Should you put an unfinished degree on your resume?

For most cases, yes, you should include an unfinished degree on resume if the job profile you are targeting calls for it.

It’s only natural to worry about how the recruiters are going to perceive your unfinished degree on resume.

However, studies show that 40% of undergraduate college students do not complete their graduation. So it’s really about how you present it, rather than what you say.

Besides, depending on your situation, you might consider going back to school to complete your degree in the near future or you might have had serious reasons for not being able to complete college.

Whatever may be the reason, the key is to present your unfinished degree on resume in a positive light.

Read on to see an unfinished degree on resume examples and get clarity on the following FAQs:

When Should I List College on My Resume if I Didn't Graduate?

Here are some scenarios wherein you must list your unfinished degree on resume:

  • If you are still in college and your degree is in progress
  • If you are taking a break from college and plan to complete your education soon
  • If the degree aligns with the job profile you are targeting

And even if your situation doesn’t match the said scenarios, it’s advisable to be upfront about your unfinished degree in your resume because it shows relevant coursework, knowledge, and skills you have acquired.

Besides, you wouldn’t want the recruiters to find out about it after they hire you, as it’ll make your integrity seem questionable.

Also read: How to write an impressive student resume?

When Should You Skip Including Unfinished College Education on Resume?

Yes, there are also certain cases where your unfinished degree can stay off your resume.

For instance, if you’re a professional with rich work experience, you don’t need to mention a degree you didn’t complete many years ago.

Also, if the degree isn’t related to your targeted job and eliminating your incomplete degree from your resume doesn’t create a significant gap in your career trajectory, you can very well do so.

How to Put Unfinished Degree on Resume?

Depending on your situation, there are different ways to address an unfinished degree on resume.

Take a look at the following scenarios and understand how you can put an unfinished degree on resume accordingly:

How to List Education in Progress on Resume

When you are currently pursuing a degree, you must mention your in-progress degree at the beginning of the education section in your resume.

Write the name of the degree, alongside the date of commencement and followed by the name of the university/college, location, and the expected graduation date.

You can follow the same approach while writing a resume with master's degree in progress.

Here’s an unfinished degree on resume example (when the degree is in progress):

Bachelor in Business Administration (2020 - Present)
George State University
Atlanta, GA
Expected graduation: September 2024

You can also directly state that you're currently pursuing the degree in the following manner:

Master's in Business Administration (Currently pursuing)
George State University
Atlanta, GA

Provided you have an impressive GPA (3.5 or higher), notable academic achievements, and scholarships, you can mention these information as well.

This is especially important if you are a fresher with no work experience.

Here’s how you can add additional information under your in-progress degree:

Bachelor in Business Administration (2020 - Present)
George State University
Atlanta, GA
Expected graduation: September, 2024
GPA: 3.6/4.0, Class President

Awarded the Pristine Scholarship for academic excellence in 2021

Also read: How to list education on resume

Unfinished Degree on Resume Example (Taking a Break from College)

In case you are taking a break from college but have plans to complete your degree, you can mention the same in your resume in the following way:

Bachelor’s in Mass Communication
City College
New York, NY
Planned graduation date: May 2025

You can further explain your case to the recruiters and state your reasons for taking a break from college in a cover letter.

Also read: How to list certification on resume?

Unfinished Degree on Resume Example (Gap in Employment Due to College)

If you have a gap in your work experience due to college, it’s important to show the employer that you are back in school to complete your degree.

Take a look at how you can present the same on your resume:

Bachelor’s in Mass Communication (2019 - Present)
City College
New York, NY
Currently re-enrolled
Completed 40 credit coursework in 2019-21 and took an academic leave.

unfinished degree on resume

Source: Facebook

Unfinished Degree on Resume Example (With no Intention of Completing the Degree)

Now, candidates who haven’t completed their degree and have no intention of completing it in the future can still include their unfinished degree on resume if it is relevant to the targeted job.

Instead of directly writing “incomplete” alongside the name of the degree, you can focus on the coursework you’ve completed and the number of credits you’ve earned.

Also, include any course projects that are related to the requirements of the position you’re applying for to support your case.

You can leverage the knowledge and skills you’ve learned while pursuing the degree, even if it is incomplete. All you need to do is know how to present it.

Given below are some examples of unfinished degrees on resume:

Greenfield University
San Francisco, CA
GPA: 3.5/4.0
Completed 50 credits towards a BA in English

Greenfield University (2020-2022)
San Francisco, CA
GPA: 3.5/4.0
Completed coursework: Media Writing Skills, Basics of Technical Writing, History of American English

Greenfield University
San Francisco, CA
GPA: 3.5/4.0
Completed 50 credits towards a BA in English
Project: Wrote a research paper on the History of American Literature

Follow any of these approaches to list your unfinished bachelor’s or incomplete master's degree on resume to leverage it in your favor.

Also read: How to list projects on resume?

How to List a College Degree on Resume?

If you've completed your degree and are wondering how to showcase your college education on resume, simply follow the following format:

  • The name of your degree
  • Your major/minor
  • The name of the institution/university
  • Location of your institution (city and state)
  • Commencement and completion date

Take a look at the following sample of the education section in a resume:

degree on resume example

Given below are some of the dos and don'ts you must follow while listing education, including unfinished degrees on resume:

  • Ensure that you put your highest degree at the top, followed by your older degrees. (This is the reverse-chronological format)

  • If you are a working professional with ample work experience, consider eliminating details about your high school while listing education on resume.

  • If you choose to use an abbreviation while listing your degree, like "MSc." instead of "Master's of Science", ensure follow the same approach while listing other degrees as well, to maintain uniformity. The same rule applies when you are writing the location as well.

  • You can rearrange the information according to its relevance while listing your education. Meaning, if your degree is not related to the job profile you're applying for, you can put the university name before your degree.

Also read: How to write a resume with no experience?

Concluding Points

  • You can include your unfinished degree on resume if the degree is relevant to the job profile you are applying for.
  • You must focus on the completed coursework and credit rather than writing “incomplete” alongside the name of your degree.
  • It’s advisable to include your unfinished degree in your resume because it shows relevant coursework, knowledge, and skills that may be crucial for the targeted job profile.
  • Mention the expected graduation date or planned graduation date if you are currently pursuing the degree or are planning to complete the degree soon.
  • You can skip including an unfinished degree on resume if you have substantial work experience or if the degree is not relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Consider mentioning your GPA (if it’s higher than 3.5) and including any notable academic achievements and scholarships that you have received.

If you need expert guidance on presenting an unfinished degree on your resume, reach out to us at support@hiration.com and visit our career platform that offers 24x7 chat support.