Your CV is unique to you. Use these steps to help you develop your CV to highlight your strengths and experiences; to show you are a good fit for the course and university. Your CV and your personal statement are the two most important parts of a postgraduate university application. Taking the time to write a strong CV can make your application an easy choice for university admissions teams.
The advice below is valid for applications for on-campus and online master’s degrees.
Review the Programme Requirements
Before you begin writing your CV, review the program requirements carefully to understand the entry requirements and what the course involves.
Keep it Concise
Your CV should be at most two sides of A4. You want your CV to be easy for the admissions team to scan and identify key information quickly. Universities receive and process thousands of applications each year, and if your achievements are buried in wordy, complex sentences, they may get missed.
An excellent way to detect waffle is to imagine being at a professional networking event. Would you feel comfortable explaining your achievements face-to-face in the same way you have them on your CV?
Through my exceptional negotiating skills and superior ability to streamline internal processes, I was able to achieve agreed business targets by cutting costs by an impressive XX%. My tireless efforts and unparalleled commitment to excellence ensured that the organisation not only met but exceeded its goals, cementing my reputation as a consummate professional and an invaluable asset to the company.
Cut costs by XX% by renegotiating supplier contracts and streamlining internal processes, achieving agreed business targets.
Make each word count- avoid meaningless cliches. Your CV needs to be clear, concise and easy to read. You can go into detail on your personal statement.
Use Clear Structure. Headings, Bullet Points, Bold Text for Key Information
As space is limited, you want to make sure the structure of your CV works for you. Clear headings make scanning and identifying the information you want to stand out easier.
Make sure you have your most important information in the top quarter of your first page- typically, a sentence or two about your professional profile and qualifications.
Highlight Your Academic Achievements
Start with the most recent qualification and work backwards in chronological order. Include the name of the degree, the university, and the year you graduated. Providing details about your dissertation and any honours or awards you received can also be helpful. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, mention your expected graduation date.
Include any relevant coursework, projects or research you have completed that are relevant to the course you are applying to.
Also, add any related certifications or professional body memberships to the education section. This demonstrates your expertise and commitment to the field. When listing your education history, keeping it concise and to the point is important. You don’t need to provide extensive details about each qualification, but ensure you include any areas directly related to your suitability for your chosen Master’s degree.
Show Relevant Work Experience
It is good to tailor your work history section to the program you are applying for by highlighting relevant experience for the course and emphasising the skills and knowledge you have gained that will be useful in the program.
List your most recent job first, then work backwards chronologically. Include the job title, company name, and employment dates.
Highlight your accomplishments in each role you have had. Use specific examples and metrics whenever possible to demonstrate your impact.
Where you have work experience that is not related, show the transferable or technical skills that demonstrate your ability to succeed on a rigorous academic programme.
Include Volunteer Work, Internships and Professional Memberships
In the same way as your work experience, showing either directly relevant experience or highlighting transferable skills you gained should be included on your CV.
Include any professional body membership that you have. These show a commitment to standards and
Proof Read your CV
Make sure to proofread your CV carefully for grammar and spelling errors. Ask a friend or mentor to review it as well to catch any mistakes you might have missed. Reading your CV out loud can help to find typos or sentences that could be clearer or easier to understand.
Check all the dates and ensure they match the dates you used on the application form or personal statement.
CV for a Master’s application FAQ
What should be included in a CV for a Master's application?
At a minimum, you need to include the following.
- Contact details
- Highest academic qualification and academic background
- Career history and relevant skills
It is also common to add the following.
- A few sentences describing yourself
- Hobbies and interests
How do I write a CV for a Master's application UK?
Use these seven tips to help you.
- Review the program requirements.
- Keep it Concise
- Use clear structure
- Highlight your academic achievements
- Flag work experience that is relevant to the course.
- Include volunteer work, internships and Professional memberships
- Proof Read your CV and check for errors.
Do I need a CV for a Master's application?
Yes, nearly all UK master’s degree programmes ask for a CV or resume as part of their application process.
What should be included in a CV for a Master's application?
At a minimum, you must show that you meet the entry requirements for the course you are applying to. As a general rule, the minimum you need to include is the following.
- Contact Details
- Academic Background
- Professional Experience
Depending on your experience, you could include any of the following to highlight your skills and suitability for your chosen course.
- Any Relevant Courses- Non-academic
- Academic Awards
- Published Papers
- Conference Presentations
- Research Experience
- Project Work
- Interests Outside of Work
- Technical Skills
- Computer Skills
- Professional Development
How long should a CV be for a Master's application?
You should keep your CV to a maximum of 2 sides of A4. It needs to be concise and to the point so that it is easy for the admissions team to read quickly and easily identify important points. If your CV is more than two sides of A4, you need to be strict and edit out anything irrelevant to the course’s entry requirements.
How do I make my graduate CV stand out for a master's degree application?
The best way to make an impression with your CV is to have a clean, easy-to-read format using powerful language. A good CV should avoid cliches.
How many references do you need for a Master's application?
For a postgraduate application, you are usually required to submit two referees. These can be academic referees or professional. The university admissions team typically prefer professional references if you are returning to study.
What should an academic CV look like?
There is no correct way to format and present an academic CV. The key is to ensure that your CV is easy to read and highlights why you meet the entry criteria for the course.
Do universities look at your CV?
Yes, when a CV is requested as part of an application, the admission team will use the CV as evidence of a candidate’s suitability for the course. This is especially so for courses that require career experience as an entry requirement, such as an MBA.
Should I put a photo in my CV for university?
In the UK, it is not standard for people to add a photo to their CV, unlike in some countries. There is no real benefit of adding a photo to your CV, and it’s not recommended if you wouldn’t place one on your CV for a job.
Should I include university modules on my CV?
It’s not advised to list all the modules on your undergraduate degree on your CV profile, but if your dissertation or research project is directly related to your choice of postgraduate study, it can be good to add this information to your CV.
How far back should you go on an academic CV?
When applying for a master’s degree only really need to go as far back as the qualifications that demonstrate your suitability for the course. In most cases, your undergraduate degree would be sufficient.
If you are applying for a quantitative heavy programme and you have A-level Maths, then including your A levels would be relevant. Similarly, if you are an international student and your school grades can be used as proof of English language level, then including these is advised.