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Minor Details

November 28, 2019
- Vedant Kumar, Atharva Shukla, Jayati Shrivastava

Today’s world is scary. The industrial and scientific landscape evolves by the minute - all you can do is try and keep up. While sticking to structures and labels can provide us with a sense of identity and purpose, reluctance to evolve can only prove to be detrimental in the long haul. Our courses are usually designed to cater to specific needs that our field of study demands, making it difficult for an academician or a student to push the boundaries for ideas that don’t come under a certain heading. The existence of Minor and Elective courses provides us with a good theoretical setup to embrace interdisciplinary research and job opportunities. Students across IITs decide the branch they study subject to the constraint of the rank they achieve in JEE, which makes having opportunities to explore different avenues even more important. This theoretical framework, however, is not without its own set of challenges and issues, and through this article, we aim to highlight the same.

Challenges Students Face :

Minor Specialisation Courses are provided in the pre-final year of the undergraduate programmes in which a student is required to complete 18 credits (4-5 courses) to receive a degree. Here we enlist the major problems faced by the students who wish to take up these courses.

  • Inexistence of an all encompassing, foolproof and uniform procedure : A lack of uniform procedure to apply for a minor makes applying for it a cumbersome task. In addition to this, if a student wishes to minor in a department which is not frequented by students, they find themselves clueless about the procedure and formalities that need to be followed.

  • Ambiguous C.G.P.A criterion : A student having a CGPA above 7.5 after the IVth semester can take up a minor, but cannot continue if her CGPA falls below 7.5 at the end of her Vth semester. Now, a student with the exact opposite scenario (CGPA < 7.5 after the IVth Semester and > 7.5 after the Vth semester) doesn’t have a clear pathway to get enrolled in a minor course. (Please note: Taking up of a minor in this case is possible).

  • Rough Transitions : The courses available as part of a department’s Minor courses usually require a certain amount of prerequisite knowledge which a person from another department cannot be expected to have. There are no introductory courses available which work towards smoothing this transition. This renders most of the courses unilluminating in their own singular capacity.

  • Logistical nightmares : Opting for a Minor adds a total of 5 courses to a student’s existing workload. This inevitably leads to a string of clashes throughout the semester for students who opt for Minors - clashes between classes belonging to different departments, and clashes between exam dates (that are usually finished in a week’s time). Both classes and exams turn out to be very arduous to reschedule due to factors like a communication hiatus within different departments, comically low population densities etc. This compels people to drop the courses for the time being, but this is clearly not a permanent solution since for some people this might still mean making do without a Minor degree.

  • Unfilled vacancies : A sizeable chunk of Minor-opted students tend to drift away from their choice - due to the aforementioned issues - which creates new vacancies. There is, as of yet, no system in place to help willing students fill up these vacancies, thus effectively rendering these seats (and the resources that are put into creating them) futile, or in vain.

  • Other Issues : The Architecture Department - which comes under the UG Curriculum as per regulations - has never been allowed to take up Minors. Currently, Minors in the Department of Management Studies (DoMS) are not available for the students who are interested in these fields.

Updates from recent IAPC Meetings :

  • A proposal to allow students to take up minors from the 5th semester has been rejected by the IAPC in the 74th Meeting.

  • In the 76th IAPC meeting, it was allowed for the UG (B.Tech./IMT/IMSc.) students to take up Minor Specialization Courses (MSC) in Economics offered by the HSS Department. This has also been approved by both the DAPC and DFC of the HSS Department. The students of the current 3rd year can also take this up.

  • In the same meeting, the students of the Earth Sciences department were permitted to take up Minor Specialization Courses of other departments from their sixth semester (1 course per semester in the last 5 semesters). This structure has been also approved by the DAPC & DFC of the department and the Chairman, Senate. The students of the current 3rd year can also take this up.

Watch Out’s Two Cents :

The problem of clashes can be resolved by trying to set up a system where Minors can be taken up by a student at an earlier stage, without exceeding the credit limit. This will also help students to explore more of the department they minor in. Exams could be conducted over a longer time span which will lower the probability of clashes. Another way would be to declare the timetables before the forms for the minors are filled, enabling students to pick the courses they will be able to manage.

Providing transparency to the whole process should be the first step before moving forward. A clear set of rules for everything related to Minors and the frequently faced problems by the students will surely prove to be of great assistance. Another interesting proposition would be to try and replicate the model of double majors being followed in IIT Kanpur ( This would provide the students with greater flexibility in choosing their courses and studying them at length.

There have been cases when students have dropped their minor, considering it to be of no use when the placement season comes around. In sister IITs, companies which open to Software Clubs/Groups, also open up for the students with a minor in the field ( The Placement and Internship Centre could implement similar eligibility criteria in IIT Roorkee as well, though the dropping of the minor before the beginning of the placement season seems to be the biggest barrier for this.

In addition, shedding some light on the procedure to be followed for adding & enrolling in a new course can be a baby step to fully making the Minor courses serve the purpose they are meant to fulfil.