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Sample Resume for MS and PhD Applications

Resumes are to applicants as head shots are to actors. They provide a quick peak into your best face under the best light. And just like a family album is not a substitute for head shots, your resume should only contain the most significant information about you, not a 10 page booklet named A brief history of mine! An ideal resume is no more than 1.5 pages. Maximum 2 if you really really have to brag about your final project.

The art of resume writing is all about dressing up your information into relevant categories familiar to the end audience. As such, all resumes should address the typical background particulars like job history, education history and skills. 

However, the focus of the information changes based on the reader it is intended for. A professional resume seeks a stronger look at your job(s), while an MBA resume looks at your job, your education and a glimpse of your personal development as a consequence of your involvement in each (Read MBA Resume Tips).

But there is a third kind of resume.  An academic resume is what you prepare for graduate school applications. Here is how an MS, or a PhD, resume differs from an MBA or a job resume.

  • The focus, quite obviously is your educational background, plus the bits that have enhanced your subject base. If you are applying for a PhD, or research based MS, highlight your research projects and publications. If it is a professional Master’s program, highlight your relevant professional skills.
  • There is no need to hold back on technical jargon. The intended graduate school admission committee is quite familiar with the relevant details of the subject.


Sample Resume for MS, and PhD, Applications

No matter where you mail it to, your resume should follow all the essentials as described in this article on How to write a good resume, being short, relevant, bulleted and of course factually correct. The language should also be chosen carefully.

Try to emphasize your accomplishments using rather strong action verbs like led, managed, designed, developed and so on. They give a better sound bite than lukewarm words like knows, participated, did. Strong adjectives like skilled, or expert, also aid in making a mark. Embrace the bullet format.

Words like though, however, hence, also and anything that usually frame long sentences, have no place in a resume. Save them for your autobiography. Resumes are pronoun-less third person accounts. For instance, (bullet) Designed snore inhibitor is far more acceptable than (bullet) I stopped people from snoring. There are no I’s in a resume.

In this article, we will discuss some of the basic tips of writing an academic resume for Master’s (or PhD) applications. The template, shown here, is not binding. There are additional links given, at the end of the article, for other possible templates.

Let us begin with dividing the content, of your resume, into three sections – the introduction, the history backed by facts, and the achievements that set you apart.

The Introduction

This is the point where you extend out your hand for that firm, impression making, shake.  This section carries a quick glimpse into who you are. Imagine introducing yourself to an interview panel. Hi, my name is John Smith. I am a Physics major with 2+ years of research experience.

It is just enough to get the panelists sit up and eagerly wait to hear more. In other words, it is the fishing hook to grab the reader’s attention. In the case of an MS, or a PhD, the reader is looking for your subject matter expertize. If you are able to begin with a teaser that delivers just that, chances are that your resume will move on to the next level, where admission officers do more than just glaze over the printed words.

Contact Information:
John Smith
123-456-789 (M)
Candidate Profile:

  • Bachelor’s in Physics. Graduated in 2016 among the top 5% in class
  • 2 years of research experience with publication in a Journal of Applied Physics

It is important that you don’t get carried away and keep the information concise, well within the first quarter of the page.

The Body

This is the section which includes the relevant chronological background that has led up to your current profile. But you have to be careful to include only what is essential. Your educational history needn’t go back all the way to your kindergarten grades. Your undergraduate degree and all the rest of the formal educational degrees, you hold, should go in here in the order beginning with the most recent one.

Similarly, your work experience should also be included in a separate section, in the order of present to past. Also important are any additional experiences from academic projects and skills that make you sound exceptional.


  • Bachelor’s in Physics (August 2011 – May 2015)
    ABC University
    GPA: 3.9/4.0 (Top 5% in class)

Relevant Work Experience:

  • Scientist at EFG Institute (Month YYYY – Present)
    (Describe your research in one to two sentences)
  • Internship at PQR
    (Describe your achievements at your internship)

Academic Projects:

  • (Mention each project with title and a short one-two sentence description)        (Month YYYY)
    ABC University
  • Summer projects with description (Month YYYY)
    MNM Institute


  • Title of paper. Journal Name. Volume. Page Number. Year


  • Bullet out skills that you have acquired through your academic years. Computer Programming languages, mathematical tools, experimental techniques and so on.


The Achievements

Life beyond the pages, of your text book, can make quite an impression upon the admission committee members. Your MS/PhD resume should certainly have a section dedicated to extra curricular activities. This is also where you can include any meritorious, or non-meritorious, awards or certifications.

Resume is all about the highlights of your life, showcasing the most outstanding steps of your growth. Your attempt should be to stick to what is relevant. While the basic intention of all resumes may be the same, the nature of your graduate school Master’s or PhD resume should bear the sole purpose of conveying your knowledge of the subject you want to pursue.

The format, shown above is one of many. Here are some links to sample resumes for MS applications.

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3 and Link 4

While this article can get rid your resume writing blues, follow the link below to guide you through the rest of your MS and PhD application process.

Guide to apply for an MS degree
PhD in USA for international students

Good Luck!

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

5 thoughts on “Sample Resume for MS and PhD Applications”

  1. Dear Sameer Sir,

    I have completed BE in electronics, MBA in HR and have 2.8 years of experience. However I lives in Hyderabad and planning to do PHD in management to kick start my career in academic field. Please suggest me the exam for the same either GRE or GMAT.

  2. HI Sameer,
    I have almost 8 years of experience in software development. I have worked in big companies and also in startups.
    I have an admit from UNiversity of Cincinnati. I am happy with my current job profile, just that I applied for MS to get some more learnings in the field of information systems. What do you suggest? Should I opt for MS or keep on upgrading my skills through some certifications?

  3. I’m Ashwin and i completed B.Tech in Electrical Engineering , i am planning to to MS and MBA (dual course degree) and then take a PhD in sports management. In your opinion do u think it will be good.

  4. Hi sir I’m Shivangi doing Bsc chemistry from Ferguson college .I want to ask that can I do MS-Phd course after Bsc and will a year drop be issuebecause I want to drop 1year after graduation for GRE preparation

  5. @Shruti: Best to check with the official site for the programs you are interested in. They specifically mention which test they prefer.

    @Harish: If you have no specific rationale or drive to pursue another degree while putting your career on hold after 8 years, I don’t see any real value in going for an MS degree. It’s a little surprising that you are trying to find answers on a public forum for a query that should’ve ideally been tackled before you decided to apply.

    @Ashwin: One of those 2 masters degrees will become redundant pretty quickly. Instead of making such a big commitment upfront, why not take up one masters degree and get to a stage where you can either take up a sports management job directly. At that point you can always re-evaluate your strategy of going for a PhD.

    @Shivangi: Not a good idea to leave your job for GRE preparation. We’ve shared several reasons in this articles. Though it’s for GMAT, the basic points apply to GRE prep as well.


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