Difference between seminar and conference.

Public discussions of scientific issues and problems can be carried out through events such as a seminar or conference. What is their specificity?

What is the workshop?

Under the seminar it is traditionally accepted to mean the type of educational and practical activities carried out, as a rule, in universities in order to discuss various topics or the results of work performed by students in the framework of scientific research. The topic of the seminar is usually announced by the teacher prior to its holding, which allows students to thoroughly prepare for the event.

The purpose of the seminar is to consolidate students' knowledge in certain thematic areas. In addition, discussions are encouraged within the framework of relevant events. Students are expected to develop skills to participate in them.

At the same time, the word “seminar” can also be used in the context of:

  1. public discussions of entrepreneurs - when it comes to business seminars;
  2. discussions of various research problems by teachers, professors, experts - if we are talking about a scientific seminar;
  3. discussions on the Internet with the participation of several people - when it comes to online seminars, including using video channels.

In practice, the use of the term in question is regularly carried out in all these contexts. Usually seminars of appropriate types involve discussion of a small number of topics - as an option, these may be topical issues of the development of society and the economy.

What is the conference?

Under conference it is customary to understand a sufficiently large-scale meeting organized to discuss scientific topics, business issues, political events, economic processes. Like the workshop, it is often conducted online.

The conference may involve discussion, as in the case of the seminar, not only of a sufficiently narrow range of issues (in this case, the main task of its holding is a detailed study of the topic), but and a very wide range of different topics. In both cases, the main points of discussion are usually presented by the speaker, after which the conference participants discuss what the person said.

Often the conference lasts a long time - sometimes about a week. It depends on the significance and complexity of the issues discussed.


The main difference between a seminar and a conference is mainly in the scale of events - if the first term is understood in a broad context. The seminar involves the participation of a relatively small number of people - on the order of several dozen - and is held, as a rule, within a relatively short period of time (usually within a working day). Conferences can involve several thousand people. Their duration, as we noted above, is often a week, sometimes more.

In turn, the traditional understanding of the essence of a seminar - as an educational event in a university - in principle does not imply its replacement by the term "conference". Therefore, if we talk about a narrow interpretation of the word "seminar", then its difference from the concept of "conference" will consist in the lack of alternative use.

Having determined what is the difference between the seminar and the conference, let us record the conclusions in a small table.


Workshop Conference
What do they have in common?
If we interpret the concept of a seminar in a broad sense, both terms denote a public event in which scientific topics are discussed, various business issues - in offline, online formats
What is the difference between them?
Assumes the participation of about several dozen peopleMay involve several thousand people
Duration of the workshop usually does not exceed 1 working dayThe conference can last several days
The term is used to denote an educational event at a university, which is a discussion of a topic by studentsThe term is not used to refer to relevant educational activities in institutions of higher education