What Is a Degree Concentration & Is It Worth Pursuing?
Published on: August 04, 2023
A term that appears a lot when dealing with degrees is “concentration” which can cause some confusion. Sometimes this term can be confused with a “minor” which can further complicate matters. If you are trying to decide what degree you would like to pursue to further your career goals and whether or not a concentration should factor into this decision then this article will provide some clarity.
What Exactly Is A Concentration In Terms of Degrees?
Many degrees offer students the option to choose a concentration within their degree. Not all degrees offer concentrations even degrees with the same major can offer different concentrations depending on the institute where it is offered. A concentration is essentially a subset of the chosen degree program’s overall focus.
What Are the Differences Between A Major, Minor & Concentration
**Major** - A major is the specific area of study of a degree program. For example, major degrees include Business, Social Sciences, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
**Minor** - A minor is a separate field of study from the major one. Since the course topics of these are not directly related to the main degree students typically take minors out of personal interest, as a way to diversify their education, or because some disciplines don’t have enough courses for a full major. Examples of minors include Cinematic Art, Geobiology, Jazz Studies, Performance Art, Theatre, and much more.
**Concentration** - Whereas a minor can be in any field, a concentration relates specifically to the major chosen by the student. Concentrations are in the same field as their majors but offer an alternative track of courses within the major. For example, students might pick Accounting as their major, but can then also choose a specific concentration such as forensic accounting, taxation, international tax, or auditing.
What Are The Advantages of a Degree Concentration?
While concentrations are not mandatory when selecting a degree there are a few benefits from choosing one. A relevant concentration can set your resume apart when applying for positions in certain career paths. While other applicants might have the same degree the fact that you have a concentration that is useful can be the distinguishing factor. This type of competitive edge can be invaluable in certain industries. Completing a concentration can also develop your expertise in your particular field of interest.
What Should I Take Into Consideration When Choosing a Concentration?
If you are sure that you want to select a concentration for your chosen degree there are a few factors to take into consideration before making a final decision.
**Career Goals** - If you have a very specific career in mind and a concentration can help you to achieve your career goals then it is definitely worth considering. In contrast, if you are still unsure about what career path you want to take then a minor might be a better option.
**Focused Knowledge** - If you are very interested in a specific aspect of your chosen degree and it is available as a concentration then it is worth pursuing for both the professional advantages and personal enjoyment.
**Clarity** - Before choosing your concentration make sure you have clarity about what it entails and if it would be of use to you. Take a look at the course syllabus for concentrations that you are considering and make sure that they align with your interests.
**Duration** - Selecting a concentration can impact how long it takes you to complete your degree program. Typically this is not an issue if chosen at the start of your degree, but if you decide further into the program that you want to add a concentration it can make a difference.
**Academic Experience** - Before committing to a degree concentration make sure that it aligns with the type of academic experience you desire. For example, certain degree concentrations require a lot more hands-on learning than others, which might not be ideal if you prefer something that is more focused on theory.
**Work Experience** - Having work experience can be beneficial for certain career fields, so if your concentration offers components such as practical projects or even internships it can be an easy way to get some real-world experience while studying.
What Do I Do After I Have Decided On A Concentration?
Students who have chosen their concentration must then declare it to their learning institution. This process can differ depending on where you are studying and if your degree program is online or offline. Typically institutions have a specialized automated system that can help to streamline the process, but others require students to complete certain forms that must then be submitted to specific authorities. Check if your college or university has an academic advisor who can guide you through the process. Make sure that you declare your concentration in time as some institutions have deadlines for doing so.
As with choosing your major, you should put some thought and effort into selecting the right concentration. Some career paths can benefit from very obvious concentrations while others are a bit more unique. Some career paths are also already specialized enough that they don’t require a degree concentration. Speaking with an academic advisor can help you to make a more informed decision about what concentration to pursue and how it can benefit you in the long term.