Major vs. Minor: What Is the Difference? - University of the Potomac (2023)

If you’re a student fresh out of high school considering pursuing an undergraduate degree, chances are you will come across different terms you will not understand. Because pursuing a college degree is one of the most significant decisions you make in your life, you must understand how things function before opting for something.

Students who plan on studying in the U.S. are presented with two options for an undergraduate degree: a major and a minor. We must review each one thoroughly and side by side to better comprehend the differences between the two. Keep reading to find out your options regarding a college major vs. a minor.

What Is a Major In University?

The major you choose in college or university is what makes the core aspect of your studies. A fair part of the classes you need to take to complete your major is determined by the university you enroll in. The kind of classes you take depends on the major you pick. Completing a major in college or university will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need for entry-level positions in a field or industry related to your particular major.

How to choose a major

As we have already mentioned: a major is essentially the critical aspect of your undergraduate studies. With this in mind, it goes without saying that you should choose a major carefully and only after you have weighed your options.

The major you pick will lay the foundation of your future career in a particular field or industry. Because this is such an important decision, colleges and universities will give students plenty of time to pick a major. There are a few things to consider before selecting a major to ensure you make the right choice.

Things to consider when choosing a college major

Major vs. Minor: What Is the Difference? - University of the Potomac (1)

Because the idea of pursuing a college degree might be overwhelming, you can always use some tips to help you choose a major.

The first and most important thing to remember is to pick a major in an area you are interested in. Start this process by making a list of majors that seem attractive to you or fascinate you and another list of majors you are interested in based on your abilities. When it comes to choosing a major in university, the possibilities are virtually endless. There are literature majors for those passionate about reading and writing, information technology or computer science majors for those interested in technology, etc.

It is also advisable to consult with different professionals in the fields you are interested in to have a better insight into the field. Consulting with people already in the industry will help you significantly with your decision-making.

Lastly, research the majors that interest you and the careers they generate to see employment options and job outlooks after graduation.

Will a major dictate your profession?

The major you pick will not determine your professional career. Sure, you can choose a major related to your chosen career, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, according to the Washington Post, only 27% of college graduates work in a field related to their major.

Can you change your major in college?

Yes, you can change your college major; it is a fairly common practice among students. The switch from one major to another can happen for different reasons, like new skills, preferences, etc. While switching majors is normal, you should remember that timing is everything. If you change your major too late during your studies, you are essentially delaying your graduation.

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What Is a Minor In University?

A college or university minor is a secondary concentration of your undergraduate studies. You can choose a minor that is connected to your major or some aspect of it. A university minor can also be entirely different from your major in a separate field that interests you. The number of classes you need to take to complete your minor is determined by the university you enroll in. Similar to a major, the courses you take depend on the minor you pick.

How to choose a minor

If you are interested in picking a minor for your undergraduate studies but don’t know where to start, we are here to help. You need to know a few things about a university minor that will help you choose one. A university minor is optional and will take less of your time than a major to complete as you have fewer classes you need to take. The kind of university minor you pick will depend on your preferences, and you can even choose more than one if your university allows you to. When selecting a minor, you can go one of two ways: pick something related to your major or something different.

Things to consider when choosing a college minor

Major vs. Minor: What Is the Difference? - University of the Potomac (2)

Sometimes, having too many options you can go for can render you overwhelmed—this includes choosing a university minor. Completing a university minor is a great way to complement your major. The minor you pick can be directly related to your studies and the things you are passionate about. A university minor doesn’t have to be associated with a major. In fact, if there is something else you are interested in other than your major, minoring in that field is an excellent idea.

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Can you change your minor in college?

At one point in our lives, we have all been stuck with a decision we made, wishing we could change it. One of the best things about choosing a minor in university is that you can change it or drop it altogether if you don’t like the other options. All you need to do is consult your advisor about the steps you need to take to make the switch. If, for some reason, you find yourself too overwhelmed and wishing you had not picked a university minor at all, you can request to cancel your minor.

Should you get a college minor?

