The development of an accurate and noninvasive preselection process for competent oocytes is essential to achieve a highly efficient in vitro production (IVP) of embryos. Cumulus cells (CCs) have important functions in oocyte growth, development, maturation, and fertilization. It, therefore, is important to know if the quality of oocytes can be ascertained by assessment of gene expression of the surrounding CCs or not. The aim of this study was to identify differentially expressed genes in yak CCs from oocytes with varying developmental competences as possible biomarkers for distinguishing oocyte competence. The isolated CCs were pooled into immature and mature groups in accordance with the maturation outcome of oocytes. A total of 9516 genes were differentially expressed in the two CC categories (P < 0.05). With a minimum change of 2.5-fold, 45 up-regulated and 79 down-regulated genes were observed in CCs belonging to the mature group compared with those in the immature group (P < 0.01). These genes were primarily enriched for the cell cycle, meiosis, cell signaling, metabolism, and apoptosis. The selected candidate genes (CCND1, BMP15, GDF9, H19, KLF4, GPC1, SYCP3, and CTSB) were validated using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and there were expression patterns similar to those detected with transcriptome analysis. The CCs from fertilized oocytes arrested at the 2-cell (2-cell group), or 8-cell (8-cell group) stages or that developed into blastocysts (the blastocyst group) had a 1.5-, 1.8-, and 2.3-fold increase, respectively, in mRNA relative abundance of CCND1 compared with CCs from unfertilized oocytes (P < 0.05). The results with the RT-qPCR analysis confirmed that the relative abundance of CCND1 mRNA in CCs was associated with oocyte developmental competence. In conclusion, RNA-Seq is useful in extracting transcriptomes and selecting markers associated with oocyte developmental competence. Furthermore, the expression of the CCND1 gene in yak CCs can be used to preselect oocytes for IVP efficiency.