Why do graduate schools ask for a CV to be included in the application? Do they look for anything else besides publications and work experience?

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    Publications plus work experience (of one kind or another) is the lion's share of most CV's, no? Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 7:09
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    The CV of a prospective graduate student can be very short: probably a single page should be sufficient. An academic CV is not a "resume", by which I mean it's not a big opportunity to score points. You just need to provide all the standard information. If you're in doubt of what is the standard stuff to go on such a CV, you should probably ask that instead (after searching the site a bit: that has probably already been addressed). Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 7:15
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    P.S.: In academia, your schooling is essentially viewed as your pre-PhD work experience. So you should make sure to list dates, academic degrees received, GPA, major...that sort of thing. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 7:18
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    What about skills and abilities such as painting, programming, or languages spoken?
    – user26594
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 7:20
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3 Answers 3


A CV is the academic equivalent of a resume, providing all of the relevant details of your (academic) career to date. Graduate schools ask for this information for the same reason that businesses ask for a resume when you apply for a job: it is a terse summary of your qualifications as a candidate.

In addition to publications and (research-related) positions held, a CV also should include your undergraduate and graduate degrees, service, any awards, and any other academic-relevant information about you. A nice summary, with links to additional guide material can be found here.


Think about it like this, CV is an official paper to introduce yourself for others. At least it has the basic information about you and your achievements.


We want to know who you are, who is the best fit as supervisor/advisor, what is the best fit as a topic?

A better question is why we ask for a proposal - you are not generally in a position to write a proper proposal till 6 to 12 months in once you've done a full lit.review.

What else do we look for beyond the formal education/publication part?

Work experience tells us about what you can do, and what discipline you've been experosed to. Also hobbies, languages, clubs, sports and community involvement are important to mention. Were you on the chess team, the debating team, the school paper? These also complete the picture of who you are, what you can do, and what you could do!

These days everything is interconnected - technology has applications, sport and art make use of technology, science studies both the inner world of mind/brain and society (social/life sciences) as well as the external world of physical entities and devices (physical/biological sciences) and the way everything relates to everything else (information/cognitive sciences).

From you community involvement I might get insight into your aims in life, you leadership ability, your willingness to work alongside other people and health.

I'm not interested in a statement of purpose or some other nonsense that sounds more like something out of a fortune cookie than the kind of evidential data that belongs in formal curriculum vitae.

From your interest in languages or writing, your experience in debating or the school paper, I will gain ideas about how you'll go writing a thesis or dissertation, whether you will understand the literature, whether you can work on particular interdisciplinary or application-oriented parts of the research.

From your interest in music or dance, sports or photography, I might find connections that relate to (say) projects in computer science or engineering, in signal processing, image processing, speech processing - or extend them in new directions to song recognition or music transcription.

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    Please do not "recycle" answers verbatim between different questions.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 20:51

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