How to List Education on a Resume

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August 4, 2022
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min read

At first glance, the education section of your resume seems like it should be the easiest one to complete (aside from writing your name and contact information at the top, of course). All you need to do is list the school you attended and the degree you got. Easy enough, right?

But it's not long before you start to question how to approach the section:

  • Should you bother listing your GPA?
  • What if you didn't actually complete the degree?
  • Where should you put that online certification you got?
  • Is the hiring manager even going to look at this part?

Don't panic. This guide will answer all of your questions about the education section of your resume and provide examples. You'll find out how to share your academic background in a way that makes sense — and puts you one step closer to actually getting the job. 

See it in action: 850+ example resumes featuring full samples and section-by-section guidance.

How to Write the Education Section of Your Resume

Your education section can be pretty straightforward. If you choose to include an education section, list the following at a bare minimum:

  • The educational institution you attended
  • The location (it might seem unnecessary, but helps with clarity)
  • The degree you earned
  • The month and year you obtained your degree

…and that's really all you need for the most basic of sections. Here's an education section example so you can see how it might be formatted on your document:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, May 2020

See? It's not so complicated after all. 

Where to Put the Education Section on Your Resume

Where you place the education section on your document will depend on how important your educational background seems to the employer and the role you're applying for. For experienced workers, education typically goes below your experience.

Keep in mind that you should tailor your resume to every single job you apply for. That means not only including the right information, but also ensuring your most pertinent and relevant details are near the top of your document.

Is a certain degree type listed as a qualification? Is it something that they call a lot of attention to in the job description? If yes, put your education section near the top of your document.

Does the job description neglect to mention educational background at all? In this case, it's probably not a priority for the employer, so you can put your education section closer to the bottom. 

Do Hiring Managers Pay Attention to Your Education?

This might be the first question you have: Is anybody even going to pay attention to the education section? Is it worth investing time and energy into it or are hiring managers' eyes going to skip right over it?

Well, it depends. Speaking very generally, many employers have started to shift toward skills-based hiring in an effort to attract a broader pool of talent, remove barriers and prioritize diversity. That means that they look for candidates with the right knowledge and experiences and place less weight on their formal education. 

It's a growing trend. Data from ZipRecruiter showed that job postings that require a bachelor's degree fell to 7% in June 2021—down from 11% the previous year. A separate study from Indeed found that 59% of employers are considering completely eliminating college degree requirements from their hiring process. 

So, should you bother listing your education at all?

Think about it this way: It doesn't hurt. Maybe the employer or hiring manager won't give much credence to it. But if they do? The information they need is there.

Plus, there are still some roles or employers that will care about your educational background. They might even have an applicant tracking system set up to scan resumes for the right degree. If that's the case, having your education listed will help you make the initial cut. 

Education or no education, the rest of your resume needs to be impressive and attention-grabbing.

5 Common Questions About Your Resume's Education Section

Your education section can be fairly self-explanatory. But not always. What about special situations—like when you might not have the right degree? Or you're currently getting your degree (but don't actually have it yet)?

Let's look at some other situations and how to handle each of them in the education section of your resume. 

1. What if You Don't Have the Right Education?

Maybe you have a degree — but it's not the exact type the employer is asking for. Now what?

A lot of this is going to rely on your gut feel. You probably won't apply to be a neurosurgeon without a medical degree. But, if a sales representative role wants a communication degree and you have a philosophy degree with eight years of relevant experience? It's still worth applying.

In those cases, still list your education on your resume so they know that you have a degree, even if it isn't the specific one they mentioned. But place your education section closer to the middle or bottom of your document. 

2. What if You're Currently Pursuing a Degree?

You're currently attending school to get the degree the employer mentioned—but you haven't actually completed the process yet. That's still important information for employers to know, particularly if they specifically asked for a degree, and should be included on your resume. 

That said, you don't want to mislead employers into thinking you actually have the degree already. List an expected graduation date to make it clear that you're working toward your degree completion but aren't quite there yet. Here's what that could look like:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2023

3. What if You Didn't Complete a Degree?

Maybe you previously worked toward a degree and dropped out before you finished—and you don't have any intention of going back and wrapping it up. 

