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Suppose I'm applying for grad school and I receive a scholarship award to study at grad school A, does it make sense to list such a scholarship award on my CV in my application to grad school B?

Or let's say I go to grad school B, should one still list the declined scholarship award from grad school A in future CV's?


My gut feeling for the first question I asked is that it would seem a bit weird and worse case scenario someone at grad school B is influence to some extent to think "Well judging by this scholarship award here, this applicant already has a place at another grad school, so declining him/her may not be so bad". Is my gut feeling correct?

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I would also agree with your gut feeling in this particular case. I can, however, think of a scenario where a declined award/scholarship should be included on your CV. In countries where you pay to study at a university, you can apply for scholarships/postgraduate awards/student funding. There is often a limit on how much funding an individual can accept. So, say for example you applied for funding from A and B and that these Funding Agents only give funding to high achievers. If you are awarded X from Funding Agent A and Y from Funding Agent B, and you can only accept the funding from Funding Agent A, I would say it is still acceptable to list that you were awarded funding from Funding Agent B but that you were unable to accept it. In cases where the award implies certain personality characteristics/strengths (but doesn't directly compare to the place to which you are applying as in your example), it can be advantageous. I hope that this makes sense.

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I would agree with your gut feeling: if you have a compelling reason to go to school A, it is better to leave it out of the application for school B. Motivation is also an important factor that selection committees take into account when deciding who to admit.

If the award has already been irrevocably declined and lies in the past (i. e., if it cannot influence your decisions anymore), then you can mention it, though you must clearly state that you have declined it. However, if you decline it, I would assume that it is because you accepted a better award/scholarship somewhere else. In that case, listing the declined one does not add much to your application, and it might be better to use that space to list other more recent achievements instead.

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you should add in your CV only what you think it is favorable for you for the particular application. CVs are customizable for this reason. BTW regarding your case, I would not add the scholarship that you refused. Normally in CVs you mention only the funds that have been useful in your academic path.

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I can imagine that there may be circumstances that you declined an award that might still be worth mentioning you had the chance, but in general people don't do this. You don't list other jobs you were offered or other PhD places, just the ones you did choose. The only exception might be if you are very early career and this is about the only thing on your CV. You might possibly mention it in aggregate e.g. "selected from five similar funded offers" but it would probably sound arrogant. If you really want two different offers on your CV, it's probably better to try to negotiate one of them into a research visit or suchlike, then put THAT on your CV.

You might though put down really weird things that happened, not as bullets but in some kind of subtext, e.g.

  • 2009-2010 swept up at the local bar (note: had been offered and accepted Asst. Prof. position at Harvard, but all incoming positions that year were frozen because Sumners lost 1/3 of the Harvard endowment in the crash)
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