I am currently updating my CV before applying for postdoc positions (and grants) and got a bit puzzled about a small but possibly important detail.

The chapters I have on my CV are Education, Experience, Extracurricular/Voluntary Work and Publications. While I am not forced to keep this structure, I find it very logical and rather neat, so unless there is a good reason to do so I will probably keep the structure.

Now, to the question, I am not sure if I should include my PhD years under education or under experience. Not sure if it's the same elsewhere but over here in Sweden, the years as PhD student counts as both education and full-time employment. I think there are points to both sides of the coin.

The work I have done as a PhD student is quite relevant for the type of stuff I will be applying to hence an argument for listing under work experience. Besides I am not too happy about the last entry in my "Experience" section to be from 4 years ago, as it stands looks a bit like I am "fresh off the school".

Is there a generally accepted way to tackle that?

  • Are the sections ordered as you wrote them? For example, in my CV (and those of many people in my field), the order is Publications, then Education (including PhD), then everything else on a second page no one hiring postdocs will ever care about.
    – user4512
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 0:12
  • @ChrisWhite right now yes, that's the order, but the idea is to change the order depending on the type of place i apply
    – posdef
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


I put it in both places. Under Education I list my time as a graduate student, and under Experience (as "Appointments"), I list my time as a Graduate Research Assistant. I've seen this on lots of CVs in the US. Both are true, and both convey the right meaning.

  • 1
    I disagree with putting into both places - takes away space and confuses the reader.
    – Elchin
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 16:56
  • 6
    @Elchin I don't think I have ever seen one that doesn't do this. They are conveying two different things. Not every PhD student works as a RA and not every PhD student works as a TA and some students work as both at different times. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 16:58
  • 1
    @Elchin During my PhD I was a RA. I have a contract. Both thing are distinct, related but distinct, and true. In my CV, I put my phd on education and my time as RA as experience as well.. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 17:02
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    Makes sense, however to conserve space you could put your employment while doing your PhD as subfields. It would also make it easier and more chronological to read.
    – Elchin
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 17:05

Education. Under sub-points you can list the part-time positions you held, such as research assistant, or teaching assistant. I personally keep experience field for my full-time roles and internships.

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    Please note that PhD studies is a full-time, state employment here, as I have stated above in question body.
    – posdef
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 16:59
  • True, but the main purpose of the PhD is still education, isn't it? I've lived in Germany where PhD is treated the same way, but the main purpose is still education, rather than employment.
    – Elchin
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 17:00
  • But it is also to collect working experience as a researcher. And you do a lot of "work", it's not studying subjects by attending lectures. So why would it not count as work? I think that is what the question is ultimately about
    – Mayou36
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 11:22

There is a fine line here that needs to be drawn. Surely, you do research during your PhD, but that is still a part of your education - you are being taught how to do research, and are (at least formally) being supervised in doing so. Generally, the experience part refers to the work experience you possess, over and above the experience you have acquired as a part of your education. Sometimes, people specify this explicitly, by mentioning that research experience during PhD, or acquired in the duration of PhD (e.g. any guest faculty position before PhD defense) won't count as teaching/research experience being sought by them, so it is easy to perceive what they are talking about. But even when they don't, it makes sense to write it in this manner, since you would anyways be talking about your research during PhD while talking about it in the education section. So, if there is someone who doesn't want this kind of a distinction, he can anyways get that info from your CV. As far as teaching assistantship experience is concerned, it is definitely acquired during the PhD period - you can put it, and while that indicates some exposure with teaching and supervision, it isn't the kind of experience that they are seeking anyways.

IMO, writing the same thing twice in a CV is definitely not advisable, at least according to me.

So, tl;dr - Answer - In the education section.

  • I don't write the same thing twice. Under "Education" I write, roughly: "1/1998 - 5/2004 Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering, UT Austin" and under "Appointments and Fellowships", I write "1/1998 - 10/2003 Graduate Research Assistantship, Aerospace Engineering Department, The University of Texas at Austin, Firstname Lastname, Supervisor." Each takes about a line and a half and doesn't tend to bloat out my CV too much.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 20:55
  • @BillBarth well that sort of implies you have two explicitly defined positions though, one as a PhD student and one as a RA.
    – posdef
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 11:42
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    @posdef, that's exactly what I had. 20 nominal hours per week of each. I recognize that OP's situation is considered a single full-time role. Even knowing that, I wouldn't have a problem seeing a CV that had pieces of each listed in two places. I look in both sections for both parts of such a job when I'm reviewing candidates for research positions.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 14:10

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