Here's how to list education on a resume based on standard practices.

Should I keep old diplomas on my resume? What if I didn't complete a degree?

When it comes to how to list education on your resume (assuming we're talking about a standard professional resume for the United States job market and not a federal resume, U.S. academic CV, or an international curriculum vitae), the diplomas you provide will depend upon your education history, your current level of experience, and your current job goals.

What do employers want to know about your education?

When thinking through how to list education on your resume, it's helpful to consider what employers want to know about it. First, your resume is your ticket to land interviews. As such, all information included should add value and be relevant to the job you're applying for. This includes, at a minimum, your relevant experience, skills, and education.

In terms of education, many jobs require a specific certification or an associate's degree or higher. Therefore, most importantly, employers want to know if you have the degree or education required to meet the minimum requirements for the position.  

Including education can also show employers that:

  • You have the work ethic to see things through to completion
  • You're interested in personal and professional development
  • You do well academically, especially if you have high grades
  • You have ambition, especially if you're also involved in extracurricular activities

Bearing these factors in mind, let's take a deep dive into how to list education on your resume, including where to list it, what elements to include, and examples based on your education and experience levels. 

Where to list education on a resume

Every resume should include an Education section to meet standard resume formatting requirements. In this section, you'll incorporate your high school diploma or college degrees, depending on your circumstances, which we'll discuss in more detail later. Where to place the Education section on your resume depends largely on your experience level and work history. 

Experienced hire

If you're an experienced hire, your work history is generally the most relevant portion of your resume - your work achievements speak to your skill set and ability to succeed on the job. In this scenario, the Education section will sit directly below the Work Experience section on your resume.

Entry-level or college graduate without relevant experience

As an entry-level employee or college graduate with little to no related work experience, your education will be the most relevant information to include. This means your Education section should go near the top of your resume, right below your Resume Summary section and just above your Work Experience section.

College graduate with relevant experience 

These days, many college students gain valuable and relevant experience through a variety of avenues. Internships, extracurricular activities, graduate assistantships, work-study, and part-time jobs are all examples of relevant experience a college student or recent graduate might include. 

Suppose you have enough relevant experience through these types of avenues. In that case, you'll place your relevant experience above your Education section, similar to an experienced hire. 

What to include in the Education section of your resume

Your Education section must include a couple of required pieces of information. You can also choose to include some optional pieces of information. 

How to list education on a resume: required information

The two main pieces of information required in the Education section of your resume are:

  1. Your diploma or degree
  2. The name of the issuing institution

If you're a college student pursuing a college degree, you also need to include your expected graduation date. For those with a college degree, only include information related to that degree, and forgo including information related to your high school diploma. 

How to list education on a resume: optional information

There are several types of optional information you can include in your Education section, including those listed below. 

  • Location of institution. You'll see the location of the issuing institution listed on many resumes, which is an okay choice. However, it's an optional piece of information to include. If you went to a smaller college that isn't as well-known, it might be good to include the location - the city and state – of the issuing institution – but it's not required.
  • Graduation date. If you recently graduated from college, you can opt to include your graduation date. However, if you've been out of college for two to three years or longer, it's perfectly fine, and generally recommended, to exclude it. 
  • Academic awards. Academic awards, like Latin Honors or the Dean's List, can add value to your resume. However, you should only include being on the Dean's List if you're a recent college graduate and you achieved the award regularly. Latin honors, like summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude, are okay to include for both recent graduates and experienced hires if you choose to do so. 
  • Grade point average (GPA). If you graduated from college less than two years ago or you're still a student, it's permissible to include your GPA, assuming it's a 3.5 or higher. If it falls below this threshold, exclude it. 
  • Academic projects. Academic projects that you feel were significant accomplishments and are relevant to the position you're applying to can stand out to employers. Some also choose to include a Special Projects section on their resume. If you make this choice, you can move their academic projects under that section. 
  • Relevant coursework. In most instances, employers will have an idea of the coursework that aligns with your degree. That said, if you went to college for some period and didn't graduate, adding relevant coursework can let employers know what training and education you have to support the job. You can see an example of how to include an incomplete degree with coursework later in this post. 
  • Academic-related certifications. If you have certifications you achieved through your academic coursework and they're relevant to the job you're applying to, including them can help your resume stand out. If you choose to include a Certifications section on your resume, you also have the option of including academic certifications there. 

You'll note many of the options above are most relevant if you're still in college or a recent college graduate. As you advance in your career, employers are most interested in the degree obtained vs. your other achievements while in school. When considering how to list education on a resume, use discernment as to what will add value, like special projects, Latin honors, and certifications, vs. merely taking up precious resume real estate for items that don't add value. 

How to list education on a resume based on education level (with examples)

Below are different scenarios with recommendations and examples to help you determine how to list education on your resume.

