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What is a Minor in College?
During every student’s time in college, they’ll decide on a major, and some students will even decide on a minor. But what is a minor; how does it affect your college experience and opportunities in the future? In this article, we’ll explore all of that. We’ll describe how your course schedule might change as the result of adding a minor. We’ll also discuss how future employers and graduate schools may view the minor. Let’s get into it.
Related: What is a college major?
What is a college minor?
A minor is your secondary academic focus. You won’t spend as much time or effort studying your minor as you do for your major. However, it’s a compliment to your education that allows you to go in-depth in a second subject. Typically, the requirements for a minor are significantly less demanding than those of a major.
Also read: How to choose a major
How big of a commitment is a minor?
The amount of commitment that a minor involves can vary. Sometimes, students have already taken many of the required classes to add a minor either through courses they took in high school or through electives taken their first couple years in college. By the time they are considering adding it formally, they have almost already completed it. Other times, it may be more demanding. It can depend a lot on if you are ahead or behind on your major requirements.
Beyond the classes you take, there are typically no other requirements for a minor. Sometimes, you may have to complete a reduced form of a senior capstone, but this is unusual. Still, you should check with your school before declaring a minor. You’ll want to make sure to check with your academic advisor, the registrar, and a professor in the field in which you intend to minor.
What are the drawbacks of adding a minor?
Adding a minor can be a great idea for some, but there are drawbacks. It reduces the flexibility of your schedule, which may prevent you from pursuing other academic interests. To fulfill your minor, you may have to forego the music class that you’ve always wanted to take. It may also make your coursework more intensive and draw attention from your major or extracurriculars.
As you speak with school officials to decide whether to add a minor, make sure to factor in other interests. The question should not just be, “Can I fulfill the minor requirements?” It should be, “Can I fulfill the minor requirements while accomplishing everything else I want to do?” If not, you should weigh out your decision and decide whether your minor is worth the sacrifice.
If you are interested in many different subjects, you also have the opportunity to double minor. You’ll still have your major, but you’ll be able to pursue two additional fields of study. If you take this route, you will probably need to ensure that most of your classes fall under one of your three fields of study. Otherwise, it will be difficult to graduate on time and fulfill all requirements. If you are considering a double minor, first consider if the time spent in those two minors could translate into an additional major which often has more benefits in the long term.
Also read: Guide to double majoring
Impacts after graduation
Whether you are planning on continuing your education or finding a job, having a minor can help after graduation. Here are the ways you can use it to your advantage in either situation.
Having a minor can help you stand out to employers in a number of ways. If you decide on a minor that compliments your major, it may make you seem like a stronger candidate. For example, a neuroscience major with a biology minor may have a stronger chance of getting a lab position. It shows that you not only have knowledge of your field, but also of adjacent fields that can come in handy.
It can also be helpful to have a minor that is entirely unrelated to your major. For example, let’s say an economics major has an ethnomusicology (study of music in various cultures) minor. You probably won’t use this minor in your day-to-day work. But your minor shows a diverse set of interests and could help your job application stand out. It could also qualify you to work as the CFO of a music history museum. Disparate major / minor combinations may have less obvious applications, but if you find the right situation, they may work out perfectly.
Adding a minor can be a great idea for students who are considering grad school. To start off, it’s a strong asset on a grad school application. It shows that you have academic discipline and can balance many responsibilities. This is highly attractive for graduate school admissions.
On top of that, it provides an opportunity for you to dig deep into an academic niche. Let’s say you’re applying for an engineering grad school program and you minored in anthropology. You can apply your anthropology knowledge to identify an unmet need. This is a unique asset; not only do you have the tools to identify a problem, but you also have the tools to solve it.
Also see: Grad school financing options
Summing it up: Weighing your decision
Now that you’ve got a rundown of a college minor, we’ll go over what you should consider when deciding whether to add one. Here are the questions you should ask yourself before making any decision.
- How will I use the minor after graduation?
- Can I handle the necessary coursework?
- Am I better off just taking courses in the field I’m interested in?
- What am I giving up in order to add this minor?
- How will I emphasize the importance of my major and minor combination to employers and admissions officers?
Good luck deciding! Minors can be a great compliment to your college education and can help you stand out after graduation. And remember, if it doesn’t end up being a good fit, you can always drop it later on without penalty.
Also read: Should I switch majors? How to decide
Frequently asked questions about what college minors
How many credits are required for a minor?
When should I declare a minor?
How do minors differ from double majors?