If you have the opportunity to minor in college and know that you can put the time and effort into it, then you should go for it. Minors in college will probably not be a job requirement for you in the future. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that because it is optional, minoring in college can help by giving you a competitive edge when you enter the workforce. A college minor, especially one related to your career, will also prove to potential employers that you are willing to do whatever it takes to expand your knowledge and skill set.

College Major And Minor Combinations

Major vs. Minor: What Is the Difference? - University of the Potomac (3)

The best way to combine a college major and a minor is to major in a more extensive field and minor to specialize in a concentrated area of that field. Some of the most popular university major and minor combinations students go for include:

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  • A major in Finance + a minor in Computer Science;
  • A major in Political Science + A minor in International Relations;
  • A major in Economics + A minor in Statistics;
  • A major in Marketing + A minor in Communication;
  • A major in Business + A minor in Psychology, etc.

Major vs. Minor: What’s the Difference?

The most significant difference between a university major and a minor is their specific role in your undergraduate studies. While a university major is your main field of study, a university minor is essentially a second (or third) concentration.

Typically, a university major requires more time or credit hours to complete than a minor. At the end of your studies, your graduation certificate will only show your major. However, you can add both your major and minor as qualifications in your resume.

Students who major or minor during their undergraduate studies expand their knowledge and develop new skills. Thus, by completing a major or minor (or both), you will lay a solid foundation for your future career, i.e., invest in your future.

FAQs

What is the difference between major and minor degree? ›

In a Bachelor's Degree, the Major is the main focus of your studies and the Minor is a secondary specialization. Your Major should be the field of study in which you wish to pursue a professional career, while the Minor can be either a complementary subject to that goal or a further exploration of a hobby or interest.

Are minors easier than majors? ›

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.

What is the difference between major minor and concentration? ›

With a minor, you will still have to fulfill mandatory courses, but fewer than you will need to complete your major. A concentration refers to a subject or study within a specific major. This concentration must be in the same field.

How do I decide what to major and minor in? ›

Students should gain exposure to a variety of academic fields before choosing a major. When deciding on a major or minor, students should consider their passions and strengths, as well as the projected job market for their field of interest.

Is a major minor worth it? ›

In general, a minor doesn't make a degree more attractive to employers, but some majors benefit from a carefully selected minor. For example, a degree in law or social work with a minor in Spanish shows that you're particularly suited to work in Hispanic communities.

Is a minor degree worth anything? ›

Even though students will take more college courses for a major, experts say they shouldn't overlook the importance of determining a minor. “Minors are incredibly important because it's another way to demonstrate to employers that you have an interest in something,” Millay says.

How many minors equal a major? ›

However, three minors for similar mistakes will often result in a major, which will cause you to fail your test. But many drivers do indeed fail their tests first time. This is extremely common, and it's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

What's the point of a minor? ›

Minors in college provide students with the opportunity to learn more about something that they are interested in, whether or not it is related to their major. While majors require a lot of focus, attention, and time during college, minors are much less demanding as they often consist of ten courses or fewer.

Is it better to have 2 majors or a major and a minor? ›

Another potential benefit of doing a double major over a major and minor is that it can give you more career options. You can pursue positions in either subject area whereas, if you only have a minor in the second area, this won't necessarily increase your career options.

Is a minor higher than a major? ›

Minor Scale Formula

The starting note of a relative minor scale is 3 half steps lower than the major scale. So the relative minor scale of C Major is A minor and the notes are A B C D E F G A.

Is major or minor more happy? ›

Most of the time, when all else is held constant, music in a major key is judged as happy while minor key music is heard as sad. I say most of the time because it's not true across the board. Minor music can be happy even if people do not understand the lyrics, such as in Van Morrison's 'Moondance'.

Do 3 minors make a major? ›

While you can receive 15 minors and still pass, three minors for the same mistake will most likely result in a major and a fail.

Do you need both a major and a minor? ›

Minors must be completed simultaneously with a major degree program. A minor may not be completed by itself, independent of a major program. This means you cannot earn a minor after you have already earned your bachelor's degree(s). You need at least one active major in order to pursue a minor.

Do minors show up on diploma? ›

Completion of a minor appears on the diploma and official transcript.

Do minors matter on a resume? ›

Yes, you should still include your minor on your resume, even if it doesn't relate to your major, because it proves to employers or hiring managers that you have a love for learning and expanding your professional knowledge.

