In the U.S., “CV” is used by academics and some professionals for documents that include not only their work history and qualifications, but things like publications, conference presentations, etc. In the rest of the world, “CV” refers to what we call a résumé.



“Curriculum vitae” (“CV”) has one meaning in the U.S., and another internationally.

1) In the U.S., “curriculum vitae” is the term for what an academic (or any professional who does research, writing, and/or teaching) uses instead of a résumé. For short, it’s often called a “CV,” a “vitae,” or, less correctly, a “vita.” (Nurses, in the U.S., also refer to their résumés as CVs—more on nursing CVs below.) In addition to the material commonly found in a résumé, a CV lists such credentials as: dissertations, publications and conference papers, residencies, lectureships, fellowships, grants, special research activities, organizational responsibilities, etc. With all of this material, the CVs of experienced people can run to six or eight pages, or even longer. (I’ve read that astronomer Carl Sagan’s CV approached 250 pages by the end of his life.) Some job-seekers in these fields may need both a CV and a résumé, depending on what type of jobs they are applying for.

The term “academic CV” (or “professional CV,” or “academic curriculum vitae,” etc.) might be used to make it clear that you’re using the term in the U.S. sense. But that’s taken for granted within the academic and professional worlds in the U.S., and “curriculum vitae” or “CV” is commonly used alone.

At Crystal Résumés, I write and format academic, professional, and scientific CVs as well as résumés. CVs are listed and priced separately on the Services page. I have professional editorial experience in scholarly and technical publishing and in academia, so I understand the special editorial requirements of CVs. They will be thoroughly professional in language and presentation, and will follow the bibliographic and other styles appropriate for your discipline.

Nursing CVs have a special structure, quite unlike that of regular résumés. Like all CVs, they emphasize professional qualifications and formal training to a greater extent than do résumés. In nursing, sometimes they’re referred to as “résumés,” sometimes they’re called “CVs.” You’ll see healthcare employers and nurses (and résumé or career specialists) using either term for a standard clinical nursing résumé. This confuses people, but in nursing, both terms usually refer to the same thing. HOWEVER, nurses with a lot of research, publications, and presentations will distinguish between a résumé and a CV, and may use both—the CV, with full detail on publications, etc., for administrative and research jobs, and the résumé for clinical caregiving jobs.

Nursing CVs have one thing in common with regular résumés: unless they list an unusual amount of research or special background, they are usually two to three pages long—shorter than other CVs (which commonly have long lists of publications, etc.). This is about the length of a normal résumé for an experienced person in a demanding field.

2) Internationally, “curriculum vitae” or “CV” covers what the U.S. calls both “résumés” and “CVs.” Some countries use other terms: Germany says “Lebenslauf,” in Australia it’s called a “résumé.” But in International English, British English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, “curriculum vitae” (borrowed from Latin) is the common term. (Spanish and Portuguese also use “currículo.”) The phrase “international CV” is sometimes used in the U.S., to make it clear that you’re talking about the international kind, not about an American academic or professional CV.

An international CV is a different thing from a U.S. résumé. It is likely to contain more information than is found on a U.S. résumé—including personal information that you can never put on a résumé in the U.S. Different countries may have somewhat different expectations for what information goes into a résumé, and how it should be written. Normally, however, international job-seekers are applying in multiple countries, and an international CV is written to cover all possible non-U.S. requirements. I provide international CVs in A4 format, the standard document size outside the U.S. and Canada. For practical information on A4 format, see the A4 article.

Grammar, pronunciation, and usage of the terms “CV” and “curriculum vitae”

It’s normal—and absolutely proper—to avoid grammatical and pronunciation issues with this term by using the abbreviation CV (pronounced, in English, see-vee, plural CVs), or the term “vitae” (pronounced VIE-tee). Preferred practice may vary, depending on the professional field, or even the region.

But you should know that, if you’re speaking English, “curriculum vitae” is pronounced ka-RIK-ya-lum VIE-tee (second word rhymes with “mighty”). The plural isn’t needed that often, and most people who find they need it probably just say “CVs” or “vitaes” (VIE-teez). That, in fact, is the best way of handling the issue in most fields. It’s also proper, but not common, to use “curricula vitae,” which is the Latin plural of “curriculum vitae.” “Curricula vitae” may be preferred in some fields in which Latin terms are more fully preserved.

But if you start out saying “curriculum vitae,” realize halfway through that you need to make it plural, and tack an ‘s’ on the end, you’ll probably be okay.

Other languages that use the term have their own ways of pronouncing it, and of forming the plural.

Notes for Latinists:

The Latin plural of “curriculum vitae” is not “curricula vitarum.” “Curricula vitarum” implies that each document deals with more than one life.

Don’t try going back to the Classical Latin pronunciation—unless, of course, you are speaking Classical Latin (which is occasionally heard here at Crystal Résumés). But for the record, the Classical Latin pronunciation is kuh-RIK-oo-lum WEE-tie (second word rhymes with “sweet eye”). It’s Latin for “the course of (someone’s) life”—which is the original meaning of the word “career.”

If you’re applying for a job at the Vatican, you’ll usually find a different pronunciation of Latin in use there, and will probably be communicating in Italian or International English, not in Latin. Not, that is, unless you’re applying to the Latin Letters Office of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. I hear they’re understaffed.