I just started my PhD a few months back after completing a MSc. I've been asked for a CV but I don't know what to put in it, and various templates are hard to use because:

  • I don't have any papers nor have I reviewed anything
  • I haven't been to any conferences
  • I haven't received any competitive awards or research grants
  • I haven't been on academic visits

In other words, I'm in the early stages of my academic career, I've done well enough to get where I am, but I haven't yet done anything that I can drop into a standard format academic CV (except for my education).

How can I write my academic CV when a standard format for those with a more advanced career looks, well, skeletal? What would be expected on an academic CV for someone just starting a PhD? Is literally just handful of lines acceptable?

  • 2
    Who is the CV for?
    – user2768
    Nov 20, 2017 at 8:55
  • 4
    If you're a new PhD student, why would you need a CV? You already have a position.
    – padawan
    Nov 20, 2017 at 9:09
  • 6
    @padawan I can see many reasons to have a CV, even if you're a new PhD student. 1) To store in one place all the significant information about yourself (=memory helper). 2) To have one in hand when you'll be asked one (it's not a question of if, but of when). 3) To set-up a basis that will be easy to update for when you'll be require to give one for a job application. 4) To populate your website, if you have one. 5) To give minimal information to anyone reaching you (for a review, for instance) if this one is public / on-line. 6) To have your mail address copy-and-pastable 7) …
    – Clément
    Nov 20, 2017 at 12:53
  • 2
    @padawan I can assure you, I have been asked for it already, in fact twice. Once for a scholarship application and once for an academic visit (bureaucracy so I can have a desk to work at)
    – Bamboo
    Nov 21, 2017 at 1:03
  • 2
    to the close voters - I've removed some of the things specific to me to make it more generic, but I'm still not sure I understand why you're voting to close. Surely I'm not the first PhD student faced with the request "just send me your CV" when you don't have one already?
    – Bamboo
    Nov 21, 2017 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


First, here's a useful guide as to the order and contents of an academic CV.

For someone new to doctoral study:

I would say start with education and list both your current program and your previous one - include GPA from the previous program if above, say, a 3.0.

You can be pretty liberal in terms of what you include under awards - any merit based grants or fellowships you were awarded in this program, any merit based awards you got in undergrad (you can remove the undergrad ones once you're further along, but for now you can leave them in). Don't include need-based awards unless there was a merit component.

You can include any research experience you had in undergrad - you might remove this later - but for now I would put this in - research internships, working in a lab, that sort of thing.

You can include professional skills if they are a requirement for your field - like being familiar with a statistics package or other software that folks need to know. You'll probably remove these later, but for now this would be good since professors looking for a TA or research assistant will look at your CV and want to know that you know how to do what they will need you to do.

Languages - if you know a language other than the one expected for your program, include this here.

And then professional affiliations - I would join an organization or two in your field and then list your membership on there. Maybe talk to a professor and ask for a suggestion as to what they would recommend joining.

It also really is okay if you have a short CV when you're just starting a doctorate. They obviously chose you based on your aptitude for the program, but most people come in with fairly short CVs, and that's totally expected.


Write your CV as-if you hadn't started your PhD. As such, list the educational institutes you've attended, e.g.,

  • 2015 -- 2017 Distinction, Master of science, University II
  • 2010 -- 2015 Grade, Bachelor of science, University I
  • 2002 -- 2010 High School qualification, School

And list what subjects you studied underneath at least the first two. (It's probably no longer relevant what you studied at school.)

Mention your current position too. E.g.,

  • 2017 -- present Doctor of philosophy, University III

And give a compressed summary of your research objectives underneath. (It should appear above the other institutes.)

  • what about online courses?
    – SSimon
    Nov 21, 2017 at 4:55
  • I'd only include substantial online courses. I'd also include any course that resulted in a qualification. In general, to determine what should be included, consider what the reader wants to know. I don't think readers are particularly interested in a minor online course, they are interested in major online courses and any qualifications obtained from such courses. Similarly, the reader isn't interested that you read a textbook, they are interested if you studied a substantial body of the textbooks on a particular topic (especially if you published,formally or informally,a review on the topic)
    – user2768
    Nov 21, 2017 at 8:48
  • Something liek coursera, EdX, Linda and similar?
    – SSimon
    Nov 21, 2017 at 15:11
  • @SSimon I've never heard of any of them. Presumably you can make a judgement on the basis of my previous comment.
    – user2768
    Nov 21, 2017 at 15:58

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