I am going to apply for a graduate program that requires background in subjects A,B,C. I have not studied those in my uni.

I self-learned them. The application process starts next January. So I have no time to audit these courses or get a RL from a professor .. etc. How to include this in my CV. Is it meaningful?

I have a youtube channel where I solve online final exams and HWs for these courses from other universities. Should I include the links on my CV? Or does it seem desperate?

  • 1
    Why haven't you studied those things formally?
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 20:55
  • 2
    They were not available at my uni.
    – Nadine
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 21:01
  • 2
    My suspicion is that if your undergrad university doesn't even offer courses that your target university considers standard enough to think of as prerequisites for application, they will probably not view your educational background favorably.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 21:10
  • 5
    You could mention your self-study in your statement of purpose. Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 21:30
  • 3
    Definitely do it; I had done more self-studies during my Bachelor than the course I took from my uni. formally, and I put all of them to my CV during the application process. I don't know whether they helped or not but I got into a school I wanted, so why not put them.
    – Our
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can include them, but it is unlikely that they will count for much unless you get a chance to answer questions about it in an interview. The problem is that there is no real independent verification of what you have learned.

You need to ask yourself whether you have really learned as much as if you had taken a course under the guidance of a professor, with evaluation of your work and feedback on what you have done. This is very hard to manage for self study.

If you have done research, with some output, based on your self study it would be good to focus on that as evidence that you know what you say you know.

But a section of the CV on self study, listing books you have studied from or online courses you have "taken" might be worth the effort.

Unlike a commenter here, I don't think that the SoP is a good place for such things. The SoP should be about your goals, not about your past. A very brief statement about how some online study has pushed you toward a goal would be fine, but spend the "words" of the SoP focused on the future.

But, if your undergraduate study is non standard then you want to write things in such a way as to get an interview in which you can be queried about what you really know. And, without letters of recommendation from professors it will be especially difficult.

  • Thank you. I have done research but in a different topic so, I am looking for my best bet, I understand that there are no guarantees but, I am looking for what I can do about it :)
    – Nadine
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 21:38

Yes, it would be better to have some very-tangible evidence of your self-study, for example to have some faculty vouch for you... but, as we know, this is not always possible.

From a U.S. math perspective: simply tell the textbooks (with authors!) you've read, and on-line notes you've read, etc, without much further comment.

From my viewpoint, as a long-time admissions cte person for a grad math program in the U.S. at an R1, I do realize that not everyone has the opportunity to take formal classes ... Whether they do or not, the interest and initiative-taking that self-study demonstrates is a big plus in my assessment of people. Yes, being outside of the conformist milieu means that people will need a bit of time to get in sync with the styles and conventions... but I don't care much about that, in fact.

  • And what do you think if someone linked their youtube channel in the cv? I mean, I started this channel to give them some kind of verification or a proof since I can get no recommendation in the mean time, standard courses starts in Sept. and I will apply by Jan.
    – Nadine
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 21:22
  • @Nadine, mmm, well, I don't like to get caught up in the whole youtube thing, for various reasons... Apart from that, it'd not have any impact on my current thinking. Maybe it should, but I don't know that yet... If you promote such a thing adequately in your explanation of it, I might look. True, it's an opportunity to make a more dramatic impact than dry old PDFs... Interesting idea... Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 21:25

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