Should I put my minor on my resume? ›

A minor should be listed on your resume after the major, either on the same line or one line below your major. The key is to ensure clean formatting and easy readability. This guide will provide you with a detailed breakdown of how to list your minor on a resume.

What is the easiest minor in college? ›

Some of the easiest minors are:
  • Business Administration. Business administration programs tend to how low weekly workloads and high average GPAs among enrolled students. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Public Relations & Advertising. ...
  • Journalism.

What do minors look like on a degree? ›

Earned minors, more often than not, do not appear on a diploma. As a matter of fact, completed majors do not show up on a diploma either.

How far is a minor from a major? ›

The minor key starts three semitones below its relative major; for example, A minor is three semitones below its relative, C major.

How many minors before you fail? ›

You certainly want to avoid any serious or dangerous mistakes as just one of these will be an immediate test failure. It is however highly likely that you will receive some, even many driving test minors (now called faults). You are permitted to receive up to 15 minors, 16 or more results in a test failure.

How many minors is a good pass? ›

Pass mark. You'll pass your driving test if you make: no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called 'minors')

What are the benefits of having a major and minor? ›

Your major provides you with the skills you need to start your career. A minor gives you a chance to learn a new skill or skills that are outside your major. You might choose a minor that complements your major in some way or declare a minor based on your own personal interests in a certain field of study.

What is the easiest degree to major in? ›

The 16 Easiest College Majors – 2023 Rankings
  • Psychology.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • English.
  • Education.
  • Religious Studies.
  • Social Work.
  • Sociology.
  • Communications.
Nov 1, 2022

What is the most useful major in college? ›

Here is a list of the most useful college majors based on post-graduate employment and median annual wage as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  • Physics. ...
  • Political science. ...
  • Business administration. ...
  • Nursing. ...
  • Meteorology. ...
  • General engineering. ...
  • Materials science. ...
  • Chemical engineering.
Mar 30, 2020

Why would someone want a second major or a minor? ›

Students may double major because they're very passionate about two fields of study, and since they want to do both they're willing to take on the extra workload. Some might have preferred not to double major, but the absence of a minor degree in the desired field forces the issue.

Can you upgrade a minor to a major? ›

Most Universities allow you to pursue a double degree to upgrade minor. Policies and requirement vary from program to program. However, I would normally just encourage you to take a graduate degree.

Is two minors too much? ›

Dangers of Multiple Minors

Taking multiple minors lets you study unique and unusual topics like African American studies or film studies. Keep in mind that choosing too many minors may make you look flaky and/or unreliable. This is especially true if you plan to attend graduate school.

Is C Minor higher than C major? ›

C minor is a minor scale based on C, consisting of the pitches C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, and B♭. Its key signature consists of three flats. Its relative major is E♭ major and its parallel major is C major.

What is the saddest major key? ›

We started with the “people's key,” C major. From there it's an easy skip to D, the root of today's subject, the “saddest key,” D minor. That the key of D minor is the key of true sorrow is ostensibly inarguable at this point in time.

Is minor or major sadder? ›

The major and minor scales are the basis for any melody in western music. These foundational patterns have strong links to basic emotions for most listeners. Major scales are normally associated with happiness, while minor scales typically evoke feelings of sadness and melancholy.

Is not checking your mirrors a major? ›

This would result in a minor fault. Scenario 2: You're changing lanes on a dual carriageway, forget to check your mirrors and change lanes anyway. This is a serious major fault, because even though nobody is there, you could have caused an accident by not checking if they were.

Is triple majoring a thing? ›

Triple majors are just normal people who take more classes than everyone else. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Some students focus more heavily on sports, or councils, or other clubs. Some have jobs that take up their free time.

Is a minor the same as an associate's degree? ›

No, they are different. An associate's degree is typically awarded by a community college, junior college or a technical college. A minor, however, signifies an additional field of study on top of your undergraduate major in a specific area, and it includes upper-level college courses within that area.

Can I turn my minor into a major? ›

You cannot officially get a major or a minor or a concentration after graduating — unless you enroll in a program again.

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