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.
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
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.
About Resume Pilots
Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing, career coaching, and outplacement firm. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.
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