When I check the various dictionaries I have access to, education seems to be used only as an uncountable or singular noun for the phenomenon as such, but when I google educations it seems to be used to some extent also as a more general word for actual 'manifestations' of education, such as courses and programmes, so now I'm wondering whether the following sentences are correct:

We are reviewing our array of educations at the moment (meaning that we are reviewing the different courses and programmes on offer)

There will be a new set of educations in the autumn (meaning that there will be a number of new courses and programmes in the autumn)

I'd be very grateful for any native speaker input I can get on this, since the mere fact that I have found some support for this use on google doesn't prove that it's correct – or even makes sense to native speakers :)

If education cannot be used in this way, is there another word I can use in this context, as a more general alternative to course and programme?

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    No, you can't. Never come across that usage in anything the least bit official - I suspect any examples you come across have been written by non-native speakers.
    – MikeB
    Jan 8, 2021 at 14:16
  • @MikeBrockington Indeed – that's what I suspect too; that's why I wanted to double-check. Pity... :) Thanks though!
    – Hannah
    Jan 8, 2021 at 14:22
  • @AndrewTobilko Interesting! Still not quite the sense I was after, so I guess I can't use it this way anyway...
    – Hannah
    Jan 8, 2021 at 14:24
  • I have seen that use in formal documents written by native Germans and it drives me mad.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 20, 2022 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


You can have a music education, or a school can offer an education in engineering, but these are meant in a more general sense - a student will end up having an education in those subjects, but it's not specific about exactly what that entails. They will have learned some things, to some standard! Some study will have been involved!

Whereas actual courses and programmes of study are extremely specific. People want to know about the syllabus, what areas will be covered specifically, what qualification they'll end up with, that kind of thing. So calling them educations introduces a strange vagueness about it.

That means that sometimes you could refer to a course more generally as an education, because it is a kind of education, but it would be worrying to see it in a prospectus or something.

There are a few synonyms for course or programme, but honestly I'd ask the head of your department (or the school itself) for the terms they use, they might prefer specific words with narrow meanings. And there's nothing wrong with repeating that kind of terminology when you're being specific!

  • Thank you cactustictacs! I suspected as much. The context I need it for is a context where I'm talking about courses and programmes in general though (as illustrated by the example sentences), so I can't be specific... Of course I can simply say "courses and programmes", but it'd be nice with a more economic way of saying it :) Thanks for your detailed answer though!
    – Hannah
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:07
  • Oh sure, but they are specifically courses and programmes right? Academic or vocational courses of study and training, covering specific areas, probably with an assessment framework and maybe a qualification at the end of it? If that describes what you're talking about, I'd still use those words. Education really means learn some stuff, usually from someone else (but not necessarily, you can self-study). It's a very, very general word. Courses can provide an education, but it's only one aspect of what you get out of it, you know? You can probably just say programmes though! Jan 8, 2021 at 15:20
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    Yes, exactly. I think we've come to the same conclusion :) With the exception that I can't use "programmes" only, because then I miss out on the courses that are not part of programmes... still, I think I've got it now :) Thanks again for all your help!
    – Hannah
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:45

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