I would like to have a section titled 'Awards/Honors' in my CV and I am confused about how much detail to include for the items in this section. Here are some formats and levels of detail I am considering:

  1. Harry Potter scholarship.
  2. Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter scholarship.
  3. Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter scholarship: awarded to one student every year for demonstrated excellence in horcrux-gathering.

For certain things, I feel like the first does not include enough context, beyond some very well-known things (such as a Fulbright or Goldwater, neither of which I have received). For some particular names I have in mind the second looks pretty clunky and does not always fit on a single line. The third option is even clunkier, and might be perceived as an attempt to add fluff to inflate the CV. I am personally leaning towards the second option, but I don't know that it adds much value beyond the first option.

Is there an accepted way to list awards/scholarships? Should I even be listing them at all?

Some context. I am a PhD student in Mathematics and I will be on the academic job market this coming year. I am currently based in the US and intend to apply to jobs here as well as internationally if I find any that are interesting. I am wondering both about the CV I keep that lives on my professional website and the one I hope to send as part of my job applications.

Edited to add: The first couple of answers suggest that one might choose the format/level of detail based on the type/prestige of award. If I were reading a CV and came across inconsistent formatting within a section, I would find it quite jarring. Is this something that only worries someone mildly-OCD such as myself (I notice things like en-dashes and em-dashes) and therefore perhaps to not be worried about, or should I be careful about such things (e.g. consistency of formatting) when creating a CV?


4 Answers 4


I will disagree with Dan C's answer above and state that you should only be choosing between options 2 and 3. At the very minimum, you want to indicate who gave you the award. Otherwise, it's not all that valuable to the reviewer of your CV, as they may not know whether an award is a big deal or not. If it's a major award, I'd default to option 3 if it's "non-obvious" how it works.

So, in general, I'd opt for option number 2, unless there's some specific information that needs to be shared, in which case I'd go for number 3.


The amount of detail you give should be proportional to the award's prestige. So for example,

  • If you were recognized as an "excellent" teacher, among a list of 100s at your university, that's worth mentioning, but it gets formatted as option 1.
  • If you won a best student paper award, that probably gets option 2.
  • If you won "best PhD thesis in your department" from a department with more than say 10 graduates each year, that might merit option 3, although it's likely to fit easily in format 2.
  • If you won a prize from a professional society (awarded to very few each year), that might merit option 3.
  • +1, but if an award is worth mentioning, it's worth mentioning who gave it to you, so IMHO no option 1.
    – einpoklum
    Sep 15, 2019 at 10:25

I would go so far as to give the opposite of Dan C's advice: the more prestigious the award, the less detail you need to provide.

If you won the NSF fellowship or the Hertz, or got best paper at your national conference, everyone will understand what the award is and its significance, and belaboring the point has the risk of looking desperate or inexperienced.

On the other had, if you won your department's annual [famous former faculty] Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching, the award is still worth listing and you should include at least that much information on the CV. Assume nobody is going to take the time to Google your awards.

I would say, as my rule of thumb, that each award should fit on one line. If explaining an award's significance requires more than one line, that is a red flag that perhaps the award is not pulling its weight. Understating your accomplishments and aggressive mediocrity will both kill your chances in the job market, but in my opinion the latter is the most dangerous of the two.


You got good answers. I just want to add that it is usually a good idea to list the relevant year(s). I typically use this format:

Mickey Mouse Prize. Institute of Advanced Cartoons. 2010. Extra comments if needed.

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