Organizing Your Education on Your Resume

In summary, when listing education on a resume, it is generally recommended to prioritize the most relevant degree first, followed by a reverse chronological order of the remaining degrees. However, if the most recent degree is in a different field, it is important to specify the field and consider the overall coherence of the resume. It is also important to include dates, as omitting them could potentially raise red flags for hiring managers. Ultimately, the most important factor is to clearly and effectively communicate one's educational background to potential employers.
  • #1
YoshiMoshi
228
8
Hello Friends,

Can someone please provide some advice on how I should list my education on my resume? I know typically you are supposed to list your education in chronological order. This also typically aligns with the degree order as well (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, PhD). I went back to school to get a lower degree in a different field. So should degree order or chronological order take precedence? Should I list my masters at the top of my education list even though my associates is my most recent degree achieved?

Example
Degree Order
Masters 2000-2001
Bachelors 1998-1999
Associates 2002-2003

or

Chronological Order
Associates 2002-2003
Masters 2000-2001
Bachelors 1998-1999

The first option, degree order makes more sense to me. It just seems awkward to me that it's out of chronological order, seeing as I list my work experience in chronological order.
 
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  • #2
I'd recommend that you maintain reverse chronological order. As long as the associate's is in a different field, and you specify the fields, you should be fine. Your cover letter should provide further details; or possibly add a short note in the resume, depending on the circumstances. Changing the order could be viewed as a red flag.

Associates in Z, U. of C, 2003
Masters in Y, U. of B, 2001
Bachelors in X, U. of A, 1999

After all, I've seen resumes with listings along the lines of:

MBA, Ross School of Business, U. of Michigan, 2010
PhD in Physics, MIT, 2002
 
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  • #3
I'd probably go with most relevant first, though I don't think it really matters.

In medical physics we'll sometimes see CVs from people who've come back and completed an MSc in medical physics after having done a PhD in another field, so they'll list their degrees something like this...

MSc Medical Physics 2016-2018
PhD Astrophysics 2007-2014
BSc Physics 2003-2007
 
  • #4
Choppy said:
I'd probably go with most relevant first, though I don't think it really matters.

In medical physics we'll sometimes see CVs from people who've come back and completed an MSc in medical physics after having done a PhD in another field, so they'll list their degrees something like this...

MSc Medical Physics 2016-2018
PhD Astrophysics 2007-2014
BSc Physics 2003-2007
<<Emphasis added>> Assuming that the person is applying for a medical physics position, then in this case the most relevant is also the most recent; end result is the same. But what if the person is applying for a medical physics (or related) position with the following educational history:

PhD Astrophysics 2008-2014
MSc Medical Physics 2007-2008
BSc Physics 2003-2007?

Would you recommend a reshuffle to:

MSc Medical Physics 2007-2008
PhD Astrophysics 2008-2014
BSc Physics 2003-2007?

Personally, I wouldn't.
 
  • #5
I would put the most relevant first, and then after figure out what logical order would do that for the rest ot the degrees. Presumably chronological.
 
  • #6
Do you need to include the dates?

I'm pretty sure if you had
BSc Physics 1968
you wouldn't get the job.
 
  • #7
gmax137 said:
Do you need to include the dates?

I'm pretty sure if you had
BSc Physics 1968
you wouldn't get the job.
Depends on the job, correct? I got my SB Physics in early 1970's, and I still have headhunters contacting me (just got two inquiries this morning; pertinent dates are disclosed on my LinkedIn page). And what's the point of trying to hide the degree date? Your resume will (in most instances) have a summary of work experience in reverse chronological order. No hiding from that. And if the hiring manager does have bias against old guys, it's best to disclose dates up front and not waste everyone's time. If you were to pop up for an interview and the hiring manager for some reason was expecting someone much younger, then what?
 
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  • #8
I'm sorry, I did not mean to derail the discussion. Please ignore my previous post.

To the OP, I suggest you just leave the dates out. Then you do not have to explain anything in your resume, and can discuss it if necessary during the interview, if you get that far.
 
  • #9
CrysPhys said:
But what if the person is applying for a medical physics (or related) position with the following educational history:

PhD Astrophysics 2008-2014
MSc Medical Physics 2007-2008
BSc Physics 2003-2007?

Would you recommend a reshuffle to:

MSc Medical Physics 2007-2008
PhD Astrophysics 2008-2014
BSc Physics 2003-2007?

Personally, I wouldn't.

I would still tend to go with the most relevant first.

The probability that a degree (or other relevant information) could be missed increases the further down the list it goes. Remember, those bullets will also contain details like school name, thesis title, awards, etc.

In medical physics (and likely in a lot of other fields) one can and often does get a lot of people applying to a position who are not strictly qualified. So it helps to avoid any appearance that the applicant is part of the "trying to enter the field without completing the relevant education" crowd, which at a cursory glance they might be mistaken for if the first bullet under their education heading is a degree in something else.

All of this said, though, this is a higher order detail. I don't think anyone will purposefully derail a CV because the education order seemed odd.
 

Related to Organizing Your Education on Your Resume

What is the purpose of organizing your education on your resume?

The purpose of organizing your education on your resume is to clearly and effectively communicate your educational background to potential employers. This section allows you to showcase your academic achievements and any relevant coursework or skills you have acquired.

How should I format my education section on my resume?

The education section on your resume should be formatted in reverse chronological order, with your most recent degree or educational experience listed first. Each entry should include the name of the institution, degree or certification obtained, major or field of study, and graduation date.

Should I include my GPA in the education section of my resume?

This depends on your individual circumstances and the job you are applying for. If you have a high GPA (3.5 or above), it can be beneficial to include it on your resume. However, if your GPA is lower, it may be better to leave it off and focus on other strengths in your education section.

Can I include online courses or certifications in my education section?

Yes, you can include relevant online courses or certifications in your education section. Be sure to list the name of the course or certification, the institution or organization that offered it, and the date of completion. This can demonstrate your dedication to continuous learning and development.

How much detail should I include in my education section?

Your education section should provide enough detail to showcase your academic achievements and any relevant coursework or skills, but it should not be overly detailed. Focus on including relevant information and avoid listing every single course or activity you participated in during your education.

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