What Is a Course of Study?

Erik Neilson
Erik Neilson

A course of study refers to a series of courses which students are required to complete prior to earning a diploma or otherwise moving on to the next stage in their education journey.

Teachers must base their lesson plans on a curriculum that adheres to government requirements.
Teachers must base their lesson plans on a curriculum that adheres to government requirements.

As a term, “course of study” is often confused with singular courses. The term actually describes a collection of educational requirements and materials designed to take the student to the finish line. This may include classes, lectures, home study and a variety of other methods of learning.

The term course of study generally refers to a list of educational requirements. There are several things that can result upon completion of those requirements. Some people earn certificates. Others may earn degrees or diplomas. Doing so may allow individuals to pursue goals, such as beginning on a particular career path or advancing to higher levels of education.

What is Another Word for Course of Study?

A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.
A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.

There are a variety of different terms that are commonly used to describe the same general concept as course of study. These include curriculum, program, “crash course,” syllabus, core curriculum and more. At the end of the day, any term describing a collection of educational requirements necessary for meeting an end goal is essentially synonymous with course of study.

A course of study, or curriculum, outlines the coursework needed to meet an educational goal.
A course of study, or curriculum, outlines the coursework needed to meet an educational goal.

These terms refer to structured academic programs that can result in achievements such as certificates or degrees. There are usually numerous classes that must be taken to complete a curriculum. While some of these are specifically outlined, a person may have the liberty to choose others, which are known as electives. Although two courses of study may have the same name and the same result, the requirements may be different.

Did You Know?

  • Sticking to a regimented course of study can help keep you on-task with your schoolwork.
  • All traditional schools and educational institutions utilize the principles of course of study.
  • You can always choose your course of study if it isn’t working out for you.

What is a College or Adult Education Course of Study?

In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.

There are some instances when a person may have the opportunity to choose her curriculum. This is usually the case during secondary education. A person can choose, for example, whether she wants to pursue a degree in business management or one in social work. In the pre-secondary years, however, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.

Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.
Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.

When a person chooses a course of study at a college or university, it is common for there to be certain classes that must be taken. In many cases, however, an individual is also allowed to choose electives, or courses of their choice. Sometimes students are allowed to choose any electives that they wish, whether or not they are related to the required classes. In other instances, a person is allowed to choose electives but is restricted to making the choice from certain categories, such as health or history.

How Do You Choose a Course of Study?

In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.

Choosing a course of study can be a confusing process. One course of study may have the same name as another, yet the two may be different. For example, a student of paralegal studies in Virginia may have a different curriculum from a student studying paralegal studies in North Carolina.

A number of things can cause a curriculum to differ from others that seem similar. In many places, a curriculum must meet certain government requirements. If this does not happen, a person may complete his studies only to discover that he is still not qualified to pursue the goals that he was working toward.

Here are a few tips to help you choose a course of study:

  1. Weigh your options. Don’t just go with the first course of study that pops out at you—consider all of your options before making a decision.
  2. Trust your gut. If you feel strongly about going with one course of study vs. another but are still questioning the decision, it’s usually best to trust your initial reaction.
  3. Ask for advice. Asking others about their experience with choosing a course of study is a great way to get an outside perspective into your own educational journey.

Choosing the right course of study can be challenging, but with a solid and focused mindset, you can make the decision that best speaks to you and who you are.

Erik Neilson
Erik Neilson

Erik Neilson is a professional writer and editor based in Portland, ME. With 12 years of experience and a broad, diverse background, Erik provides written content of the highest quality to agencies, organizations and print/digital media outlets.

Neilson's work spans a wide range of spaces and disciplines, from copywriting in the tech, government, healthcare and energy efficiency sectors to journalism and editorial calendar development for a popular culinary arts magazine.

In his spare time, Erik enjoys cooking for friends and family, sharpening his woodworking skills and performing his original music in a live setting.

Erik Neilson
Erik Neilson

Erik Neilson is a professional writer and editor based in Portland, ME. With 12 years of experience and a broad, diverse background, Erik provides written content of the highest quality to agencies, organizations and print/digital media outlets.

Neilson's work spans a wide range of spaces and disciplines, from copywriting in the tech, government, healthcare and energy efficiency sectors to journalism and editorial calendar development for a popular culinary arts magazine.

In his spare time, Erik enjoys cooking for friends and family, sharpening his woodworking skills and performing his original music in a live setting.

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Discussion Comments

Vaclav

I wonder what would be considered a standard course of study in today's world? I know English would be, but what about Keyboarding? i would think Keyboarding would be a necessity in today's world of computing.

Sara84

I have been taking online courses. I find e-learning to be fun and it suits me perfectly. I am kind of a loner, and do well studying on my own. I also like how I can have complete control over how I study for my courses. No study halls or classrooms to do study sheets and assignments in. I also like the total silence of my home while I take tests. I wish I could have taken online courses in grade school and high school.

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    • Teachers must base their lesson plans on a curriculum that adheres to government requirements.
      Teachers must base their lesson plans on a curriculum that adheres to government requirements.
    • A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.
      A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.
    • A course of study, or curriculum, outlines the coursework needed to meet an educational goal.
      A course of study, or curriculum, outlines the coursework needed to meet an educational goal.
    • In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
      In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
    • Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.
      Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.
    • In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
      By: paylessimages
      In the pre-secondary years, it is common for curriculums to be more structured and nearly identical for all students in the same year of study.
    • Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Completing a course of study may result in earning a degree, diploma or certification.
    • A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      A course of study at a college or university will involve mandatory classes.