8 answers

What's the difference between a major and a minor?

Asked Denton, Texas

And can you get them at the same time? #college #college-major #majors #college-minor

8 answers

Georgette’s Answer

Updated Ontario, Ontario, Canada

Let's say you are going to take a four-year degree with 5 full-year courses per year. That means you'll take 20 full-year courses over the course of your four-year degree.

A major - it may be 8+ courses in one particular field like business or biology or whatever you choose. A minor - it may be 4 - 6 courses in another area. This second area can be totally unrelated to the first one.

Different schools allow different combinations of majors and minors. I completed 2 majors and 1 certificate in my four-year degree. Some people choose to do 1 major and 2 minors. I think every school will require you to have at least 1 major, and different schools will have different rules on how you can combine it with other majors, minors, or certificates.

Why have more than 1? Having a combination of majors, minors, or certificates can be useful in creating a unique skill set that may set you apart in the job market. For example, the ability to understand computer science or engineering, and biology or medicine led to the development of the interdisciplinary field of biotechnology. Some people combine business with a field that they are really interested in so they understand how businesses operate or how to start an organization that aligns with their passion. Studying more than one field also gives you a lot of flexibility in looking for job opportunities that align with your degree. It also allows you to explore more than one area of interest. In the event that you choose to switch majors, there's a chance that more of your credits may be transferable because you were already studying in that area.

Britni’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

Hi Sydney!

Your major in college refers to your main area of study, which can also have concentrations. For example, one person might have a major in Biology with a concentration in Genetics. Minors typically either represent a side interest for your own or an area of study that complements your major or intended career path. Some people may minor in business, or a foreign language, for added knowledge in that field. You work towards your major and minor at the same time.

Sydney’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

A major is your main area of study and a minor is just an addition if you have room in your schedule or other interests. I have a degree in psychology and my minor was in entrepreneurship just so I would have basic business knowledge.

Elizabeth’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

You may want to consider choosing a major and minor field of study in college that provide you with both specific training as well as liberal arts exposure. If you find math or science courses are enjoyable and you excel in those areas, you may want to select a major in one of those areas with a minor in something unrelated, such as Literature, Psychology or Art. The advantage to such an approach will give you both technical skills as well as people skills.

When you complete college you will have enhanced both your technical training for employable positions such as engineering, accounting, IT, and you will also have a perspective about life, art and culture. Likewise, if the arts are of more interest to you, then a major in one of the humanities and a minor in a more technical field may work best. Most graduate training, such as law school, is very focused and so try to enjoy a balance of studies in college so you can discover what type of career you want to strive toward. Good luck!


Mae’s Answer

Updated Los Angeles, California

Credits. Majors and minors come down to credits - how many you need for your major and how many a minor might need. Let's say you need 60 credits for your major but an English minor may take 20 credits ( 4 - 5 courses). It's becoming very common to have two majors (that's a lot of credits!) or a major and a minor. If you can do it, do it. It's good for the resume and probably good for you especially if it's something that interests you.

Ursula’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge, Virginia
A major is a specific course of study that leads to a degree be it a BA, BS, etc. A minor is a course of study that typically complements a major. It isn't that difficult to complete a major and minor at the same time but there are factors to consider such as if you are working or participating in an internship at the same time which may limit your credit hours per semester or quarter. In additional, you need to keep in mind the finances you have available because there could be additional credit hours to pay for.

Rachel’s Answer


<span style="background-color: transparent;">Collegeboard.org is a great resource for this! I poured through the pages of universities all over the U.S. when I was a senior in high school. Collegeboard was my go-to site! They put all of the information in one place and it is very easy to use. They even have various filters you can apply to see only colleges that have programs you are interested. To determine academic rigor, look at the admissions requirements, G.P.A. of past admitted applicants, SAT/ACT scores, class rank etc. This will give you an idea of what scores and grades you need to be accepted. However, don't be discouraged your application will be reviewed based on the full picture! College-board will help you get an idea of what is most important to the specific school you are applying to.</span>

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Chat with your Guidance Counselor</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Create a Collegeboard.org account</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Start using CollegeBoard as a resource to look up schools.</span>

Jeff’s Answer


It takes much more coursework to do a major than a minor. Every college outlines the requirements for a major and a minor in each subject. You can even double major. Or even have multiple minors. I had one major and three minors.

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