When undergraduate students enter college, they are often tasked with declaring a major of study that interests them. From theatre to criminal justice to cybersecurity, there are countless majors to choose from, and some students decide to change their major when they realize they're a better fit for another field of study.

What some students occasionally overlook is the opportunity to declare an academic minor to pair with their major. Choosing the right minor and pursuing it offers an array of benefits to college students both during their degree program and after graduation.

Let's break down what exactly a minor is and how it can benefit undergraduate students of all backgrounds.

An academic minor is a grouping of college classes within a specific discipline. In general, a minor consists of about 18 credit hours. A minor must be paired up with a college major, but it may or may not be related to a student's major. In some cases, students can have multiple minors as well.

The Benefits of Declaring a Minor

When choosing a major, you are likely selecting a course of study that most interests you as far as what you'd like to learn and pursue as a career.

In terms of a minor, you get to step outside the box a bit to explore other fields. Perhaps you really want to focus on a specific area within your major field, such as pairing a business major with an economics minor. On the flipside, you might select a minor like criminal justice when in fact you are majoring in English.

The beauty of a minor is that it gives you the flexibility to choose something related to your broad area of focus—or not—in your college career. The choice is yours.

2. The ability to diversify your skillset and experience

When taking courses in a certain degree program, you can be a bit limited to a core group of students enrolled in the same program and faculty who teach the classes.

By adding a minor to your "educational goodie bag," you can get exposed to a completely different department at your college or university, hence opening the door to meeting students and professors whom you never would have otherwise met. This also means getting introduced to different teaching philosophies, course requirements, source citation and writing styles, and unique projects.

All of this can ultimately make you a more well-rounded graduate when you walk across that stage to collect your diploma.

3. The opportunity to broaden your marketability as a job candidate

Earning a minor can help beef up your professional resume. First off, it can help open the door to a larger selection of professional opportunities for you. As such, you just might qualify for additional jobs that wouldn't have been in reach with only your college major. Let's say you major in criminal justice with a communication minor. Perhaps you could find an entry-level role as a 911 dispatcher having experience in both areas, but this job could later lead to something even better within a police department.

Plus, if a prospective employer notices that you've earned a minor in college and asks you about it, this can be an opportunity to sell yourself even more on your initiative to step outside the box and have the confidence to try something different. Another point worth noting is if you minor in a foreign language like Spanish or French, being bilingual is a huge feather in your cap when hiring managers glance over their candidates.

In summary, if your minor fits a certain niche or area of focus within a job you're applying for, you might just have a better chance of landing it compared to your competition.

Because earning a minor in college often only requires taking no more than six or seven courses in this area, you can be sure to complete your bachelor's degree program on time when you opt for a minor. Colleges and universities work closely with students to ensure their schedules are reasonable and that they meet all requirements of their major while also fulfilling the requirements of the minor courses.

This is different compared to a double major. If you declare a double major, this arrangement can sometimes add extra time onto the length of your degree program. Even if not, a double major can be more overwhelming academically than pursuing a major with a minor.

Saint Leo University Offers Several Minors

If you're considering Saint Leo University for a bachelor's degree, you can find a number of options for minors to complement your major. Just a few examples of minors include: