While I was studying abroad, I was offered a PHD position for having a very impressive project. I was actually only in 3rd year engineering at the time and I din't want to go into the professor's specific area of research, so I declined the offer. The only written confirmation I have of this is an e-mail exchange.

That course is important in the field that I'm going into, so I really want to mention that I did really well on it, but I'm afraid that a verbal conversation and an e-mail exchange isn't official enough. After all, if someone asks the professor, it's highly probable that he will have forgotten and he might claim I mis-understood the e-mail exchange. Should I:

  1. Include the fact that I got an offer on the resume anyways.
  2. E-mail the prof to get a written confirmation and only include his distinction in my resume if he replies. What type of written confirmation would this even involve?
  3. Tone down the claim to say that I had the best project and leave out the offer.
  • 1
    Since it was verbal, you could also mention it only verbally, once you get to talk to them?
    – o0'.
    Oct 6, 2014 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


I would not include such an offer on a CV. Saying you were offered a position is fine to include in a cover letter or statement of purpose or other such document, but a CV should be a listing of demonstrable accomplishments. Including something like this is potentially awkward—and declining a job offer is not normally what you want to "show off" on a CV anyways.

  • 1
    That's the conclusion I came to as well.
    – Seanny123
    Oct 6, 2014 at 4:01

I would recommend against including a verbal offer on your resume. Even aside from whether the professor remembers, an offer of a PhD position might not be very meaningful. Professors vary in how careful and responsible they are about making such offers, and I've known of cases in which faculty expressed interest to potential students in ways those students thought of as near-binding offers but which were not intended that way. (If someone says "Would you like to come do a PhD with me?", they may view the question as having implicit conditions such as "provided you meet the admissions requirements and I can come up with funding for you," while the student may not realize that. This question means the professor will try to make things work out, but it doesn't guarantee that they will try hard or succeed.)

Of course your offer may well have been far more serious, but it's hard to convey this on your resume without going into too much detail about it.

Tone down the claim to say that I had the best project and leave out the offer.

I would take this approach, assuming you have some official recognition such as an award for the best project in the class. (If it was at a prestigious university, then having such an award might mean more than the PhD offer.) If you don't, then there's insufficient basis for calling it the best project.

If you're applying to graduate school, why not ask the professor in question for a letter of recommendation? That would give him an opportunity to write about how impressive the project was, how it was the best in the class, and how he wishes you wanted to specialize in his area since you would make a wonderful PhD student. Hearing these sentiments from him would mean more than anything you could list in your resume.

Similarly, if you're applying for jobs, you could ask the professor whether you could list him as a reference.

If it wouldn't make sense to ask him for a letter or to serve as a reference, then it's probably not important enough to be worth worrying about indicating on your resume.

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