"Help! I'm majoring in psychology, but I'm thinking of picking up a minor in a different subject. What should I minor in if I'm majoring in psychology?"
A lot of universities allow students to pursue what is known as an academic minor. This can add yet another element of confusion for students who are trying to figure out which subjects to study and which classes will help them the most. Should you earn a minor? If so, which one should you pursue? Let's start by answering the basic question: What exactly is a minor?
A college minor represents a secondary field of study in addition to a college major. While it is similar in many ways to a major, it involves fewer required classes. In many cases, a minor represents approximately two years of study in a given subject.
A Few Reasons to Pursue an Academic Minor
So why do some students opt to pursue a minor in addition to their major studies? Students might choose to earn one in a topic related to their field or in something that might help them later on in graduate school.
"Minors, along with double majors, are increasingly popular as students try to master multiple subjects on the way to flexible careers or future education, " suggested Michelle Slatalla in an article for The New York Times.
For example, a student who plans to enter the workforce after graduation as a case manager or psychiatric technician might opt to earn a minor in a foreign language if they plan to work with clients who do not speak English or who speak English as a second language.
A Few Good Minor Options for Psychology Majors
Some minor options commonly chosen by psychology majors include:
- Foreign languages
- Health sciences
Do You Need a Minor?
Most colleges and universities do not require students to select a minor. While you might opt to minor in a topic, the reality is that most students do not need to earn one.
In a lot of cases, a minor might represent an interest in a topic that you love but don't necessarily want to earn a degree in. In some instances, a minor might even be something that isn't related to your major. For example, you might choose to earn a minor in a foreign language or art history simply because you love the subject and are interested in taking classes in that area.
In other cases, you might want to choose a minor that is more closely allied to your chosen degree focus or a subject that might make you more attractive to potential employers and give yourself an edge over other job candidates. For psychology majors, this might involve taking extra classes in a life science such as biology or in a health science such as nutrition or public health.
Picking a minor that might help you in the workplace is another great option. For example, a student interested in doing therapy work might opt to minor in Spanish in order to be better able to communicate with Spanish-speaking clients.
For psychology majors who are planning to go to graduate school, a minor can be a great way to complete pre-requisites and gain some knowledge and experience in an allied area. For example, a student planning to get a graduate degree in health psychology might choose to earn an academic minor in a health-related topic. A student thinking about a future career in forensic psychology might opt to minor in political science, criminology or philosophy.
The choice of what to minor in (or whether to select an academic minor at all) is really up to the individual student in most cases. Is there a subject that you are interested in learning more about? A minor is a bit like a "mini-major" and can be a great way to explore that interest without committing to a major in the subject.