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Published: May 8, 2011


A broad term usually referring to the totality of formal courses taught in a school or college. It can, however, have broader or narrower meanings. In a broader sense, it can refer to the total school or college program, including on- or off-campus COCURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, as well as academic offerings. In a narrower sense, curriculum can refer to the formal course offerings within a particular department or subject area, as in the mathematics curriculum or English curriculum.
Curricula at the elementary and secondary school levels are established by the individual states, which may or may not give local schooldistricts freedom to add courses or otherwise deviate from the state program. At the college level, faculty and administration (which includes state officials in the case of public institutions) generally collaborate in determining the curriculum. The administration (and the state, in the case of public institutions) generally determines the institution’s broad academic policies and, therefore, the basic academic requirements for graduation and core curriculum. Beyond that, faculty members generally propose and design courses, which the administration must then approve.