Many job seekers assume that work experience is all that matters on a resume. But this isn’t always the case. Your education section can be equally important, especially if you’re just starting out in your career.

Making sure your education section is properly formatted is crucial, not just for human eyes but for applicant tracking systems (ATS).

ATS scan and parse resumes to identify qualified candidates. If your education details aren’t formatted correctly, you risk being overlooked by ATS, even if you have the right qualifications.

In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about your resume’s education section – from what information to include to how to properly format it for the ATS.

What to include in your resume education section

A resume education section is simple and straightforward. It should include your:

  • Educational institution
  • Degree
  • Location
  • Years attended or year graduated
Best resume structure

You can also include other details, such as:

  • Academic honors or awards. These could be Latin honors and awards received for exceptional academic performance. Highlight them especially if they effectively illustrate relevant hard and soft skills. 
  • Extra-curricular involvement. Academic excellence isn’t all about your grades. If you want to showcase your active involvement in school projects or community initiatives, you can do so, especially if you don’t have any work experience yet.
  • GPA. Include your grade point average only if it’s 3.5 or higher. However, if you graduated more than three years ago, you don’t have to include this. Recruiters will be more interested in what you’ve done after graduating than your GPA.
  • Senior thesis. In some fields, such as research and science, a senior or master’s thesis can help recruiters better grasp your field of expertise and interests. You don’t have to go into detail about the study, though. A title should suffice.
  • Scholarships. Scholarships are typically granted to students who excel academically. Being awarded and maintaining a scholarship is a compelling way to demonstrate aptitude in specific fields, as well as positive traits like hard work and perseverance.

To ensure that your education section matches the job requirements, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner.

Simply paste your resume and the job description into the tool and you’ll receive a Match Report. The report gives you a resume score that shows how well your resume matches the job description. The report also tells you exactly how to increase your score.

Here’s a sample section of the Match Report (notice “education match”).

A sample section of Jobscan's Match Report.

NOTE: If you’re building your resume from scratch, try Jobscan’s free resume builder. There are no hidden costs and it allows you to build an ATS-compatible resume in no time!

How to format your resume education section

How you format your resume education section is crucial for ensuring that your resume gets parsed by the ATS correctly. 

Follow this format:

1) Use a simple heading

It’s understandable to want your resume to be unique by using creative headings like “My Educational Journey”. However, this could result in parsing errors.

To avoid this, simply use “Education” as your heading, and you’re good to go. What really matters is what you put inside this section, not what you label it.

2) List your degree before the name of the school

Generally, the degree you earned should go before the name of the school you attended. 

But if you went to a prestigious school and want to highlight the school instead of your degree, you can list the name of the school and then place the degree you earned after it.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts: Theater, Shakespearean, 2019

Columbia College, Chicago, IL


Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Engineering, 2015-2019

3) Add details that make you a great fit for the job

Make your education section more appealing by adding details that are relevant to the job. These include:

GPA or Latin honors – Your GPA should go immediately after your major. Any Latin honors go right after the degree and before the year graduated.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts in Biomedical Engineering (3.75)

Bachelor of Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude, 2016-2020

Your minor – If your minor is directly related to the job, it can give your resume a further boost. Place it next to your major.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Engineering (3.75), Major in Environmental Planning, Minor in Ecology

Societies – Including involvement in societies that display character traits and values that align you with the company can give your resume an advantage.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Engineering (3.75), Major in Environmental Planning, Minor in Ecology

Societies: Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace, Conservation International

Relevant coursework – You’ll have a lot to choose from, so make sure to pick only the ones that are directly related to the job.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Engineering (3.75), Major in Environmental Planning, Minor in Ecology

Relevant coursework: Environmental Science and Public Policy

Study abroad programs – Involvement in study abroad programs, whether for only a semester or a full year, demonstrates an eagerness to learn and pursue your ambitions.

This information goes just after the school you graduated from and should be formatted in the same way.

For example:

DePaul University, Chicago, IL, December 2014-March 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Major in English Composition, Minor in Journalism

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy (Study Abroad) September 2015-December 2015

  • Completed coursework in journalism and international affairs.
  • Became fluent in the Italian language

4) Indicate college credits earned even if you didn’t get a degree

If you attended college but weren’t able to graduate, you should still include an education section on your resume. You can simply list the number of credits you earned.

For example:

Bachelor of Arts: Theater, Shakespearean, 2016-2017

Columbia College, Chicago, IL

40 credit hours obtained

Pro tip: Interviewers will likely want to know why you didn’t push through with a college degree. Tell the real reason why, while using your answer to let your interviewer know how your actual work experience (or whatever you did upon leaving school) adds value to you as a professional.

