Major vs. Minor: What’s the Difference?

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When going through college application forms, you might have come across the terms major or minor and felt confused about what to choose.

But don’t worry! Many universities in the U.S. do not require you to declare a major right away as they understand that many students are unsure of what they want to pursue.

First, you should take some time to have a clear understanding of minor vs. major. better. So, let me explain what they are, the difference between major vs. minor, and provide you with some useful tips to help you make the right choices for your academic career.

What Is a Major in University?

Your major in university expresses the primary area of your studies. Depending on the major program you choose, the university in question will determine around a third of the courses you have to take to complete the program. By choosing and completing a major, you will be prepared and qualified for entry-level jobs related to the subject you specialize in.

How do I choose a major?

One of the most important decisions regarding your academic life is picking a major. The choice you make can pave the way towards a successful career and open many doors for you. Universities and colleges recognize the importance of this decision, and that is why they do not rush you to make your choice. However, before picking, there are a few things you should consider.

What to consider when choosing a college major?

what-to-consider-when-choosing-a-major

When picking your major, have in mind areas of study that interest you. Make a list of majors that you like doing or are intrigued by, as well as ones based on your abilities and fields you excel in.

If you enjoy reading books and writing, you could try majoring in literature. Or, if you are fascinated by technology and the online world, majoring in computer science or information technology might be for you. In case you are great with numbers, then consider a major in accounting or numerical analysis. The possibilities are endless.

Go through that list and talk to professionals in each field to gain a better understanding. According to a survey, around 84% of students who received advice from people with experience deemed it helpful for the decision process. Your major is supposed to help prepare you for your future career. So, you can also do some research and see whether jobs in the major you are considering are employable.

Will my major dictate my profession?

To put it simply—no. Your major does not dictate your profession. Research on majors shows that 62% of recent graduates work in jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. However, only 27% of them are working on jobs that relate to the field they majored in.

Can you change your major in college?

Studies show that during college, it is common for students to switch their major. This switch could come as a result of newly developed abilities, preferences, or some other reason.

It is important to note that the timing of a major switch is important. Switching your major later in your college career can cause a delay in your graduation. Therefore, if you are sure of your decision, make the switch as early as possible.

What Is a Minor in University?

A college minor is the second concentration of your studies and the courses you take. It can be a field related to your major or a completely different area that you are passionate about.

Similarly to the major, your minor also determines a set of classes you are required to take to complete it.

How do I choose a minor?

A minor requires less time commitment than a major. This secondary concentration will not expect as many classes as a major. Therefore, you have the chance to explore more departments and areas of study if you decide to pursue it. Minors are optional. You can choose not to pick any or complete only one. Some universities allow students to pursue more than one minor. It is up to you.

When picking your minor, you can choose something that will complement your major or a completely different field of study. Whatever the case, remember that choosing your minor always comes secondary to your major.

Many schools do not even require it, so you can continue without ever picking one. Or, if you do want to pursue a minor, you have plenty of time to decide the path you want to take.

What to consider when choosing a college minor?

Some aspects to consider when choosing your minor are your studies and passions. Many students pick minors that complement their majors. This way, they can add depth to their studies. Let’s say you are majoring in music, then some good minor options that will help you gain more experience and knowledge would be songwriting, jazz studies, or music recording.

Alternatively, if you are pursuing a major in marketing, you might consider minoring in graphic design or international business.

Nonetheless, you might want to minor in a subject that may not be related to your major but is part of your interests. For example, if you are majoring in data science but have always liked history, nothing stops you from picking a minor in history.

Can you change your minor in college?

If you regret your minor pick, the good news is that you can switch it for another or cancel it altogether. Your college advisor can assist you in making this switch and inform you of the requirements for the process.

If you have not found any other minor to switch to, then you can only cancel the one you picked beforehand and not pursue a minor. In this case, the minor department within your college should help you fill in an application to request canceling your minor.

Should I get a college minor?

In case you have the opportunity to minor in college and are willing to work for it, then you should. The fact that it is an optional secondary discipline will show potential future employees that you willingly go above and beyond to learn and develop your skills.

Minors are rarely a requirement for jobs. However, they can give you a boost in the application journey. Especially so when the minor is in a field related to the job.

College Major and Minor Combinations

We already established that your minor can support your major. You might decide to major in a more general field. Then, you can use your minor to focus and specialize in a more specific area of that field. Some common major and minor combinations include:

  • Major in finance+minor in computer science.
  • Major in finance+minor in economics.
  • Major in economics+minor in statistics.
  • Major in business+minor in psychology.
  • Major in marketing+minor in communication.
  • Major in political science+minor in international relations.

Major vs. Minor: Understanding The Difference

When it comes to the debate major vs. minor, the first difference between the two is their level of importance for your studies. Your major will decide your primary field of study, whereas the minor is a secondary concentration.

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Then, although it varies from school to school, generally, minors require fewer credit hours. Once everything is done, your major is the only one that will be displayed on your graduation certificate. You can still add the minor to your resume though.

Majors and minors are meant to provide a well-rounded foundation for you to advance your career based on your abilities and interests. It is both a curse and a blessing to have so many options to choose from. But, having the chance to switch your picks should make the process less stressful.

It doesn’t matter how early you pick your major and minor or how many times you switch them, as long as you just do not give up and continue trying.

The Bottom Line

Choosing between a major and a minor can be a daunting decision, but it’s an important one that can affect your academic and professional career. While majors are the primary focus of your degree program and often lead to a specific career path, a minor is an opportunity to explore your interests beyond your major field of study.

So, take the time to weigh your options and find the right balance between your interests and your career goals. If you need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a major and a minor in university?

A major refers to a student’s primary area of study, while a minor is a secondary area of focus. A major typically requires more courses and credits, forming the core of a student’s academic program, while a minor involves fewer courses and provides additional specialization or breadth in a different subject.

How do I choose between a major and a minor?

Students should consider their interests, career goals, and strengths when choosing a major. Majors often align with desired career paths or fields of study that students are passionate about. Conversely, minors can complement a major by providing interdisciplinary skills or knowledge in a related or contrasting area.

Can I change my major or minor once I’ve declared it?

Yes, students can typically change their major or minor during their university studies. However, the process and requirements for changing majors or adding minors may vary depending on the university’s policies and the specific programs involved. 

Do majors and minors affect graduation requirements?

Majors and minors can impact graduation requirements. Completing a major usually requires fulfilling specific coursework, credit, and GPA requirements in the chosen field of study. 

Minors may have their own requirements, including a certain number of courses or credits in the designated subject area. Students should carefully plan their course schedules to ensure they meet all requirements for their major(s) and minor(s) within the expected timeframe.

How do majors and minors contribute to career prospects?

Majors often serve as the foundation for career paths directly related to the field of study. They provide in-depth knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary for entry into specific professions or industries. Minors can enhance career prospects by offering supplementary skills, knowledge, or perspectives that may be valuable in a variety of fields or that complement the primary major.

Can I have more than one major or minor?

Some universities allow students to pursue multiple majors or minors, while others may have restrictions or additional requirements for doing so. It’s important to check with the university’s academic policies and consult with advisors to determine the feasibility and implications of pursuing multiple majors or minors.

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