students on campus in spring

Faculty approve academic minors at Princeton

Princeton University students will be able to pursue minor courses of study outside of their primary discipline beginning in fall 2023.

A proposal submitted by the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study to allow for academic minors was approved at the faculty meeting on April 25. Existing departments and programs will be able to offer a body of stand-alone coursework as a minor.

At present, Princeton offers 54 interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate programs that function, in practice, as minors. Princeton also offers 36 concentrations for major studies.

“One of the issues with our ‘concentrations’ and ‘certificates’ is that, although they’re unique in our landscape, and people learn what they mean, they don’t translate well outside of Princeton,” said Dean of the College Jill Dolan. “And, in fact, a lot of students just call them majors and minors. So, this revised nomenclature will better align us with other colleges and universities while preserving exactly what concentrations and certificates already do.”

The proposal suggested that Princeton revisit “concentrations,” as well, to align with other institutions in higher education. Their nomenclature would change to “major fields of concentration,” or simply “majors,” beginning in the 2023-24 academic year.

Undergraduates are unable to pursue double concentrations at Princeton due to the University’s rigorous independent work requirements.

Establishing a formal minors program and inviting certificate programs to align with the new model will bring more coherence to the landscape of secondary studies at Princeton, since current certificates vary in terms of coursework and requirements, Dolan said.

Most current certificate programs at Princeton meet the requirements to become minors and can make the shift with approval from the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study, she said.

Some minors will be offered right away, while others might take more time to realign with the requirements. New minors also are likely to emerge in individual subjects since certificate programs, under the current guidelines, must be interdisciplinary.

Students will see minors reflected on their transcripts beginning in 2023-24.

“Over several years, we envision a period of review and realignment through which the existing certificate programs would be brought into this new nomenclature and minors framework,” Dolan said.

Graduate School certificate programs will remain in their current form, as they are well established in graduate education, Dolan said.