A minor is a set of related courses from a particular area. Most minors require six CUs, but a few require more. Once you complete the minor, by taking and passing the required courses, a note will be added to your transcript.
You can take minors from most other departments at Penn. There are literally dozens of choices available; have a look at the University Catalog, click on any of the schools, and then on “Minors”. However, you may not be able to take minors that are offered by your own department. For instance, CSCI students cannot do a minor in Computer Science, Data Science, or Digital Media Design. If you are a CSCI student and are interested data science, please consider a concentration instead.
Should I get a minor?
A minor is a nice way to specialize in an area you are interested in. It requires less work than a second major (and thus provides less depth), and it still provides a credential on your transcript that you can show to prospective employers. However, sometimes a minor will require at least some courses that you are not interested in. A good exercise to do before you commit to taking a minor is to look at the requirements and to circle all the courses that you would take out of interest, even without the minor. If you’ve circled all or most of the courses, the minor may be a good idea. If you’ve circled very few of the courses, you should think very carefully about whether the benefits of the minor would outweigh the extra time and effort for taking these courses. This is especially important if you are thinking of getting more than one minor.
Declaring a minor
Unfortunately, there is no standard process for declaring a minor.
Minors offered by the CIS department can be declared online.
If you are declaring a minor offered by another SEAS department, you can follow the instructions at the SEAS Undergraduate Handbook.
For other departments, you should have a look at the website of the department that is offering the minor. Usually, the process involves filling out a form and/or a meeting with an undergraduate coordinator. After that, a worksheet will be created in Path@Penn for you, so you can keep track of your progress towards completing the minor’s requirements.
For minors offered by SEAS departments, please have a close look at the Minors section of the SEAS Undergraduate Handbook. There are a couple of rules that sometimes surprise students - e.g., that none of the courses in the minor can be pass/fail, or that no more than two specified courses on your CPG can be double-counted towards a minor.
A course is specified on your CPG if there is a requirement that can be fulfilled by only that single course. For example, on the CSCI requirements, CIS 1200formerly CIS 120 is a specified course because everyone must take it. In the Math and Natural Science section, CIS 2610formerly CIS 261, ESE 3010formerly ESE 301, ENM 3210formerly ENM 321 and STAT 4300formerly STAT 430 do not count as specified courses because students have a choice among these courses.
For minors in other schools, different rules may apply. Please ask the department that offers the minor; knowing the relevant rules is your responsibility.
Double-counting minor courses
Often, you can double-count all of the courses for your minor with the courses used for your major. For instance, CSCI and ASCS students will often be able to count courses from a minor as technical electives or in the SS/H category. In fact, using a minor for the ASCS Technical Electives is strongly encouraged! There is a limit on the number of specified courses you can double-count (see above), but for minors this often doesn’t matter, since the requirements tend to be fairly orthogonal to the requirements of your major.
Satisfying minor requirements
You can use your worksheet in Path@Penn to verify that you have completed all the requirements. If you are not sure, please contact an undergraduate coordinator in the department that is offering the minor. Your home department (e.g., the CIS Department for CSCI students) will not be able to help you with this. There are simply too many minors for us to know the exact requirements for all of them.
Dropping a minor
It’s a good idea to keep your Path@Penn worksheets organized by discarding the ones you don’t plan to pursue. To drop a minor, use the Registrar’s form.