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Electives are courses that students choose to take for earning credits toward their planned degree. These can be distinguished as courses that the students are compulsorily required to take. Electives are optional subjects chosen by election by students. Required core courses are considered as essential for an academic degree. Elective courses can be more specialized. Elective courses usually have fewer students than the required core courses.
In medical study, the term elective is also used for a period of study conducted away from the student's home medical school, which is usually abroad. Motivations for choosing such a program include a wish to experience other cultures, and to learn how to work in the clinical situations in other countries.