A course of study may also be called a curriculum. 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.
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.
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.
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, including the type of school and the location of the educational facility. 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.
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.