For LSA students interested in more than one discipline but intimidated by the workload of a double major, an increasingly popular solution is the academic minor.
Stephen Darwall, philosophy department chair, said his department was concerned that with the introduction of academic minors in 2000, students would opt to minor rather than concentrate in philosophy.
But in reality, he said, once students have completed the minor, they often have enjoyed the program enough to continue.
“I think we”re going to get a significantly larger number of concentrators because of the minors,” Darwall said, calling them a “halfway station” which can provide an introduction to a topic that may lead to further studies.
Philosophy minors are available in such topics as Mind and Meaning and Asian and Comparative Philosophy.
While some minors may lead to concentrations in a department, Philip Gorman, associate director of the LSA Advising Center, said the primary purpose of minors is to develop a secondary interest.
“Double concentrations are really overrated,” Gorman said.
“They require 30 credits of work in each of two programs, and leave very little flexibility for other interests in your last two years,” Gorman said.
He added that minors, which only require the fulfillment of 15 credit hours, allow students to develop two areas of expertise while leaving time for other interests.
Students can minor in programs as general as economics or as specific as African-American theater.
However, academic minors do not necessarily play a large role in admission to graduate school said Monique Washington, director of admissions for the Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
“A minor may or may not give sufficient background to apply for a graduate school,” she said. Washington added that a minor unrelated to a school”s field would not help in admissions.
“(Graduate schools) are really looking at the entire academic curriculum a student has taken and the relevance of it to the school,” she continued.
Employers, too, take a broad view of minors, said Kerin Borland, senior associate director of the University”s Career Planning and Placement Center.
“Minors are less of an issue for employers than majors,” Borland said.
She emphasized that both are less important than the skills gained while studying a discipline.
“A lot of it has to do with how the students present themselves and their academic package,” she explained.
In 2000, the first full year that minors were available, only 126 LSA students of the 3,006 members of the graduating class completed a minor 547 of those students chose to pursue a double concentration.