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How to write a master’s CV for a university application

A master’s CV should be written differently than a CV used for job applications. Your CV may be examined by university admissions committees in addition to your application. Your application may be moved to the interview phase if your CV is optimized to emphasize the information that the admissions staff is seeking. In this post, we describe the main variations and offer some pointers and advice on how to write a strong master’s CV.

Why are master’s CVs unique from other CVs?

A master’s CV differs from other CVs in that it emphasizes applications for graduate studies and is specifically customized to the chosen course of study. With an academic focus (in contrast to a professional focus), several distinct standards must be met to impress the admissions committee. You cannot utilize your normal job CV for your application; instead, a master’s CV must be customized to the demands of the admissions staff.

Master’s CVs, often known as CVs for candidates with a Master’s degree, differ from other CVs (such as undergraduate or entry-level CVs) in several ways due to the advanced education and experiences typically associated with a Master’s degree:

  1. Advanced Education: A Master’s CV includes detailed information about the candidate’s advanced education, such as the specific Master’s degree earned, the institution where it was obtained, the date of completion, and any relevant coursework, thesis topics, or research projects. This advanced education often opens doors to more specialized roles and careers.
  2. Specialized Skills: Master’s CVs emphasize the specialized skills and knowledge acquired during the Master’s program. These skills can be highly relevant to specific career paths or industries and are a significant asset for employers seeking candidates with deeper expertise.
  3. Research and Thesis: For candidates who completed a Master’s thesis or research project, the CV may include details about the research, methodology, findings, and publications, if any. This demonstrates the ability to conduct independent research and contribute to the academic and professional community.
  4. Professional Experience: In many cases, Master’s CVs place a stronger emphasis on professional experience, especially if the candidate has gained relevant work experience before or during their Master’s program. This experience may include internships, part-time jobs, or research assistantships related to the field of study.
  5. Publications and Presentations: Master’s CVs often feature a section dedicated to publications, presentations, and conferences attended or presented during the Master’s program. This highlights the candidate’s academic contributions and networking within the field.
  6. Advanced Projects: Candidates may include descriptions of advanced projects, collaborations, or coursework that demonstrate their ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. These can be significant selling points in their CV.
  7. Advanced Skills: Beyond coursework, Master’s CVs showcase advanced skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, research, data analysis, and often, foreign language proficiency or technical expertise relevant to the field.
  8. Leadership and Initiatives: Candidates may have taken on leadership roles, initiated research projects, or participated in extracurricular activities related to their field of study during their Master’s program, which is highlighted in the CV.
  9. Advanced Career Goals: A Master’s CV should reflect the candidate’s more advanced career goals and aspirations. It may convey a commitment to research, specialization, or leadership within a specific industry.

In summary, Master’s CVs are unique because they emphasize the advanced education, specialized skills, research, and experiences associated with a Master’s degree. They are tailored to position candidates as highly qualified, knowledgeable, and ambitious individuals in their respective fields, ready to contribute their expertise and make a significant impact in their chosen careers.

What do universities want to see on a master’s CV?

Admissions committees prioritize receiving a great application and cover letter, as well as a supporting master’s CV that serves as an anchor summarizing your profile. Your academic accomplishments are emphasized on your master’s CV over your work experiences and skills. To get accepted into the master’s program of your choosing, you must convince the university that you are the best applicant.

Universities typically look for specific elements and qualities on a Master’s CV when assessing applications for admission to a Master’s degree program. Here are key aspects that universities want to see on a Master’s CV:

  1. Academic Qualifications: This includes your undergraduate degree, the institution where it was earned, your major, and the date of completion. If applicable, include information about postgraduate or professional qualifications.
  2. Master’s Degree Information: Clearly state the Master’s degree program you are applying for, the university or institution offering the program, the intended start date, and any relevant concentration or specialization within the program.
  3. Transcripts: While not typically included on the CV itself, universities require transcripts from your previous educational institutions. Ensure that the information on your CV aligns with your official transcripts.
  4. Relevant Coursework: Highlight relevant coursework from your undergraduate studies, particularly if it relates to your intended Master’s program. Include specific courses, major projects, or theses that demonstrate your readiness for advanced studies.
  5. Research Experience: Mention any research experience or research assistantships you’ve participated in, especially if the research is related to your field of study. This can be a significant asset for research-based Master’s programs.
  6. Publications and Presentations: If you have published research papers, presented at conferences, or have academic publications to your name, include this information. It showcases your research capabilities and contributions to your field.
  7. Work Experience: Relevant work experience, internships, or volunteer work can demonstrate your practical understanding of the field and your ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings.
  8. Letters of Recommendation: While not included on the CV, universities often require letters of recommendation from academic or professional references. Mention on your CV that these letters are available upon request.
  9. Awards and Honors: If you have received academic or professional awards, scholarships, or honors, include them to demonstrate your achievements and recognition.
  10. Extracurricular Activities: Participation in relevant clubs, organizations, or activities can show your dedication to your field and your potential to contribute to the university community.
  11. Language Proficiency: If you are applying to a program in a language other than your native language, include details about your language proficiency, such as scores from language proficiency exams (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS).
  12. Personal Statement: While not on the CV itself, universities often require a personal statement as part of the application. Use this to explain your motivations, goals, and how your background aligns with the program.
  13. Professional Goals: Be clear about your career and academic goals, and how the Master’s program fits into your long-term plans.
  14. Formatting and Clarity: A well-structured, error-free, and professional-looking CV is essential. Use a clear and consistent format with appropriate headings and bullet points for readability.