Scenario 1: You possess an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or other advanced certification

Typically, an employer expects to find information about your undergraduate degree and any graduate work or additional graduate degrees you've earned, such as a master's degree, PhD, law degree, and so forth, on your resume.

The same goes for any certifications or advanced training you've received that's relevant to your current job goals and career path, such as an RN, PMP, SSBB (Six Sigma Black Belt) … you get the idea.

Pro tip:If you've earned an advanced degree or certification that's considered very important for your field of work, include the acronym for the credential after your name at the top of your resume in addition to including the details of your education at the bottom of your resume in an Education and Professional Development section.

Experienced hire with advanced degree example

Master of Education - Human Resources (magna cum laude)BBB College

Bachelor of Art - Psychology (cum laude)University of AAA

Scenario 2: You recently graduated from college

As touched on previously, once you graduate from college and start searching for your first entry-level position, it's assumed you'll remove any information that refers to your high school activities and focus on your new undergrad degree.

To reiterate, if you're new to the workforce and your new degree is your best selling point, the Education section will appear towards the top of your resume. After you have a few years of relevant experience under your belt, the Education section gets shifted to the bottom of your resume, and your work history will get pushed farther up on the page.

Recent college graduate example

Bachelor of Science in Psychology, May 2023XYZ UniversityDean's List, 8 semesters

Scenario 3: You started college at one place, but finished somewhere else

If you attended college at one institution — perhaps a community college — and then completed your education at another place, you only need to list the university where you completed your degree. All the employer wants to know is which college supplied you with your degree at the end of your education – they don't necessarily care or need to know how you arrived at this place. Save that resume space for more important information. 

So, if you went to Community College ABC for two years to start your marketing degree and finished the degree over the next two years at University XYZ, you'll list your education as:

Bachelor of Arts - MarketingUniversity XYZ

Scenario 4: You possess a minor

Employers are most interested in your major. However, if you hold a minor that's relevant to the position you're applying to, include it on your resume. If it's more of a hobby or interest, then it's often best to leave it off. 

For example, if you majored in business administration and received a minor in data analytics, it makes sense to include both when applying for a business-related degree where data analytics is relevant. 

On the flip side, if you majored in engineering and have a minor in acting, exclude the minor if you're applying for an engineering position. 

Education example with a minor

Bachelor of Arts, Major in Accounting, Minor in FinanceDEF University

Scenario 5: You didn't finish college

If you attended college but didn't graduate, you may want to list the relevant courses you took, especially if you made it to some of the higher-level classes, to demonstrate the skills you built or the disciplines you were exposed to during your coursework.

Incomplete degree example 

Bachelors in Business AdministrationXYZ UniversitySept. 2019 to Dec. 2021

Relevant courses: Introduction to Business Administration, Business Statistics, Marketing, Risk Analysis, Advanced Economics, International Relations

Scenario 6: You didn't attend college

If you didn't go to college, and the jobs you're applying for specifically list a high school diploma or equivalent as one of the job requirements, be sure to include your high school diploma or equivalent on your resume.

High school diploma example

High School DiplomaJKL High School

High school equivalency example

High School Equivalency, 2020State Department of Education

GED example

General Education Diploma (GED), 1999State Department of Education

Scenario 7: You're still pursuing a college degree (undergrad or grad program)

If you're still attending college for your undergraduate or graduate degree, you can simply add an expected graduation year to this information. Only add a list of a few courses you've completed if they're 

  1. Higher-level courses — i.e., beyond the basic 101 classes — that are relevant to your job goals
  2. You don't have a lot of relevant work experience to market on your resume.

College student example with relevant courses

Bachelor of Arts — Film and Media Production | Expected December 2024ABC UniversityGPA: 3.9

COURSES: Advanced Film Theory, Cinematography, Directing Actors, Internet Media, Psychology in Film 

College student example with advanced degree

Master of Education - Social Work (expected May 2025)BBB College, City, StateBachelor of Science - Psychology, 2023University of AAA, City, Statesumma cum laude

Scenario 8: You're still in high school

If you're still in high school, you'll include your high school information with your expected graduation date. Here's an example of what to put for education on your resume if you're still in high school:

High School Diploma (expected May 2025)DEF High School

Education matters on a resume

It's standard practice to include an Education section on your resume, so it's important to do so to provide employers with the information they're seeking. Use the tips above on how to list education on your resume appropriately based on your unique circumstances. Good luck! 

Are you confident you're representing your education correctly on your resume? Why not submit it for a free resume review to be sure? 

This article was originally written by Amanda Augustine and has been updated by Ronda Suder.

Recommended Reading:

How to Write an Excellent Entry-Level Resume

Tips for Writing a Mid-Level Professional Resume

How to Craft a Senior-Level Professional Resume

Related Articles: