career-advice

Expert Tips: How to Put Incomplete Degree on Resume

Matt Glodz
Expert Tips: How to Put Incomplete Degree on Resume

Should You Mention an Incomplete Degree on Your Resume?

We have worked with several executives who do not hold a college degree – or who started a post-graduate degree and never completed it.

If you are in a similar position, rest assured that an incomplete degree is not a deal-breaker if you have relevant professional experience.

In this article, we explain how to present your incomplete degree in a way that builds your credibility while avoiding red flags.

We also provide an example of an effective way to do so.

To put your incomplete degree on your resume, follow the steps below:

1) Add an Education Section

We advise including any education on your resume, even if it isn’t a full degree - especially if you are still in the early stages of your career.

2) Be Transparent About What You Studied

You shouldn’t list “Bachelor of Arts in English” on your resume, for example, if you did not earn the degree.

Recruiters perceive such an approach to be misleading, which could significantly harm your chances of landing a job.

However, there is an easy way to approach this situation by adding “coursework toward” in front of the degree you were pursuing.

By saying that you completed “Coursework toward a Bachelor of Arts in English” instead, you make it clear that you have completed college-level courses but are not implying that you have earned the degree.

3) Include the Dates You Completed Your Studies

For each degree listed in the education section, it is a resume writing convention to only include the date you completed the degree.

If you did not complete the degree, list both the months and years you studied at the university, for the avoidance of doubt.

Example Listing

A sample entry under the education section for an applicant who only completed two years of college would be:

The University of Illinois at Chicago | Chicago, Illinois

Coursework toward Bachelor of Science in Management | August 2016 – September 2018

  • Courses included: Finance, Accounting, Microeconomics, Organizational Behavior, Managerial Consulting, Marketing and Sales Channels, Human Resource Management

In Summary

To list an educational experience on your resume, you do not need to have earned a degree from the institution.

As long as you’re honest and not misrepresenting any information, you should still include your education to help build your credibility – even if you only took a few courses.

Most importantly, don’t spend too much time thinking about whether the fact that you don’t hold a college degree will hold you back in your career.

From our experience, the further along you are in your career, the less weight your college degree tends to hold.

Additional Reading


About Resume Pilots

Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.

Our writers have studied in the Ivy League and other top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.

Here's how we can help you:

Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional resume writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up.

Executive Resume Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own resume, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly resume templates for Microsoft Word.

To learn more about our services, book an introductory call with our founder here or email team@resumepilots.com.


About the AuthorMatt Glodz


Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He works with clients ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over 10 years.

He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, and Thrive Global.


Related Articles

5 Disadvantages of Using a Resume Distribution Service
Why We Don't Recommend Resume Distribution Services for Executives: Resume distribution services send your resume to several potential employers or recruiters to help you find a job. While these services may seem like a great way to save time, they can hurt your job search.
Read More
How to Create a List of Target Employers
5 Tips for Identifying Target Employers: Creating an effective list of target employers is an important step in any job search. It helps you focus your efforts on the companies that are the best fit for your skills and goals, and increases your chances of finding the right job.
Read More
Can Applicant Tracking Systems Read PDF Files?
The short answer is that most ATS systems are able to read and parse PDF files. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when using PDFs in your job application materials.
Read More