Choosing a College Minor or Co-Major: What Degrees Pay the Most and the Least

When I received my BS in Business Management from Arizona State University in the 80s, choosing a minor was a common thing.  I chose Personnel Management at the time, because I was very interested in the human relations side of management.  It seems you don’t hear as much about students picking a minor lately.

Today, the Arizona Republic ran an article about students choosing to have a minor more often when obtaining their degree.  According to the article, “A small but growing number of Arizona college students are graduating with academic minors, hoping that concentrating in another field of study will broaden their knowledge, help them land a job or get into graduate school. This year, 13 percent of undergraduates at Arizona State University earned a minor, up from 10 percent just two years ago. The state’s largest public university is offering 92 minors in a range of different subjects compared with 67 a decade ago.”   

Keep in mind, that although the student obtains the minor, it will not be reflected on their diploma.  It will, however, be notated in their college records.  It’s important to note that not all schools even offer minors.  Yale, is a prime example of a university that does not. On the other hand, some schools actually require a minor.  Northern Arizona University (NAU) is one that has this requirement.

Another trend I’ve seen for a lot of the newer generations to go the co-major route.  ASU has a program where students can have a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies or BIS degree. According to ASU’s site, “The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree program is one of the highest-quality and best-recognized interdisciplinary studies degree programs in the country. It offers students the freedom to select two concentration areas from a rich menu of more than one hundred possibilities, and it enables students to integrate those areas into a degree with interdisciplinary breadth, intellectual cohesion, and practical value. The core curriculum of the BIS program provides students the intellectual tools needed to integrate their concentration areas, engage in interdisciplinary problem solving, and prepare for careers and graduate programs that increasingly cross academic disciplines.”

There are advantages to picking the minor or double-major route:

  1. You gain different perspectives and don’t have such a single focus.
  2. It may be helpful in gaining entrance to graduate school.
  3. Having two areas of specialization can be advantageous for specific jobs.
  4. Some employers think the minor is as important, if not more important than the major.  See this article from
  5. If you and a competing job applicant have all of the same things going for you but you have the extra minor, that could be enough to push ahead in the race.
  6. Having a minor can send a message that you have a strong interest in a specific area.
  7. Having a double-major can allow you to study more than one field in depth.
  8. Having a double-major may open up more job possibilities for you.
  9. Having a double-major means you may not have taken as many elective courses to obtain your degree, which also shows dedication. 
  10. Having a double-major may be useful in a job that requires a broad range of knowledge.

For more information about advantages and disadvantages of a double-major, click here.

Are you still trying to decide on a major?  If salary is a concern, you might want to consider the following:

Top 10 College Degrees by Starting Salary from

1.         Petroleum Engineering $86,220

2.         Chemical Engineering $65,142

3.         Mining & Mineral Engineering $64,552

4.         Computer Science $61,205

5.         Computer Engineering $60,879

6.         Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering $59,074

7.         Mechanical Engineering $58,392

8.         Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering $57,734

9.         Aerospace/Aeronautical/ Astronautical Engineering $57,231

10.       Information Sciences & Systems $54,038

Bottom 10 College Degrees by Salary Start from Walletpop

1.          Social Work  $33,400

2.          Elementary Education $33,000

3.          Theology $34,800

4.          Music $34,000

5.          Spanish $35,600

6.          Horticulture $37,200

7.          Education $36,200

8.          Hospitality and Tourism $37,000

9.          Fine Arts $35,800

10.        Drama $35,600