Photo Credit: David Chappell

By Special Correspondent David Chappell

YALE-NUS COLLEGE — A breakdown of minor declarations has revealed that nearly half of the seniors and juniors have declared minors. Of those that were declared, Arts and Humanities and Global Affairs (GA) proved the most popular.

The breakdown, obtained by The Octant, revealed that approximately 42% (87 students) of the classes of 2017 and 2018 has declared a minor. Of those students, 17 students declared Arts and Humanities and 15 declared GA as their minor, accounting for nearly 40% of total minor declarations. Despite an increase in the popularity of science majors, science minors saw few declarations, with only 8 declaring students.

Dean of Faculty Steven Bernasek said the number of students declaring a minor was not surprising, and that the number is probably comparable to other institutions, although he admitted that he did not have supporting data. Mr. Bernasek added that the number of minor declarations may be an indicator of broad liberal arts thinking, or to the desire of adding another “credential” to their CVs or transcripts.

The Octant interviewed several Heads of Studies, who said students’ motivations for declaring minors were varied. Nancy Gleason, Head of Studies for GA, said that GA minors represented all divisions of the college. She added that the GA minor tackles a broad range of current affairs and transboundary issues, which could help enhance capstones in other fields.

Students echoed Ms. Gleason’s sentiments. Tamara Burgos Rojas ’18, a GA major, said she decided to minor in economics because she wanted to complement her major with quantitative analysis. “For my capstone and my career, […] the skills I need would not be complete without economics,” she said.

Despite 87 students declaring minors, only 8 students – less than 10% of declared minors – declared a science minor. While he said he had yet to give the subject much thought, Division Director of Science Mark Bussell said that one possible reason could be that Social Science and Humanities majors were less likely to cross over to Science for a minor. “It also suggests that science majors aren’t dipping their toes into one of the other science majors to get a minor and frankly I don’t have an answer to that,” he said.

Still, Mr. Bussell said that there was a lot of value in a science minor. He said that many Social Science majors would be well supported by a minor in Mathematical, Computational and Statistical (MCS) Sciences, and that a Life Sciences minor could complement an Environmental Studies major. Similarly, he noted that linking science majors with a minor would allow students to develop “a broader set of skills.”

Currently, students can minor in 13 different subjects: Arts and Humanities, History, Literature, Philosophy, Life Sciences, MCS, Physical Sciences, Anthropology, Economics, Global Affairs, Psychology, Urban Studies and Environmental Studies. 

Minor Breakdown

Division Minor 2017 2018 Total
Humanities Arts and Humanities 7 10 17
History 4 4 8
Literature 3 0 3
Philosophy 2 2 4
Sciences Life Sciences 0 2 2
MCS 3 1 4
Physical Sciences 2 0 2
Social Sciences Anthropology 2 5 7
Economics 6 3 9
Global Affairs 7 8 15
Psychology 3 5 8
Urban Studies 2 2 4
Environmental Studies Environmental Studies 1 3 4


Intellectual Debate Section