1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What's the purpose of a minor?

  1. Aug 11, 2008 #1
    I am finishing my junior year as a physics major, and I've heard that alot of people get a minor in math or something like that. I plan to start grad school immediately after finishing my undergrad. My question is, what is the purpose of getting a minor? Does it look good on a grad school app? Once I get a higher degree, my undergrad major/minor would be useless wouldn't it... I'm not sure if I should spend the extra money to get a minor if it won't help me. Google must not like me because I couldn't find anything about a minor. Is a minor actually helpful? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I found my minors helpful. Typically they allow you to advance your study of a particular area that you find interesting or that may apply to your major. Mathematics is always helpful with most majors, especially physics and engineering.

  4. Aug 11, 2008 #3
    So a minor doesn't actually carry any weight... it is just additional information to help you?
  5. Aug 11, 2008 #4
    Generally a minor isn't going to help you too much. If you're a physics major, you're probably one or two elective math classes from a math minor anyway, so it doesn't really set you apart. My minors aren't on my degree, and they really aren't something you should list on a CV or resume unless you studied something completely outside the field (e.g., history) and actively use those skills in your intended career (as, e.g., a science historian, perhaps).

    Now, just because a minor is pragmatically meaningless doesn't mean you shouldn't do one or two (or three). If, however, it makes the difference between spending extra time or money as an undergrad versus not, in the long run you're better without it.
  6. Aug 11, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I don't know if that's true. I am a physics major, and my math minor required 5 classes out of my curiculum.
  7. Aug 11, 2008 #6
    At my school the math minor required the calculus series (1,2,3), ordinary differential equations, and then two additional upper division classes, of which one had to be senior level. This might be a particularly easy course, but the impression I've gotten talking to others is that this is fairly standard (at least at state universities)
  8. Aug 11, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Can someone explain why the schools do not let you return LATER in order to earn a minor AFTER you already earned an undergraduate degree? Why must the courses for the official minor be earned while still earning the undergraduate degree?
  9. Aug 12, 2008 #8
    Why on earth would you want a minor after having finished an undergraduate degree?
  10. Aug 12, 2008 #9
    Minors do not mean much outside of your own university. Minors do allow you to get an experience in another field. If you are planning to go to grad school you would be better off taking some grad classes during your undergrad or additional advance classes in your curriculum. Possibly do some research if you have free time. Minors can good be good to show your depth as a student/person but otherwise are just trophy baggin.
  11. Aug 12, 2008 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I disagree. I actually use the knowledge I learned with my minors in my job.

  12. Aug 12, 2008 #11
    But if taking those courses for your minors had caused you to have to spend additional time or money on school, do you think you'd have been better served (in the long run) by staying for classes or by going into the workforce anyway?
  13. Aug 12, 2008 #12
    To further your learning without the stress of it having to be for a specific career goal?
  14. Aug 12, 2008 #13
    Why not simply take classes then? What does completing a minor in that case accomplish that just taking classes as a non-degree-seeking student does not?
  15. Aug 12, 2008 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I feel like the money and time was well spent.

  16. Aug 12, 2008 #15
    Minors might actually be helpful although I am not yet certain about this. My interest or career goal is to study Biotechnology. Now I was recently speaking to someone who said that Biophysics and nanotechnology are also very demanding jobs currently in the biotech industry. So in that case, if I wanted to extend my options a bit more, what I could do is take the biotechnology specialist and then also take a minor in Physics that would focus on more nanotechnology. This would be an excellent extra in a CV or resume as the employer would know you have some extra skills that can be used.
  17. Aug 13, 2008 #16
    Which you can do by simply auditing the course. There's no need for them to count it as an official minor.

    You can still learn without it going on your transcript.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook