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What’s the Difference Between a Major and a Minor in College?

What’s the Difference Between a Major and a Minor in College?

Did you know that the number of classes it takes to complete a major versus a minor in college can differ significantly?

A major typically entails more courses and credits than a minor, allowing students to obtain a deeper understanding of their field of study. But what exactly is the difference between a major and a minor?

A major is an area of study in which students specialize, while a minor typically involves fewer courses than a major. With majors and minors come different course requirements, credit hours, and even paths for potential career opportunities.

In this blog post, let’s take a closer look at the differences between a major and a minor in college.

So, let’s dive into it…

Major in College

A major is the primary field of study for a college student. It typically requires at least 12 to 15 upper-division courses, usually from the same department.

This rigorous education in a single field of study includes lower-division prerequisites and can require additional classes such as calculus, neurobiology, statistics, or computer programming depending on the major.

A major is a requirement to complete the degree program and can often take up to four years to finish.

Minor in College

a person with a backpack leaving a building
Ready to take on new challenges and opportunities in the real world

A minor is an optional secondary field of study for college students who choose to pursue it. This usually requires at least three upper-division courses plus three lower-division courses related to a single field of study.

The minor generally has much less coursework than the major, typically taking at least 15 credits or six classes.

Completing a minor can add an additional layer of expertise to a college student’s degree program, but it is not required for completion.

Here’s a summary of their differences.

Number of Required Courses12-15 Upper Division courses3 Upper Division courses plus 3 Lower Division courses
Total Credits30 or more credits15-18 credits
Average Number of Classes per Credit1 class per 3 credits1 class per 3 credits
Overall Time Commitment10 or more classes6 classes
Major VS Minor

Credit Hours in College

Credit hours refer to the number of credits or contact hours a student takes for a particular course. One credit hour typically requires one class period per week over the course of a semester.

As an example, if you take a three-credit course, it would require three classes per week for the duration of the semester. The total number of credit hours to complete a major or minor is usually determined by the college and varies from institution to institution.

Benefits of Majoring in College

The entrance to a school
It can increase your employment prospects and earning potential in that field

Having a major in college offers several benefits, such as allowing students to specialize in a particular field and gain expertise, which can improve job prospects upon graduation.

Additionally, having a major can increase the number of scholarships and internships one may qualify for. A major also deepens understanding of a subject which can lead to greater success in higher education pursuits, such as graduate school or research opportunities.

Benefits of Minoring in College

While having a minor is not required to complete one’s degree, it can bring many benefits. Minors can help students become more marketable in the job market and provide a secondary area of expertise that could set them apart from other candidates.

Having a minor also allows students to explore subjects they may be interested in but not ready to commit to as a major, such as art or music. Finally, having a minor can provide additional skills, such as the ability to speak a foreign language.

Is a College minor valuable?

College minors can be valuable for a student looking to broaden their educational experience and gain knowledge outside of their major.

A minor also indicates that the student has gone above and beyond in their studies, taking courses related to but different from their primary field of study.

For those seeking employment or admission to graduate programs, mentioning a college minor may give recruiters and admissions staff more insight into the student’s qualifications.

A bunch of college students walking
College minor can be valuable in several ways

Ultimately, however, what counts is your real skills, regardless of your major or minor.

  • College minors can be a great way to learn new things, but they should not be taken solely with future employers in mind.
  • By taking a college minor as part of your degree program, you can challenge yourself and expand your knowledge outside of your primary field.

This will not only provide educational benefits but could also be the difference that gives a student an edge in the job market.

How many years in Minor Degree?

A minor degree typically requires three years to complete. Most students take two years of general education courses and one year of specialized study for their minors.

Though the exact timeline is determined by each student’s course selections and academic progress. Completing a minor can help students gain a deeper understanding of their major field as well as expand their knowledge in an unrelated subject.

By the end of their studies, minors will have a broad range of skills to use in their future professional and academic pursuits. 

How Many Years is a Major Degree?

A bunch of people graduating
Course requirements may vary depending on the field of study and the university or college.

A major degree typically requires four years of full-time study to complete. This length of time may vary depending on the field of study and individual course requirements.

Depending on the university or college, some programs may require additional time beyond four years.

For example, certain engineering degrees may require five or six years to complete. Additionally, some students may choose to pursue a double major, which could require additional time for completion.

If you want more information on the differences between a major and a minor degree, have a quick look at this video:

Majors, Minors, and Concentrations – What’s the Difference?


  • Majors and minors come with different course requirements, credit hours, and even paths for potential career opportunities.
  • A minor is an optional course that requires fewer hours and fewer classes.
  • A major often takes 4 years to complete and 30 or more credits.
  • Choosing between majoring and minoring in college is an important decision that will ultimately be influenced by your interests, career goals, and academic commitment.
  • Ultimately, both majors and minors have their own unique advantages that can help you develop a more well-rounded educational experience.

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