My education history is complicated:

  • I received my bachelor degree B and first master degree M1 outside US.
  • Then I came to study for a PhD (P1) in US. But later I switched to another field for PhD study (P2), and at the same time got two master degrees M2 and M3: one for the original field and the other for the new field.
  • Unfortunately I didn't finish the P2 PhD study, which has been a pain. What was even more painful was that I couldn't leave P2 with a degree, because I had got its master degree M3 when I switched PhD field. To an international student (F1 visa holder), it meant that I couldn't apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and therefore had virtually no chance to work in US.
  • Then in order to get OPT, I had to study for another master degree and obtain it. Let's call it M4.

For job hunting in US, I am worried that

  • my education history may cause confusion to recruiters, and
  • some field of previous study may be little relevant to the jobs that I apply to.

So I would like to know the general acceptance of not mentioning some timings and education history in resume. Specifically,

  1. For an education outside US (for me, it is my bachelor B and first master education M1),

    is my study period necessary to mention?

    If I have to mention an degree received outside US, is the time of receiving it necessary to mention?

  2. for each degree received,

    Are the start and end times (month/year) of my study for the degree necessary to mention?

  3. For a degrees not related to job hunting,

    can I not mention it?

  4. For a degree education that didn't ended with a degree (my PhD educations)

    can I not mention it?

  5. For each research experience in each education period,

    are its start and end times (month/year) necessary to mention?


  • 2
    You can omit any qualifications you like from your CV. A CV is an advertisement, just select the parts from your experience and qualifications that are relevant to the role you are applying for. Just make sure what you do say is legitimate.
    – Jane S
    Oct 7, 2015 at 9:16

2 Answers 2


For job hunting in US, I am worried that my education history may cause confusion to recruiters, and some field of previous study may be little relevant to the jobs that I apply to.

Your education history comes across as confusing here, so I agree that it could be confusing to recruiters.

You are free to include or exclude any part of your education history that you choose. Many folks do that when constructing their CV/resume.

You can omit items for clarity purposes, and omit items that are not relevant to jobs you are seeking. In your case, I would probably do both. Unless there is some particular value to your lines of study that didn't end in a degree, I would omit those (as including them would mean you might have to explain why you didn't see them through to completion).

Just make sure that these omissions don't leave your resume with awkward gaps in time that you would need to explain. To that end, you don't need to include the dates of study in your resume, although that may be asked during an interview.

  • Thanks, Joe! (1) About the date of each degree, I guess that either I will omit the dates of all degrees, or don't omit any. Is it bad to have dates for some degree and not for some others? (2) Is it unusual to omit bachelor degree (which I got before coming to US), or mention bachelor degree without its date? The year I received it suggests many years between then and now. (3) See my comment to Hilmar's reply for the timeline of my educations. How bad is it if I omit M1 and M2, and maybe B or its year?
    – Alex
    Oct 7, 2015 at 14:20

That depends. You did not mention how long all of this took. A few suggestions:

  1. Your resume should cover all time spent since your B.S. degree without gaps
  2. List all completed degrees. You have them and they show that you can finish what you started. It would also be awkward if you omit one and it comes up later
  3. Do not list the unfinished PhD work unless the work is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
  4. If any of the academic work resulted in peer reviewed papers, patents or other tangible results, list them as well.

If you did your 4 masters in three years, than you should be golden. It if took you 15 years with large gaps in between, then there is some careful explaining to do.

  • Thanks. Let me address your first two points. 1. B in 2002, M1 2005, P1->P2 and M2 and M3 2010, P2 unfinished 2013, M4 2005. I started each degree study after the summer vacation following receiving the previous degree or leaving previous study. 2. what I want to omit is M1 because it was before I came to US, and also M2 because it is less relevant to my job application. I wonder if I can omit B, because it was done outside US as well. Or can I omit the year of B, because that showed I have spent many years in school. Is it unusual to omit bachelor degree? What would you think?
    – Alex
    Oct 7, 2015 at 14:12
  • I still would list all completed degrees, could be just one line each including the non US ones. You want to show a complete history regardless of countries. You have scored 4 masters in 8 years, that's not bad. You have another 3 years of an incomplete PhD which is bad but you should still list it. You need to show something from 2010 to 2013. What did you do since 2013 ?
    – Hilmar
    Oct 8, 2015 at 19:14

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