cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ kə-​ˈri-​kyə-​lə How to pronounce curricula (audio) \ also curriculums

Definition of curriculum

1 : the courses offered by an educational institution the high school curriculum
2 : a set of courses constituting an area of specialization the engineering curriculum the biological sciences curriculum the liberal arts curriculum

Keep scrolling for more

The Different Plural Forms of Curriculum

Curriculum is from New Latin (a post-medieval form of Latin used mainly in churches and schools and for scientific coinages), in which language it means “a course of study.” It shares its ultimate root in classical Latin, where it meant “running” or “course” (as in “race course”), with words such as corridor, courier, and currency, all of which come from Latin currere “to run.”

As is the case with many nouns borrowed directly from Latin, there is often some confusion as to the proper way to form its plural. Both curricula and curriculums are considered correct.

This word is frequently seen in conjunction with vitae; a curriculum vitae (Latin for “course of (one’s) life”) is “a short account of one's career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position” – in other words, a résumé. Curriculum vitae is abbreviated CV, and is pluralized as curricula vitae.

Examples of curriculum in a Sentence

The college has a liberal arts curriculum.

Recent Examples on the Web

But so far that kind of curriculum has been restricted to a class or two in high school. Esther Perel, Glamour, "One Crazy Idea to Empower Women? Focus on Men," 12 Dec. 2018 Academic experts then reviewed biology, history, government and literature textbooks from the Abeka Christian curriculum, the one most commonly advertised by voucher schools. Ann Doss Helms, charlotteobserver, "Good test scores but too much Bible: Two views from research on NC school vouchers," 4 June 2018 Stanford incorporated the lectures into the curriculum this school year, and Ball is working with faculty members to add more for next year. Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "As opioid crisis grows, medical schools bolster addiction training," 2 June 2018 Service to others is promoted at the Mount through mission trips, volunteer experiences, and service-learning opportunities incorporated into the curriculum. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Mount St. Joseph University: Education on a Mission," 7 May 2018 Another team of students is working with faculty to map the archives and figure out ways to incorporate Dartmouth's history into the college's curriculum. Stephanie Morales, Fox News, "Dartmouth embraces historical accountability in new project," 5 May 2018 In a further bid to democratize the event, Antigua established a national sailing academy in 2010 and introduced sailing into schools' national curriculum. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Antigua Sailing Week: Serious sailing, serious fun," 27 Apr. 2018 In 2015, the Education Ministry banned an award-winning novel about an Arab-Jewish romance from the national high school curriculum, after Gopstein launched a campaign against it. Yardena Schwartz, Newsweek, "Israel’s Alt-Right Is Now Mainstream—Are Lawmakers Doing Enough to Stop It?," 7 Mar. 2018 For example, works donated to university museums are more likely to be put on display, examined regularly by students, faculty and scholars, and incorporated into the school’s academic curriculum. Daniel Grant, WSJ, "Art Donors Increasingly Look to University Museums," 10 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curriculum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of curriculum

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curriculum

borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin, "action of running, course of action, race," from currere "to run" + -i- -i- + -culum, suffix of instrument and place (going back to Indo-European *-tlom) — more at current entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about curriculum

Statistics for curriculum

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for curriculum

The first known use of curriculum was in 1824

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for curriculum



English Language Learners Definition of curriculum

formal : the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.


cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ -​lə \ also curriculums

Kids Definition of curriculum

: all the courses of study offered by a school

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on curriculum

What made you want to look up curriculum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!