Tip
Stick with the truth on your resume, as obvious as it sounds. If you get caught out lying after you get the job, you’re likely to get fired.

How to Write Resume Education Section?

You might have an unusual or interesting educational background, but whatever the nuances, a hiring manager still wants your education section to be laid out so it’s easy to navigate.

Here are the steps you need to follow when formatting your resume:

  • Name the school or education provider, then type of school if it’s not obvious, and where it is
  • Give the time that you went there or your graduation date, with a clear note if your studies are completed, in progress, or not finished
  • Add your specialization and the level of qualification, certificate, or diploma, if it applies to you
  • Note your field of study and what your major and/or minor were, if applicable
  • Where it’s relevant, include your GPA, too

It should look a little something like this:

California University Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
1999 BA in Fashion Merchandising
4.0 GPA

Harvard School of Law, Cambridge, MA
2012 JD in Law
4.0 GPA

It’s important to note that you should list your education starting with the most recent achievements.

If you’ve got both a master’s and bachelor’s degree, the master’s comes first on the list and then you note down your bachelor’s.

It’s as easy as that!

Pro-Tip
If you’re lucky enough to have a lot to pack into your education section, you can use subsections to keep it ordered. Use headings like “Awards and honors”, “Certificates”, and “Professional qualifications”.

Where Does the Education Section Go in Your Resume?

Does your education go above your work experience if you’re still studying but have got some jobs under your belt?

Sounds like a tough call.

We’ve got the answer to where your education section will land.

  • For college students or recent graduates, you should highlight your education nice and high on your resume. The interviewer will see your academic achievements even if you’ve not worked much yet.
  • When you’re changing careers and you’ve expanded your education to make the shift, make sure your education section comes before your work experience.
  • For those with strong and impressive work history, you can look to add the education section lower down in your resume.

The optimum place to drop in your education section is going to depend on what you’ve achieved academically, as well as how solid your work experience section is.

Pro-Tip
To get to grips with resume writing quickly and effectively, and learn how to target it to your skills and profession, check out our resume writing guide.

Does My GPA Belong In My Resume?

If your college years were a blur of frat parties, beer pong, and borrowing class notes, should you be including your GPA on your resume?

There’s a simple rule…

If your GPA isn’t impressive, leave it off.

Meaning that…

A student or someone freshly graduated with a not-so-great GPA, but other accolades and achievements, can leave off their GPA. Instead, look to include something else significant, like “Jones Scholar” or “Hockey team captain”. After you’ve been out of school for a few years, you don’t even need to add in your GPA at all.

To give you a feel for what it can look like:

Georgetown University
2017 BA in American Studies, Minor in Sociology
3.84 GPA
Pro-Tip
Once you’ve been out of school for a few years, there’s no need to include your GPA on your resume, no matter how impressive.

What to Do When I Only Finished High School?

Writing a resume education section for high school students is a little different.

If you didn’t study at a college, what you include in your resume education section should be pretty easy to complete. You just need to write down the name of the high school that you went to, where it was, and the dates that you attended.

Tips for Writing a Student ResumeWhile writing your resume focus on your educational achievements: point your GPA, skills, any relevant activities, and college experience.

For someone who’s highest education is high school, your education section will look like this:

Cherryville High School, Cherryville, OH
Graduated in 2009

When you’ve only got a high school to include, you can show off some of the skills you’ve picked up and otherachievements.

These can include school honors, academic awards, and participation in extracurricular activities, as well as any jobs you held when you were at high school.

Check out this example for some ideas:

Columbia University, New York, NY: 1983 BA Political Science
Relevant Coursework: International Relations, Sociology, Communication, Grammar and Editing
Extracurricular Activities: Community organizing

Wrote 16 articles for your high school newspaper? Played defense on the football team and got to the state finals? These things are definitely worth mentioning in the education section of your resume.

It all comes down to this...

You want to talk about anything that shows you’re enthusiastic about work and you have a great work ethic.

Pro-Tip
If you got a professional license or certificate after you graduated high school, you definitely want to include it if it’s directly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Remember also to use an appropriate resume format. For details about how to choose the right resume format for you, check this out.

What if I Didn’t Finish School?

When it comes to writing a resume education section for current students or people who didn’t finish their education, here’s how you can handle it.

This is the process:

Include a list of any coursework that you completed

Or…

You can include a different section called “Professional development” where you can highlight how you continued your vocational education.

For unfinished college education, you can still add details to your resume to show how far you did get:

  • Write the number of credits earned and the major you were pursuing, so:
    Completed 120 credits toward Bachelor of Science, Organic Chemistry, 1997-2000.
  • Students still at college should include this fact on their resume, for example:
    Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical Engineering. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    Anticipated graduation date: June 2021

This is also a good place to add details of any coursework that has already been completed and talk about classes you’ve taken that have relevance to the job you want to land.

Pro-Tip
Keep everything in your resume relevant to the post you’re going for, in the education section and everywhere else. Just recently we shared about how to write a strong resume objective and getting your resume contact information section right.

Summing Up

It might seem pretty straightforward to write your educational history for your resume. All that you need to do is list the schools you’ve been to in chronological order and all in well.

Simple, but hold up…

There are some things that you need to make a choice about in the education section of your resume. You need to think about where it goes and how to make it stand out to your prospective employer. Always make sure you have the following information listed:

  • Institutions name
  • Type of degree
  • When you graduated, or will graduate

You can also add extra details if it’s appropriate for your personal situation, such as:

  • Academic achievements and honors
  • An impressive GPA score
  • Coursework relevant to the role
  • Extracurricular roles, organizations, and activities

When you’re making choices about what to add, keep it honest and think smart.

Looking at where to add your education on your resume, you need to consider where you’re up to on your career path and what you want your future employer to notice most.

  • When your education is the most relevant and prominent feature of your resume, it goes near the top
  • When you’ve got plenty of industry experience, put this high up and your education below it

With this one, there are no solid rules that you can get completely wrong when you’re looking at your education section in your resume. For someone who doesn’t have any education, training, licenses, or certificates, it’s not the end of the world because you can just leave it out completely. There are other sections of your resume that will show off who you are and what you can do. Check out our guide to write a killer resume skills section.

Last of all...

To make sure you’ve got everything listed that you need and you’re not making any glaring errors, it’s a great idea to use a reliable resume builder.