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Academic vs. Scholastic: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on February 5, 2024
"Academic" pertains to education, scholarship, or academia as a whole, while "scholastic" specifically refers to schools, education methods, or the philosophy of scholasticism.

Key Differences

"Academic" and "scholastic" are terms often used interchangeably but carry nuanced differences in their application and connotation. "Academic" relates broadly to the sphere of education and scholarship, encompassing activities, institutions, and pursuits associated with learning, research, and teaching at colleges, universities, and educational institutions. It denotes a wide range of scholarly activities and intellectual endeavors. "Scholastic," on the other hand, while also related to education, has a narrower scope, traditionally linked to schools and the educational methods and philosophies developed in the Middle Ages under scholasticism. This term can refer to matters pertaining specifically to schools, their educational practices, or the scholastic philosophy that emphasizes logical reasoning and the compatibility of faith and reason.
The term "academic" is often used to describe theories, knowledge, or pursuits that are intellectual in nature and not necessarily applied or practical. It can refer to academic subjects, research, the academic community, or activities that are theoretical rather than practical. This broad application makes "academic" a term that signifies a connection to higher education and the advancement of knowledge across a wide range of disciplines. Conversely, "scholastic" might be used more narrowly to describe activities, competitions, or literature that are specifically designed for school use or are part of educational curricula. It evokes a sense of structured learning and teaching within the school system, and, historically, a specific philosophical tradition.
In contemporary usage, "academic" has a broader relevance, encompassing everything from academic research and publications to the culture and environment of universities and colleges. It is a term that signifies a certain level of scholarly sophistication and engagement with the world of ideas and academic discourse. "Scholastic," while still concerned with learning and education, often carries connotations of foundational or basic education provided in schools, or it can reference the historical intellectual tradition of scholasticism, which played a significant role in medieval universities.
Both "academic" and "scholastic" contribute to the field of education, their usage highlights different aspects of educational and intellectual life. "Academic" points to a wide-ranging engagement with knowledge, research, and intellectual discourse, often at a higher education level. "Scholastic," while it can encompass a broad array of educational concerns, tends to focus more on the processes, methods, and content of school-based education, or it refers to the specific historical context of scholastic philosophy. Understanding these nuances is key to grasping the distinct yet interconnected roles each word plays in discussions about education and knowledge.

Comparison Chart


Broad, pertaining to higher education and scholarship.
Narrower, relating specifically to schools and scholasticism.


Research, theory, and higher education.
School education, educational methods, and medieval philosophy.


Intellectual pursuits and the academic community.
Structured learning and foundational education.

Usage Context

Universities, colleges, academic research, and publications.
School curricula, educational competitions, scholastic philosophy.

Associated Ideas

Higher education, scholarship, theoretical knowledge.
Basic education, teaching methods, logical reasoning.

Academic and Scholastic Definitions


Related to education, especially at college or university level.
She pursued an academic career in physics.


Pertaining to the school or philosophy of scholasticism.
His thesis explored scholastic arguments on ethics.


Of or relating to scholarly performance.
Her academic achievements were outstanding.


Concerned with academic learning or scholarship in schools.
She won several scholastic awards for her essays.


Intellectual and concerned with the pursuit of research.
The conference attracted academic professionals from around the world.


Of or relating to schools, schooling, or education.
The scholastic program focuses on reading and math skills.


Pertaining to an institution of higher learning.
He joined the academic staff last year.


Emphasizing logical reasoning and the compatibility of faith and reason.
The course covered medieval scholastic thinkers.


Scholarly or theoretical, not practical or directly useful.
The debate was an academic exercise in logic.


Related to educational books, materials, or activities.
Scholastic book fairs are popular at elementary schools.


Of or relating to institutionalized education and scholarship, especially at a college or university.


Of or relating to schools; academic
Scholastic accomplishment.


Of or relating to studies that rely on reading and involve abstract thought rather than being primarily practical or technical.


Often Scholastic Of, relating to, or characteristic of Scholasticism.


How do academic publications differ from scholastic ones?

Academic publications are often research-focused, while scholastic ones are tailored for school education.

What is a scholastic competition?

A contest designed for school students to showcase their knowledge or skills.

Can academic also refer to school education?

Yes, though it more commonly pertains to higher education.

What does scholastic achievement mean?

Success or performance in school-related studies or activities.

What is an academic discipline?

A branch of knowledge that is studied and taught at the higher education level.

How do academic and scholastic approaches to education differ?

Academic approaches are broader and more research-oriented, while scholastic ones focus on school-based learning and teaching methods.

What is an academic institution?

A place of higher learning, such as a university or college.

Is scholastic related to a specific philosophy?

Historically, yes, referring to scholasticism, a medieval philosophical method.

What role do scholastic activities play in education?

They supplement classroom learning with competitions, fairs, and clubs that focus on educational content.

Can academic work be practical?

While often theoretical, some academic work aims to apply research to practical problems.

What makes a scholastic method effective?

Tailoring educational content and techniques to enhance learning and understanding among students.

What is scholastic philosophy's main focus?

It focuses on logical analysis and the synthesis of faith and reason.

Can academic achievements lead to scholastic benefits?

Yes, as academic success in higher education can inform and improve teaching and learning in schools.

Can a person be both academic and scholastic?

Yes, if they are involved in scholarly work related to school education or philosophy.

Are academic journals the same as scholastic journals?

Not exactly; academic journals are for scholarly research, while scholastic journals may focus on school education topics.

How important is academic freedom?

It's crucial for fostering an environment where scholars can research, teach, and discuss ideas without censorship.

What distinguishes an academic career from other professional paths?

An academic career focuses on teaching and research within higher education institutions.

How do scholastic book fairs support education?

They encourage reading by making books more accessible to students and teachers.

What does it mean to have an academic interest in something?

It means having a scholarly or theoretical interest, often with the intent to study or research the subject.

What impact has scholasticism had on modern education?

Its emphasis on reason and critical thinking continues to influence educational philosophy and methods.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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