Remember that universities want to see that you are a well-rounded candidate with the academic background, motivation, and potential to excel in their Master’s program. Tailor your CV to the specific program’s requirements and showcase how you are a strong fit for their academic community.

Advice on how to write a master’s CV

The best way to impress the admissions committee is to do your study and be well-prepared. Before you construct your master’s CV, keep the following essential points in mind:

Make education the first concern.

Your master’s CV should emphasize your academic qualifications to help you get accepted to the university of your preference. Include these in your entire resume. Give your academic success, educational background, and related experiences more weight than other factors like your professional career history.

Make sure the order is chronological.

Work backward from the most current degree you have on your resume. Describe the key classes you took to earn your degree, emphasizing any outstanding marks. Important work, like lengthy essays or a thesis, is worth noting if it contributes to your grade.

Make use of formal words and tone.

You’re likely more used to using sophisticated writing techniques and strong language because you’re an academic. Use this across your master’s CV to provide the reader with a glimpse of your written academic ability. For instance, if you want to pursue a master’s degree in medicine, use terminology from this field of study and any specialties that appeal to you.

Add volunteerism and internships

A student’s involvement in college life beyond academic study is something that admissions committees would like to see. You are more likely to have educational experience than paid or corporate work experience if you are an academic. Because of this, it’s critical to make the most of any internships or voluntary work you’ve done. By doing so, you can further improve your profile and draw attention to new abilities that are noteworthy.

The layout should be straightforward.

Avoid using colors and other design features, and keep your format very straightforward. Limit the length of your master’s CV to two A4 pages at most. Your resume can be made clearer by using key points and bold formatting.

Don’t use clich├ęs

Most resumes, cover letters, and applications fall within this category. Avoiding cliches and using idiomatic language is more crucial given the intellectual emphasis of a master’s CV. Avoid using expressions and buzzwords like “overachiever” or “go-getter.” Maintain a professional tone while remaining truthful on your resume.

Always double-check

Verify that every document you submit with your master’s application is error-free. You would have developed this ability during your undergraduate studies, and you may demonstrate it by providing a master’s CV that is error-free. Once you’ve completed writing your CV, go back and review it a couple of hours or days afterward to make sure what you wrote makes sense.

How to format your master’s CV

To make sure your master’s CV satisfies the requirements necessary for your application, it’s critical to understand how to handle each component. To create a master’s CV, adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Add a header section first.

This has the same format as every other CV, starting with your primary contact information. The master’s CV headline is then given in one line. The reader is then given information about your profile in the header area, which entices them to keep reading.

2. Compose a profile section.

The format of your cover letter and your master’s CV profile should match each other. The CV profile is sometimes referred to as a personal statement. Explain why you want to attend the school to which you have applied and why you’re interested in the field of study you have chosen. For instance, the institution of your choosing might enjoy a stellar reputation and be well-known for its contributions to the field in which you are most interested.

3. Add a section on education.

The most significant portion of your resume is this. Your undergraduate degree, which you can go into more detail about, is probably your most recent educational experience since you’re enrolling for a master’s degree. Begin by mentioning the school you attended, the subject you took, and the grade you received (The most desirable grades are first-class or a 2:1). Then, list your most significant accomplishments from your undergraduate career. For instance, you could demonstrate exceptional outcomes for certain modules, important project work, or any published articles.

4. List any relevant professional experience.

Include a header for your position, the length of your employment, and a few bullet points outlining the important details. Give importance to professional experience that is related to the master’s program you want to attend. Examples of related experiences that would enhance your CV are guest speaking engagements, articles, and teaching experience.

5. Include more professional employment history

This part should be lower on your resume, emphasizing your academic achievements. Even so, this is where you can showcase a professional experience that isn’t directly applicable but valuable and transferable. Enter any volunteer work, paid employment, or internships here so the reader can better understand your personality and soft skills. To retain the intended layout specifications, ensure that you keep this section as brief as possible.

