HDFS Minor Requirement

The Graduate School requires that you take a minimum of 9 credits in a minor area of study. The purpose of the Minor is to add breadth to your Ph.D. and thus it is important that the Minor is not in the same substantive area as your PhD work. For example, if your thesis examines couple relationships, it would not be appropriate to declare your minor to be “Close Relationships.” Cross- listed courses are permitted if they are distinct from the major area of study. See the Graduate School website for additional detailed information on Minors.

Two Options for the Minor

Option A (external): Requires a minimum of 9 credits in a single department or program area. Selection of this option requires the approval of the minor department/sponsor/program and following the specific requirements of the minor department/sponsor/program (many require more than 9 credits). A list of approved external minors can be found in the Graduate Catalog. HDFS participates in the joint administration of an Option A minor that is often of interest to our students, the Prevention and Intervention Science Minor. For more information see here.

Option B (distributed): Requires a minimum of 9 credits in one or more departments and can include course work in the major department. Selection of this option requires the approval of the major department. This approval is generally granted through your 3-person prelim committee.

The Graduate School’s minimum course requirements for the minor include:

  • An average GPA of 3.00 on all minor course work.
  • Course work must be graduate level (the equivalent of UW-Madison courses 300 level or above; no audits or pass/fail).
  • Maximum 3 credits of independent study (e.g., 699, 999).
  • Research and thesis cannot be used to satisfy the minor (e.g., 990).
  • No more than 5 credits of course work completed more than five years prior to admission to the Ph.D.; course work taken ten years ago or more may not be used.

If you have selected Option B, you should create an official name for your minor to be approved by your committee. It can be a significant “selling point” on your curriculum vitae to have a minor name that accurately reflects your expertise (e.g, “Qualitative Methods” or “Family & Community Development”) — so if you choose Option B, take time to find an appropriate title.

Graduate students may also complete the breadth requirement by earning a graduate/professional certificate at UW-Madison. See additional information here and here. 


School of Human Ecology Graduate Programs Handbook Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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