So with the job market being as it is, I'm considering the prospect of leaving academia after my PhD. The problem that I have is that the name of one of my Areas of Specialization has been co-opted by some new age mystics and if you search "X" after seeing that I specialized in "X", you're more likely to think I specialized in some arcane form of crystal healing than the work I actually did.

My other AOSs sound fine, even semi-impressive to the layman, and so don't really concern me. This one, however....

So, two quick and related questions:

  1. Am I right to think that my AOSs at least would still remain when listing my PhD on a non-academic CV/resume? Or just "PhD in field X"? (The question on CV for leaving academia didn't provide too much specific guidance here.)

  2. Is it ethical to leave one of my AOSs off of the CV, assuming I leave the others untouched? In a sense it is misrepresenting what I did during my PhD, since I really did a lot of work in all three of these areas. On the other hand, listing this troublesome AOS might misrepresent what I did even more--- crystal healing and such.

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    Can you expand AOS here please, what does it stand for? Jun 27, 2014 at 12:19
  • 1
    @FionaTaylorGorringe I would guess it's area of study, but its not very clear
    – nivag
    Jun 27, 2014 at 13:27
  • @FionaTaylorGorringe Sorry, AOS is Area of Specialization. Didn't realize it wasn't a standard abbreviation.
    – Dennis
    Jun 27, 2014 at 16:26
  • So, what's an "Area of Specialization" (with capital letters)? Is that different from "Research Interests"? Surely there's more than one phrase to describe what your research is about?
    – JeffE
    Jun 27, 2014 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


This seems like an obvious opportunity to briefly explain yourself on your CV by listing the formal names but then stating what that actually means in parentheses. As an example:

PhD, Some Named Institution (2007-Present)
Areas of Concentration:
 - Science thing 1
 - Science thing 2
 - Crystal healing sounding thing (Chemical Engineering)

If you are applying for jobs in industry or consulting, your Area of Specialization is much less important than the skills you have developed and your proven record of performance (producing results, completing projects, writing and publishing papers). You could omit your Area of Specialization completely and just list your major and your skills, e.g.:

  • PhD in Biochemistry. Skills: Experiment design and analysis, statistical analysis, computational modeling of protean evolution.

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