I got kicked out from graduate school in the past. The reason was that I had very poor GPA, and I failed to meet the academic criteria (some administrative regulations, nothing personal like disciplinary action or anything). Actually I left before I got technically kicked out, but you get the idea.

So I do not know how to include this on my CV, because I believe it is too long a time frame to ignore - almost 2 years.

After getting kicked out, I managed to get into another program (THANK GOD), and I am getting back on my feet again. Obviously I need a CV, and I need some help with that.

In addition, I also had a decent scholarship there. Is it reasonable if I omit the university on "Education" section but include my scholarship in "Awards" section?

I have "Education" and "Experience" sections on my resume.

Option 1: Including it on the "Education" section as "Graduate student", and including it on "Experience" as "Research Assistant"

Option 2: Omitting it on "Education", and only including it on "Experience" as "Research Assistant".

Option 3: Your suggestions?

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    Are there records of you being kicked out publicly available? It is not unheard of that people change schools or even change from university to industry or vice-versa, even before finishing. If you are prepared for the question why you changed, I see no problem with mentioning that you went there for some time.
    – Dirk
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 9:55
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    If you left before being kicked out then you werent kicked out. If you were formally employed as many places demand PhD students to be these days, then you can list it as employment. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 11:40
  • 2
    Hmmm. Kicked out for failure to pass qualifiers is quite different from kicked out for academic (or other) malfeasance. You don't say.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 12:02
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    Just to say, resist any temptation you have not to mention it. We had a person who was awarded special scholarship for a PhD project that they had to interview for. All was set and ready to go until it emerged that they had previously started a PhD elsewhere and quit/got kicked out/something like that. The uni receded the PhD and scholarship offer as they felt the person had purposefully mislead about their past. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 19:59
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    "I left before I got technically got kicked out". So... you were NOT kicked out.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 1:52

4 Answers 4


I would only mention it as part of your work experience. The Education header in a CV is usually where people put their finished and ongoing studies. Since you have not, and will not ever, actually graduate from your previous program it is essentially just a work experience now.

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    @ndpl Not the studying in itself, but working for 3 years as a research or teaching assistant would definitely fall under "work experience".
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 12:13
  • What about including my scholarship as an Award? Should I omit that as well?
    – user111770
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 13:04
  • When an interviewer wants to know what this three years of "work experience" meant in practice, whatever the OP is trying to hide won't stay hidden for long.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 14:26

It's pretty common for an applicant to have an otherwise good record but a period where their academic performance was unimpressive. If they were impressive afterwards, I read such an application as "they figured their stuff out". Whether they changed institutions or not is less relevant to me.

I would simply list your former graduate program under "Education" with accurate years (and certainly list your award as well). If you choose to say something honest about that circumstance in your application, frame it however you want (but I do recommend saying that you left the program, rather than were kicked out, because it's accurate and does avoid a red flag phrase). If you choose not to say anything further about it, that's a reasonable choice too (although I suppose many opportunities would want your transcripts from there)—just know what you'll say if asked about it.

Never never lie, of course, and never even write something that's technically true but would be considered as clearly misleading by someone who knew all the facts. But you can choose how to present the truth in a way that reflects best on you—indeed, that's more or less the whole point of a CV or application. And as I said above, it's really not that big a deal to a random CV-reader.

  • 1
    Re: "I would simply list your former graduate program under 'Education' with accurate years": Wouldn't that make it sound like the OP completed the program, with whatever degree the program was for?
    – ruakh
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 5:44
  • 1
    There's surely a way to annotate it so it doesn't appear so. Also, the OP's current program will know what degrees they have already, and future readers will have the benefit of the CV listing the current program as another piece of data. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 7:10
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    Re: "There's surely a way to annotate it so it doesn't appear so": Oh, certainly. But your phrasing -- "simply [...]", with a few details but no mention of such an annotation -- seems to imply that you're not recommending any annotation. And since the OP's question is specifically about how to include this on their CV, I think you should give some indication of what that annotation would be (preferably even sample wording).
    – ruakh
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 7:52
  • imo, you can easily and unobtrusively indicate that you didn't matriculate by formatting your education section appropriately, e.g., use a table layout where the first column is the school, the second is the years attended, and the third is the degree earned. Simply put a dash or leave a blank for the degree earned at the school where you did not complete the program.
    – AatG
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 14:54
  • Or maybe something like “[University name]: [Degree Name] 201X-201Y (Incomplete)”.
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 7:05

Our CV is a way to guide the interview/selection procedure to a path were we feel comfortable and gives us the high ground during the negotiation. You should include anything that would make you feel comfortable if the discussion is drawn towards it during the encounter with the company/institution representative.

If you feel that the time you spent there changed you as a professional and added something to your arsenal then you should definitely include it in the corresponding section but be ready for questions. The way you prepare yourself for those questions and the attitude you show when those questions are brought up can definitely turn the tide to your favor.

So, instead of hiding it try to make the best out of it!


I would include it, and if it gets brought up during an interview I would be honest but obviously try to paint it in a nicer light.

If the job does end up hiring you and does a background check similar to the one my job does (software company) they will find it and rescind the offer. I couldn't believe the things they went through the effort of finding, I had to explain away a job I held for two months in highschool that I didn't disclose (they asked for entire 10 year work history, I omitted that one but included jobs before and after.) They also questioned me about my previous living history, as they found my name and SSN tied to a comcast account at a friends house that I put in my name so her kid could have internet for school (she owed comcast a lot of money) so I had to explain that away as well. They also contacted my college to verify education history (I said I graduated) but somehow they only verified I received a certificate from the university and not an actual degree (I completed a certificate program post graduation, so I had both a degree and certification from there.) so I had to send HR proof of my degree prior to beginning employment.

Since starting here I have heard of two individuals failing their background checks due to not disclosing information. Better honest and asking for forgiveness than dishonest and subsequently asking for forgiveness.

  • What sort of software company do you work for that requires background checks to that level of detail? Defence contracts or something?
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 7:08

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