If I want to refer to the "size" of a programme at the university, what word should I use? By "size" I mean things such as the number of terms and courses that the programme spans.

I have considered the following options:

The scope of the programme

The extent of the programme

The range of the programme

However, I haven't found any solid proof that any one of these is the right word for the meaning I'm after. So, my question, then, is whether any one of these works, or whether I should use a different word altogether (in that case, what word)?

As always, I'd be truly grateful for any help I could get here :)

  • 2
    Why wouldn’t you use “size” to describe the size of the program?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 13:46
  • 1
    Or 'length' to refer to the number of terms? Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 13:48
  • @ColleenV Hm... because to my ears "size" sounds extremely odd... But you're saying that'd work?
    – Helen
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 13:48
  • 2
    @ColleenV "Size" is pretty ambiguous - it doesn't necessarily mean "the number and variety of courses." It could refer to the number of students graduating per year or the number of faculty members or even the amount of physical office space occupied in the building. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:01
  • 2
    @CanadianYankee I agree that’s a reason someone might have to not want to use it, but I was asking about Helen’s reason, which is apparently “it sounds weird”. We can help explain whether or not something is ambiguous, we can’t really fix something sounding weird to someone.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


"Length, breadth and depth of the program". This allows you to describe the structure in two dimensions.

A broad program covers many different topics. A deep program covers only a few topics but covers those very completely. A long program lasts for many terms and so allows for greater breadth and/or depth.

However "scope" and "range" are useful terms. You can talk about a program having a broad scope.

  • This is a truly useful answer (as always)! Thank you! I always thought "broad" and "deep" used in this way were translationese from my own language, so it's really good to know that it works in English too! Thank you again!
    – Helen
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 11:41

While a vaguer term might include everything you need it to and more, I think it is best to be precise, especially in formal writing. If your connotations are the number of terms and the numbers of courses, then one refers to time and the other to variety. You could therefore say:

the length and diversity of the programme

Diversity is defined as

the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people (Cambridge)

  • 1
    Diversity is becoming an increasingly important topic in many organizations, and is often used to refer to the people within the organization. Without additional context, one might assume the "diversity of the program" refers to the diversity of its members rather than its content, so watch out for unintended connotations. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 21:05
  • 1
    @NuclearHoagie You are right, but I would describe a university or an organization as "diverse" in this sense, not the programmes or courses it may offer to its members.
    – fev
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 8:42

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