Incomplete Education

There are a lot of talented job seekers that have not completed a Bachelor’s Degree.  Many have started and are working towards their degree, but aren’t finished.  How you present this on your resume can make a big difference in how you are perceived.

If you are working full time and trying to complete a degree – you can’t finish quickly.  A bachelor’s degree could take six to eight years going to school part time.  During this time, your effort and progress can help you job search.

List your progress towards the degree.  You will have to provide a little more detail than normal, but it’s worth it.  In addition to the school, degree and major you are pursuing, list the number of courses you have completed (or credit hours) and the number you need to complete your degree.  You can also list specific courses you’ve finished, if they relate directly to your field.

If you have a schedule for when you expect to finish your degree, you can list that date as a projected graduation date.

All of this can help the impression you make.  The discipline, commitment and motivation that are required to pursue and complete a degree while working full time are impressive and will make a very positive impression on many hiring managers. 

Some companies that require a Bachelor’s degree may consider a candidate as meeting this requirement if they are close to completing the degree – say 12 to 18 months or less to finish. 

Let’s look at how a job seeker presented their education on a resume I read today:


BA-in-progress. University of <school name>, City, ST
Major: Law and Society (pre-Law), #.## GPA, ## units completed.

This is a pretty good presentation.  It gives the degree and major, the school, location, GPA and progress completed.  The one thing that’s missing is some indication of how close this individual is to finishing.  The units completed helps, but I don’t know what this school considers a unit – it could be the same as credit hours or the number of classes completed.  I also don’t know what the requirements to graduate are – they’re probably in the neighborhood of 36 classes, but there’s no way to know from this.  A little more detail in this area would really help.

One more thing to consider, if you are working towards your degree and highlight that your graduation is forthcoming, an employer may expect you to finish.  This is especially the case if the employer requires a degree and hires you without one.  If you decide not to pursue your degree after getting hired, this could impact your position in the company.  I’ve even heard of companies making the completion of the degree a condition of continued employment.