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What’s a college minor?

Published February 20, 2024| minute read

    Most colleges require students to declare a major — essentially a specific area of study to specialize in. A college student’s major determines a large portion of the classes they’ll need to complete to obtain their degree.

    Unlike a college major, colleges usually don’t require students to declare a college minor. However, a minor can complement the subject matter of a major or allow students to learn more about an unrelated subject that they may be passionate about and want to explore in depth.

    Continue reading to learn more about what a college minor is, examples of minors, and answers to common questions about the decision to pursue a minor.

    College minors in a nutshell

    Generally, students need a minimum of 120 credits to graduate from a four-year college. Your college major classes will likely take up one-third to one-half of that requirement.

    Classes required to complete a college minor are usually between 16 and 30 credits, but this depends on the minor. Typically, you’ll be able to meet the requirements for a minor within the typical four years it takes most students to complete a bachelor’s degree.

    Keep in mind that your ability to complete a minor without extending your time in school will depend on the classes you’re required to take for both your major and minor. It can be helpful to meet with an academic advisor to iron out the details to make sure you’re on track to receive a degree on schedule.

    What are the requirements for a college minor?

    The requirements for a college minor will vary depending on the college. Earning a minor typically involves completing a certain number of courses in a specific subject area, usually between five to ten classes.

    Some schools may also have specific requirements for which classes can count towards a college minor and other requirements needed to earn a minor. This could involve having a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) in your minor courses or a certain number of advanced classes in a minor.

    It’s important to check your college’s requirements for completing a minor to avoid surprises.

    Examples of college minors

    The subjects you can minor in will depend on the school you’re enrolled in. Below are examples of college minors that students pursue. If you have a specific minor in mind, make sure a school offers it before enrolling.

    • Creative writing
    • Urban planning
    • Queer studies
    • Business administration
    • Environmental science
    • Language (Spanish, French, Mandarin, etc.)
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Computer science
    • Math
    • Art history
    • Marketing
    • Political science
    • African studies
    • Journalism
    • Philosophy
    • Religious studies
    • Visual arts
    • Biomedical engineering

    Tips for choosing a college minor

    When choosing a college minor, there are several factors to consider so you make an informed decision. Considering these factors will help you choose a college minor that aligns with your goals and interests, ultimately enriching your college experience.

    • Interests and passion: It’s likely important to select a minor that aligns with your interests that you want to explore further.
    • Career goals: Consider how your minor can complement your major and contribute to your career goals. Look for minors that can enhance your skills and make you more competitive in your desired career field.
    • Skill development: Choose a college minor that allows you to develop valuable skills transferable to various professions, such as critical thinking, communication, or technical skills.
    • Academic balance: Ensure the minor complements your major without overwhelming your courseload. Consider a minor that adds value to your educational experience without adding undue stress.
    • Graduation timeline: It’s often important for students to select a minor that won’t interfere with them graduating on schedule.
    • Consult with advisors: Seek advice from academic advisors, faculty members, and career counselors to get perspectives on how different minors could affect your educational and career journey.

    Common FAQs about college minors

    When do I have to declare my minor in college?

    Although minors aren’t required to obtain a bachelor’s degree, it’s often recommended to students to declare their minor around the same time as they declare their major — by the end of their sophomore year — so they can fit it into their graduation plan and avoid having to extend the time it will take them to graduate.

    Can I have two college minors?

    It’s possible to have two college minors. That said, if this is a choice you’re considering, it’s important to discuss this with your academic advisor soon so you can ensure that your two minors fit into your graduation plan. Taking two minors may involve taking additional classes outside of the minimum required credits to graduate, but this depends on the subjects you’re minoring in and where you are in your degree plan when you declare two minors.

    Are minors in college worth it?

    Whether a minor in college is worth pursuing depends on your goals and interests. A minor can be valuable in providing you with additional skills and knowledge that complement your major, helping you deepen your understanding of a topic you may be interested in and making you more competitive for certain jobs or graduate programs.

    However, minors aren’t a requirement for a bachelor’s degree and are also a commitment, so it’s important to consider whether pursuing a minor aligns with your goals and doesn’t create a burden for your courseload.

    Do prospective employers look at college minors?

    Although your minor won’t appear on your diploma when you graduate, it will be on your transcript. You can also include it on your resume to showcase to prospective employers the range of classes you took during college.

    The significance of a college minor to employers will likely vary by industry, role, and company. Some employers may emphasize relevant work experience more, while others may value the additional expertise and versatility that a college minor can provide. 

    Final thoughts

    Choosing a minor doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If it’s something you’re interested in, it’s important to do your research and meet with your academic advisor to make sure you’re on track and setting yourself up for success.