I have been involved in two volunteering groups for the past two years and I'm not sure If I should ever mention it in the SOP/CV.

Should I mention it in one or both my SOP and CV? Also, how detailed should I write on the type of activity/nature of the work/vision/reasoning/accomplishments, etc.

Note: I'm applying for Electrical and Computer Engineering for a master's degree.

The volunteering work is totally unrelated to the degree. The activities are focused on aiding homeless and abused animals

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    I feel that it would be worth adding a couple lines in your CV, just to account for what you were doing during that time. In your SOP, it is definitely worth mentioning especially if you can somehow connect it to why you now want to pursue EE/CE. – Hobbes Jul 12 '16 at 16:07
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    Personally, I look favorably on long-term volunteering when deciding whether I'm willing to supervise a student for research. It shows some willingness to commit to and stick to something that may not have immediate tangible benefit, an important quality in research. But I've never been on an admissions committee so can't comment on how it would play over there. – ff524 Jul 12 '16 at 16:35

I would recommend against mentioning unrelated volunteer work in one's statement of purpose---after all, you have said that it is unrelated to the career that you are intending to pursue. If it were directly linked, then of course it would be useful to mention it.

Likewise, there is no space for this type of work in any of the main sections of an academic CV: this isn't like applying to college, where you are encouraged to list a bunch of extracurricular activities to show your breadth and interesting personality. Graduate admissions is instead more typically about showing that you have the mix of skills, drive, and focus necessary to succeed in you intended program.

It is often the case, however, that people will have some sort of "other significant experiences" section at the very end of their CV in which they put miscellaneous things that they think are important. If you feel that your volunteer work is an important ingredient in understanding you as a potential professional, then this is the appropriate place to include a brief note. It may help you if it catches the eye of somebody who finds it significant, and it is unlikely to hurt you.


Should I mention it in one or both my SOP and CV?

Yes, in the CV (shows you're well rounded and well enough organized to keep up with a commitment outside of school), but not in the SOP (because it's unrelated) -- unless this particular experience was fundamental in motivating you to want to go to grad school.

Also, how detailed should I write on the type of activity/nature of the work/vision/reasoning/accomplishments, etc.

The whole thing should fit on two (maximum three) lines.

If you have ever done any other volunteer work, you can make a whole section for Volunteer Work.

Alternatively you could include it under Work Experience, and then in the description make it clear that it was a volunteer position.


I see nothing wrong in mentioning that on your resume even if it is unrelated. If you have enough place on your 1-2 page resume, you can put it. In my eyes, It shows that you are a passionate, social and informed person and not just a (sitting in front of the computer) geek.

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    A CV for graduate admissions is not the same thing as a 1-2 page resume, FYI. – ff524 Jul 12 '16 at 17:13
  • @ff524 - can you be more specific about the differences? – aparente001 Sep 4 '16 at 4:26

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