December 7, 2022

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Good minors for computer science students

You’ve declared a computer science major. But what about your minor? A minor adds an interdisciplinary perspective to your degree. Good minors for computer science students can be in STEM, business, the humanities, or the social sciences. Your minor might even help you land a job after graduation.

Why get a minor with a computer science degree?

Computer science majors generally have a tough course load. But adding a minor to your CS degree will give you a well-rounded education. A minor typically requires 15-30 credits in a subject outside your major. Sometimes the same courses count toward your major and minor requirements.

These are the best reasons to get a minor:

  • Minors strengthen in-demand skills. Whether you add a humanities minor or double down on STEM, you can strengthen your reasoning, communication, and innovation skills during your minor.
  • A minor lets you explore your passions. You’re planning to work in tech, but you’re passionate about music, art, or theater. Add a minor to learn more about your interests outside of computer science. 
  • Minors can guide your career search. Your minor shows you’re well-rounded. It can also launch your career in fintech, biotech, or another field where coursework outside of CS will help you. 

If the minor threatens to interfere with successfully completing a computer science degree, you can always skip it. Most colleges do not require a minor to graduate. 

Minors to earn alongside your computer science degree: Our picks

When evaluating good minors for computer science students, we put together a list that complements CS courses and emphasizes interdisciplinary knowledge. Any of these minors will help you graduate with career-ready skills.

Math

A math minor complements a CS major so well that many CS programs recommend math as a minor. CS majors at many schools only need to take a handful of credits to add on a math minor, which makes it an attractive option. Math also emphasizes the problem-solving and logic skills that benefit tech professionals. 

During a math minor, students take courses in calculus, algebra, differential equations, and statistics. These courses strengthen the analytical abilities that computer science careers require. The coursework tends to include a lot of problem sets, which will feel familiar to CS majors. 

Example courses:

  • Differential equations
  • Probability and statistics
  • Complex analysis

Business

Business minors strengthen their analytical, leadership, and management skills. If you’re a CS major interested in the business side of operations, a business minor can help you reach your goals. Within business, undergrads can specialize in areas like finance, management, or information systems. A finance minor, for example, would benefit CS majors interested in fintech careers.

During a business minor, you’ll take core courses in marketing, accounting, finance, and business administration. Depending on the program, you might also take specialized electives in areas like IT management or management information systems. Because the courses do not overlap with CS requirements, a business minor might add time to your degree.

Example courses:

  • Leadership development
  • Information systems
  • Financial management

Engineering

An engineering minor can help CS majors stand out on the job market, especially if you’re interested in careers in software engineering. Many colleges offer engineering minors in computer engineering or electrical engineering. An electrical engineering minor, for example, can help graduates pursue hardware engineering roles. 

The project-based approach in engineering classes will feel familiar to CS majors, and the coursework requirements typically overlap. If you’ve already taken engineering classes, for example, it might be easy to add an engineering minor to your degree.

Example courses:

  • Computer engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Software engineering

Psychology

Psychology minors examine human behavior. In courses like social psychology and personality development, they learn how humans react in social settings. A psych minor complements a computer science degree by strengthening social science research and analytical skills. 

During psychology courses, undergrads learn experimental methods and complete projects. The field emphasizes quantitative reasoning and writing skills, which balance out the problem-solving and analytical approach of CS. Similar social science minors, like economics or sociology, also help CS majors understand societal-level behavior. Although the coursework typically does not overlap with CS requirements, psychology can be a valuable addition to a CS degree.

Example courses:

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Experimental psychology
  • Social psychology

Foreign Language

A foreign language can open doors for CS majors. Studying a foreign language can lead you to a more global career search after graduation. During a foreign language minor, undergrads take a mix of language courses and classes focused on linguistics and culture. Both help CS majors broaden their perspectives and gain valuable skills. 

As for which foreign language to study, it depends on your background, interests, and goals. A Spanish minor might stand out to major tech companies, while a less common language like Mandarin or Arabic could lead to unique work opportunities. 

Example courses:

  • Language courses
  • Linguistics
  • Advanced literature

Communication

Computer science –– and the tech field more broadly –– rewards people with strong communication skills. In fact, communication ranks as one of the most important soft skills for computer science careers. A communication minor can make a big difference in your future career.

Communication minors study public speaking, rhetoric, nonverbal communication, and business communication. Their assignments often include projects, presentations, and papers. The minor strengthens interpersonal and communication abilities. The coursework typically does not overlap with CS requirements, but a communication minor can help tech professionals stand out at work. 

Example courses:

  • Rhetorical criticism
  • Organizational communication
  • Public speaking

Philosophy

At first glance, humanities minors might seem like a stretch for computer science majors. But a philosophy minor can pay off in several ways. The field’s emphasis on logic and reasoning may come naturally to CS majors with a strong interest in programming. And philosophy courses in metaphysics and ethics help tech professionals consider the broader implications of their innovations. 

Philosophy minors can expect a heavy reading load that focuses on abstract and theoretical concepts. The minor also involves writing analytical papers, another beneficial skill for future tech professionals. Since the coursework won’t overlap with your CS classes, a philosophy minor might add time to your degree.

Example courses:

  • Practical reasoning
  • Metaphysics
  • Ethics

Biology

A growing number of tech professionals work in biomedical research. CS majors interested in bioinformatics or biotechnology benefit from a minor in biology. During a biology minor, undergrads examine biological systems, learn about genetics and genomics, and study biochemistry. Biology minors complete labs and projects as part of their coursework. 

Adding a natural science minor like biology, chemistry, or physics helps CS majors double down on their STEM credentials. For example, these minors strengthen analytical and problem-solving skills, which benefit tech professionals. Biology coursework may partially overlap with CS requirements. 

Example courses:

  • Biochemistry
  • Computational biology
  • Genetics and genomics 

History

History and computer science don’t overlap at first glance. But a history minor can balance out the technical and analytical skills of a CS major. During a history minor, undergrads strengthen research, qualitative reasoning, and writing skills. These abilities help tech professionals analyze information, create persuasive reports, and identify reliable sources.

Before declaring a history minor, CS majors should be ready for a heavy reading load and an emphasis on writing research papers. History minors will bring a unique perspective to the tech field by understanding historical change and considering the relationship between technology and society.

Example courses:

  • US history
  • History of technology
  • Labor history

Music

Music might sound like the least-likely minor for a computer science major. But studying a completely different field can be a great strength for future tech professionals. Minors like music, art, and theater provide a creative outlet for CS majors. They also cultivate valuable skills like innovation and thinking outside the box.

While a music minor won’t offer any overlapping courses with a CS major, it demonstrates an interdisciplinary, well-rounded education. Graduates might even find themselves in a unique position to work as tech professionals in fields like the music industry.

Example courses:

  • Music theory
  • Applied music
  • Music business

In conclusion

What are good minors for computer science majors? The answer depends on your interests and career goals. If you’re looking for management opportunities, a business minor might be the best fit. If you’re fascinated by history, spend your minor taking courses about the past. 

Whether you approach the minor as a way to help your chances on the job market or as a way to study your passion, a minor can help you make the most out of your time in college.