Undergraduate Minors

American Studies

The American studies minor builds on the tradition of an interdisciplinary field of study that promotes a broad humanistic understanding of American culture, past and present. By incorporating economics, history, literature, sociology, art history, anthropology, ethnic studies and public policy (among other areas), this minor encourages students and faculty within those fields to exchange ideas on scholarship as it relates to the American experience. In addition, the American studies minor seeks to move beyond traditional limitations of American studies, by allowing students to take relevant courses in engineering or the natural sciences. Inclusion of these courses is based on the rationale that cultural practices often stem from our understanding of and research in those sciences.


Students taking the anthropology minor learn how the human experience in both the past and present involves the interaction of many factors including social, cultural, political, economic, historical, environmental and biological. Thus, the holistic understanding provided by anthropology draws on knowledge that encompasses the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences.

Applied Mathematical Sciences

The applied mathematical sciences minor provides students an opportunity to supplement their major with additional training in applied mathematics.


A minor is by definition a form of study that can truly be referred to as enrichment. The minor in arts provides students the opportunity to explore courses from the three parallel tracks in the arts curriculum: history (interpreting works of art from all media within their context and purpose), theory (concentrating on research) and art technique and practice (acquiring and applying art techniques in fine arts, music and performing arts). ARTS 007 is a survey course of arts around the globe, with an integrated and comparative approach to studying the history and ideas of arts from antiquity to the 20th century. This course serves as the foundation for all students pursuing the arts minor.

Chemical Sciences

Chemistry is often known as "the central science" because of the key position it occupies in modern science and engineering. Most phenomena in the biological and earth sciences can be described in terms of the chemical and physical behavior of atoms and molecules, and chemical principles also underlie much progress in medicine and engineering. For these reasons, chemistry is a natural and useful minor for students majoring in other science and engineering disciplines. The chemical sciences minor allows students to pursue interests in chemistry in some depth without requiring the breadth of course work and extensive laboratory time required for the chemical sciences major.

Chicano/a Studies

The minor in Chicano/a studies is an interdisciplinary program that introduces students to the complex experiences, history, cultural practices and social interactions of one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States. The program has been designed around conceptual and theoretical units that are central to Chicano/a Studies as a field. In the upper division courses, students, in final papers and projects, will be able to critically examine the concepts below as they tie in to each particular course.

Cognitive and Information Sciences

Cognitive science is the study of human thought and its relation to human activities, including the study of language, perception, memory and reasoning. The cognitive science minor increases students' knowledge of the mind and how it is studied from various perspectives, and helps them to acquire critical skills in scientific research and formal areas such as computer science and mathematics. Students are encouraged to become involved with faculty research.


Students with an interest in developing a solid grounding in economic theory are encouraged to consider the minor in economics. The minor provides students with an understanding of how incentives and institutions shape society. Students in the economics minor have opportunities for strong theoretical and statistical training in areas of labor economics, public economics, environmental economics, political economy and economic data analysis.

Environmental Science and Sustainability

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that focuses on application of concepts and methods from the physical, chemical, biological and social sciences to the study of the natural environment, and seeks solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability science aims to improve the quality of human life within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems. The environmental science and sustainability minor at UC Merced allows students from diverse backgrounds to pursue interests in earth and environmental sciences in some depth without requiring the breadth of course work and extensive laboratory and field time required for the Earth system science major.


Students find that a minor in history makes an invaluable contribution to their studies. A knowledge of history provides an appreciation of the context within which important developments in politics, art, literature, philosophy and science or technology take place, and is necessary to an understanding both of their origins and their implications.

Literatures and Cultures

The literatures and cultures minor enables students who are majoring in other disciplines to nonetheless develop strong skills in literary and cultural analysis, critical reading, and effective writing. Literary study asks questions of history and culture, of gender and minority thought and discourse, of intersections with other fields such as cognitive science, social science, and information science.

This minor seeks to ensure both that students understand the basic notion of cultural production and reception, and that they are, through a variety of courses, familiarized with the relationships between society and literature, between reading and thinking, and between self and societal forms of expression.

Management and Business Economics

The management minor at UC Merced provides an opportunity for students who are majoring in another field, such as the sciences or engineering, to learn the fundamental analytical and quantitative tools necessary for management decision-making. Students receive training in economic theory, statistics, and accounting, and in fields including human resources, strategy, finance and organizational theory.

Natural Sciences Education

The natural sciences education minor is primarily intended for students interested in teaching careers at the K-12 level. The minor is being developed as part of the Science and Mathematics Initiative (SMI) also known as California Teach (CalTeach) Program. The minor leverages the Science and Mathematics Initiative to offer students an opportunity to explore additional career options, deepen their understanding of science and mathematics, and improve their ability to communicate scientific and mathematical concepts.

