Often, when starting college, students are pressured with decisions about majors and career paths. While deciding on a major is important, a minor can be just as important in getting jobs out of college.
According to the New York Times, “Having a secondary area of study can signal to a job interviewer that you have concrete expertise, especially in business or a foreign language. It can also set you apart from all the other graduate school applicants.”
At BYU-Idaho, there are opportunities to obtain minors that complement majors. A lesser-known minor at BYU-I is philosophy. A philosophy minor involves taking 21 credits of philosophy and logic classes along with major required classes.
Brian Merrill, a humanities and philosophy professor, teaches Philosophy Thought as well as Logic and Critical Thinking, both classes are required to complete a philosophy minor.
“Philosophy makes a perfect supplementary minor to any major,” Merrill said.
Merrill said that studying philosophy can be daunting — students can be intimidated if they start investigating the subject on their own. He said that BYU-I provides classes and instruction that can help students understand philosophical principles better.
“The best introduction to philosophy is to just pick up a course like Philosophy 110,” Merrill said. “Philosophy’s difficult to break into on your own. It’s usually helpful to have someone to guide you as you make your way into philosophy.”
Philosophy 110 takes philosophical questions and helps students identify answers that philosophers through history have theorized. Merrill said that each class is designed to help students understand how to logically formulate arguments and answers to philosophic questions.
“An important conversation is right and wrong,” Merrill said. “What is just and injustice in society? What is knowledge? How do we know things? Can we trust science? Does science tell us all the truths of the universe? All kinds of questions are philosophical questions and we learn to deal with them in Philosophy 110.”
The philosophy department welcomes all, no matter the major, to come and learn with them. In their department, they have a plethora of students who come through their program successfully and use their resources.
“We get a lot of psychology students because there’s a connection between the two, but we get students from all over campus: Finance students, engineers, software engineers, physics majors,” Merrill said. “We get a lot of variety.”
Michael Nye, a senior studying psychology, has been working on a philosophy minor since 2022. Nye has had the opportunity to take philosophical classes and believes philosophy is important to understand different religions and perspectives.
“Philosophy minors are important, especially at BYU-I, because they help us think about why we believe what we believe,” Nye said.
Nye encouraged others to consider getting a philosophy minor in the context of religion, which BYU-I offers.
“I would recommend anyone look into getting a minor in philosophy while at this school because very few other places will teach students about how the light of Christ has influenced philosophical thinkers throughout the history of the world,” Nye said.
Olivia Mendenhall, a senior studying software engineering, said that philosophy classes helped her prepare for her mission and continue to grow spiritually.
“On my mission, I was able to dive deeper into the gospel and discover subtle but precious truths because of the skills I learned from just a couple classes, I was able to take beforehand,” Mendenhall said. “After my mission, I took every philosophy class I could. Philosophy taught me how to handle when I have conflicting beliefs. It taught me how to quickly think through complex ideas. It taught me how to recognize and pursue truth. It taught me how to understand others and their beliefs. It has taught me how to properly express my ideas, both in speaking and in writing.”
Philosophy can be the perfect minor that anyone can use to round their degree with, but for those looking into the benefits and some resources for minors, check out this Scroll article.
For more information on the philosophy minor, visit the BYU-I Academic Catalog.