Relevant Coursework on a Resume: Good or Bad?

Jul 2, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

In today’s hiring landscape, your resume needs to quickly communicate all of your potential value to an employer. If you’ve recently graduated, your practical job experience may be thin–but your relevant coursework is probably lengthy. So should you include the classes you took on your resume? You can!

There are a few factors to consider before you list your last semester’s classes, however. You need to think about where you are in your career, what your job target is, and how relevant your education is to that job target. This article wil help you figure out if your coursework belongs on your resume, along with advice from our resume experts on what courses to highlight and how to list them.

Here are some things to consider before you include relevant coursework on a resume.

How much job experience do you have?

The first thing you need to know is that relevant coursework should only be on your resume when it’s both relevant and recent. Unlike your degree–which almost always belongs on your resume–your coursework is optional on a resume. In that case, you’re most likely to want to list some coursework if you’re a recent graduate and applying for an entry-level job.

If you’re a recent graduate, chances are that you have little to no relevant job experience. In that case, including relevant coursework on a resume will demonstrate your exposure to various topics.

While coursework is not the equivalent of actual hands-on experience, it can be enough to sway an employer who is impressed with the rest of your resume. Remember, the whole goal of a resume is to garner enough interest to net you an interview. These little details may be just what you need to get that consideration.

What’s your job target?

The next thing you need to think about is the type of job you want your resume to target. If your only experience with the job function or industry is through your education, it’s a good idea to list some of your classes. Again, you want to check that the classes are both relevant and recent.

Some positions have educational requirements where everyone has basically the same educational background. Others may have few educational requirements at all. If you have a BA or higher education and you’re applying for jobs that only require an AA or a high school diploma, your college coursework is probably not relevant.

Before you decide to include any coursework on a resume, you need to ask yourself whether it bolsters your qualifications for the job you want to land. In general, work experience, internships, and volunteer work are more compelling than education experience. If you have hands-on experience, you don’t need to include your education: it’s redundant.

How to include relevant coursework on a resume

If your experience is thin and you need to focus on relevant coursework, you want to do it correctly. Here are some tips from Zipjob’s team of career experts and former hiring managers about how to include your relevant coursework.

1. Be selective

You shouldn’t include your full transcript on your resume. Choose the classes that are more advanced or specialized. “Advanced Financial Accounting” is a better choice than “Accounting 101,” and there is no need to list both.

While there isn’t a hard and fast rule about how many classes you should list on your resume, between 3 and 8 is a good goal. If you include more than 4 classes, look at our advice about how to format your skills on a resume and apply it to a list of courses instead. Your resume is supposed to be one or two pages–and for entry-level candidates, one page is likely sufficient. Use commas, columns, or other visual dividers to keep your coursework organized.

2. Add other relevant educational experience

If you’re including relevant coursework on a resume, you might also include your high GPA. You can also include other details related to your schoolwork. For example:

3. Don’t forget about online courses

If you’ve taken any online classes, you can put those on your resume even if they weren’t part of your degree. We have a separate guide about how to include online courses on your resume.

4. Where should you include your coursework?

Carefully consider the placement of relevant coursework on a resume. For jobs that emphasize educational achievements, you may want to list your coursework and education near the top.

If the position relies on skill and experience, you can list the topics you studied in your skills section. Otherwise, you can include your coursework in your education section.

Example of listing relevant coursework on a resume:

There are a couple of acceptable ways to list your relevant coursework on a resume. Your choice should be based on need.

If you have some experience and just want to bolster your credentials, you can take a simple approach to this information. Recent graduates will want to spend more time on this section to emphasize its importance.

Relevant or related coursework is appropriate when listing your courses. Here are some examples:

Option One: When your resume already includes some relevant experience

If you have relevant experience to list on your resume, you can include your relevant coursework in that section. You don’t need to include a lot of details, though. Instead, you can address your coursework using a format like this:

Bachelor of Science, Marketing, Best College USA

Relevant Coursework: Advertising, Copywriting, Sales Management, E-Marketing, Brand Management

Option Two: For recent grads with no relevant experience

If your resume needs to emphasize education over experience, then you might want to use a different format altogether. The example below can serve as a template when you’re listing relevant coursework on a resume:

EDUCATION

Best College USA, AnyTown, AnyState

May 20XX

Bachelor of Science in Marketing

Cumulative GPA: 3.9

RELEVANT MARKETING COURSEWORK

Advertising Concepts & Practical Application, Best College Marketing Department

Fall 20XX-Spring 20XX

  • Explored advertising theory and history
  • Analyzed ad-market dynamics
  • Developed effective advertising campaigns for partner businesses in the area

Brand Management 101, Best College Marketing Department

Spring 20XX

  • Hands-on program working in collaboration with area merchants
  • Successfully rebranded two major employers in the area
  • Developed proposed brand-enhancing campaigns for six other employers

Summary

Relevant coursework on a resume can make a real difference!

Like many job seekers, you may not be thrilled at the prospect of listing your relevant coursework on a resume. Still, those details can sometimes be crucial for establishing yourself as a viable candidate for a job. When you’re short on work experience, your coursework is a great way to include keywords from the job posting. This reinforces the relevance of your included coursework details, and can also help your resume get past the ATS.

You just might find that your educational achievements are the one thing that pushes you past your rivals and gets you that all-important interview!

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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