Should I Minor in Psychology During College?

If you are not a Psychology major, a Psychology minor might be for you.

Posted Feb 12, 2018

There are various reasons to consider doing a minor during college. What’s a college minor? A minor is a secondary set of courses—usually five or so—that are taken by a student to complement his or her major area of study. Some students “fall into” a minor because they have taken a few courses from the same department or, at a university, within a college or other academic unit. If you’ve already done 3 or 4 courses, why not take one or two more and get something for it? When a minor is listed on your college transcript that means that you have basic knowledge about some secondary area of study (or areas if you do more than one minor).

Fair enough. But given that college is more or less one of your once in a lifetime experiences—when else are you going to be able to systematically learn about whatever interests you? You should take care not waste this opportunity. Some reasons to minor in a given subject:

  • You are honestly fascinated by the topic—it is intrinsically interesting to you.
  • You believe—with some evidence—that a given minor will complement your major and make you more attractive for graduate or professional schools or for potential employers.
  • You considered majoring in the field once upon a time but found another major you preferred.
  • You chose the minor because it is very different from your major (e.g., your biology major will help you apply to medical school but your Spanish minor is there because you love being able to speak a second language).

There are also reasons not to do a minor, including:

  • You hate picking college classes that are not required for your major or general education requirements—the minor makes choosing easy, even mindless.
  • You are convinced a minor will impress employers (unlikely—employers want to hire people with good grades who have skills and the ability to learn new ones—that’s what impresses them).
  • You don’t really like taking classes you don’t need for your major, but if you have to, you’ll just settle for a minor in a related field (the default for many psychology majors is a minor in sociology—and vice versa).

What about a minor in psychology? Is it a great minor to consider? Well, yes—and no. Yes, psychology is an endlessly interesting field with exciting new results discovered on a daily basis. But there are many other interesting fields with exciting new results that are discovered on a daily basis—one of them might be an even better fit for you, but you won’t know unless look around, explore, ask questions, and so.

But let’s say you do that and settle on psychology. What are some benefits of having a psychology minor?

  • Learning how to effectively learn and to communicate with others.
  • Learn to think about behavior from an experimental perspective, one that allows for both creative and skeptical interpretations.
  • Learn to critically question and evaluate what you read and hear.
  • Develop empathy for others when you analyze their actions.
  • Reflect on how you think and how other people think.
  • Develop ways to apply psychological principles to understand and improve your personal relationships, how you work with others, and to contribute to your community.
  • Study the latest findings on how the brain affects our behavior.

If you decide to minor in psychology, you will probably add other reasons to this list. A well-chosen minor, one that truly interests you, can enrich your major and your life. Just be sure you choose a minor for the right reasons and if it turns out to be psychology, so be it!

References

Dunn, D. S., & Halonen, J. S. (2017). The psychology major's companion: Everything you need to know to get where you want to go. New York, NY: Worth. ISBN:978-1-319-02143-6

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