Preparing a Vita/Resume

What is the Difference between a Vita and a Resume?

A vita and a resume both have similar purposes in that they are marketing documents that represent you as a professional and provide key information about your education, experience, skills and personal qualities to possible employers.

They differ, however, in their use, format and length

CURRICULUM VITAE (also called a CV or vita)

  • A comprehensive biographical statement used instead of a resume for primarily academic audiences, education, science and teaching positions
  • Designed to present a complete picture of the breadth and depth of academic experience a person has accumulated
  • Content will include lists of publications, presentations, honors, grants, and teaching experience. Very little of this would be included on a resume
  • Multiple pages in length

Note: Curriculum Vita is also the term used to describe the resume format for many jobs abroad. Other countries do not limit the use of a CV to the academic or research setting, so make sure you know the accepted resume/CV format for the field and country in which you are applying


  • A summary of qualifications for a particular position
  • Designed to sell your relevant skill set and experience to an employer
  • Should be limited to two pages at most and many employers prefer one page
  • Tends toward brevity, using a bulleted format
  • Resume should include only those skills that are relevant to the job for which a person is applying

If you are uncertain as to whether you should use a vita or a resume, you should discuss the matter with a mentor, career counselor, or trusted member of the field.

It could be helpful to ask yourself the question “Is my academic scholarship relevant for this position?” If the answer is “yes” then you are probably going to want to use a vita.  Most likely, however, if you are applying to graduate school after recently completing your bachelor’s degree, you will use a resume format as you do not have an extended academic background yet.  Click here to link to the resume writing portion of the Career Development Center website.

What to Include in a Vita:

Section Headings
Headings serve as a guide for readers. They keep your vita sharp and clear. There are a few standard headings that can be used, but you can use any headings you wish. Sub-headings can also be used. They can be effectively used when highlighting your accomplishments.

The following list should not be considered as complete. Looking at a CV from an advisor or professor in your specific field may provide ideas as to other areas that should be included.

Suggested section headings to consider:

  • Academic Preparation
  • Grants Received
  • Research Interests
  • Research Experience
  • Publications
  • Internships
  • Teaching Experience
  • Presentations
  • Certifications
  • Programs and Workshops
  • Fellowships
  • Creative Works
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Honors and Awards
  • Consulting Experience
  • Professional Experience
  • Dissertation
  • Teaching Interests
  • Languages
  • Committee Leadership
  • Special Training

Content Areas
When selecting which items to include in a vita consider three things: the job you are applying for, the institution you hope to attend or the strengths that you possess.

When building your vita, begin with your contact information, education and professional experience. The remaining items should be selected because they showcase your strengths and background.

The following areas can be developed in your vita:

1. Identifying Information/Personal Contact Information

  • Name, address (both temporary and permanent), phone number(s), and email address
  • Information must be clear and allow the committee to access you easily
  • If you have multiple pages, be sure to include yoru name and page number at the top of each page

2. Career Objective – this is an optional category


3. Summary of Educational Background

  • List titles of all degrees and conferral dates.
  • Include the name of the university where the degree was earned, GPA, major/minor, areas of concentration, titles of master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.
  • Continuing education may appear here as well.

4. Summary of Relevant Work Experience

  • List positions held that relate to the type of position sought and support your professional objectives. These positions may be part time, full time, temporary or permanent. Include:
  • Title of the position
  • Firm/agency and its location
  • Dates of employment
  • Description of experience – focus on skills developed and accomplishments

It is important to include teaching, research and graduate assistantships also. You may have one experience section or several depending on the type(s) of experience you have and how you wish to showcase them.

5. Publications and Professional Papers Authored or Edited

  • List all publications and professional papers and use the standard bibliographic form in your field for citations
  • Include articles, pamphlets, chapters in books and research reports that have been published. Include current submissions as well

6. Performances and/or Exhibitions

  • Provide a description of recitals or art exhibits if they apply to your field

7. Presentations

  • Provide a description of the paper and list the title, name of conference, dates and location
  • Two categories may be required, one for presentations by invitation and one for presentation by competition
  • Workshops may also be included in this section
  • Remember to list in reverse chronological order
  • Papers that have been read at conferences or meetings of professional associations may be included as well

8. Professional Association memberships

  • List names of local, state, regional and national professional associations in which you have current memberships (in alphabetical order)

9. Recent Research

  • Description of research projects conducted or in progress: type ofresearch and purpose
  • If you are using any special skills or methods, include this
  • How did you develop these interests and why are they important to you?

10. Special Awards and Honors

  • Scholarships
  • Fellowships
  • Assistantships
  • Professional honorary societies
  • Teaching or research awards

11. Grants awarded, worked on, or revised


12. Languages and international travel


13. Relevant leadership experience


14. References (optional if not requested)

  • List between three and six names of people who can give a detailed evaluation of your abilities
  • Include their names, titles, departments and institutional address and phone number
  • Committee members may know these people and could be impressed by your list
  • You may put these on a separate "references" page or include it within your overall CV depending on page spacing

Additional Tips:

A vita should not include: sex, age, height, weight, marital status, dependents, race, ethnic background, religion, political affiliation, or photographs

Do not use double entries. In other words do not list a citation more than once. It appears that you are loading the vita in order to impress a reader.

It is important that a vita be up to date. A careful review of a vita should be done prior to sending it out. Add new information such as projects that are completed or associations joined. It is suggested that you include the date your vita was updated (month and year) on page one

Curriculum Vitae Guidelines and Samples: