Unfinished degree in resume
October 11, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

How do I write an abandoned graduate degree into my resume?

Last year I took two semesters worth of credits for a graduate degree but abandoned the degree due to personal and very understandable circumstances. The knowledge gained from the classes I took is directly related to a job I want to apply for.
Also I was going to school full time so I need to explain the break in employment so leaving it out altogether is not an option.
What's the best way to write the credits into my resume?
( I plan to provide a brief explanation in the cover letter regarding my quitting the program).
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You would probably say, "Graduate Coursework, Xyz Studies, University of ABC -- 2009"
posted by squid patrol at 10:39 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am by no means a resume or job-getting expert, but I have seen this done in other resumes with a header of "relevant coursework" in your education section. Write the name of the course, the date taken, and the course level (noting graduate level where applicable).
posted by phunniemee at 10:48 AM on October 11, 2010

You put it down the same way you put down your undergraduate studies, but you consciously leave out the part about the degree. So, let's say:

Undergrad College, B.A. in General Studies, 2006-2010
Graduate University, Advanced General Studies, 2009-2010

posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2010

I've got "graduate coursework" on my resume too. But I wouldn't put anything in your letter about it. Your letter should be about how you can meet your prospective employer's needs & why you want to work for them, not why you didn't finish the program.
posted by headnsouth at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2010

Strongly agree. Do not refer to the actual degree itself in any way, shape, or form. Too many people have gotten into trouble where a "mistaken attribution" on a CV or resume turned into "claimed to have a degree that they didn't have".

squid patrol had it right. I had a similar situation (I was in a Master's-level program but didn't finish because I got accepted to medical school) and simply put it on there as "Blah-blah-blah Program, University of Woot, 2001-2002". People occasionally ask and I tell them exactly what the story was.
posted by scblackman at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2010

Okay, I fucked up both the dates and the HTML in there, but you get the idea.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2010

Another option is to state:

Graduate University, matriculated September 2009 - May 2010

Agree with headnsouth that you shouldn't mention it in a cover letter.
posted by lvanshima at 11:46 AM on October 11, 2010

2009-2010: Graduate coursework, Department name, Graduate University. Withdrawn in good standing.
2005-2009: Degree name, Department name, Undergraduate University. Degree awarded 15-05-2009.

The 'withdrawn in good standing' part (if true) is very important: it indicates that you left willingly rather than flunked out.
posted by astrochimp at 1:56 PM on October 11, 2010

I have some extra graduate papers that were never supposed to be part of a degree. They look exactly the same as if I was enrolled for the degree programme on my transcript (minus the line for the actual degree), and I could have then got the degree if I did enough of the papers. At my University that kind of enrolment is called "Certificate of Proficiency" (i.e. doing papers without a degree attached) but I don't usually put that as no one else will know what it means.

Instead I just list them as "Postgraduate level papers - studied at www University 2005" then list the names of each course and my grades. The papers I studied for my actual Masters degree have the same thing, except the top line says "MSc (Physiology) - awarded by yyy University 20xx". It's pretty obvious that the extra papers aren't part of a degree. If you don't want to list the actual paper titles then that's fine, just list them as postgraduate (or graduate, however it is described where you are) studies at whatever University.

I also wouldn't put anything in the cover letter about why you dropped out. For all they know you never intended on doing more than you did, and discussing that is something for the interview anyway. Saying you stopped for good reason leaves open the idea that you might quit your job and go back and finish them, not the impression you want to give at this point. If you do mention them, do so in the context of your recent, highly relevant advanced studies which make you even more awesome for the job.
posted by shelleycat at 4:25 PM on October 11, 2010

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