Every student in college eventually decides on a major. That is their primary academic focus, the subject most of their classes will surround, what they study above all else. The major has certain requirements and will determine what sort of degree they receive. But not every student declares, studies, or graduates with a minor.

So what’s a minor? How does it correlate to the major? Simply put, a minor is a secondary academic discipline–another subject to focus on in addition to the major. If a student has multiple interests–even interests that don’t directly connect to each other–they can minor in another field.

Many people minor in subjects that support their major. Perhaps they major in a general field and use their minor to focus or specialize in a certain area. Business majors might minor in Marketing, for example. Others minor in something they really enjoy or find fascinating, but don’t plan to find employment in–a Psychology major interested in becoming a therapist could minor in Theater Arts, because they really like acting.

How do you get a minor? Like majors, minors are declared by the student. Also like majors, minors have special requirements–like mandatory classes or a certain number of credit hours in the subject–in order to complete the program, though usually the requirements are much less than that of the major.

Students interested in minoring should speak with their academic advisors to ensure they can fit it in their schedules without interfering with their major requirements, and so that everything is completed on time. If the academic advisor is one dictated by a certain major and the student is interested in minoring outside of that subject, the student should talk to someone in their intended minor department for additional information.

What are the benefits of having a minor? In addition to either supporting a major or being a separate field of interest as we’ve discussed, minors can also be a benefit while the student is interviewing for a job or applying to graduate school. Minors show employers or schools that the student is hardworking and can handle an additional workload.

On top of that, the specific minor could be a bonus form of experience when looking into certain job markets–an HR position might be interested in someone with a Human Resource Management major, but would be really interested in someone with that major plus a Psychology minor, for example. Or a corporation might be hiring Business majors, but will give preference to those with a Foreign Language minor, because they’re an international business who partners with people across the world.

What kind of minors are there? It mostly depends on what the specific college or university offers. Many academic fields have both majors and minors, but some do not have the latter. Sometimes minors don’t even have associated majors, and just stand on their own. It really depends on the specificity of the minor program and the individual institution.

Should I minor in something? The question entirely depends on the individual student and what they are interested in studying. Some majors will have a strict and demanding workload, and so students are hesitant to minor for fear of being overwhelmed. Others end up double-minoring in two different subjects. Some might attend a college where the minor they’re interested in isn’t offered. Minors can be very beneficial in the long run, but they do require some dedication.