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Adding a Minor in College: FAQs

Choosing your college major can be overwhelming. In addition to considering your major, you may have also considered adding a minor in order to fine-tune the direction of your career, or even just explore your other interests. 

As you do your research, you might be asking yourself what a minor really is, how to add one and if it is even worth pursuing. In this blog, we will answer many of the common questions related to academic minors to help you decide if it is the right decision for you.

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Q: What’s the difference between a degree, a major, and a minor?

A degree, in short, is the qualification you earn once you complete your studies at a university or college.

Your major is what subject your degree will be awarded in and the “program/study of interest” you would select on your college application. If you major in biology, for example, you will have a bachelor of science in biology. You must follow the course requirements of your major to obtain a degree. 

Your minor is more than simply taking a class or two on a subject, but it is less than getting a degree in it. To obtain a minor, you must meet a set of predetermined standards: how many credits are required for the minor, and which classes are required. This will vary by college and program. At Cairn, 18 credits are required to fulfill the minor standards.

To put it even more simply:

A degree is what you earn from a college or university. (Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Art, Masters, etc…)

A major is the area of study you have earned your degree in. (English, Psychology, Computer Science, etc…)

A minor is an officially recognized area of interest. A minor does not earn you an additional degree. (History, Poetry, etc…)


So, all together, when you graduate college, your diploma may say something like:

“This University awards {Your Name} a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media and Communications.”

Q: What is the difference between a minor, a concentration, and a certification?

Broken down, the difference is as follows: 

A concentration is usually an area of focus within your major. 

A minor is a set of classes and electives that anyone can take, regardless of major.
You can check out Cairn’s available minors here!

A certification, while colleges may help you prepare for it, is not considered an academic degree. Certifications are typically regulated by a government agency to give one the permissions to work in a specific area. Cairn offers the following certifications:

Q: Will my minor be on my diploma?

This depends on the college. Cairn does not include it on your diploma (but don’t worry, it does appear on your transcript!). Whether or not it is on the diploma does not change if you have officially earned the minor.

Q: Is it possible to have more than one minor?

Typically yes, although it will likely add more time onto your program since it will probably increase your course requirements. Cairn does not limit the number of minors a student can add—just don’t forget, our curriculum is built so that you will automatically graduate with a Bible minor!

Q: Will I still graduate on time if I add a minor? How much extra work is a minor?

Ultimately, it depends on the minor you want to add and the program you are in. If your program has more open electives, adding a minor may not add any extra classes or semesters. If your major and minor are similar, there may be classes that overlap. For example, if you are in the business program and want to add a minor in marketing, that would be relatively easy to fit into your schedule. Most business majors have to take some sort of “Intro to Marketing” course, and marketing classes can count as business electives. 

Each program will likely have a certain amount of general electives (a spot you can fill with any class you want) or specific electives (a spot you can fill within a certain category of classes). However, if you are in the business program and minor in music, you will have to use all your general electives and perhaps add even more classes than originally required. Adding a minor does not negate the requirements of your major. It is also important to note that there is a limit to the number of classes that can count towards your major and minor. At Cairn, only six credits of major requirements can also count towards a minor’s requirements. 

You can check out example program curriculums to see how many open electives you may have in your program here. 

*Note* These are sample curriculums that are subject to change.

Q: Does adding a minor cost more?

The act of adding a minor does not cost anything. However, if you are adding additional classes that require more semesters to fulfill the requirements of your minor, you may end up paying more for your tuition depending on the policy of your university.

Cairn requires an additional fee for students who take more than 18 credits per semester. A standard semester WITHOUT a minor ranges between 12 and 18 credits, depending on the program.

Q: Can I choose a minor unrelated to my major?

Yes, you can choose any minor!

Q: Do employers value a minor?

If the minor is related to your industry, you could have a leg up. Having a minor in a subject area is more credible than saying you took a class or two in it. For example, a secondary education major with a special education minor may be more attractive to a potential employer due to their increased knowledge and ability to work with many types of students.

Q: Why would I choose a minor?

Earning a minor is a great way to fine-tune your skills and knowledge on a specific subject without the additional requirements of a double major. Double majoring is adding a second degree to your program, which means you must complete the requirements for both degree programs. You may choose to minor in something that you would not desire to have as your career, but the skills taught in that program would be useful in the career you aspire to pursue. 

At Cairn, we believe that an academic minor can be a useful way to supplement a student’s academic career. At the core of whatever you study, we believe that Christ and His Word are the most important. That’s why we prepare students in any program with a Bible minor that will be relevant no matter where they go.


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