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Put Courses on Resume?

A student asks:

I have another question about my resume. Should I mention the courses I have taken at the U of Illinois so far?

Answer: It depends. As with so many resume questions, there are no right or wrong answers — just strategies to convey to employers that you fill the need they have.

When students include courses on their resumes, it’s usually in the “Education” section, under the U of I (expected graduation year, major, etc.) with the tag, “Relevant Coursework:…” So the question then is, relevant to what?

If the employer has not stated any needs that your coursework to date explicitly speaks to, then it’s fine to omit any mention of coursework. However, course titles can sometimes be a way to show that you have relevant knowledge or experience that doesn’t show up elsewhere on the resume. For example, if an employer specifies “Knowledge of ArcGIS” as desirable, and you’ve taken GEOG 379: Intro to GIS Systems (but otherwise have no formal experience), it would definitely be worth including.

A “Relevant Coursework” section is one way to showcase the connections between your academic learning and an employer’s needs — but there are others:

  • A entry under a “Project” section, giving more details about an extended class assignment. This approach is useful when the assignment culminated in a specific deliverable (a lengthy research paper, a poster session, a presentation, an honors thesis) that you can imagine talking about in a job interview or including as part of your portfolio. Include the title and bullet points (like those in your experience section) detailing the job-relevant things you did.
  • An entry under “Experience” or “Leadership Development.” This can be a way to describe experiential courses like SPAN 323: Spanish in the Community, CW 460: Intro to Literary Editing, or HIST 207: Digital Documentary Publishing, where skills you practiced throughout the semester might be of greater interest to an employer than the final paper you wrote. Be upfront about the fact that it was a course, but use bullet points to convey the specific things you did and outcomes you brought about.
  • Hyperlinks (in the resume or cover letter) to websites you created, papers you wrote or contributed to, events you helped to bring about, and the like. When the job will require creating similar content or managing similar projects, links (framed in a way that makes your role clear) can convey your relevant skill — assuming the employer will be motivated to click on them.