What’s the deal with minors?

Standup comedian with text

When I first got to Yale, I, like every other over-eager, wide-eyed first year, could not wait to take as many classes as possible. I had big dreams about double-majoring and graduating having sampled from a bunch of different departments. With passionate students and world-class professors, I knew I was in for the academic ride of a lifetime. The only thing that bummed me out a bit was that Yale didn’t formally offer minors.

I wondered, how could a school like Yale just not offer something so foundational to the college experience as minors.

But after a few weeks, I quickly realized the brilliance of it! Without minors, undergrads aren’t bogged down with extra requirements. You can just take the classes that you want to take. Not having minors actually encourages more exploration.

That answer, though, still isn’t good enough for students who want something a little more official. Don’t worry. Yale’s got that covered, too.

Introducing (*cue trumpet fanfare*) Programs and Certificates!

Programs and Certificates are basically Yale’s version of minors, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Everything from multidisciplinary academic programs (like Education Studies, Human Rights Studies, and Energy Studies) to advanced language certificates (like Chinese, Latin, and Spanish) to skills-based certificates (like Programming and Data Science).

computer web page

Programs and certificates typically consist of fairly few requirements—enough where you can do them on top of your major and still have room to take those passion classes—and always super interesting. I will graduate with a Chinese language certificate, because I’ve taken four classes of Advanced Chinese, all of which I would have taken anyway!

Without official minors, we don’t feel forced to take a bunch of required courses. And there is no cultural pressure that you might see at other schools to minor or double minor or even (*gasp*) triple minor in a way that might bog down workload and limit our ability to explore! But we still have the opportunity to get recognized for some extra focus in a subject area. So, in my humble opinion, Yale has the best of both worlds!