Background: I'm an undergrad math major, starting my third year of college soon. This summer, I worked on a reading project (some graduate-level math topics) under the guidance of a professor from a foreign institution (all interaction was online.) Besides reading, I also prepared the solutions' manual of a significant portion of the textbook I was reading (not readily available on the internet, so definitely a good deal of original effort involved here.)

The issue:

  1. I wish to put this on my Curriculum Vitae, but I'm not sure how to.

  2. The professor hasn't been very responsive with regard to any recognition for the project either, though they have showered a lot of verbal praise (trust me - everything went great.) Of course, I'm grateful for whatever I learned over this summer, but also it seems important to have some sort of concrete recognition of the same for obvious reasons.

  3. Did I make a mistake by not discussing this with the professor in advance? In any case, if reading projects of the kind that I described above are generally recognized, what should be my course of action at this stage (or can nothing be done)?

Thank you!

  • By "cv" do you mean a resume, or a formal curriculum vitae like the ones used by academics? The word "cv" means different things in different places.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 3:48
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    I think a formal curriculum vitae. Basically the CV they ask for when undergrads apply to research programs, graduate programs, etc. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 3:51
  • 2
    More important than putting the reading course on your CV would be getting a letter of recommendation from the professor, describing what you material studied and your work on the solutions manual. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 3:55
  • I feel somewhat stupid now. I never discussed the possibility of a letter of recommendation with the professor. Is it implicit, or does it have to be discussed? Moreover, I just asked them "how do I put this on my CV" since that never came up earlier. Is it too late to ask for a letter? @AndreasBlass Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 3:57
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    @epsilon-emperor "when applying to grad programs/research programs, we request the professor to write us a letter, and they send it directly to the concerned authorities" - Yes, this is the normal way of doing things, at least in the US where I am familiar. You might prompt someone that you'd like to ask for a letter in the future so that they A) Can let you know if they'd have a problem with this, so you will know not to count on them, and B) it'll give them a moment to think about it and even take notes so they are more prepared to write the letter in the future.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


Answering your questions in order:

  1. Yes, it would definitely be effective to list on your CV.
  2. From my experience with professors, supervising students, and interacting with faculty around supervising students, faculty don't always have top of mind how to recognize concrete work. A reason for this has been, to some extent, changing conventions of how to recognize work between academic generations (i.e., when they were in grad school the conventions might have been different).
  3. I think it probably would have been helpful for you to consider with the professor how you would describe this project on a CV. And, given that the project went really well by your own description, and since it's your own CV, you have some flexibility on how to describe it. See below on my suggestions.

I would agree that you could put it under "Additional Scholarly Activities" or a "Projects" section, but it would likely be helpful to you to call-out, in the title of the section, the fact that it was graduate-level math topics you were dealing with. Because you're still an undergrad this has special significance to an admissions committee, in that you've demonstrated competency engaging with graduate level course work before even being in grad school. In other words, it speaks to your potential ability to succeed in a grad program.

My suggestion would be to:

  1. First, have a separate section on your CV labeled "Graduate-Level Coursework" and describe the reading project from a topics perspective like you would describe any other kind of coursework.
  2. Second, create a section that is called "Unpublished Solutions Manuals," or a similar type of phrase, and list the solution manual you created in the citation format used in your field.

This way, you get credit for both the coursework and the work product (the manual) you produced.

  • Amazing, thanks a lot! Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 6:38

My view is that, yes, you should put it on your CV or resume or whatever you want to call it. That is more important for an undergraduate than for someone with more experience, however. And yes, as comments suggest, ask the prof for a letter as well if you think it would be supportive.

Note, however, that my experience is with the US, in which graduate admissions is based on a broad view of the candidate with many things contributing to acceptance. Things that are unusual, if positive, should be mentioned. If your readings and work were for a non-typical undergraduate subject, all the better. It shows interest, hard work, and dedication.

It won't be a major thing, but, at the margins, can make some difference. You might make it a separate section on a CV: "Additional Scholarly Activities".

Whether you made a mistake or not is irrelevant as the past is the past. But it is worthwhile keeping up the contact if possible.

  • That makes sense! Yes - I'll be applying for grad school in the US. My thoughts are I could just add it to the "Projects" section, stating that it's a reading project and what all I accomplished, etc. Sounds good? Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 15:22

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