In these cases, it's only worth listing on your resume if it's highly relevant to the job you're applying for. In those cases, use the word "pursued" to make it clear you worked toward the degree but didn't complete it. You could also list the credits you completed or the years you attended. Here's an example:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, Completed 63 Credits

4. Should You List Your Minor on Your Resume?

If you're going to list your degree and you also have a minor, it's worth including in your education section. Wondering how to actually list a minor on your resume? It's pretty simple. Here's an example: 

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, Minor in Journalism 

May 2020

5. Where Should You List Certifications or Courses?

Not all education happens at a formal institution anymore. Maybe you received an industry-specific certification or took a relevant online course.

These still count as education and if they're relevant to the job you're applying for, could be worth including in your education section—along with your formal degree (if you have one) or in place of it. Here's what that might look like: 

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, May 2020

HubSpot Content Marketing Certification, June 2022

4 Ways to Make Your Education Section More Impressive

The education section of your resume can stay pretty simple, particularly if you only need to list your degree.

But, if you're set on making every square inch of your resume as compelling as possible, here are a few more aspects you can add to your education section to make it stand out from the crowd even more. 

1. Highlight Educational Achievements

Did you maintain a 4.0 GPA the entire time you were in school? Did you graduate summa cum laude? Do you want to include the dean's list on your resume?

If you had any major academic distinctions or honors, you can make brief mention of them (don't take up too much space, though!) in the education section of your resume to illustrate the commitment you had to your learning. Here's an example:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, Graduated summa cum laude May 2020

2. Mention Honor Societies

Similarly, if you were part of any renowned or recognized honor societies, you could list those in your education section as well. That might look like this:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, Graduated summa cum laude May 2020

Member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society 

3. List Relevant Coursework

You don't want to list every single college course you took on your resume. After all, that Oceanography 101 course probably isn't all that relevant for the marketing position you're applying for.  But if you took certain classes that are extremely pertinent to the role you're applying for, you can include those in your education section.

This is most helpful if you're fresh out of school and don't have much on-the-job experience to include. Listing related courses can at least show that you have some basic knowledge and familiarity with the concepts you'd need to lean on in that role. Here's how you might list those:

Electric City University | Scranton, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Communication
, May 2020

Related Coursework: Writing for the Internet, Topics in Media and Cultural Analysis, Advanced Search Engine Optimization 

4. Include Supplemental Materials

Your education section highlights the nuts and bolts of what you've learned, but it doesn't show how you can apply that knowledge in the real world.

In some positions, it can be helpful to supplement your resume's education section with additional materials. Think: a website you built. Or a campaign you put together. Or an article you wrote. Or an app you coded. Or a prototype you created. You get the idea. 

While these won't get listed directly on your resume, if there's an option to submit something in addition to your basic application materials, including those extras can help put you at the top of the stack. 

Final Thoughts

Your resume's education section might seem like a throwaway section—simply jot down your college and your degree and you're done.

In some ways, that's true. It doesn't always need to be complex, especially if the employer you're applying with doesn't seem to place a lot of emphasis on your educational background. 

But like every other part of your resume, your education section deserves some thought and consideration to make sure it's as relevant and impressive as possible. That commitment to fine-tuning your document is what keeps you out of the recycling bin—and moves you over to the "to be interviewed" pile.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I list my education if I have not yet completed my degree?

If you're still pursuing your degree, list your education by including the degree you're working towards, your major, the name of the school, and the expected graduation date. For example: "Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, University of XYZ, Expected Graduation: May 2024." This shows prospective employers that you're actively improving your qualifications.

Is it necessary to include high school education on my resume if I have a college degree?

Typically, once you have a college degree, it's not necessary to include your high school education on your resume. Focus on highlighting your highest level of education, relevant coursework, and any academic achievements that align with the job you're applying for.

How can I emphasize relevant coursework on my resume if I lack professional experience?

If you're new to the workforce, you can emphasize relevant coursework by creating a subsection within your education section titled "Relevant Coursework." List courses that have provided you with skills or knowledge directly applicable to the job you're targeting. Be selective and choose courses that demonstrate your proficiency in specific areas related to the position.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a freelance writer focused on the world of work. When she's not at her computer, you'll find her with her family—which includes two adorable sons and two rebellious rescue mutts.

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