What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae provides an overview of educational and professional experiences and is particularly helpful with academic fields of study, such as research-based graduate study or an academic related career position. A CV is normally only used in an academic setting because of the nature of material covered in the document.

When to use a Resume vs. a Curriculum Vitae

What distinguishes a CV from a resume is primarily the length and detail of the document. A CV is a detailed look at accomplishments in academics and professional work. Think of a CV as a document used to show scholarly capability and accomplishment.

Curriculum vitae’s do not have a set length, but are on average 2-3 pages in length for someone at the beginning of an academic career. For a professional with more experience, 4-7 pages is considered normal with 10 pages maximum.

A resume is used to demonstrate professional ability and focuses on giving a snapshot at how skills and experiences relate to career choice. A resume is the standard for most professional careers whereas a CV is standard for academic or research based fields.

Information to Cover in a CV

Note: The headings below are dependent upon level of work experience, personal skills and interests, as well a personal choice of wording.

Education: Include the name of the colleges attended at which a degree has been conferred, city and state of each, title of degree, areas of study, and graduation date. If a thesis or dissertation was completed, indicate this as well as the primary advisor.

Teaching: Include all teaching fellowships, assistantships or other experiences working with students in a classroom or laboratory setting. You can also list teaching interests.

Research: Include all relevant research experience in your specialty area. You may also include publications, conference presentations or other scholarly work here or provide this information in a separate section.

Service: Include all service to the university or community, including professional associations, volunteer work, committee membership, etc.

Options for Subject Headings:

  • Name and Contact Information
  • Education
  • Grants, Honors, and Awards
  • Research
  • Publications and Presentations
  • Employment and Experience
  • Service (departmental/community)
  • Scholarly or Professional Memberships
  • References
  • Areas of Knowledge
  • Professional Competencies
  • Graduate Fieldwork or Practicum
  • Advisory Board/Committees
  • Conferences Attended
  • Exhibits/Exhibitions
  • Certifications or Licensure
  • Foreign Study
  • Languages
  • Affiliations
  • Lectures and Colloquia
  • Fellowships
  • Performances

Formatting and adding content to a CV:

Formatting a CV, like a resume, is critical to the readability and organization of your document. When choosing formatting, make sure to be consistent throughout the document with each choice.


  • List items like education and work experience in reverse chronological order.
  • Begin each job description with an action verb to articulate your skill.
  • Add a header/footer with name and page number to each page after the first.
  • Write in a clear and concise manner without complete sentences and without using “I” statements.
  • Ensure your tense usage matches the timeframe of your experience. For example, if a work experience has ended, use past tense in referring to the experience.