A Guide To Understanding College Minor Courses



College can be a wild ride. Full of social, personal, and academic twists and turns, it can be exciting, challenging, and overwhelming in turn. One of the most important decisions of your college life will be choosing a major. Some students may choose their university based on the field they want to major in, and planning your major can be a vital part of preparing for college.


Most college students declare a major at the end of their sophomore year or the beginning of their junior year, after completing general education requirements. Students will generally work with their academic advisors to determine what major they should declare. A major will guide your coursework for the remaining two years of your university education and will equip you with the essential skills and connections you need to enter the workforce in that sector.


Another important decision that students make at around the same time is whether or not to declare a minor. A minor gives students the chance to focus on more than one field, and it can provide training and experience in a subject that students might not otherwise have time to delve into. This guide will help you understand the ins and outs of college minor courses.


What Is A Minor?

A college minor is a course of study, typically chosen at the same time as a college major, that allows students to dedicate a smaller portion of time to an additional subject. A typical major requires 30 hours of coursework or more, while a minor will require around 17-20 hours, which translates to about six or seven courses.


In a sense, a minor is a smaller version of a college major. It allows you to specialize and go in depth, but is generally less demanding in terms of time than a major. Minors are rarely required, but they can be a complementary addition to your college education and combine well with your chosen major. Depending upon your academic workload and the course cap set by your university, you may even be able to select more than one minor.


What Are the Benefits Of Taking Minor Courses?

With all the demands involved in choosing your major and completing the required coursework, you might wonder, “Do I need a minor?”  While a minor is not a necessary part of most universities’ degree plans, it can offer students a number of advantages in the long and short term.


Here are some of the main benefits of taking college minor courses:


  • Allows You To Keep Up An Old Hobby

College is a busy time, and it can be easy to let old hobbies fall by the wayside. Even if you’re majoring in accounting or economics, a minor, for instance, gives you room to take painting classes!  Minors typically don’t have to be related to your major, and they can allow you to explore a favorite pastime to a greater degree. Don’t be surprised when what you’re learning in your minor starts to influence the path you’re taking with your major.


  • Lets You Explore A New Field

If there’s a subject that has always piqued your interest, but that you’ve never really had the chance to learn more about, a minor might present that opportunity. Even if it doesn’t relate to your planned career path, a minor can be a helpful and engaging addition to your studies.


  • Complements Your Major

Some majors and minors go together perfectly. For example, accounting, engineering, and computer science are a popular combination, but the sky’s the limit. Your academic advisor will likely recommend you take minor courses if they think doing so will complement your major and will provide you with additional and essential skills.


  • Lets You Stand Out

In today’s job market, specialization and expertise are key. Employers are looking for potential employees who have a broad skill set and who can fill a variety of roles. Taking minor courses that complement or differ from your major can make you stand out immediately to potential employers. Taking minor courses shows that you’re a multifaceted person with varied skills and interests, and it will give you a leg up over other graduates when you start the job search.


Plan Ahead

If you’re interested in pursuing a minor, you should definitely plan ahead. You may discover your interest in a minor through the general education classes you take, or you might have a game plan going into college. Regardless, it’s a good idea to declare your minor at the same time that you declare your major. This gives you enough time to meet the hour requirements for receiving your degree, without having to add on another semester or two. This will ultimately save you time and money, and help you get on the fast track to the career of your dreams.


Similarly, make sure to check the degree plan for your major and the minor you’re considering. It’s important to have an understanding of your future course load so that you can choose a minor that will not leave you feeling overwhelmed. Some universities or departments may have a cap on the number of hours you can take at one time, which means you may have to plan your schedule around these limits.


How To Choose A Minor

Choosing a minor is similar to choosing your major, but will define less of your time at university. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. On the contrary, you may find yourself working in the field that you minored in a few years down the road. Your academic advisor may advise that you take certain minor courses, or you may choose them yourself.


Here are some of the ways you can choose your minor:


  • Dive Into A Favorite Subject

Perhaps, even more so than choosing a major, choosing a minor lets you dive into a subject that you love. Your minor doesn’t have to reflect your career plans, but it can still reflect your passions. Think about the classes you loved in high school, and if you’ve already chosen your major, think about what else you want to learn and do while in college.


  • Choose Something That Matches Your Career Plan

Choosing a minor that doesn’t reflect your career goals is a perfectly viable option, but consider picking up a minor that works well with your major. This gives you an automatic competitive edge against other graduates, and can grant you skills that can help you succeed in your major.


  • Make A Plan B

These days, very few people stay in the same sector for their entire lives. Career changes are quite common, and may even happen quite late in life. This can make minors especially important as they present you with an alternative to your major. Even if you start working in one field after graduation, you have the possibility to move to another if the opportunity and desire present themselves.


Another reason that college minors are pursued by many people is to make sure they can land a position in the field of their choice while continuing to work in another. For example, if you’re planning on going back to school in order to become a nurse, but you’re not particularly educated on the nursing aspect of medical care, getting a minor in nursing will give you the edge in the market.


  • Plan For Further Education

If you’re planning on returning to school for a master’s or a doctorate, your minor could be an excellent way to prepare for this. It can give you a brief introduction to the subject you hope to pursue in further education and help you hit the ground running.


What Are Some Alternatives?

If you’re looking to add variety to your academic career and gain experience in other fields, but don’t feel that a minor degree fits with your plans, there are alternatives to consider. One option highly recommended by many college counselors is participating in a semester or year abroad. This kind of exchange program allows students to live and study in a foreign country. While, at times, they may be able to continue with their chosen field of study, differences in coursework and college requirements may mean that a student abroad will have a vastly different academic experience than if they had stayed at home.


Studying abroad also offers a wide variety of potentially eye-opening experiences, from learning a new language to experiencing a new culture. You may also be able to make connections abroad that can help prepare you for your future career.


Another alternative to a minor is simply choosing to double major. This allows you to dive into two fields with equal depths and time commitment. However, this academic path can be quite challenging, and may require you to extend your college career by a semester or two to finish all of your requirements. Having a double major can be rewarding but challenging, and it offers an alternative to minor degrees for those looking for a more involved engagement with the subject in question.


Sky’s The Limit!

While you may feel your major has to be purely career-oriented, taking minor courses presents much more freedom. Consider all the possibilities of what you can study, plan your course load ahead of time, and make the most out of your college experience. Who knows what doors a well-chosen minor can open down the road.



By Herbert Washington

Bio: Herbert Washington has been publishing articles since he was eighteen years old. Now at twenty-five, Herbert has gained the loyalty of countless readers across the globe because of his ability to write informative and witty articles about travel and lifestyle.

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