If I am a biology major from a lower tier liberal arts school, and I wanted to make myself more attractive for future applications( ie: grad school, job listings), should I bother obtaining a minor in a related field?

In this case the minor I was attempting was chemistry, but my last semester of undergraduate school is one I want to be "lightish", so I can study for GRE's or hopefully line up internships.

Ideally, I would hope people see my chemistry minor as me having more laboratory experience than other biology majors, since while obtaining the minor I took mostly chemistry courses with their corresponding laboratories. And that laboratory experience maybe could land me in a laboratory internship of some kind. Or look attractive for potential graduate assistance-ships.

  • If you were to have a minor in, for instance, mathematics, that would be looked upon very favourably in certain institutions since mathematical biology is a growing field. It requires the kind cross-disciplinary knowledge that isn't so common as far as I'm aware. So to answer your question, yes, but it doesn't have to be as related as you might think.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 9, 2015 at 4:25
  • 3
    Minors, just for the official name, is quite often a waste of time. Usually your transcript, grades, and personal statement will provide much more information about your abilities and expertise in this field than a minor would. Time is often better spent pursuing research projects, advanced coursework, or other academic extra curricular activities. See my answer to academia.stackexchange.com/questions/15679/… Nov 9, 2015 at 6:32

3 Answers 3


Sure. How much depends on the field and the department; some places have fairly strict requirements for what you have to have learned in undergrad, and if a minor can hit some of those things, then that works.

However, in such cases, it tends to be less about the official minor and more about the coursework. For example, if you're applying to grad school in a mathey field, getting good grades in linear algebra, differential equations, and real analysis will probably be a big help whether there's a math minor on your transcript or not.


This is also true with side projects and work experience in other subjects. For example, if you were a Physics major, but did programming project on the side, this would help you case if you apply to a program (or job) also looking for those skills.

  • And I'd like to add that said project, assuming it was reasonably challenging, would usually be looked upon at least as highly [probably more] as a minor in CS. Nov 9, 2015 at 6:17

The minor you described would certainly bolster a student's preparation for grad school in your field.

On the other hand, I can see that you are feeling stretched and are not sure getting those last credits needed for the minor are really worth it.

Let me reassure you that the strong showing in your almost-minor field will be clear from your transcript, and you can also include a sentence or two about your complementary studies of chemistry, somewhere in your transcript.

Knowing how to take good care of yourself, and how to pace yourself, are very important skills, both for yourself, and to show admissions committees and prospective employers.

  • Yea I do feel very stretched, I mean I have two research projects to finish, as well as full time courses and a side project my professor is overestimating my skills at doing. But I feel that if I could do this, then my last semester would be proof to any potential interviewer that I can handle heavy loads.
    – Ro Siv
    Nov 9, 2015 at 22:58

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