Curriculum Vitae Tutorial

by Donny Grover

Curriculum Vitae

A curriculum vitae (singular form, noun), meaning “course of (one’s) life, (vee-tie or vi-tee) is a document that gives much more detail than does a resume about your academic and professional accomplishments.

Curricula vitae (plural form, noun) are most often used for academic or research positions, whereas resumes are the preferred documents in business and industry.

The informal shortened form, “vita” standing alone, meaning a brief biographical sketch, is singular, while “vitae,” is plural.

The abbreviation is often used: CV or CVs.

Note about pronunciation:

If you prefer a variation different than those provided by Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, that’s fine. Or feel free to consult your favorite Latin teacher.

Curricula vitae are commonly used in applying for the following:

  • Admission to graduate school or as part of an application packet for a graduate assistantship or scholarship.
  • Grant proposals.
  • Teaching, research, and upper-level administrative positions in higher education.
  • Academic departmental and tenure reviews.
  • College or university service appointments.
  • Professional association leadership positions.
  • Speaking engagements.
  • Publishing and editorial review boards.
  • Research and consulting positions in a variety of settings.
  • School administration positions at the superintendent, principal, or department head level.

While your resume – even for most graduate students – should be kept to one page, vitae are usually two pages at the shortest, and can be many pages in length. Common lengths for curricula vitae are one to three pages for bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates; two to five pages for doctoral candidates; and five or more pages for an experienced academician or researcher. Even though it’s a longer document, write it concisely and give it a clean, easy-to-read layout.

A curriculum vitae includes information about professional publications, presentations, committee work, grants received, and other details based on each person’s experience.

You can include:

  • Education
  • Master’s thesis or project
  • Dissertation title or topic
  • Course highlights or areas of concentration in graduate study
  • Teaching experience and interests
  • Research experience and interests
  • Consulting experience
  • Internships or graduate practica
  • Fieldwork
  • Publications
  • Professional papers and presentations
  • Grants received
  • Professional association and committee leadership positions and activities
  • Certificates and licensure
  • Special training
  • Academic awards, scholarships, and fellowships
  • Foreign study and travel abroad
  • Language competencies
  • Technical and computer skills

Although curricula vitae are often similar to resumes, the preferred style, format, and content varies from discipline to discipline.

Before writing a CV, you should become familiar with the requirements of your academic field. To do so:

  • Visit your department’s web site; faculty CVs are almost always posted in some manner.
  • If you are applying to academic positions, it is essential to become familiar with each department to which you are applying (viewing their website being an essential first step), so you’ll have ample opportunity to seek out faculty CVs as you do that research.
  • The websites of professional organizations with which you are affiliated are good sources for career advice, which can include CV advice.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education is full of career advice for prospective new faculty (and others) in academia. (This and other advice is contained in our job search information for graduate students.)
  • Your advisor and other trusted faculty members in your department may be sought for advice and feedback as you finalize your CV. Your future success reflects positively on your department, so your department is interested in supporting your efforts toward future career success.

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