Without naming the university (to protect my privacy), I attended one of the top 20 universities in the US for my undergrad and graduated in 3 years with honors. While graduating from this school in 3 years isn't impossible, it's certainly rare. On top of that, I have a good GPA and finished a humanities-based CogNeuro major, a Writing minor, and all my pre-med coursework.

Now I'm applying to grad school for CogNeuro, and I'd like to highlight the fact that I graduated in 3 years on my CV, for 2 reasons. First, I genuinely think my accomplishments are made more impressive by that fact. And second, because it explains why I have less research experience than some of my peers. So I guess my question is twofold: Should I even bother mentioning that I graduated early, or am I just being arrogant in doing so? And if that's a good thing to mention, how can I do so without being heavy-handed?

Currently I have my high school name and graduation year listed under my "Education" section, not because my high school matters, but because it's the only way I can think of to show that I graduated from college early.

2 Answers 2


There are no magic words - you just say that thing you want to say. The simplest way would be simply to specify the years you attended university, and then explicitly note the achievement you want to highlight. One thing to note is that there is little point in mentioning this unless you have some statistical evidence that graduating within three years is actually a genuine achievement. Try something like this:


Bachelor of Doing Things (Oxbridge University) (2016-2018) Graduated with a GPA of 3.61 and won an award for being the top student in my third-course on doing good things. I was in the cohort of 3% of student who successfully complete this degree program within three years.

  • +1 for the point about statistics. In the UK, virtually everyone graduates in three years. Jul 11, 2018 at 6:48
  • 2016-2018 would mean graduating in two years in many countries. I don't offhand know any where the academic year falls within a single calendar year. Jul 11, 2018 at 7:50
  • 2
    @Peter: 'Straya.
    – Ben
    Jul 11, 2018 at 9:30

Consider discussing it in your statement of purpose. Most grad school applications require/allow an essay; this would be a great place to discuss this decision.

You'll need to explain why this is a good thing. Offhand, compacting 4 years into 3 seems like sort of a questionable decision because it results in less research experience, and (presumably) fewer electives, etc. So, you'll need to concisely explain (a) why you made this decision, as well as (b) illustrate how impressive this was.

You can do the same thing on your CV, but it's a bit awkward. Just listing the years is correct, but may pass unnoticed. Under the school, you may have some bullet points describing your accomplishments. You can list this as a bullet -- but just graduating a year earlier isn't necessarily an accomplishment, so you'll have to add a note explaining why this is good, which may require too many words for a CV. For sure, don't list your high school information on your CV -- instead, list College (2015-2018) or (Fall 2015 - Spring 2018).

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