6 Steps to Writing an Awesome Academic CV for Master’s Application

The rules for writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for a Master’s application are not the same as they are for your run-of-the-mill job application. In your academic CV for Master’s application, you’ll want to show the admission committee that your skills and qualifications make you a good fit for their programme. 

What the academic CV for Master’s application is all about

The most important thing you need to know about the academic CV for Master’s application that you will craft is that it should convey how you understand your own achievements. The CV usually goes hand in hand with the academic letters of recommendation, in which professors further vouch for what you have done and your skills.

That’s why you should not treat the CV for university application as just a technicality but take time to reflect on what you have done before and what’s noteworthy about it.

Now, let’s see how you can prepare a flawless CV for applying to your future Master’s:

1. Is there a difference between a Resume and a CV for university application?

While both documents include a short history of your activities, a Resume is rather a one-two page summary of your professional achievements, while a CV for university application highlights all your accomplishments, academic and professional. Consequently, most Master’s programmes will actually ask for your CV. The main exception is when you apply for an MBA, in which case most universities ask for your Resume.

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2. Focus on your academic background

A golden rule of any CV for Master’s application is to emphasize your academic achievements over professional ones. You should definitely mention professional experience, but you should go into greater detail about your education.

In addition to identifying your alma mater, the diploma you earned, and when you graduated, you should mention some of the most relevant courses you took and academic awards you earned - particularly those most relevant to your field of study. 

But don’t go overboard with your descriptions! Each entry in your academic CV for Master’s application should only contain necessary details within two to four bullet points.

3. Volunteer work and internships matter more than you think

Internships or volunteer work in your CV for Master’s application show admissions officers your interests and that you are willing to work hard for reasons other than immediate financial gains. If you want to change academic subject areas, volunteer work or internships can help to bridge the gap between your current and your desired specialization.

Here you should focus on describing what you have done, not on what you think it says about you. Provide the necessary information for the admissions officers to draw their own conclusions.

What impresses admission commissions is teaching experience because that’s half of what academia is about. So be sure to highlight in your CV for university application any volunteering, internship, or paid position in which YOU were a teacher or teaching assistant. 

4. Use powerful language and have a clear structure

The ideal of an academic CV for Master’s application is 1-2 pages. Conclusion? A CV is not the place to waste words and add meaningless fluff. You should choose your words meticulously so as to convey a lot about your achievements in a limited space.

Watch out for internet clichés taken from a CV template for Master’s application, which will only tell the admission committee that you read an article about how to write a CV. This includes buzzwords like “detail-oriented,” which the commission already heard one-too-many times.

The structure is also an important feature of your CV for Master’s application and should include the following:

  • a header with your name and contact details
  • clearly defined sections with headings to emphasize technical content e.g., relevant work experience, areas of scientific interest, laboratory skills and techniques
  • descriptions (usually as bullet points)
  • entries in reverse chronological order (most recent to earliest)

CV for Master's application

5. Include this essential information in your academic CV for Master’s application 

  • Research Interests: They show that you care about the same topics that the programme focuses on
  • Education: Top-Down chronological list (mention corresponding GPAs)
  • Publications: Consider a hyperlink for each paper so that the commission can have samples of your writing
  • Honours and Awards: Only mention really impressive things, such as scholarships
  • Teaching Experiences: Show your interest in an academic life/career
  • Work Experiences: Address your relevant professional experiences (if any)
  • Computer Skills: mention skills you master, and which might be necessary for your programme
  • Language Skills: Mention grades of your language tests (TOEFL, GRE, etc.)
  • Memberships: Mention if you are a member of any particular organization that is related to what you want to study

6. Thoroughly proofread your CV 

Your CV for Master’s application is your ‘business card’. Everything you put in should be presented in a careful and polished manner. That means adapting it for each application and editing it to make sure it presents you in the best possible light. A degree from ‘Cartridge’ won’t make a lasting impression on the commission.

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