Whether or Not to Abbreviate a Degree on Your Resume

Posted in Career Blog

Sometimes, it’s easy to agonize over even the smallest detail when drafting your resume, considering that an interview and possible job is on the line. Many people, for instance, wonder whether they should abbreviate their degrees on their resumes, or write out the entire degree name in its entirety. While this is largely a style preference, there are some guidelines to follow when writing out this degree in any format.

Style and Personal Preference
First of all, it is important to know that there is no absolute rule that says you either must abbreviate your degree or write out its full name. This will largely depend on what you think looks the most polished in light of the other information on your resume, and how well an abbreviation fits onto the page. With that in mind, it is acceptable to either list a degree as “Bachelor of Arts” or as a “B.A.” Employers will know what you are referring to in either case.

Consistency is Key
The most important thing to remember when writing out your degree is that consistency is key. In other words, if you decide to abbreviate one degree, you must abbreviate all degrees listed on your resume. Likewise, if you decide to write your degree name out in full, you must do so for all of your degrees. Your degree listings should either look like:
B.A. in English
M.A. in English
Or:
Bachelor of Arts in English
Master of Arts in English

Schools, Years and Honors
Of course, in addition to naming the degree itself, it is also important to list other relevant information with regard to your educational credentials. For example, remember to include the school you attended and the year the degree was awarded, as well as any notable honors at graduation. For example, the education section of your resume might look like this:
B.A. in English, magna cum laude, University of Colorado, 2011
M.A. in English, Rice University, 2013

Dissertations and Miscellaneous Information
If you have received a Master’s or a PhD and have produced a thesis or dissertation, it might also be appropriate to list them underneath your abbreviated degree section. This largely depends on the job for which you are applying; if you are seeking work in academia, for example, it is advisable to include the title of your thesis or dissertation. For other positions, however, such information may not be necessary. If you choose to include this information, your listing would like the following:
M.A. in English, Rice University, 2013
Thesis: “The Role of Gender in Literature of the Victorian Age”
If you are pressed for space, abbreviating may be the best option, since it will prevent your educational listing from taking up too many lines. Some argue that abbreviations also look cleaner on the page, and make the resume easier to scan. Ultimately, however, the decision regarding whether or not to abbreviate a degree is completely yours.

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