What “Education Level” Actually Means

The term “education level” often comes up in application forms.

My recommendation is to include the highest academic level you’ve completed in your resume.

Here is a list of the different academic levels:

RankEducation levelDuration
1Elementary School6 to 7 years
2Secondary (High) School4 years
3.1Vocational College
Technical College
1 to 3 years
3.2Bachelor4 years
4Master’s
Postgrad
2+ years
5Doctorate3+ years
6PostdocIndefinite

Education level: How to fill in your application forms

When you’re filling out an application for admission to further studies, “education level” has a pretty straightforward meaning. However, if you’re filling out a job application, it’s not enough to simply state your educational history.

Here’s what I recommend!

For job applications

When looking at your education level, here’s what hiring managers usually look for:

  • Your qualifications: mention if you have a high school diploma, a certificate, a degree, etc. (see the table above).
  • Subjects completed: What courses did you follow? Are you familiar with the basic concepts important to the job?
  • Grades: What topics engage you or interest you most? What areas of study are your strengths? In what areas do you need additional training? Are you mentally suited for the job you are applying for?

For school admissions

In most cases, a college or university admissions officer needs to know the following: 

  • Your degree: mention if you have a high school diploma or equivalent, a Bachelor, a Master, or a Doctorate.
  • Your transcript: it contains your grades and all the subject you’ve completed.

They also want to know if you need special resources, accommodations, or support.

To stand out on your application, provide information that shows your ability to engage in academic research, extracurricular activities, teamwork, and group leadership. 

If your education is not complete

If you did not complete your last education level, don’t despair. There are ways to turn that information to your advantage. Remember, hiring managers are not looking for geniuses or bookworms!

If you’re asked, here’s what you can do:

  • Say what you completed: “completed two years of junior college” or “completed one year of formal vocational training in automotive repair” or “completed one year of doctoral studies in communication” and so on.
  • State what you did: Be ready to answer questions about why you didn’t complete your studies. However, don’t state the reasons why. Instead, provide goals and accomplishments. For instance:

In other words, you want to use professional language and expressions that inform your prospective employer about your skills, abilities, and accomplishments in measurable terms.

Summary

Your education level is interpreted differently according to the application that you are filling out.

  • Applications for further studies: When filling out an application for a scholarship or a course, you need to show where and what subjects you’ve completed, and if you need special resources or accommodations.
  • Job applications: When filling out information about education level on job application forms, be ready to provide proactive answers when explaining your education history, including interrupted studies. To stand out from other job applicants, focus on knowledge, skills, and attitudes relevant to the job. 

Remember, your education level speaks in different ways to different people. For best results, fill out that application form the best way you can. 

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