What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a summary of your educational and academic background. In the United States, a curriculum vitae is used primarily when applying for academic, administrative, scientific, and research positions or fellowships/grants. Its length can range from two to four pages (or more as your career progresses). Please keep in mind each field has a different standard. Ask the faculty in your department, as well as your Career Coach at Career Services, for feedback on your CV.

What is the difference between a Resume and CV?

A CV is a longer, more detailed synopsis of your background and skills. A CV includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations, and other details. As with a resume, you may need different versions of a CV for different types of positions. Often, a briefer one- to two-page document can also be developed as a distillation of the more important points in the CV.  If a job announcement requests a resume, you may send the briefer document in an initial response letter, with the notation in your cover letter that the CV can be sent if needed. If you are confused about whether a hiring individual or institution really wants a resume or a vita, you should contact them and ask. Often these terms are used interchangeably; however, if a CV is requested, have yours prepared to send.

Points to Consider

As is true with resumes, your CV may get as little as 30-60 seconds of consideration by a potential employer, grant reviewer, or other reader.  An effective vita must be able to positively attract attention, stimulate the reader’s interest, create a desire to get to know you better, and generate action. To maximize effectiveness, your CV should be:

  • Clear: This means well-organized, logical, readable, and easily understood.
  • Concise: Since the CV is typically longer than the resume, there is sometimes a tendency to “pad” — avoid the temptation! Be absolutely sure that there are no “double entries” — no item should appear in the CV in more than one place. Present everything that is relevant and necessary, but keep it brief.
  • Complete: Be sure you have included all of the important and relevant information that the reader needs in order to make an informed decision about your application.
  • Consistent: Don’t use an extensive mix of styles (such as an array of different fonts). Be sure to use the same order in presenting information — present your experiences from most recent to least recent.
  • Current: Remember to include dates with all information. It is particularly critical to continually update the information; ideally, the CV should be revised at least once a year.

Note: While the content is critical, you should also be conscious of the image you present with this document. Remember, your CV and accompanying letter may be your first contact with a prospective graduate program, employer, or grant reviewer. A CV needs to be visually appealing and should not contain any typographical or grammatical errors.

Items to Include in a CV

The categories listed below are often included in CV’s. However, no CV contains all of them, and some CVs will contain other categories that are not listed here. The basic rule is that your own unique educational and work experiences should be carefully considered when deciding which categories will be most effective. The first step in actually developing your CV is to write down all relevant information; later you can organize it into categories and do whatever editing is necessary. After you have written down all relevant information, you should develop a hierarchy, placing the most important and relevant categories and information first.

  • Heading
  • Education
  • Relevant Experience
  • Certifications
  • Honors & Awards
  • Grants Received
  • Professional Associations
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Research
  • Additional Relevant Skills
  • Courses Taught
  • Community Involvement
  • Educational Travel
  • Teaching Interests
  • Research Interests
  • Institutional Service
  • References (separate sheet)

Learn More About CVs
For more information as well as sample CVs visit USU's Career Services Resources.