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I have contacted a professor (in Europe) informally and asked for a PhD position. She answered in positive manner and asked for a CV.

What should I include? Do people in academia care about the usual 2-page restriction?

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Generally I would say No, people do not put restrictions on CVs unless specifically asking for it.

In a case such as the one you decribe you should send a complete CV that lists everything that can be meriting for the position you will apply for. The following would be of interest:

  1. A brief description of your drive and interest to pursue a PhD
  2. Course work includig grades
  3. Scientific/equivalent experience is a given of course.
  4. Any publications and scientific/equivalent reports you have written. If you have some significant report/thesis that you have written during your education, you can list that as well. I would say that any report longer than, say, 10 pages of text might be useful to list. In such cases you should perhaps add inwhat context (Course) the text was written. In the end what a person looking for a PhD position will be looking for is someone who can successfully complete work and write it up in written form.
  5. Scientific/equivalent presentations in a public context, open department seminar, scientific meeting etc.
  6. Any academic work experience such as working inlabs etc.
  7. General work experience. This can be listed to highlght work experience of any kind. This shows how active you are.
  8. Anything else that you think will be meriting.

If you have written a paper (thesis) of some sort, provide a copy. Only one, the most important though. If you do not have one that is fine, no one would expect you to have written much.

Despite the length of the list try to make it brief and clear so that it can be assessed with ease. ry to find a good layout that make sthe structure easy to see.

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    The only thing I can think that's missing from Peter's list is references. If you have one or two well-placed people who are willing to give a reference for you, listing them here and providing (email) contact information would be a good idea. – bill s May 9 '13 at 17:55
  • @Bill Good point, I missed that. +1 – Peter Jansson May 9 '13 at 18:25
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    Items (1) and (2) on your list are not parts of an academic CV. They accompany the CV as part of an application as a (1) statement of purpose or cover letter and (2) a transcript (the latter if needed), but are not normally listed in a CV. Degrees, overall averages, and honors should be mentioned, but "drive and interest" and individual courses are not part of the scope of a CV. – aeismail May 9 '13 at 22:07
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    A CV is customizable, but particularly for many countries in Europe, it does not include a "statement of purpose"! One must include this, but as I said, it goes in the cover letter or a separate statement of purpose that gets submitted with the CV. A list of courses would be considered part of the "certifications" that are submitted as part of the hiring process. – aeismail May 9 '13 at 22:22
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    It's not unthinkable, but it's definitely inadvisable. The further afield you go, the more likely you're going to have an adverse reaction on the part of someone reviewing your applications! – aeismail May 10 '13 at 8:39
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Someone else had mentioned this on a related question here: the words "curriculum vitae" are taken from the Latin for "course of my life". So there's not much point in a page restriction :), unlike a corporate resume, which is often required to be one page or one sheet.

As for what you should put in it, Peter's answer is very comprehensive.

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