How to List an Incomplete Education on a Resume

An interviewer may ask you to explain education shortcomings on your resume.

An interviewer may ask you to explain education shortcomings on your resume.

Whether you're looking for your first job or your tenth, you want your resume to wow a potential employer. It's your calling card to get a foot in the door for that job you want, and your best shot at getting invited for an interview. There's just one problem, and it's a potentially serious one: you didn't complete your degree. Resist the urge to embellish, however. Instead, highlight those parts of your education that are relevant in your job search and emphasize other aspects of your background and work experience that make you a competitive candidate.

List the education you've completed accurately and honestly -- don't list a degree you haven't actually completed and been awarded. It may look better on paper, but if an employer checks your credentials and finds out you misrepresented your education, you've likely blown your chances of getting the job, because it raises issues about your honesty and integrity.

Start with degree programs you are actively pursuing. If you are continuously working on a bachelor's degree, for example, and plan to complete it by a certain date, your resume entry should reflect that. Type the name and location of the college or university, with the anticipated degree completed just below it: Big State College -- Los Angeles, California B.A. in Political Science, anticipated graduation June 2013

List incomplete degree programs or other coursework last in the education section of your resume. According to Katherine Hansen of Quintessential Careers, include the period of time you attended college and the number of credit hours you completed, particularly if it's in a degree concentration. Highlight completed courses that are relevant to the job you're seeking. Type the name and location of the college you attended. Just below it, type the dates and coursework information: Big City College -- New York, New York Completed 90 credits toward a B.A. in political science, 2007 to 2010 Concentration in political systems, European governments and advanced democracies

Include professional training or certification programs in the education section. List workshops, seminars and technical training as well, particularly if they are relevant to the type of work for which you're applying.

Tip

  • Include your GPA if you did well in the courses you took and be sure to list any honors, such as the dean's list. Be prepared to explain during an interview why your education was interrupted.
 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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