What Is the Difference Between Degree Majors and Minors at Universities in the U.S.?

Are you a future international student who is highly tempted to pursue a Bachelor’s degree abroad in the USA?

If so, it’s time to begin searching for a “major” and a “minor” for your Bachelor’s studies. To put it simply, the major is the main specialisation and the minor is the secondary one.

Here’s all you’ll need to know about majors and minors and some tips for making the right choices.

Find Bachelors in the USA

The U.S. college major: your core specialization

The academic major is the most important part of your future undergraduate degree in the USA. Even if now students widely use it with regards to Master’s and doctoral programmes as well, the major typically refers to the academic subject area that you as a student will commit to during your undergraduate studies. Also, sometimes, American universities use the word “concentration” when referring to majors.

This means you are expected to complete various “core courses” and several “elective courses”, which will help you gain more in-depth knowledge in certain parts of your study area.

If the core courses are available at various academic departments then you will be enrolled in an “interdisciplinary major”. Some examples are:

Even though your studies will be specialized, majors are meant to give you only the theoretical basis and do not prepare you for a specific job directly. If you want to specialize in a certain area of your study, you should consider a Master’s degree after completing your Bachelor’s.

U.S. degree majors are not set in stone

You should not feel pressured when picking a major because it’s not necessarily a decision you have to live with for the rest of your undergraduate studies.

In fact, according to a study developed by the American National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES), over 40% of the students change their major during their Bachelor’s degree studies.

However, you should try to make sure you find a major you enjoy because at least half of your courses are directly related to it.

The U.S. college minor: add some extra flavour to your degree

This secondary area of study has been a long subject of discussion among the students: Is it necessary or useful?

Well, the minor gives you extra knowledge on a specific subject. Although you don’t have to have a minor, this secondary specialization was created to give you a competitive advantage on the job market. Yes, your chosen minor will be mentioned on your degree diploma.

Study in the USA 3.jpg

Some students choose a minor that is related to their main study option, while others prefer focusing on a subject that reflects their personal interests. Both approaches are okay. Here are some examples:

Overall, you can look at the minor as an opportunity to round up your studies and get the most out of your higher education. Together with your major, minor studies can make your resume stand out.

How to choose your major and minor during your undergraduate studies in the U.S.

  • Don’t feel pressured to pick a university major right away. You can wait until the end of your second year of study (sophomore year) to make a decision.
  • Choose a major and a minor that you are motivated to study. You can search for the most popular majors and minors, but in the end the choice is about what future career YOU want to follow.
  • Consider double majoring if you equally like two subject areas. Nowadays, you can even get help from colleges that have major-matching programmes.
  • Do not dismiss the minor. It is better to take advantage of all the academic opportunities during college.

We know making a choice is not always easy and fast-forward, but hopefully these tips are going to smoothen the process. And once you make a decision, you’ll enjoy plenty of rewards – during and after your studies.

View Bachelors in the U.S.

Interesting programmes for you

Explore more than 90000 Bachelor's programmes from all around the world with Studyportals.

All disciplines
United States


Hey there 👋🏼

We are Studyportals, the #1 education platform to find your best matching studies for free.

What are you interested in studying?

Go to your profile page to get personalised recommendations!