6. List your interests and hobbies.

Although it is much shorter and located after your CV, this section is where you can share some details about your private life and interests outside of academics. Examples of this include any sports you participate in or college societies in which you were an active participant throughout your previous academic career. In this part, be sure to highlight any noteworthy accomplishments that pertain to your interests and hobbies.

7. Provide references

Referencing relies on the specifications and guidelines of the master’s application. Always adhere to any guidelines set by the university. Provide at least two academic references, or one academic and one work reference, if they haven’t specified any requirements. This inspires confidence in the reader because you’ve listed the names of academics who can speak to your suitability as a master’s candidate in the field you’ve applied for.

Example of a Master’s CV

An all-purpose CV sample suitable for a master’s application is shown below:

Jason Miller

Apartment 15, Royal Lane, Florist Street, Dublin, 3FG 9OP

j.miller@email.com

111-222-3344

Header

Professional Business Administration Graduate with years of teaching experience and Lecturing

Profile

A recent business administration undergraduate with a foundation in research, relevant industrial experience, and teaching experience I’m thinking of getting a master’s in business management to advance my academic career.

Education

Dublin University (2019-2022)

Business Administration BSc (First Class Honors)

The modules covered managing finances, meeting customer requirements, people & organization, competitive strategy, and personal and career development. My dissertation on adjusting the food sector in a post-pandemic environment won a first (90 %) in my final year.

The Dublin Sixth Form (2012-2019)

A-levels in history, politics, and economics

8 GCSEs, with math, science, and English

Experience in teaching

Teacher’s aide, Bingham University (2022-present)

  • First-year students’ guest lecturer
  • Guiding student dissertations
  • Offering classes on writing and research techniques.
  • Gave four lectures in 2022.

Publications

J. Smith: How should a start-up be assessed? (2021) Business Gazette 10:872-878

Skills

  • Research abilities
  • Quantitative and Qualitative analysis
  • Commercial modeling
  • Delivering presentations and conferences

Work history

Project aide, The Corporate Initiative, Dublin (2020-present)

  • Putting up programs in schools for kids to know more about commerce and potential jobs
  • Studies to help initiatives receiving local funds
  • Created a mentoring program

Business counselor, Dublin University, Dublin (2021-present)

  • Giving local startups business planning advice
  • Executing fieldwork for small and medium-sized businesses
  • Researching to meet the needs of product development

References

  • Professor Peter Eigen – DublinUniversity, 9012 456892, peigen@dublin.ac.uk
  • Profession Alyssa Turner – DublinUniversity, 9012 456892, aturner@dublin.ac.uk

Conclusion

Don’t lose the time and work you spent writing your resume by including a mistake or having an unattractive resume.

It’s imperative that, after writing your CV, you proofread it. Regardless of whether it was an honest error, a typo on your resume can give the impression that you lack professionalism to an admissions committee or possible employer, particularly if your course or career depends heavily on written communication.

Frequently Asked Questions about Master’s CV

  • How should I format my CV for a master’s scholarship?

Make a list of all your academic accomplishments, honors and awards (if there are any), extracurricular activities, and any other information you believe may be helpful. After that, thoroughly evaluate your list and group the details that should be included on your scholarship CV and those that can be omitted.

  • How many pages should a master’s CV have?

An applicant who is just starting in their academic or postgraduate school career may have a CV that is 2-3 pages long. On the other side, a more seasoned scholar or researcher may have a CV that is double-digits in length (imagine 10+ pages).

  • What should be omitted from an academic CV?

Your key information should be included in a professional CV. The following information should be left out: Age, ethnic identification, political alignment, religious preference, hobbies, marital status, sexual preference, place of birth, pictures, height, weight, and general health are not required.

  • Is there a specific format or template to follow for a Master’s CV?

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all format for a Master’s CV, it’s generally recommended to follow a standard and professional structure. Begin with a header containing your contact information, followed by sections for education, research experience, work experience, awards and honors, publications and presentations (if applicable), language proficiency, and any relevant extracurricular activities. Use bullet points for easy readability and maintain a clear and organized layout.

  • How should I prioritize information on my Master’s CV if I have limited space?

If you have limited space on your CV, prioritize the most relevant and impressive information. Focus on your Master’s degree, relevant coursework, and research or work experience directly related to the program. Highlight any publications, presentations, or awards that set you apart. While it’s important to include your undergraduate degree, you can be more concise with the details if space is a concern. Tailor the content to align with the specific requirements of the Master’s program you’re applying to.

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