I am creating my profile in Stack Overflow careers, and I am in doubt if I should mention an incomplete degree on my CV.

I gave up of this degree in my first year and I moved to another (unrelated) one.

Should I mention this experience, and how to do that in a clear way?

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    @zVictor - One doesn't normally list an incomplete degree unless they have plans to go back and actually finish it. Listing an incomplete degree is a waste of valuable resume space. You want to only list the most important facts, skills, and work history. – Donald Feb 6 '13 at 15:12
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    @Ramhound Very true. I had a similar situation as OP. I did this once and once I clarified for the interviewer he took a pen and drew a giant X over that section of my resume! – Conor Dec 17 '14 at 15:05

The resumes I've seen from students who have not yet earned a degree tend to run as follows:

University of Somewhere, Computer Science Department, B.S. expected (year):
Coursework includes: (course names go here)

In your case you could add to this:

Additional coursework in Public Administration

People reviewing your resume don't generally care that you spent a year in one department and then changed majors; that's not uncommon. They also don't generally care if you "wasted" a year; they just care what you can do for them now. If that year of education is useful in the context of the jobs you're applying for, include it as just more courses. There's no need to call that out. If it's not, don't.

How do you know if it's useful? For internships (what I assume you're going for) and entry-level positions, you're looking for anything that separates you from the pack, so having another dimension to your background is likely to be helpful in distinguishing you from all your classmates in the same department who took the same courses you did. As soon as you get the degree or have other jobs or internships to list, this first year is likely to drop off.


There is no reason for you to mention a perceived negative on your CV.

Please notice, I call it perceived. It may not be but in most cases will be a strike against you when held relative to other CV's.

Now, if you can absolutely turn it into a stronger positive than graduating, for example, I had to quit becuase I found the solution to one of the worlds most difficult algorithm problems...then that could work.

In most cases, I would create a section on your CV called "relevant skills". Here you can add whatever skills from those classes - as general skills.

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    As you point out perception is everything. You don't want to list ANY reason not to be selected. You avoid that by only listing the most important relevant skills you have, the most relevant work history, and of course anything else that might seperate you from the pack. Companies should not care you spent a year in Europe after you graduated, that also could be a perceived negative depending on the history of the indivdual reviewing your resume. – Donald Feb 6 '13 at 15:14

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