Minor (academic)

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An academic minor is a college or university student's declared secondary academic discipline during their undergraduate studies. As with an academic major, the college or university in question lays out a framework of required classes or class types a student must complete to earn the minor—although the latitude the student is given changes from college to college. Academic minors and majors differ in that the former is subordinate to the latter. To obtain an academic minor, a total of three years of study at a university in a selected subject is the usual requirement.

Some students will prepare for their intended career with their major, while pursuing personal interests with a minor. For example, some students may major in civil engineering and minor in a foreign language.

Other students may pursue a minor to provide specific specialization and thus make themselves more attractive to employers. It is not infrequent for a physics major to minor in computer science or an economics major to minor in mathematics. Engineering students frequently take a minor in mathematics, as they already have most course credits needed for the purpose.

At some point, a minor may be the foundation for a career. For example, students intending to become secondary education teachers often major in their teaching subject area (for example, history or chemistry) and minor in education.

Additionally, a minor may be used to pursue an alternative interest. The same engineering student may decide to minor in performing arts.

In 1910, A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, "introduced a system that required students to major in a subject and also to take courses outside their areas of concentration."[1] Harvard University itself, however, does not offer undergraduates the option of taking a minor, but rather "a secondary field, similar to a minor at many schools."[2] [3] Australia also offers double majors and minors. However, in other countries, like the United Kingdom, students usually focus on a single area of study.[citation needed] In Quebec, most francophone universities do not use the minor/major structure. Single-year programs are known as certificates and may be combined with other programs to form a bachelor by accumulation (known as a baccalauréat par cumul).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charles McGrath, "What Every Student Should Know", New York Times Education Life, January 8, 2006.
  2. ^ Harvard University, "Setting the Course of Your Degree", Harvard University Fields of Study.
  3. ^ Kiki Barnes, "Poll: Undergrads say U. should offer minors", Browth Daily Herald University News, April 10, 2013.