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How to Cite Your Dissertation in Your Resume


A strong resume is crucial for job-seekers in today’s difficult market. Those coming out of academia have often focused on putting together a stellar curriculum vitae, and when faced with applying to non-academic jobs, they’re not sure what their resume should look like. There’s no single protocol for citing a dissertation on a resume. Instead, if you’ve earned or are earning your doctorate, ask yourself whether to include the dissertation title at all and then follow some straightforward guidelines for citing it if you decide to do so.

Deciding to Cite

When you’re producing a summary of your qualifications for the job market, first determine your target audience. Depending on which field you’re applying to, your dissertation title may or may not be relevant to prospective employers. If you earned a doctorate in history and you’re applying for a research job in the non-profit sector, consider whether your dissertation topic would help convince potential employers that you’re a good fit for their organization. For example, your research on thirteenth century French book production doesn't directly relate to a job researching global labor markets, but it might to a job in the publishing field. Finally, remember that it’s wise to tailor resumes, and that means you can delete the dissertation title for some applications but retain it for others.

Degree Placement

If you decide that including your dissertation title will help persuade hiring managers, the next question is where to cite it on your resume. This decision depends on the kind of resume you create and the emphasis you want to place on your education. For example, reverse chronological resumes generally list either education or work experience first. Lead with the category that makes a stronger case for hiring you, and place your doctorate at the top of the education section, followed by your master’s degree and your bachelor’s, if applicable. Include your discipline, the granting institution, and the year: “PhD in Computer Science, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2013.” The specific formatting is up to you; strive for clarity that allows readers to scan your resume quickly.

Dissertation Title

In the education section, cite your dissertation title beneath the main entry for your doctorate. You can use a bullet point or an indentation to set it off visually. Depending on which citation style your discipline usually uses, you may choose to italicize the title (as APA style does, and MLA style does for published dissertations) or to place it in quotation marks (as Chicago style does, and MLA style does for unpublished dissertations). If your dissertation has been published, include the citation for the publication after the title.

Committee Members and Abstract

Although many academic hiring committees expect to see the names of your dissertation committee on your curriculum vitae as well as a short summary of the dissertation, these elements aren’t appropriate for a resume. Again, the main concern is audience: Even if you worked with a prominent adviser in graduate school, that person probably doesn’t have name recognition outside of your field. Of course, there will always be exceptions -- Noam Chomsky’s doctoral students should probably include his name for certain applications -- but as a rule of thumb, retain only the information that markets you to prospective employers.

About the Author

Elissa Hansen has more than nine years of editorial experience, and she specializes in academic editing across disciplines. She teaches university English and professional writing courses, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English and a certificate in technical communication from Cal Poly, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Wyoming, and a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota.

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