Stressed over what recruiters and hiring managers are going to think about the incomplete degree you’ve got on your resume?
Breathe, it’s okay. In fact, a study about the college dropout rate found that 40% of college students drop out before having the chance to graduate.
In many cases, including an incomplete degree in your resume can only work in your favor. Just make sure you format it correctly and professionally, and you’ve got just as much chance as someone who’s completed their education.
Stay with us and you will find out how to include an unfinished degree on your resume when you:
- have a large gap in your employment history
- are currently pursuing your degree
- are not going to finish your education
So let’s dive in and get your unfinished degree working for you.
When you should include an unfinished college degree on your resume
Don’t focus on whether or not your degree is finished, but rather put your attention on some more important questions:
- Does your degree align with the job you’re applying for?
- Will a large employment gap appear on your resume if you remove your unfinished degree?
- Are there any courses you took while pursuing your degree, that would be applicable to the job you’re applying for?
Remember: if your degree does not match the position you’re applying for at all, you should consider leaving it out of your resume.
But don’t forget mentioning your unfinished degree can also avoid awkward questions during the interview. Also, adding it avoids negative assumptions that stop the Hiring Manager from considering you for the position.
What are the different scenarios, you wonder?
If you’re not quite sure how to structure your resume, you should consider using our Resume Examples and Resume Templates and use them to build your resume in no time.
Large Gap in Employment History
The most important question for this scenario is whether or not filling your education out on your resume would leave a large gap in your resume.
No gap, no problem.
But if you have a big empty space in the middle of your resume, you should absolutely draw the recruiter’s attention toward your education and the fact that you were doing something productive instead of working.
Some might worry – “But my education has absolutely nothing to do with the position I’m applying for”.
Don’t fall into that problem’s trap. Any gaps in your resume are always a red flag for any potential employer.
Even if there are no applicable courses in your education, it’s better to include your incomplete degree, rather than leave a gap in your resume.
Currently Pursuing Degree on a Resume
If you’re currently pursuing your degree, make sure you have included your latest entry at the top of the education section of your resume. Keep in mind that you can call yourself a student if you have taken a hiatus of less than a year.
In this case, you should include your degree program and school name. You should specify the expected graduation date if you’re continuing your education, or simply mention that your education is still ongoing.
If your grade point average is above 3.0, you might want to consider including it as well.
Don’t forget to include any education-related experience that you have. That includes clubs and projects, as well as honors and awards. Show how good you are!
Here’s a little example to get you going:
If you’re a semester away from your graduation, you may have the opportunity to finish your degree as a condition of being hired.
Just to be sure, we want to mention one fact again – if you have taken a hiatus of up to a year, you can still call yourself a student.
Don’t hesitate, but mention all the information we have listed above, including the name of the school you are attending, the date you started, and the degree you’re pursuing.
You can also include any relevant information, like memberships, research projects, or activities.
Not going to finish education
If you’re not going to finish your education, you need to find an option that puts your incomplete degree in the best possible light.
Not having a degree should not stop you from including that part of your education in your resume.
There are a few different approaches to that issue.
Keep it simple
Include your school name and its location, but that is the absolute minimum of information.
If you want, you can include the years attended, and your grade point average (above 3.5). You can include extracurricular activities, memberships, research projects, and anything else you consider relevant.
Include completed coursework
List some of your coursework, as long as it is related to the position you’re applying for.
Consider including anything the recruiter might see as relevant, such as extracurricular activities, memberships, research projects, etc.
Describe any course projects, related to the requirements of the position you’re applying for. This would be a good approach if you do not possess much or any related work experience.
If you play your cards right, you can use your incomplete degree as leverage and really showcase your gained skills.
You can include all the skills you’ve gained in the “Skill Set” portion of your resume. In this case, it might look like this:
- Skill Set
- HTML5 *****
- Visual C **
- A+ Certification *
- University of Texas (2018 – 2019)
- Austin, TX
- BS: Computer Science — Completed 24 Hours
- Passed A+ Certification Examination
- Completed Web Design Externship
Should You Ever Leave an Unfinished Degree Off Your Resume?
In certain situations, it might be better to leave your incomplete degree out of your resume.
If you’re an experienced professional, you don’t need to mention any attempts to pursue an unrelated degree.
Also, don’t include it if your performance was really poor, or you were dismissed for cause, that may be best left unsaid.
Takeaways: Listing Unfinished Degree on Resume
No matter if you have completed your degree, if you are currently working toward it, or have dropped out, don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dream job.
When listing your incomplete degree on your resume, remember to:
- Mention your degree program, school name, and expected graduation date, if your education is still ongoing.
- If you’re not going to finish your education, find a way to make your incomplete degree work in your favor and present yourself in the best light.
- If you are an experienced professional or were dismissed for a cause, you’d better leave your unfinished degree off your resume
Now you have everything you need to make the best out of your incomplete degree.
Make one that's truly you.