Honestly, we at Taughtup would still say, YES, you should still minor when preparing for grad school.
Some schools will not require it, and hey, some institutions may not even care, but it can help put you above other applicants and get that elusive spot on your desired course.
So there is definitely work involved, but it will most likely be worth it in the end, go for it!
Planning for graduate school is usually a stressful endeavor, especially when you have to balance current undergraduate classes simultaneously. Should you have a minor? If so, which minor? If you have already started your college career, is it too late to add a minor?
These are all commonly asked questions, and the answer is pretty vague: It depends!
How Do You Choose A Minor?
Once again, it depends. If you are majoring in psychology, for example, and want to go to grad school for psychology with a focus on biological aspects (sometimes referred to as biobehavioral psychology), minoring in neuroscience or biology would be a good choice. While your undergraduate psychology program likely requires students to take at least one course in neuroscience, a minor will require several courses, giving you much more knowledge than others who might have only taken the introductory course which will definitely help answering the main question, “Do minors matter for grad school”?
On the other hand, you might pick a minor that will help you create a skillset. Graduate school, in many fields, is highly research-focused. Often you will need to have some basic knowledge of and skills with computer programs for designing tasks and experiments. With this in mind, it can be a good idea to add a computer science minor, even if your major is chemistry or something along those lines. Programming skills can help you stand out as an applicant, especially if you want to work with a professor that you know uses programming for their research projects.
What If My School Has No Minor?
Sometimes a university might not offer the minor you want. Going back to our psychology example, maybe the school offers no neuroscience major or minor. However, they might still offer multiple neuroscience classes. In other words, even if there is no formal minor, you can still customize your course schedule to include the classes that they do offer. Graduate schools typically require entire transcripts, meaning they will be able to see you took several courses in neuroscience, even if there was no official minor offered.
Of course, when thinking about the question, do minors matter for grad school?, be sure that adding additional classes makes sense and will not impede your degree progress. You can talk to your academic advisor about your plans, goals and how to best incorporate them into your class schedule semester by semester.
Is It Too Late To Start A Minor?
If you have been in college a while already, you might be worried it is just too late to add a minor. Sometimes you might realize you have already taken half of the coursework needed for a given minor and can easily add the other classes without having to remain in school longer. Once again, talk with your academic advisor to find out whether or not a minor is doable.
Other times you might find you need to add an extra semester, or more, in order to take all the required courses. Some schools only offer classes every winter, every spring, and so on, meaning that if you did not take them early on, they might not be offered again until after you would have needed to take them.
If this is the case, and you would need to add one semester or even more to complete a minor, you want to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Be sure you will not be penalized if you have scholarships or financial aid. You do not want to find out right before the semester starts that you no longer have access to scholarships or federal aid, leaving you potentially with no way to pay for your classes.
Below we take a look at another consideration to answer the question, do minors matter for grad school.
You also want to consider that if adding a minor will throw off your graduation time, will this also impact your applications to grad school? For instance, many schools only admit new students for the fall semester. If you originally graduated in the spring, this is not an issue. But what if having a minor pushes your graduation to the fall? In that case, you will have to wait to go to grad school for twice the amount of time you would have had to if you graduated in the spring.
These are all issues you want to think about, but none of them have a right or wrong answer. What works best for you is the right one for you. You want to feel confident for grad school and have the undergraduate credentials to back it up.
So answering our title question, “do minors matter for grad school”, overall, yes, minors can matter and make a difference when applying to grad school. They are not explicitly required, and many get accepted to programs without a minor; they are by no means mandatory. However, if you can add a minor, have interest in the subject for said minor, and it is either directly related to your field of study (or complements it), it will not hurt your grad school applications at all.
There is no one answer to the question of whether you should have a minor because each person has a unique situation, and grad school requirements, competition, and overall expectations vary from program to program. In other words, it is hard to say with any certainty what a program expects without looking over their specific requirements for their degree, whether it’s a doctorate or masters.
Hey, I’m Kris Taylor. I’m a Learning and Development professional currently in the healthcare field, with over 8 years of experience in the area of corporate education. I have created numerous instructional content for various corporate projects including eLearning, in-person facilitation, and virtual training across a wide variety of learning interventions and sectors. On Taughtup, I discuss topics ranging from how to succeed through K-12 to college all the way to instructional design tips for L&D designers.