Difference Between Curriculum And Syllabus

Difference Between Curriculum And Syllabus

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 12:28 IST

The curriculum and syllabus are two crucial elements of any educational program and are often used interchangeably. However, there is a fundamental difference between curriculum and syllabus, which is that curriculum is the broader, overarching framework that outlines the educational goals and structure of an entire program or institution, while the syllabus is a specific document that provides detailed information about an individual course within that program.


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What is a Curriculum?

A curriculum is a set of guidelines established to help educators decide on the content of a course. It is the study plan that gives the objectives of the course, the contents, and the methods used to teach. Thus, it prescribes what should be taught, how it should be taught, and why something should be taught.

The curriculum is generally designed or curated by the administration of an institute/university. In addition, the curriculum also allows teachers to measure the effectiveness of their teaching through standardized tests.

The Graphical Representation of Curriculum Framework

Source - NCERT 

The above comprehensive structure will help you understand the terms ‘curriculum framework’, ‘curriculum’, ‘syllabus’, textbooks, etc.

The curriculum is not a fixed and knowing structure that houses the organized learning content. It is dynamic and reflects the educational goals and experiences to be achieved. These principles change over time, as do opinions about the best experiences for achieving those goals.  

Likewise, the curriculum needs to be reformed as educational requirements change continually. Three factors that impact the curriculum development process can be identified:

  • The ideology about education held by curriculum designers, including the current trend to globalize the curriculum
  • The necessity to implement the changes in the existing curriculum
  • The type of educational program for which the curriculum is developed

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What is a Syllabus?

The syllabus is a descriptive list of topics to be covered and a summary of their content. Describes and summarizes the subjects and topics to be taught to students. Curricula, unlike lesson plans, are designed by teachers and can be tailored to the requirements of a particular class.

A syllabus includes schedules, tests, assignments, projects, etc. Therefore, it contains assignments’ due dates, exam dates, project details, etc.

The above graphical representation of a curriculum framework shows that the syllabus is a part of the structure.

Purpose of the Syllabus

  • Develops a mutual understanding of the subjects between students and teachers
  • Sets a goal for the students to grasp and learn the concepts
  • Facilitates learning through the course material 
  • Trains the students as per their age level

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Difference Between Curriculum and Syllabus 





A curriculum is a set of courses and contents an educational institution offers.

A syllabus is a descriptive list of subjects to be taught in a class.


The entire educational program encompasses multiple courses, subjects, and interrelations.

Focuses on a single course or subject within the broader curriculum.


The curriculum cannot be easily adjusted.

A syllabus can be easily adjusted per class requirements.


The curriculum contains course content, objectives, methodologies, etc.

The syllabus contains a list of topics to cover and details about assignments, assessments, etc.

Long-term vs. Short-term

Addresses long-term educational goals and learning outcomes over an extended period, often years.

Pertains to short-term instructional plans, usually for a single academic term or semester.


A K-12 school curriculum outlines each grade level's subjects (e.g., math, science) and learning goals.

A syllabus for a college biology course details the topics, readings, assignments, and assessment methods for that specific class.

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Similarities Between Curriculum and Syllabus

  • Both the curriculum and syllabus have one ulterior goal, teaching.
  • Both the curriculum and syllabus are designed keeping strong educational guidelines in mind.
  • Both the curriculum and syllabus are crucial for the holistic growth of students.


The terms “curriculum” and “syllabus” are often used interchangeably. They refer to distinct aspects of an educational program. The curriculum is the overall plan and framework for teaching a subject, which includes learning objectives, instructional methods, and assessment measures.

On the other hand, the syllabus is a specific document that outlines the content to be covered in a particular course and other important information, such as grading policies and class schedules. Understanding these two concepts’ differences is essential for educators and students alike. It helps ensure that instructional goals are met and that learning outcomes are clearly defined and achieved.


What is the purpose of the syllabus?

The syllabus serves as a roadmap for a specific course, providing students with essential information about course expectations, learning objectives, assignments, and assessments. It helps students understand what will be covered and how their progress will be evaluated.

How often does the syllabus change?

The syllabus is subject to change on a more frequent basis. Instructors may update the syllabus each semester or academic year to accommodate variations in course content, teaching methods, and assessment techniques.

How are curriculum and syllabus related?

The syllabus is a component of the curriculum. It is a subset of the broader curriculum and focuses on the specific details of a particular course or subject.

What does the curriculum include?

The curriculum includes the educational philosophy, objectives, desired learning outcomes, instructional materials, teaching methods, and assessment strategies employed by an educational institution.

How often does the curriculum change?

The curriculum may undergo periodic revisions to adapt to changes in educational standards, pedagogical approaches, and societal needs. These changes are usually implemented after careful review and evaluation.

About the Author
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio



All of the topics are good, but lack of examples to distinguish the differences between curriculum and syllabus.

Reply to Bitupan Mahanta

Please give some examples to distinguish the differences between curriculum and syllabus

Reply to Bitupan Mahanta