How to declare a minor
Step One: Does the minor exist?
First, make sure CU actually offers a minor in the area you’re interested in. Consult the complete list of minors in the College of Arts & Sciences to see if your chosen department offers a minor.
If the subject you wanted to minor in is missing from the list, read my explanation of why some departments don’t offer a minor. Talk to your advisor about whether you should consider a double major—or just take classes in the other department for your own enrichment.
There are also a few minors available through other Schools/Colleges at CU. Among Psychology majors, the most commonly pursued is the Business Minor offered by the Leeds School of Business.
Step Two: Okay, I’ve verified that the minor I want to take actually exists. Now how do I declare it?
The procedure for declaring a minor varies from one department to another. Some advisors hold group meetings for students wishing to declare the minor; others allow you to visit their walk-in hours and declare the minor; and still others require you to attend a New Major Meeting, at the end of which they will discuss the minor as well.
Try visiting the website of the department you’re interested in to see if you can find information on declaring the minor. If you’re not able to find specific instructions, follow the procedure described in my FAQ on declaring a new major. As you go through this process, be on the lookout for any special instructions that pertain to the minor rather than the major. (In the future, there will probably be a separate process for declaring minors, complete with a shiny “Declare a Minor” button. For now, we have to use the same system for both.)
When should I declare a minor?
Most minors require about 20 hours of course work, so you should probably get started on the course work for your chosen minor no later than your junior year.
As for officially declaring the minor, you can do this as late as the semester you graduate, but I recommend declaring sooner rather than later. Once you declare the minor, you’ll be able to meet with an advisor in that department, and he/she can steer you toward the best professors and classes, help you tailor the minor to your interests, and keep you from making mistakes.
Why do some departments NOT offer a minor?
In some departments, there just aren’t enough resources to accommodate all the students who would be interested in taking a minor. For instance, the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience has over 2,500 majors as of Fall 2010. If we offered a minor, there would probably be another 2,000 – 5,000 students taking Psych courses every semester, and the department simply doesn’t have the money to hire that many more instructors. This explains why some of the minors that would be the most popular, such as Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish, simply aren’t offered.
In other cases, the nature of a particular discipline (or multidisciplinary program) makes the very idea of a minor untenable. For instance, the Integrative Physiology major includes course work in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, anatomy, and physiology. Achieving even a basic proficiency in all these areas requires more hours of course work than could possibly fit into a minor.