What is a College Minor?

  • A college minor is a secondary academic discipline.
  • It may complement a student’s major, but it does not have to.
  • Undergrads must complete approximately 18 credit hours (or approximately 6 courses) to earn a minor.
  • Students are not required to declare a minor to earn a degree.

When you start college, you know you have to declare a major, but do you know what a minor in college is? Because it’s not mandatory to declare a minor to earn a degree, a minor is not given as much prominence as a major. However, choosing a minor can enhance your learning experience. In order to make an informed decision, it helps to understand what a college minor is and how to choose the right one for you.


What Is a Minor in College?

As a college student, you will have to eventually decide on a college major, which is your primary academic focus. Most of your classes will be related to your chosen major. A major has certain requirements and will determine what sort of degree you receive.

A college minor is a secondary academic discipline that you can choose in addition to your college major. It may complement your chosen major, but it does not have to. You are not required to declare a minor to earn a degree but if you do choose one, you’ll need to complete about 18 credit hours (or approximately 6 courses) to earn a minor.

So, if it’s not necessary to earn a degree, what exactly is the purpose of declaring a minor? Choosing a minor in college is a nice way to learn more about a field that you’re interested in. This is regardless of whether the minor field is directly related or totally unrelated to your chosen major.

How Do You Get A Minor In College? 

As you did with your major, you will also have to declare your minor. If you choose to pursue a minor, you must make sure to understand the requirements. Like majors, minors too have special requirements you need to meet to consider that you’ve completed the program. These could range from attending mandatory classes to completing a certain number of credit hours in the subject. The requirements for completing a minor are typically fewer than the requirements for completing a major.

Many students choose to minor in subjects that support their major. They major in a general field and use their minor to focus or specialize in a certain area. For example, students who have chosen business as their major often choose to minor in marketing. But that’s not a rule.

You can choose to minor in a subject you really enjoy or find fascinating, but don’t plan to find employment in. Let’s say you intend to pursue a career as a therapist and have chosen psychology as your major. You could choose to minor in a completely different field such as theater arts simply because you really enjoy acting.

If you are interested in minoring, you should speak with your college academic advisor to ensure you can fit it in your class schedules without interfering with your major requirements. This is important as you will need to complete all requirements of your major and minor within a time frame. It also helps to talk to a professor or advisor in your intended minor department for additional information.

What Are The Benefits Of A College 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 when you’re interviewing for a job or applying to graduate school. Minors show employers or schools that you are hardworking and can handle any additional workload.

On top of that, a specific minor is a bonus form of experience when looking into certain job markets. For example, a Human Resources Management student is a good candidate for an HR position. However, a Human Resources Management student with a Psychology minor can be an even better candidate for that position. Or a corporation might be hiring Business majors but will give preference to those with a Foreign Language minor. This is because they’re an international business that partners with people across the world.

What Are The Drawbacks Of A College Minor?

While college minors definitely have benefits, there are a few drawbacks to consider.

It Takes Away from Your Other Courses

Taking minor courses can distract you from your major or other necessary courses you need to take. More classes involve more studying and additional hours of homework. Some students can find it difficult to fit a minor in between their general education classes and their major requirements.

Can Cut into Extracurricular Activities

In the same vein, more classes and more homework mean less free time. Whether you enjoy reading, want to join a new club on campus, or there’s another activity you enjoy, you may have a hard time fitting it in if you are taking on more courses.

It Costs More

And of course, more classes mean more money. You pay a separate fee for every course you take. Then you have to add on the cost of the textbooks and any other school supplies. So, if you’re adding on extra classes, your college costs could rise significantly, especially if you hadn’t considered taking a minor when budgeting for college.

Could Take Longer to Graduate

If you’re having a hard time fitting in your major requirements and your general education courses, you might also discover that you won’t graduate on time (within 4 years) if you take on the extra classwork to have a minor.

Tips For Choosing a College Minor

Choosing a college minor depends on your own personal wants and desires. You have two different options here:

Select Based on Your Career Goals

A great way to approach your minor is to choose your courses based on your career goals. If you’re going to school for business, you may want to consider a minor in finance, accounting, or economics. Think about your after-school goals – are there any minors that can help round out your education in that department?

Select Based on Personal Interests

You don’t have to select a minor that goes hand in hand with your intended career. In fact, it may help to choose purely on your own interests. It works to give you a different perspective, and future jobs like diversity as well. So if you’re an engineer who wants to also study art, go for it (I, STEAM, right?).

What Kind of Minors Can You Choose From

College minors vary from school to school, so you’ll need to look into what your college offers before selecting a minor if you decide to go this route. But a few popular college minors you may find at your school include:

  • A foreign language
  • Business
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Political science
  • Sociology
  • Mathematics
  • Classics
  • Chemistry
  • Journalism
  • Graphic Design

Should I Choose a Minor In College?

This question depends entirely on your goals and personal preference as well as what they are interested in studying. Some majors have a strict and demanding workload. If you’ve chosen a demanding major, you should give some serious thought to choosing to minor. Minors require some dedication but can be very beneficial in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is a minor in college the same as a degree?
Answer: No. While a college minor is a great way to learn either more about your designated field or to learn about a field of study NOT related to your major, it is not the same as a degree. It is simply the study of a secondary discipline.

Question: Is it worth getting a college minor?
Answer: If you have the time and money to afford the extra classes required for a minor, it can definitely be an asset in the long run. Having a specific additional field of study can give you a leg-up in a competitive job market. For example, if you are applying for a job in sales at a global company, having a minor in language studies or international affairs can make you stand out against someone who does not have a minor.

Question: What is the difference between a major and minor in college?
Answer: A minor is a secondary academic discipline that a student can earn when they complete approximately 18 credit hours of required courses. A major is a student’s primary academic focus. The major has certain requirements and will determine what sort of degree they receive.

Question: What should I minor in?
Answer: You can go about this in two different ways. You can be strategic in your minor and have it add value to your college major. Or, you just go with what you want to learn more about. If you are majoring in business, but you really like to right, why not try a journalism minor. Above all, study something that interests you!

Question: How many credit hours do I need to complete a minor?
Answer: In order to complete your college minor, you usually need around 18 credit hours depending on the program, or about 6 to 7 classes.

Declaring a college minor takes time, possibly extra money, and discipline. But the rewards – learning in-depth about subjects you are truly interested in and standing out in a competitive job market – are long-lasting. What will you minor in?

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

One thought on “What is a College Minor?”

  1. Steve J. says:

    Per your example, major in business with a minor in marketing, would one be able to claim they have a degree in business and marketing?

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.