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I got my bachelor’s and master’s from different universities in different countries:

  • I enrolled for my master’s overseas when I hadn’t officially graduated undergrad yet, despite having done the allotted four years. This was since the master’s was done under the initial plan of it being a combined bachelor and master degree, with a semester abroad included. I ended up doing the entire master’s on its own abroad and graduated in 2017.

  • Due to some administrative issues¹, the date on my bachelors is only 2019, despite having finished all the credits for it in 2015.

When I put on my résumé: “bachelor’s 2012–2019” that looks weird, especially with a master’s awarded in 2017. How do I best work with this weird situation to avoid confusion and having to explain the dates?


¹ My home uni exchanged my pending BE for a BSc temporarily to satisfy the programme rules abroad (i.e having a bachelor’s before being allowed to do the master’s – an issue that was only brought up partway through my studies there). Then when I finished MSc abroad, I had to mail back my BSc to have that degree exchanged for my original BE.

  • This question might be a good fit in workplace.SE as well, unless this question is specific to applying to academic positions. – Adonalsium Jun 18 at 14:34
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    For somewhat similar reasons, a colleague of mine received their PhD in 1990 and their MSc in 1991. They actually enjoyed listing it that way on their CV, and as far as I know nobody ever thought twice about it. – Greg Martin Jun 18 at 16:01
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    will people care? what people, and in what context? – dwizum Jun 18 at 16:10
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    Is this a CV for a commercial job? They only care about what you have done in a specific year and what titles you have. So either not listing the date of the title in the cv or as an appendix to the study years table only. – eckes Jun 19 at 1:54
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    I received my PhD degree two and half years after the defence, and it's never come up as an issue. – yo' Jun 20 at 11:24
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I suggest you list the years you were studying/enrolled, not the years degrees were conferred, i.e.,

  • 2015–2017 Master’s, Second Grade, Second University.
  • 2012–2015 Bachelor’s, First Grade, First University.

I believe this is standard for CVs – indeed, employment periods are listed in this way – and does not suggest "you received your degree before you really received it," hence, is not fraudulent as hinted in a comment above, and below:

Don't do this! It's lying to indicate you had a degree before it was awarded...

Administrative delays are irrelevant and it doesn't matter when a degree was conferred. Regardless, the date a degree was conferred will be clear from certificates. To be really careful, dates degrees were conferred could be noted in the text that follows bullet points, but I really don't see that as necessary.

...This could easily get you fired from a job.

This cannot get you fired: It is the truth.

Listing the years degrees were conferred creates problems. For instance, suppose the years degrees were conferred are listed, as per another answer, i.e., 2017 and 2019. Further suppose employment is listed from 2017. This leaves a CV gap prior to 2017 and it incorrectly suggests studying in parallel with employment. Further problems are also likely.

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    Don't do this! It's lying to indicate you had a degree before it was awarded. it is NOT standard practice for degrees. Employment periods are not at all like degrees. This could easily get you fired from a job. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 17 at 22:45
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    @AnonymousPhysicist This is not fraud, periods of study are clearly listed. Administrative delays are irrelevant and it doesn't matter when a degree was conferred. Regardless, the date a degree was conferred will be clear from certificates. – user2768 Jun 18 at 7:11
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    @user2768 “Administrative delays are irrelevant” — No, they are extremely relevant. For instance, there are funding sources for which eligibility is limited to X years after attaining a degree. The period of study is completely irrelevant for the funding bodies. All that matters is the date of being awarded the degree. In fact, delaying this date as much as possible is therefore desirable and commonly done. Listing the years of study is also not more common than listing the dates of the degrees, in my experience. – Konrad Rudolph Jun 18 at 10:12
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    @KonradRudolph I assume someone applying for funding would need to take that into account, but it's not relevant for a CV – JollyJoker Jun 18 at 12:44
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – eykanal Jun 20 at 18:13
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Different countries have different conventions around the résumé / CV, and you might want very different versions of your résumé for applying for jobs in academia or industry. That said, at a general level readers are interested in the flow (are there gaps which are unaccounted for?) and the skills trained. I would put the dates of study and a note about the date of award so that if an HR department does cross-checks, it won't flag spurious discrepancies:

