I walked during my graduation 2 years ago but still had one English elective to take before technically completing my degree. Right after “graduation” I landed a job in my field and have worked there for two years now and never finished that one English class. Months into my job, it turned out that I had a past due payment to the school which I’m now paying off every month. I can’t even enroll to finish the course until I’ve paid off the full amount and that’s impossible to do in my current financial situation. This balance won’t get paid off until 2020!

I’m currently on the hunt for a new job and I have no idea how to tell potential employers about the unfinished degree... it’s unfortunate because I completed all my courses for my double major and have over 3 years of relevant work experience but I don’t have a bachelor degree because of one English elective.

I’m in the beginning stages of the interview process for a great company and I’m not sure how to disclose this information within seeming like a fraud. It completely slipped my mind to let them know in the very beginning and now I think it’s too late. Should I just keep quiet for this one and hope for the best?

And going forward, how do I address this situation when sending in my resume?

  • You should check with your school about the timeline for taking that final course. Sometimes credits 'expire' if the degree is not completed during a certain time frame. If your early credits expire, you may end up in a worse situation than you are now. Another option is to see if you can take the elective at another school (community college, for example) and transfer the credit back to complete the requirements. Jun 12, 2019 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


You walked but don't have an actual degree? Strange that they let you walk. Did they give you a certificate saying you graduated?

If it were me, I'd list the education line for that as "20xx-Present", and I would not say I had a degree. In the interview if it comes up, just explain that you are one credit short in an English class, but you've completed your degree-specific classes.

If you claim the degree and they check on it, you will likely face backlash.

  • 1
    Plus, OP has 2 years of experience. In many places this will be valuable
    – clifton_h
    Jun 12, 2019 at 13:21
  • 1
    This is pretty common, actually. I walked in the spring graduation ceremony and had 2 summer classes to complete before getting my diploma. There wasn't a summer graduation ceremony so I would've had to wait until the following December. My girlfriend did the same and still hasn't completed her degree years later.
    – Steve-o169
    Jun 12, 2019 at 14:31

The safe and right answer is probably to do as Keith has mentioned. You're in a field where you may not have too hard of a time finding work without the completed degree. The other option is to lie. It's unlikely you'll be found out and I can see the arguments for why this is not an egregious untruth. You may get a better offer and/or more interest from employers. Ultimately, you have to decide how dark the gray area is you are willing to live with.

I was finishing my degree when I started working at one company. My final semester, I only had one, non-major course to complete. Then one weekend they gave me a 30% raise for walking a few hundred feet--to get handed a diploma. Right or wrong, spot on or overwrought, that completion means a lot to some employers.

If you disclose the actual situation, some reviewers of your resume may view you as still an unfocused college student. Others will focus on your experience. Regardless of reason, you may get paid less for not having the degree.

If you fudge that last class, you'll look better on paper. Then you could discuss during the interview. But perception of that will depend on each interviewer. Or you could never mention it. But that comes with its own stress of YOU still knowing and eventually maybe having to explain why you have some other commitment when you do take that class.

  • The author risks their resume being thrown in the trash when anyone attempts to verify if they actually received that degree, it really isn't worth the risk. The world is sometimes small, if the wrong person discovers your lie, word can spread.
    – Donald
    Jun 12, 2019 at 17:36
  • @Ramhound That is somewhat my overall point--that there's a risk with each action. IME very few companies try to validate. My GUESS is OP's resume is more likely to get tossed for an incomplete degree than the company validating, but on the reverse, the repercussions--as you mention--may be worse. Then again, most likely, only that company's records would stay semi-permanent. Will the manager involved even remember what name was on that resume three years from now?
    – SemiGeek
    Jun 12, 2019 at 17:44

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