How to List Your Education Section On a Resume: The Best Practices

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May 23, 2022
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What does your education section need to include and where should it be placed on your resume?

It sounds straightforward. 

But, it depends on where you’re at in your career. That’s why it should be tailored to your strengths. 

Whether you’re a student, graduate, or someone with more than 2 years of experience, we’ve answered all of your questions about the resume education section in this guide. We’ve also included proven examples for professionals at all levels and the best practices. 

What The Resume Education Section Needs to Include 

This consists of your formal qualifications and academic achievements such as:

  • University degree
  • Professional diploma 
  • Major or minor
  • Honors and awards

Each of these shows employers that you’re prepared to work in the corporate environment. It also gives insight into your ability as a professional, e.g. you’ve built up your resilience and you’re equipped with the skills or knowledge required to solve problems in your field of work. 

As you go into detail behind any of these, you’ll need to mention the relevant information. This includes:

  • Date of graduation
  • School, college, or university attended
  • GPA (optional)
  • Location 

The only exception to omitting the date of graduation is if it’s from more than 10 years ago. 

However, be truthful. The hiring managers can easily verify the details you’ve provided. 

Extracurricular Activities and Relevant Coursework

If you’ve taken part in a program or course that’s developed your skills and you’ve earned a certificate from them, it’s very much worth including. 

But, your education section should only contain your formal academic achievements. 

Anything outside of that which are extracurricular activities or additional accomplishments should be listed in a separate section. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Projects
  • Certifications
  • Relevant coursework
  • Involvement

These are especially useful for those of you who have no experience in the workforce. As we get into our list of examples, you’ll notice how applicants take advantage of this to create a more impactful application. 

The Length of Your Education Section 

The bare minimum should be at least one qualification listed with the necessary details. But, you can list up to 3 awards. The ones with the highest level of education should be listed first – if you have other alternatives, consider using additional resume sections. 

Keep in mind though that it’s quality over quantity. Including another certificate that’s irrelevant or doesn’t provide any insight to your employer can decrease the impact of your application. 

Where to Place Your Resume Education Section

It’s usually placed after the work history section. In some cases, it’s placed before that or further down your resume.

For example, a student with not much experience might want to highlight their educational background to the recruiter. So, this would come first. 

But for another professional, they might have certifications or projects they’ve worked on which are more impactful and relevant than their degree. So, after their work experience, they’ll have the additional section listed first before including their formal education.

The takeaway here is that it depends on how important it is compared to your other achievements.

With that concept of highlighting your biggest strengths first, your accomplishments that have more significance to the job posting should take priority. 

As long as you abide by that concept, you’ll be on your way to an impactful resume.

How to List Your Education on a Resume:

To make it clear how to list your education section, we’ve broken down examples and the intentions behind each approach. 

The general rule of thumb is to write it down in reverse chronological order. Therefore, you start from the most recent qualification to the oldest. This establishes a consistent timeline that showcases the most relevant details first. 

The Standard Approach

Marketing Analyst  with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

For most resumes, the education goes after the work experience section. 

As mentioned, one qualification is more than enough. In addition, they’ve included the details regarding the credits that they received, where they studied, and when they graduated. This is a versatile approach that works for professionals at all levels. 

However, you can list more as shown in the journalist resume example below.

Journalist resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

The most important details to include are:

  • Degree qualification
  • Where you studied 
  • Date of graduation 

Here’s another example from the customer service representative template that got the applicant an interview with Apple:

customer service representative resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

The difference between this and the earlier templates is that the education comes after the certifications section. 

That’s because the candidate highlights what’s most relevant and impactful first. In the case of applying for a customer service position, emotional intelligence and relationship-building are key skills to have. 

By taking on this approach, it’s more tailored to the job and company you’re applying for. 

Students With Little to No Work Experience

Let’s take a look at the first year student resume sample.

first year student resume template with low level experience, concentrating on recent education, internships, and other extra curricular experiences.

Compared to the previous examples, the education section is the very first section listed.

Even if candidates don’t have all the ideal experience, it doesn’t mean they’re unqualified for the role. 

When it comes to creating your resume, it’s important to prioritize your strengths and to showcase your achievements to your employers. That’s one reason why we suggest writing cover letters since they give you the opportunity to go more in-depth about the things you’ve listed and why you’re a good fit. 

In the student technical assistant resume below, it’s slightly different. Even then, they still managed to land an interview at the University of Oregon.

student technical assistant student resume template with low level experience, concentrating on recent education, internships, and other extra curricular experiences.

This time, it comes after the experience section. 

Everything has been done intentionally to fit with the job seeker’s professional background. Along with the other relevant sections they’ve included, we can see that they’re a self-driven individual in the field of tech. 

Job Seekers With +2 Years of Work Experience

Investment Banking Resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

This investment banking sample resembles the standard resume format. 

The bulk of this application is made up of their professional experience, which is common when you’ve been employed for more than 2 years. In this example though, they’ve listed their degree and master’s degree. 

Alternatively, the HR resume sample only lists one qualification:

Human resources  Resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

In addition to their degree, they’ve included the location and GPA. If you’ve scored over 3.0, you can highlight this to further illustrate self-motivation and passion. 

Manager Positions and Above

In the account manager resume, it follows the same principle as the standard approach.

Account Manger  Resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

It’s not too different from the first template on this list. The same also applies to the senior test engineer sample.

Senior test Engineer  Resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

In contrast, the product marketing manager sample lists more than one award.

Product Marketing Manager  Resume with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

Notice how all resume examples in this list follow the concept of highlighting what’s most impactful first. 

From the template above, it goes after the projects section which is further down the application. 

Despite how many years of experience you have, make it a priority to give employers exactly what they’re looking for.

When to Leave Out The Resume Education Section

It leaves gaps in your resume if you don’t include any qualifications, that’s why they’re preferred. 

At the bare minimum, include at least 1 form of credentials in your application. When there’s nothing listed, it leaves questions for your employers as there’s a noticeable gap in your academic record. 

The only time to consider leaving it out is if you have other work experience to include that’s more relevant to the job.

However, it’s always worth including at least one because it’s recognition of your ability and work ethic from respectable institutions. Even if you have a degree in a different industry, it still gives insight into your character.

If you’re still studying or the course is ongoing, you can still list it. But, make it clear that it’s currently in progress and mention the expected completion date. 

Land Your Dream Job at Your Dream Company

A key factor to consider is the relevance and importance of what you’re talking about. 

Those principles make it easier to decide what details should come first and what’s better off leaving out. 

And with this approach, you’re more likely to leave a stronger first impression.  

Alternatively, another solution is to use a resume builder that takes into account every detail and provides the necessary feedback. This was one of the reasons why 62% out of the 176,000+ users using Rezi have landed an interview. 

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Rezi is an ai resume builder to help you to create a resume that os sure to check the boxes when it comes to applicant tracking systems : Rezi Review by Ashley