When applying, or at the first two years of studies, students must choose their academic major: the specialization they want to master at the university.

In parallel, there is also an opportunity to choose an academic minor, which in short can be described as a second specialization related to the major. However, not all students take minors, as it has both pros and cons for the studying process. 

Through this article, you will read the answers to the following questions:

  • What is a Major?
  • What is Minor?
  • What benefits can you have if taking a Minor?
  • What is important to consider before choosing a Minor?

What is a Major?

As stated above, the academic major is the specialization students choose to study. It's important to pick a major carefully. It defines the scope of courses you will take in university and an academic direction, which will be your priority among other classes. 

Upon graduation, you will hold a certificate of completion for your major, and employers will consider your candidacy for the positions related to it. So, aside from defining the scope of the knowledge you will receive at university, your chosen major also positions you for a specific field career. 

It's not easy to understand what you want for your entire future, especially at teenage years. That's why some universities may allow you to choose a major during the first years of studies, not necessarily when applying to university. 

Usually, at universities in the USA and Canada, you can decide on your major at the end of your sophomore (2nd year of studies). In contrast, almost all UK universities require students to choose a major during the application, whereas Scotland also adopts it to major at first years of studies. 

The procedure of choosing a major varies among universities. It may also vary depending on the sphere of studies and particular study program, so investigate when you should choose a major for your chosen university. 

What is a Minor, and how can I benefit from it?

You can add the word "secondary" or "complementary" before all the major definitions and get the academic minor's idea. It's your secondary specialization, mini-major, which can be related to your major's narrower specification or to completely other spheres. 

You can study in the faculty of Engineering and pick a minor in Robotics, for example. In this case, you will focus your attention on the same area of studies, emphasizing the direction interesting for you. 

As another case, you may study in BA and choose a minor in Education. In selecting majors and minors from different fields, students can cover several interests at the same time. Also, this gives them a chance to apply to different job positions for their future career. 

Minors are optional in almost all universities. Taking a minor is your wish to take the extra mile. If you complete a minor, it will be listed in your transcripts along with the major, probably making you more attractive in the eyes of employers. However, if you don't take a minor, this doesn't make your Education less sophisticated. 

A minor has a predefined academic scope, mandatory courses, and credits you should take. Note that minors are granted along with majors, and you should study them simultaneously. There is no option to graduate from a major and then choose a minor separately. 

To sum up, a minor should be chosen and integrated into your major's schedule and load. Otherwise, you may fail to succeed in both, instead of excelling among peers. The next section will list what you should pay close attention to before selecting a minor.

What is important to consider before you choose a minor?

Does it align with your educational and career goals?

Completing both major and minor sounds attractive, and you will most probably feel more confident when applying to jobs. But this will cost you extra time, money, and effort. That will be a good idea to understand if the commitment-result ratio will be beneficial for you in the end?

Firstly, make sure you have enough interest in something other than your chosen academic course to put extra effort into. Secondly, make sure you want to narrow your future career sphere to a certain specialization. Just as major, minor will also tell the potential employers about your career preferences. 

In case you pursue a minor in a different field, question if studies in completely different areas will be compatible with each other. Also, are you sure minor studies with fewer academic hours and courses will be enough to gain sufficient expertise

Are you at the correct stage of your major studies to choose a minor?

Each university has unique procedures related to the minor selection. However, in most cases, you ought to take a certain amount of credits to graduate from a major. So, if you are in the third or last year of your studies, you may lack the available academic hours and credits to take something other than your major

In another case, you may be allowed to make a minor, but this can prolong your graduation. You may be required to complete certain major and minor courses, which would last longer than major classes separately. 

Last but not least, university policies may not allow pursuing minors at certain stages of studies. Usually, this shouldn't be the case, but it worths consulting with academic advisors at university open-doors events in advance. 

Is taking a minor the best opportunity to escalate your skills?

Organize a battle of alternatives that can help you become better educated and more competent. You may find out that private or online courses are a less costly alternative to gaining new skills than taking a minor. 

You may also find internship opportunities that would carry out the minor's mission in your academic experience and provide you with the potential employment opportunity. 


Choosing a major is mandatory, whereas a minor is usually your optional choice for deeper studies. Minor can advance your future career and not, and it depends on how carefully you would make a choice. You should make sure your decision to take a minor aligns with your dream career. In parallel, it shouldn't distract you from your main responsibilities and academic focus. 

Published on Jan 22, 2021