In the Kanji textbook I've been studying from, I've seen compounds like

社会学部 or 物理学科

and both are then translated as 'the department/faculty of ~'. Is there any difference between 部 and 科 in this instance and if so, what is it? (I know someone who is a 部長 is above someone who is a 科長, so is a (subject~)部 larger, or encompassing of, a (subject~)科 perhaps? Just a guess...)

Thank you for any and all help!

1 Answer 1


学部とは大学を構成する単位を指し、学科とは学部の中で専門分野に特化した科目を指します。 医学部・医学科を例に挙げた場合、医学という大きな枠組みが学部として存在し、その中にある専門分野に特化した医学科が学科ということになります。

Found this through a google search. Although I understand that both of them have dictionary definitions of being "departments", the most common usage probably isn't the case for 学科. What's being said here is that 学科 usually means the subject within a department. For example, 医学部 would mean the "medical department" while 医学科 would mean something along the lines of "medical science". So your guess would be correct that 学部 is more general than 学科.

I also saw in a Chiebukuro post that this is what is generally understood: 大学 > 学部 > 学科

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