5) Indicate expected graduation date if you’re still finishing your degree

If you’re still in college or are in the process of finishing a graduate degree, list the expected date of your graduation. 

For example:

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Expected graduation date: June 2024

6) List multiple degrees in reverse chronological order

If you have multiple degrees, list the highest degree first. If you have a bachelor’s, master’s, and a Ph.D., list your Ph.D. first, followed by your master’s degree and your bachelor’s degree. 

You don’t need to include your high school degree, unless you’re still attending college.

For example:

Master of Arts in Journalism, 2018-2020

Illinois State University, Bloomington, IL

Bachelor of Mass Communication, 2013-2017

Washington University, St. Louis, MO

If you have plenty of information to include in your education section or are still confused about how to write one, you can simply use one of Jobscan’s optimized resume templates.

Jobscan also has editable Google Docs resume templates if you prefer Google Docs over Microsoft Word. 

Use Jobscan’s free ATS-friendly resume templates and start building your resume that gets noticed by recruiters!

When to exclude your education from your resume

Generally speaking, you should never leave your educational background off your resume, even if it’s unrelated to the field you want to work in.

However, there are instances when including a resume education section may hurt instead of improve your chances of getting hired.

You should exclude your education if:

  • You only have a high school diploma. If you don’t have a college degree or have not attended college at all, it’s best to leave off the education section altogether. Instead, you’ll want to highlight other details that demonstrate your suitability for a role, such as your volunteer experience.
  • Your resume is too long. It’s best to keep your resume short, clear, and straight to the point. If you’re a seasoned candidate with ten or more years of relevant experience you may opt to use what precious space you have for “selling” yourself rather than including an education section.
  • It makes you over-qualified. If you have a master’s degree and are applying for an entry-level job, recruiters may not think you’re serious about the job.

Where to place your resume education section

Where you place your education section depends on your career journey. If you’re a recent graduate applying for an entry-level job, your education section should go first, right below your summary statement and skills section. 

Here’s an example:

A recent graduate resume.

But if you have had professional work experience, you should let that take the spotlight and place your education section after it instead.

As a general rule, the sections of your resume should be listed from the most important to the least important. 

So even if you are a seasoned professional but the job has a specific requirement on educational attainment, you might want to place it before your work experience.

Why you should include a resume education section

Here are two reasons why your resume needs an education section:

1) Your education demonstrates your potential

A 2019 survey of 200 recruiters found that potential, or a candidate’s likelihood for success, is the most important factor for recruiters when making a hire.

There are other things that determine a candidate’s potential, such as how well they do in the interview and how they format their resume. But showing a well-rounded academic experience is also important.

This is why if you’re not a seasoned candidate, don’t despair. You have a very good chance of wow-ing hiring managers by showing off in your education section.

2) Your education is crucial in certain fields

Your education section is also important if you’re applying to jobs in certain fields, such as medicine or law.

These are typically fields where an extensive educational background is crucial for determining how well a job candidate is equipped to practice.

When applying for a job in such fields, you would need an education section in a curriculum vitae, or CV, instead of a resume. A curriculum vitae is a longer, more comprehensive account of your academic background and work history.

While a resume should be limited to one or two pages, a CV can be longer, depending on your background.


Should your education or experience section be listed first?

How you order your resume sections depends on your career journey. Ideally, the sections with the most important and relevant information should go first.
So if you recently graduated and have yet to join the workforce, placing your education section first will allow recruiters to see skills and competencies gained through your academic experience, making up for a lack of actual work experience.
On the other hand, if you are a seasoned professional, you should let your work experience shine by putting it first.

Should you list your college education if you never graduated?

You should still list your college education even if you weren’t able to earn a degree. You can do this by indicating the credits obtained.

What to do if your education is ongoing or incomplete?

If you’re still in college or have not completed your education yet, you should indicate your expected date of graduation to let recruiters know your academic status.

When is it okay to skip the education section on your resume?

It’s okay to skip the education section on your resume if:
• You only have a high school diploma.
• Including it will make your resume too long.
• It will make you over-qualified.

How do you list a double major on your resume?

To list a double major on your resume, use a signifier such as “Double major” or list both majors separately. Make sure to list the major that’s most relevant to the job first.

Should you add GPA to your resume?

You should only add a GPA to your resume if it’s 3.5 or higher, or if you graduated no more than three years before applying for a job.

Does listing education on your resume help you get hired?

Listing your education on your resume does help you get hired. It guarantees that you match job requirements, shows that you are equipped with the necessary educational background, and demonstrates your eagerness to learn.

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