Resume Education Section

The Education section of your resume is the most important section for internship and entry level candidates, but it becomes secondary once you have acquired experience post your degree. Yet it is still an important component to your resume, since many recruiters and hiring managers look for a degree as a check-the-box activity.

Where should the Education section be placed on the resume, at the beginning or the end? The answer is simple: if you have a degree, it goes before the Experience section, if you don't, it goes after.

Why? Because checking for the degree is one of those check-the-box activities for the recruiter or hiring manager when reviewing the resume. If you have a degree and it's required (or preferred) for the job, the box gets checked. If you don't have a degree and it's required (or preferred) for the job, you need to sell your experience first to overcome your lack of a degree.

On the other hand, if a degree is not required for the job, the Experience section will become primary in the resume review. It's fine to still list your degree first, if you have one, but the Experience section will be the focus.

Don't go into great detail about the degree unless you are a recent grad with relatively little experience, in which case it is permissible to include a list of the highest level courses you have taken. Otherwise, keep it to two or three lines per degree: 1) your degree and date received (yes, it is OK to list it with a future date if it is currently in process); 2) the college name and location; and 3) your GPA (but only if over 3.0 on a 4.0 scale).

Speaking of GPA, what does it tell the recruiter or hiring manager if it's not listed? I will assume that you don't have a 3.0 or above. So if you have a 3.0 or above, list it; if not, don't.

If you have both an Associate's Degree and a Bachelor's Degree in the same primary field of study, drop listing the Associate's Degree. However, if you have both a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree or MBA, list both. If you only have a high school degree, you can leave the Education section off the resume, unless you are applying for a blue collar job which requires a high school degree, in which case you can list it after the Experience section.

Following are some examples of resume education sections:

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, June 2012
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale


Master of Science in Computer Science, June 2013
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, May 2011
Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
GPA of 3.8 on a 4.0 scale


Associate of Arts in Computer Science, June 2013
Tacoma Community College, Tacoma, Washington


Two years of college studies in History, September 2010 to June 2012
Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington


High School Diploma, June 2012
Bainbridge Island High School, Bainbridge Island, Washington


If you are preparing an entry level resume or an internship resume, it is acceptable to expand this section to include a listing of the highest 6-9 classes you have taken in 2- or 3-column format, placed immediately below your degree. Simply add a line that says: "Coursework has included:" and list the classes on the next several lines. However, this listing of classes will come off your resume once you have at least one year of experience post your degree.

If you have a degree in progress that is not yet completed, it is acceptable to list the degree with the future date. Yes, I understand that you haven't actually completed the degree yet. Listing the future degree with the future date is the typical format for both internship and entry level resumes.