Writing a Curriculum Vitae

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What is a curriculum vitae?

Originating from Latin, curriculum vitae means “course of life” when translated. This employment document is also commonly called a CV, vita or vitae. A CV, then, is simply a way to present your accomplishments that are relevant to academia. If you are applying for a teaching position or other academic position, the vita is the document you want to use. Because the CV is essentially a snapshot of your life in terms of academic accomplishments and experience, it is a document you want to update frequently to show any recent changes to your experiences.

The CV differs from a typical resume, and this document is used for certain positions in academia. While there is not an official or consistent format for creating a curriculum vitae, there are certain pieces of information that you should include.

How a curriculum vitae differs from a resume

A curriculum vitae differs from a resume in several ways.

  • The CV is often longer than the standard one- or two-page resume.
  • The CV conveys your scholarly or academic identity; a resume conveys your professional identity.

Positions that require a curriculum vitae

If you are unsure whether a position requires a vita, you can ask someone from within institution or organization to which you are applying. However, the following positions and situations typically require the submission of a curriculum vitae.

  • Administrative positions at educational institutions
  • Department heads
  • Editors
  • Graduate assistants
  • Grant proposal positions
  • Principals
  • Professional speakers
  • Professional speaking engagements
  • Professors
  • Publishers
  • Research assistants
  • Research associates
  • Research professionals
  • Superintendents
  • Teachers

The length of a curriculum vitae

The length of a curriculum vitae is usually longer than the typical resume. In fact, it is not uncommon for CVs to be more than three pages. Ultimately, the length depends on both your experience and the position for which you are applying. General guidelines to help you decide on the appropriate length are below; however, these guidelines are only suggestions, so always write a length that concisely shows your qualifications and experience.

  • If you are a bachelor’s or master’s degree candidate, use one to three pages.
  • If you are a doctoral candidate, use two to five pages.
  • If you are an experienced researcher or academic, use five or more pages.

Information to include on a curriculum vitae

The standard information to include on a curriculum vitae in the United States should give a thorough accounting of your work history and experience. This includes the following information: previous employment, samples of your work (when appropriate), academic credentials, work you have published and any notable achievements.

Tailoring your CV to particular positions can help get you noticed as well. Pay close attention to the requirements of a position, and present your information in a way that directly translates into meeting those requirements.

Because there is no standard format you must follow when writing a curriculum vitae, the type of information you include is largely based on your experiences and achievements. Information you should consider including are found in the below list:

  • Academic awards
  • Certifications
  • Committee involvement and activities
  • Consulting engagements/experience
  • Dissertation topic
  • Education
  • Fellowships
  • Field work
  • Foreign languages you speak
  • Foreign study
  • Graduate courses and/or areas of study
  • Grants
  • Internships
  • Masters or doctoral thesis
  • Memberships in professional organizations
  • Notable presentations or papers
  • Professional licenses
  • Publications or any published work
  • Research conducted
  • Research consulting experience
  • Research experience
  • Specialized training
  • Teaching experience

Always make sure your CV is grammatically sound and easy on the eyes. Understanding resume formatting can help guide you in how to display information on a curriculum vitae. Ultimately, a good vita shows prospective employers why you are a good choice for the position through relevant achievements and skills, and this is accomplished by including the right content and presenting that content in an easy-to-read format.