Academic Curriculum Vitae (CVs)

What is a CV?

In the United States, the term “curriculum vitae” or “CV” describes a document used to apply for positions in academia and research. CVs differ from resumes in their length and the specificity of their content.  CVs are typically 2-to-4 pages for a new professional, with a recommended maximum of 10 pages for a seasoned professional. They are similar in format to a resume. See our resume guide for help formatting your CV.

Outside the United States, “CV” and “resume” are often used interchangeably to describe the same document. Ask for clarification if you are not sure which type of document to submit. If you are applying abroad, use Passport Career to find the appropriate CV or resume format for a given country. Consider asking advice from alumni living in the country of your choice. Find alumni at Georgetown’s Alumni Career Services page.

Formatting Your CV

A CV is usually organized according to categories–with specific entries listed in reverse chronological order (most recent listed first) within each category. Convey clearly the variety and depth of your academic and professional experiences.

  • Study the CVs of others in your profession to learn the expected format.
  • Keep font size to 10, 11, or 12 points and set margins to no less than 0.5 inch on all sides of the document.
  • Do not use the word “I” or other first-person pronouns.
  • Be consistent with format, page numbers, punctuation, and verb tenses. (Use the past tense to describe past positions and accomplishments and the present tense for current positions and activities).
  • Include 3-to-6 references towards the end of the document (after first getting permission from your references).

CV Categories

In addition to contact information and education, CVs may include any of the following categories. Choose categories based on your experiences and goals.

  • Education-Related: Education, Academic Training, Specialized Coursework, Dissertation, Thesis, Areas of Knowledge, Professional Competencies, Graduate Fieldwork or Practicum, Research/Teaching Assistantships, Teaching Experience, Teaching, Advising, Research/Academic Interests, Professional Development, Postdoctoral Experience, Research Experience, Related Experience
  • Leadership-Related: University Involvement, Committee/Departmental Leadership, Advisory Boards/Committees
  • Public-Facing Activities: Scholarly Presentations, Conferences Attended, Conference Participation/Presentations, Selected Presentations, Lectures and Colloquia, Exhibits/Exhibitions, Performances
  • Publication-Related: Research, Abstracts, Publications, Scholarly Works, Works In Progress, Professional Papers, Technical Papers, Articles/Monographs, Multimedia Materials, Arrangements/Scores
  • Accolade-Related: Awards/Grants, Funded Projects, Contracts, Patents, Academic Awards, Scholarships, Fellowships
  • Criteria-Related or Membership-Related: Certification, Licensure, Endorsements, Activities, Affiliations, Memberships, Honorary Societies
  • International-Related: Study Abroad, Foreign Study, International Projects
  • Skill-Related: Languages, Technical Skills, Laboratory Skills, Computer Skills

CV Content

  • Use specific action verbs instead of general terms such as “do/did,” “completed,” “responsible for.”
  • Include multiple titles and responsibilities if you had multiple roles at one organization.
  • Omit references to personal information. Do not include a picture.
  • Do not lie or exaggerate. Do not include anything that you would not want to discuss in an interview.
  • Do not use Georgetown jargon or acronyms without explaining them (e.g., GUSA, MSB, etc.).

Last-Minute Checks

  • Create a log of applications you send, including: position description, date, contact information, follow-up date (if appropriate), and follow-up communication notes.
  • Have someone else review your CV, ideally someone in your field.
  • Are your documents appropriately named? For example: “CrawfordCVAdjunctProfessorClassicsGeorgetown.pdf.” If you are sending a document over email, send it as a PDF unless otherwise instructed by the employer.
  • Is your email subject line relevant?
  • Are your documents printed on resume paper?

Sample CVs

Other Resources

  • Vick, Julia M., and Jennifer Furlong. “The Academic Job Search Handbook.” 4th edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Print.
  • Basalla, Susan, and Maggie Debelius. “So What Are You Going to Do with That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia. 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.