Choosing A Minor

Students are required to designate at least one minor. When you submit your Special Committee form, the form asks you to identify the “major” and “minor” that each member of your committee represents. One practical impact is that your designated "major" & "minor" will be listed on your transcript.

To help you choose a minor subject, the Graduate School publishes a list of major and minor subjects and concentrations for all graduate fields at Cornell. Note that if a faculty member in BMCB is also a member of a field that you choose as a minor, you may choose that faculty member to represent the minor if you wish.

You can pick any areas of study listed on the PDF as your "minor".  For example, as a BMCB student, you could select "Biochemistry" as the “major”, and select "Molecular Biology" as the minor (usually your PI represents the "major", the other committee members could represent the same "minor" or different "minors", OR one of them represent the "minor", whereas the other simply represents the "major" that your PI also represents). You could pick a minor that is right in the area of BMCB (example above), OR a minor that is more distantly related, depending on your interest / relevance to your research. “Minor” provides the student with an opportunity to delve with greater breadth and depth into a specific area. In general, students are expected to take an additional two courses to fulfill the minor requirement, which should be chosen in conjunction with their minor advisor to best suit their overall goals.

[A note on your transcript: Obviously, for your PhD degree, your research trumps any coursework you could possibly take. Depending on your future career goals, your transcript may or may not be very important. If you consider an alternate career, your future employees (or law school, business school) might want to see your transcripts. Some predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship applications will need you to submit your transcripts. In general, if you go with a more traditional academic track of postdoctoral training / research, then your publications are far more important than your transcripts.]

Most minors that are chosen by BMCB graduate students require a couple of additional courses, which students are strongly encouraged to finish by the end of the second year.Fields often have guidelines, rather than strict requirements, for the number of courses needed to satisfy a minor. It is up to the faculty member who represents the minor to decide, in consultation with the student, how many courses and which courses are to be taken. You should discuss with potential committee members which courses they would want you to take, given your background and interests.

BMCB minor requirement for students majoring in a Field other than BMCB:
For Ph.D. candidates with a minor in BMCB, the suggested requirements are at least six credits of advanced lecture courses (usually at the 6000-level, but some 4000-level courses may be appropriate, e.g., BIOMG 4370, BIOMG 4380, BIOMG 4450. Appropriate courses in BMCB include: BIOMG 6310, 6330, 6360, and 6390.  6000- and 7000-level courses in other departments, i.e., Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Plant Biology, Vet Molecular Medicine, and Vet Microbiology & Immunology, may also be suitable, as determined by the Special Committee. If a student who wants to minor in BMCB has not been exposed to appropriate lab work in the general area of BMCB, then he/she should also take the lab course BIOMG 4400.

For MS candidates with a minor in BMCB, the suggested requirements are at least four credits of advanced lecture courses (and a lab if appropriate).  Some suggestions for appropriate courses are indicated directly above.

Note that requirements are determined by Special Committees, and that the recommendations above are guidelines offered by the Field.