  • 2015–2017 studied M.Foo, University of Bar
  • 2012–2015 studied B.Foo, University of Quux (degree awarded 2019)
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    Yes, it's a good idea to give the means to a conscientious HR person to detangle easily what is real. You can always explain the mechanisms in person to them or whoever is curious about why. But at least they'll know that there is a date discrepancy there between studies and degree, and it's not a real problem, they can check easier. – user104070 Jun 17 at 19:20
  • Best answer, specially the extra info between the parenthesis. ;) – An old man in the sea. Jun 17 at 21:42
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    This way it looks like the Master's was never awarded. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 17 at 22:47
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    So just add "degree awarded" to that line, too. It might look odd (degree awarded 2017) but it does nothing to invalidate the answer and comments. – Andrew Leach Jun 18 at 7:33
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    I'm in the same situation with mismatched coursework-degree dates (thanks to a course being retroactively converted to grant a Master's degree), and this is basically how I do it. The main difference is that I write it as "2012-2015 B.Foo[1]" and then in the footnote note when the degree was awarded; to me this seems less confusing than the in-line version. – Astrid Jun 18 at 18:41
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I suggest you write:

  • Master’s, 2017
  • Bachelor’s, 2019

Most people only care about your highest degree. So they won't be interested in when you got your bachelor’s. All that matters is the date the degree was received. When you started is not particularly relevant.

There is no reason to avoid explaining the dates. If someone asks, explain.

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    This is the correct answer - always use official dates for degrees etc. However, if the diploma or transcript notes something along the lines of "course requirements for degree completed in 2015" then noting that in the resume can make sense, assuming there's space for it. E.g. "Bachelor's, awarded 2019 (courses completed 2015)". – Anyon Jun 17 at 11:08
  • The comment about including "course requirements for degree completed" is great if you won't have a chance to explain anything, but it will likely further muddle things. If the Masters is in a similar field, don't list the Bachelors. Managers want to know how smart you are, not how many years you spent proving that to a university. – Julie in Austin Jun 17 at 17:49
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    @Anyon I don't think it's the correct answer at all. It suggests a massively different history than what actually happened, and it looks weird. – David Richerby Jun 17 at 18:54
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    @DavidRicherby Point taken. Actually, after further consideration, I would prefer Peter Taylor's answer. That part of my comment was mostly a reaction to a (now long gone) comment on the question stating one could just list it as "bachelor's, 2015". Wish I could edit it, because I think the rest of it still stands.... – Anyon Jun 17 at 19:06
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    Not good. Looks like a bad typo, meaning you didn't (let anyone) proofread the CV. If the HR people have too many applicants and no good idea whom to kick out (that's the usual case), this one is for the dogs. – Karl Jun 17 at 22:09
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If you fulfilled the real requirements for your bachelor's in 2015, then consider this to be the ending year. The fact that your certificate is from a completely different year due to some administrative whatever does not change anything about this.

If, however, you for instance postponed any final exams or such, that it is different and you should really consider to be at bachelor studies until these exams were held.

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Dohn Joe's comment is an excellent one and as I am in a somewhat similar situation, that's what I do too: On paper, I attended univ1 from 1993 to 2001, got my degree 2001 summer. I attended univ2 starting 1998 and from that point, I had my univ1 thesis written and everything wrapped up at univ1. So, a footnote is best: univ1 1993-1998 (*) degree conferred in 2001.

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Dates on degrees don’t make sense – will people care?

Yes, people will care if your degree dates don't make sense.

This question is a good fit in workplace.SE post it there for additional perspective (they are more industry than academic).

I believe many hiring managers and most HR people, will "see the mistake" if you list your masters before your BE, and they will toss your resume "because your dates are (obviously) wrong".

My suggestion is three lines:

  • 2019 BE University of FirstPlace
  • 2017 Masters [subject], University of SecondPlace
  • 2015 BSc [subject], University of FirstPlace

If you earned a degree, ALWAYS call that out clearly.

People who did not graduate commonly specify the dates they studied (hoping people assume a degree)


Comment asked what a BE is... I have no idea.
OP wrote this in his footnote:

"My home uni exchanged my pending BE for a BSc temporarily to satisfy..."

If I saw a masters degree granted before the undergrad, as others suggest, I would probably assume they didn't proof it. Based on that incorrect conclusion, I would put it aside.

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    @TommiBrander Edited answer - I'm sure you aren't the only one wondering. – J. Chris Compton Jun 20 at 13:20
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There's been some contradictory advice in the answers here, so it may be helpful to speak with a careers advisor in order to figure out what is standard practice in your location and field. Universities you have earned degrees from may have such a service, provided to students and possibly alumni. Failing this, try speaking to your academic advisors and/or industry contacts.

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