A Not-So-Minor Issue

Edited by: Akash Reddy (BTech, EE ’17)


If you’ve checked your smail anytime in the recent past, chances are that you’ve encountered multiple (confusing!) email exchanges regarding minors. For the uninitiated, the mail exchanges were between the Dean (Acad) and members of the GSB who were attempting to claim a self-defined minor. 

If you’ve tried to wrap your head around what was going on and it pushed you to invariably think, “minors are so messed up right now!”? Then fret not, because we’ve got you! 

New rules regarding minors were implemented from the 2015 batch, and a few recent amendments have made the present-day system a little more solid. T5E sat down with Chinmay Agarwal, the current Academic Affairs Secretary to clear the air regarding minors. 


What is a minor?

A minor is a recognition given by the institute, to you, recognizing and certifying your ability in a secondary academic discipline, different from your ‘major’ (which is the degree you are pursuing). It gets accredited on your certificates, and is testimony to the fact that you have significant proficiency in that secondary discipline as well. 

Why should one contemplate pursuing a minor?

For those who are inclined towards placements, a minor can play an important role in your résumé as it displays to your potential recruiters that you have taken several courses in a certain area and have certain specific skills which may align with what they are looking for.

A minor also makes its way into your transcripts, thereby easing the process of ‘cross-apping’. ‘Cross-apping’ is when a person chooses to apply for graduate studies (a Masters or PhD) in a field that is different from their Bachelor’s degree. In such a situation, a minor in the field you intend to shift to is always beneficial. Moreover, some minors may enhance your overall academic profile – irrespective of whether or not you choose to cross-apply. 

Finally, besides adding value to your résumé, a minor can be utilised as a pathway to learn an extra something that piques your interest.

Where’s the confusion arising from?

In the now defunct system (which was in place until 2014), a student was required to choose a minor beforehand and mandatorily complete the courses pertaining to that minor. The available minors were also pre-defined.

However after the curriculum revamp in 2015, this system was discontinued. This was done in order to give more freedom to students to chart their own path with the influx of electives.

The Current System

In essence, to apply for a minor today, one should: 

  • Complete 4 courses (from their set of free electives)
    • Each minor would have some compulsory courses(C) and a basket of electives(E). A minor could either be (1C+3E) or (2C+2E): this would vary from minor to minor.
    • Roughly working out the math, one would require around 36-40 credits to avail a minor. 
    • And in an extremely clarifying move, the Dean of Academic Courses has asked the various Heads of Departments to formulate a list of minors that their department would offer, along with the courses that would fall under the purview of each minor. This list would be circulated soon. 

So when exactly would the institute acknowledge that you are doing a particular minor? Is it after you complete all the courses that your minor requires you to, or can you claim one well before that? Perhaps in the third year, so that if you are actively on the lookout for internship opportunities in correlation with the stream of your minor, that might lend a helping hand? It turns out that you can claim your minor by mailing the Dean of Academic Courses only when all the courses pertaining to it are either completed or are in progress, as of the date of claiming.

When can you start a minor, and will there be preferential allocation of courses to those pursuing an allied minor?

Some students proposed the idea of being able to lock your choice of your minor from the beginning of the third semester (based on CGPA, of course). The rationale behind this was that if you could lock your minor beforehand, you could benefit by having the SEAT system prefer the allocation of a corresponding course to you over someone who is not pursuing that minor. This would lift some burden off the shoulders of people minoring in a field, so they wouldn’t have to mope over not getting their required electives in the SEAT allotment. 

However, taking the flexibility of doing courses into account and weighing the pros and cons of the proposed idea, the Board of Academic Courses has not approved of this

The reason for this was that they did not want students locking a minor way too early- in their third semester – when students don’t exactly have the utmost clarity on what to pursue later. So, if implemented, such a system will only hinder the freedom of choosing courses later on (that are not in your minor), or if one fine day, the student suddenly decides to do away with the minor. This means that it was the students’ freedom regarding courses which was put above everything else. 


The credit breakdown for the 2018 batch. Unallotted credits will accommodate the minor.

The Timeline:

Putting things into perspective, a student should ideally finish the courses required for a minor of their interest by the seventh semester so that they can claim it and add it to their résumés. This implicitly sends a strong message that one should have at least a vague idea regarding the field one wants to minor in by the third/fourth semester. 

And yes, on paper, it is actually possible to do more than one minor but given the credit restriction of 72-90 for the free electives, one can only do a theoretical maximum of 2 minors. This is assuming that the compulsory courses required for a minor are not already part of your department’s curriculum.

For those of you who are worried about not being able to lock a minor early on and get your courses, worry not. There appears to be another avenue; in case you haven’t got your required courses via SEAT allotment, you can as well do an NPTEL course as long as NPTEL offers it and transfer the credits. If NPTEL does not offer the exact course but has a very similar one, it is up to the discretion of the department to decide whether it is valid for the minor or not. A downside to this is that there’s a limit to the number of credits that can be transferred through NPTEL, which is 20 as of now. You’ve got to use them judiciously.

I’m in branch XYZ, can I pursue a minor in ABC?

Your branch won’t be a constraint while choosing your minor! You just need to complete the required courses to claim your minor, which takes your branch out of the equation. There is also no specific order in which the courses corresponding to your minor have to be done unless one course is a prerequisite to another. This means you don’t have to plan meticulously about mapping a course with a particular semester. 

Finally, the institute doesn’t differentiate at all between B.Tech and DD junta in this regard.


That’s about it! Give yourself a pat on your back for having made it to the end of an article that’s intrinsically more information and less fun. 

Update 20/11/2020:

The approved minor list uploaded in the academic site (https://academic.iitm.ac.in/student_redir.php?id=d1) and it’s applicable for B.Tech./Dual Degree (2018 batch on-wards).  

The list is attached below for your reference:

minor list


  1. Prabhu

    At the ending of the last point in “Complete 4 courses”, it is mentioned soon. What does that soon mean according to Chinmay?. Is it when entire 2015 batch and half of the 2016 batch leaves the institute permanently or their placement is done?

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