Relevant Coursework on a Resume: Good or Bad?
If you've recently graduated, your practical job experience may be thin--but your relevant coursework is probably lengthy. So should you list relevant coursework 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 will help you figure out if adding relevant coursework belongs on your resume, along with advice from our resume experts on what courses and academic achievements 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 to list on resume. 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 professional experience, it can be enough to sway an employer who is impressed with the rest of your student 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.
When you have little work experience, including relevant coursework on a resume can be the best way to help you land that interview and get hired for a great job!
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 professional 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 relevant 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 create a relevant coursework resume.
1. Be selective
You shouldn't include your full transcript on your resume. Choose the most relevant courses 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, you might also include your high GPA on your resume.
You can also include other details related to your schoolwork. For example:
Academic awards like making the dean's list
3. Don't forget about online courses
If you've taken any online classes, you can put those relevant courses 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 of the resume.
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 coursework-focused 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:
Best College USA, AnyTown, AnyState
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
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
Putting 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, adding coursework 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 applicant tracking systems (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!
Robert Campbell, Editor & Content Writer
Robert Campbell is a writer and editor based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Having been immersed in the resume / CV writing world for almost a decade, he currently coaches new and experienced writers in the nuance of crafting employment documents for a global clientele. With a diverse professional background in marketing, teaching, and the hospitality industry, Robert currently enjoys working for ZipJob, serving clients who need help navigating their next career move.
Send us your resume now
Our experts will evaluate your resume’s design, grammar, keywords, and ability to pass recruiting software.