Due to various department sortings and organizations, I have a degree that is, functionally, a computer science degree but because it belonged to the College of Mathematics, the degree is formally "Mathematics".

Unfortunately this leads to many employers thinking that I have a mathematics background when the reality is far from this: I don't think like a mathematician or particularly enjoy its work.

Is there something I can do with my CV to reduce this bias? Is it as simple as changing "Mathematics" to "Computer science" even if it isn't the official title of the degree? Are there other options?

  • Mention the title but you should describe your actual expertise clearly in a straight manner.
    – user12182
    Feb 21, 2014 at 8:37
  • Hello @Multifix, and welcome to Academia StackExchange! I have converted your short one-line answer into a comment. Maybe you could expand it into a fully-fledged answer?
    – F'x
    Feb 21, 2014 at 8:55
  • 2
    You think you have it bad? The full title of my degree is “B.Sc. Honours within the Natural Sciences programme in Computer Science and Mathematics.” :-)
    – cmbuckley
    Feb 21, 2014 at 9:35
  • I guess in your CV you have a section for the degrees and another one for the experience, the experience should clarify this. BTW :D
    – Trylks
    Feb 21, 2014 at 18:56

5 Answers 5


I would list it directly with the degree. I have a similar issue in that my degree is Geodetic Science, but my focus was in (at the time) computer-assisted mapping, now known as GIS. People try to call me a geodesist, but I'm not really. I would use something like:

M.S. Mathematics (specialty: Computer Science)

Edit: I finally remembered what the various tracks were called in our department--a concentration, not a specialty. Other synonyms include focus, even research or research topic.

  • 3
    I like this option: doesn't change the official title, but still concise. Feb 21, 2014 at 0:04
  • 2
    I do this with my Open University degree. Officially it's a "BSc Open", which is incredibly vague, so I list it as "BSc Open (Software Engineering)". Never had a problem.
    – tom
    Feb 22, 2014 at 14:44

In your CV, state that you have a degree in "Mathematics, specializing in Computer Science" or something like that. If you're sure it's not misleading, you could even say you have a degree in Computer Science from the College of Mathematics, Whatever University.

In either case, explain in your covering letter.


This is a very relevant problem for majority of the engineering school graduates in Sweden. Based on the Bologna Process all MSc level programs are essentially cut into two bits; one that roughly corresponds to a Bachelor's (approx 3 years) and one that corresponds to Master's (approx 2 years). So far so good, the issue is that you get 1 diploma and you are supposed to have 1 title however there are numerous ways you can do your 3+2.

What they have done to amend that is to formulate it as:

M.Sc. in Engineering X with specialization in Y

which could be something you do in your CV as well.

PS: I have the same issue even for my PhD, my group is part of a department that has a much different focus compared to what I do. So much so that there is pretty much zero overlap between my departmental association and my day-to-day research.

Even there the I will be getting a PhD title with a description along the lines of:

PhD in [dept_name] on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Of course one would and should write more about the actual work regarding the PhD, like the thesis title, and a short description of what it's about.

It really is a clumpy way to describe what you "are" and what you have "done" but it's getting harder and harder to define and classify research as fields start merging into one another.

  • 1
    It would be a huge waste of effort to get a PhD and then just write "PhD in [dept name] on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology" on your CV. At the very least, give the thesis title and a one-sentence description of what it was about! Having a PhD means that you're the world's foremost expert on some (admittedly tiny) subject. The least you owe yourself is to say what that subject is. Feb 21, 2014 at 10:19
  • @DavidRicherby I meant the actual name of the title, not on the CV. Of course one would write more about the thesis on a CV :) Thanks for the clarification pointer. Also regarding being an expert in a small field, it might be easier said than done see: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/10798/…
    – posdef
    Feb 21, 2014 at 10:27

I would suggest, for your CV/Resume, that you present yourself as a Computer Scientist and you present the University up-front, as opposed to the college, and that you frame the PhD as being in Computational Mathematics, and then list the topics that you studied, classes that you took, and technologies that you used in getting your degree (depending on how you prefer to frame it), and then finally your actual degree. e.g.

  • Studied algorithms, numerical methods, and symbolic methods.
  • Took Monte Carlo methods, computer simulation, theory of computation
  • Used R, Matlab, and C to solve multithreaded Linear Algebra problems
  • You were presented with a PhD in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science

Depends on the employer. Any academic employer will look at your publications, rather than what your degree actually says. So I see no problem there

If this is for an undergrad degree, I think is out of the scope for this particular forum, since this is mostly oriented towards jobs in the Academia.

But I do think you might have problems with different titles in your undergrad, I would recommend mostly just applying for jobs and in your CV make the comment that it is oriented toward CS, many universities CS departments spawned from the math department, so I do not think there should be much of a problem.

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