The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 47.0°F | Overcast

Sciences Offer Five Minors

By Hyun Soo Kim
Associate News Editor

Following a recent decision by the faculty to allow students to minor in any academic department, all five science departments have created minor programs for undergraduates. Engineering minors will probably follow next fall. Students and faculty have expressed support for the proposed science minor program.

To enter a minor program, students can submit a petition any time before Add Date in the fall term of their senior year, according to Biology Professor Gene M. Brown, chair of the committee that reviewed science minors. As a special exception this year, seniors can still request a minor if they satisfy the requirements.

The proposed science minors require 60 to 72 units beyond the General Institute Requirements. "We got a committee together to make sure the minor programs were approximately similar in scope and number of subjects. There was remarkable agreement about the scope and intellectual content" of the programs, Brown said.

For example, the proposed minor in biology requires a total of 60 or 63 units including Organic Chemistry I (5.12), Genetics (7.03), General Biochemistry (7.05), and two additional subjects from a given list. The proposed mathematics minor entails six 12-unit subjects of diverse content, including at least four advanced subjects.

The School of Engineering may also offer minors as early as next fall. "It's expected that the minor program construction will be done at the department level. There is great interest in all eight departments to come up with minor programs," said Associate Dean of Engineering John B. Vander Sande, who is also chair of the School of Engineering Education Committee.

Each department will have a faculty advisor to answer questions about its minor program.

Two undergraduate students, Christie L. Halle '94 and Barbara C. Manganis '95, initiated the push for science minors last year. They were also on the committee that reviewed the science minors proposal. "I thought [MIT] should have science minors. We were surprised that the entire university decided to do it," Halle said.

At the faculty meeting two weeks ago, the faculty had voted unanimously to institute science minors.

Some departments `turbocharged'

"The school of engineering will offer a very interesting spectrum of minors. They are very nice offerings for the student body. It's a win-win situation for faculty and students. Faculty get more students in classes, and students get the recognition in their diplomas," Vander Sande said.

"No [departments] have objected. Some departments have turbocharged on this issue," Vander Sande said. "Nuclear engineering has already discussed [minors] in a faculty meeting and has a draft of a minor proposal. I am amazed at their enthusiasm," he added.

One result of the new minors is that "it may cut down the number of double majors. ... A student has to overload to do that. Maybe now they don't have to overload at all," Brown said.

"I think it's a good idea, I would get one if I still had time. You can learn stuff outside your major. You don't have to put in so much time, and it shows on your transcript," said Rajeevan Amirtharajah '95, who is majoring in electrical engineering.

"I think it's probably a good plan. There's a lot of people who would take up classes in another field, but are not willing to put in effort to get a complete double major. Now they can get a minor. ... Or people who go halfway through a major and hate it, now they can get something out of it," said Phillip B. Hume '94, a physics major who is considering a minor in planetary science.

Helen E. Cargill '94 said, "I was majoring in chemistry, but I'd been taking more Humanities classes. . . . I will probably switch majors. But it will not be good to throw all the science away. I will probably minor in chemistry."