E.g. as shown in the example here.

  • 2011—Centennial Fellowship, Princeton University Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (accepted)
  • 2011—Top Student Award, University of Washington (declined)
  • 2011—Program in Climate Change Fellowship, University of Washington (declined)
  • 2011—Faculty Fellowship, Columbia University (declined)
  • 2011—Charney Prize, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (declined)
  • 2011—Regents Fellowship, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (declined)
  • 2011—Chair’s Award, Stanford University Department of Earth and Environmental System Science (declined)
  • 4
    What do you mean by declined - it means that u were offered the fellowships, but u declined them for reasons unstated?
    – TCSGrad
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 17:56
  • 1
    Yes, I'm also a bit confused as to why these awards were declined?
    – user102
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 17:59
  • 3
    One reason is if you want to go to another institution. If Berkeley offers you a fellowship to be a PhD student and you choose to go to MIT, then obviously you have to decline the Berkeley fellowship.
    – Opt
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 18:13
  • 7
    I am not sure we will have a definitive answer to this question. But as a committee member, I will not count such a list at the advantage of the candidate. Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 18:40
  • 4
    I have seen this commonly used with NDSEG and NSF awards
    – bobthejoe
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 4:38

4 Answers 4


Aeismail makes an important point about location: what's standard in Germany differs from what's standard in the US.

In a US context, I would strongly recommend against listing things like declined graduate fellowships. It will look strange, and even beyond that it can work to your disadvantage: everybody will already assume you declined several attractive offers, so giving an explicit list will do nothing but focus attention on what isn't on the list. (If the list of declined offers is short, readers will be disappointed, and if it's long, they'll spend more time speculating about what's missing than being impressed.)

The only time I'd recommend highlighting this sort of information is if for some reason you had to turn down a vastly more prestigious offer than the one you accepted. For example, maybe you were offered a tenure-track job at a top department, but ended up working as an adjunct in the middle of nowhere so you could take care of a relative. You should then make sure everybody knows this the next time you are able to apply for jobs. However, you should be very careful when doing this, because if the prestige difference isn't absolutely universally acknowledged, then you run the risk of offending people who feel you are unfairly denigrating a perfectly fine career path.


Bad idea. If you turn down an award (or an acceptance to a univeristy, etc), you don't get to reap the benefits of that award.

No one cares about the universities you could have gone to or the fellowship programs you could have worked for, they care about what you have actually done and that is all you should include on your CV/resume. Period.

To me, the resume linked to above reads "I had no one else edit or evaluate my resume before I posted it online."

  • 5
    Yes, exactly this.
    – JeffE
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 21:32
  • 3
    As I mentioned in a comment below, I got exactly the reverse advice from several career professionals. There's no single right answer here. Some people may take offense, but others might find the information useful.
    – aeismail
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 22:40
  • 3
    I'd argue that the including declined fellowships would not offer enough of a boost/benefit to offset the risk of your CV coming across as "padded"
    – Amy
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 23:07
  • 3
    @Amy I agree - especially since "padded" is I think the most charitable negative reaction that comes from this. There are several others that are worse. And not printable in polite company.
    – Fomite
    Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 5:17

Like so many other matters, your location plays a role in what is considered accepted or not.

In the US, I would limit listing "declined" awards to national, competitive fellowships which had to be declined because of the fact that you're not allowed to accept multiple fellowships. However, the awarding of multiple such fellowships shows that you are a "hot commodity," and therefore does confer some benefit to you. (As an example of other countries' practices, here in Germany, it is expected that you would list offers of faculty positions that you have declined, for exactly the same reason.)

However, I would agree with Amy and Ben that in the present case, those awards should not have been listed on a CV. On the other hand, "DOD Fellow" and "Offered NSF fellowship" would be a different scenario.

  • 3
    As a USian academic, I completely disagree about DOD and NSF. If you decline the fellowship, you decline the award. (Choose wisely.)
    – JeffE
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 21:32
  • 1
    I am also a US-born academic, and was offered a number of fellowships. I listed that fact on my CV at the advice of several recruiting professionals. So there's no "absolute" correct answer here. I'm just trying to argue that there's a big difference between a national award that everybody's heard of and a minor departmental- or school-level award.
    – aeismail
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 22:38
  • @aeismail - recruiting professionals for academia or industry? In the US? I assume that you're currently employed, so keeping these things on your CV worked for you - can I ask what kind of work you are doing now? I'm trying to imagine a scenario where listing these things would work to your advantage.
    – Amy
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 23:05
  • 1
    @Amy: I had a staff position with the DOE, and the inclusion of the fellowships was recommended by the recruiter. Now, I'm working as a professor in Germany.
    – aeismail
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 1:22
  • 3
    I agree with this answer and disagree with Anonymous Mathematician and Amy. If you were awarded a highly competitive national fellowship, but had to turn it down in order to take another highly competitive fellowship (or for some other reason), the fact that you won both awards is meaningful. BUT: the drek listed in the original question is not an example of the sorts of things that should be listed as declined. We're really talking about things like the NSF or similar stature here. Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 16:06

I don't think there's one answer to this question. Different people react to different things on CVs in different ways. The level of listing above is silly; if the candidate in the example had asked me for my advice I would have told them not to (they're basically listing jobs they were offered; interpreted generously, it looks like CV padding), but occasionally it can make sense to list a prestigious fellowship you declined due to circumstances.

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