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I am a little bit confused, when somebody told me that a student is the same as a pupil. Would it be correct, if I said "He is a pupil of MBA."?

Which of the following expressions is the most appropriate?

He is a student of MBA


He is a pupil of MBA

And which situations should I use either words?

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marked as duplicate by RyeɃreḁd, Rory Alsop, tchrist, FumbleFingers, Matt E. Эллен Apr 21 '14 at 20:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

also consider english.stackexchange.com/questions/78991/… – vickyace Apr 19 '14 at 4:55
This was already answered here english.stackexchange.com/questions/78991/… – l0Ft Apr 19 '14 at 5:05

It depends a lot on which version of the English language you are talking about. The word "pupil" is rarely used in US English, but it the common word for a student in pre-college education in the UK (and I believe AUSNZ, but a speaker from there can correct me if I am wrong.)

From a meaning point of view, pupil conotates a ward type relationship, one for which the teacher is responsible for the student beyond their learning, in loco parentis you might say. Etymologically it derives from the Latin for orphan or ward.

It makes sense then, that pupil would be used in the UK until the person goes to college, whereupon they are considered an adult, and no longer subject to such supervision. Not that I am suggesting that US teachers don't care for their students of course! Just that they don't use a word that connotes such. "Pupil" is an odd sounding word to the US ear, and it wouldn't surprise me if an American had not even heard the word outside of the different but homographic and homophonic word pupil, referring to a part of the eye.

Student, of course derived from study, is simply someone who is studying, often under the supervision of a teacher with no other type of relationship applied. For example, one can certainly be a student, without a human teacher. Student is the idiomatic word for a kid in school in the USA.

Student can be used all over, and is a good default word to chose, and would certainly be the appropriate choice for an adult learner, such as an MBA student.

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It certainly was perfectly common when I started school, as shown in graph 1, and especially in graph 2. – tchrist Apr 20 '14 at 20:47

Nowadays, youth from preschool to university are more commonly referred to as "students" than "pupils," especially in the US.

The term "pupil" generally applies to a student under the direct supervision of a tutor (sense 1) or private instructor.

And so, the correct expression should be "He is an MBA student."

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All youth? What about children who attend nursery or primary schools :) books.google.com/ngrams/… – Mari-Lou A Apr 19 '14 at 9:09

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