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.

Every student in college eventually decides on a college major – their primary academic focus and the subject most of their classes will surround. The major has certain requirements and will determine what sort of degree they receive. A college minor, simply put, 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. Students are not required to declare a minor.

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How do you get a college minor? 

Like majors, students declare minors. 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.

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.

Students interested in minoring should speak with their college academic advisor to ensure they can fit it in their schedules without interfering with their major requirements, and so that everything is completed on time. Students should talk to someone in their intended minor department for additional information.

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, 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. But a Human Resources Management student with a Psychology minor is 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.

Drawbacks of Minors

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 means more studying and more homework. Between general education classes and your major requirements, a minor can be a difficult thing to fit in for some students

Can Cut into Extracurricular Activities

In the same vein, more classes 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, with more classes means more money. Each course costs something, so if you’re adding on extra classes, your college costs could rise significantly, especially if you didn’t plan on taking a minor.

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.

How to Pick 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!

What kind of minors are there?

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:

Should I minor in something?

This question depends entirely on the individual student and what they are interested in studying. Some majors have a strict and demanding workload. Overwhelmed students in those majors may not want to minor. 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 require some dedication but can be very beneficial in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is a minor 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 having a minor worth it?
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?
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 getting your 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 you 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?

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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?

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