This minor will prepare students majoring in sciences or mathematics for direct admission into teaching credentialing programs such as the one administered by California State University, Stanislaus (CSUS). In fact, the minor program has been developed with close consideration of the teacher credentialing program at CSUS to ensure that students who complete the minor will be able to obtain a teaching credential in a shorter amount of time. In particular, the courses and fieldwork within the minor will allow students with degrees in science and mathematics to continue their education in a teaching credentialing program without completing any additional requirements. In addition, students will have an opportunity to become intern teachers even as they enter the teaching credentials program, which would allow them to start their teaching career earlier and be paid while completing the single-subject credential.


The minor in philosophy provides students with an understanding of the principles, methods and areas of application of contemporary philosophy. Philosophers study conceptual questions within and between the humanities, arts and sciences: What is art? What is justice? What is the relation between mind and brain? Philosophy at UC Merced combines a traditional curriculum with an emphasis on these interdisciplinary linkages. Because of this, students should be able to use their training in philosophy to complement their other coursework and to identify connections between their various areas of study.


Physics is the study of nature at its most fundamental. It addresses the underlying principles that govern all phenomena in the universe, both within everyday life as well as within the most exotic situations. The physics minor equips students with a broad foundation to understand these diverse phenomena, including such topics as dynamics, planetary motion, quantum mechanics, atomic structure, special relativity, electricity, optics and much more. The minor also provides an opportunity for a student to develop significant depth and explore modern topics in a few areas of his or her choosing.

This minor may be useful for any student studying science or engineering who would like an enhanced foundation in his or her discipline. It may also appeal to any student who simply wishes to understand better the beauty and logic that governs the world around us and our place within it.

Political Science

The political science minor offers broad coverage of the study of politics. Political science is the social scientific study of political processes involving political institutions and political behavior. The study of political institutions includes topics such as the effect of the design of electoral systems on the quality of representation in government, the formal and informal elements of the legislative process and their implications for the making of law, and the impact of domestic political institutions on the incidence of international conflict. Under the rubric of political behavior, political scientists study how and why people choose to participate in politics, the determinants of vote choice and the nature and origins of public opinion.

Students studying political science at UC Merced develop a strong substantive understanding of both political institutions and behavior. Students also learn the theories that help us better understand the political world and the methods by which these theories are tested and refined.


Psychology is a social science that helps students better understand and interpret scientific information and ways to apply quantitative tools such as statistics. Psychology is often of inherent interest to students.

Taking a psychology minor provides an interesting exposure to novel and exciting ideas that students would not otherwise encounter and can be of great use to students who are majoring in other fields. For example, students taking a pre-med curriculum find a psychology minor useful for understanding the social and psychological aspects of medical care or as preparation for a career in psychiatry. Students in management and economics find coursework in social psychology, decision-making and organizational and industrial psychology to be of particular use to their careers.

Public Health

Public health can be defined as an approach to promote health, prevent disease, prolong life and improve quality of life through organized efforts of society. Focusing on the health and well being of populations, public health complements medicine's concern for individuals with diseases. Through activities ranging from basic research, to frontline efforts such as vaccination programs, promotion of healthy lifestyles and environments, and disease control, and leadership on health policy formation, public health issues and outcomes touch the lives of people throughout the world. Public health is an interdisciplinary field drawing on the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. One of the most important themes in public health is the disparities in health observed in different groups. For example, the disparities related to economic resources and race/ethnicity is a focus in this curriculum.

Services Science

The economies of most developed countries are dominated by services. Even traditional manufacturing companies such as General Electric and IBM are adding high-value services to grow their businesses. Improving productivity in services often requires combining technical, social and business innovations. Effective combinations of these innovations often develop naturally together. Cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills relevant to services are becoming necessary for most college graduates.

The minor in services science aims to provide these skills by drawing together cross-disciplinary courses to understand services from management, economics, engineering and/or cognitive science perspectives.


The minor in sociology gives students the ability to understand the complexities of today's society by examining human behavior and social actions. In examining how social structures (such as work, the family, religion and others) help shape social rules, processes and agency, students gain a better understanding of the entirety of today's world — from poverty to gender to race to organizational behavior and to politics. In studying these issues, students learn to use analytical reasoning and apply sociological theories to explain a wide range of social phenomena.


To be able to communicate in a foreign language is a fundamental asset in any profession, from careers in education, translating and interpreting, to those in international studies, health, business or law. A minor in Spanish addresses the needs of students who seek the ability to communicate in more than one language in order to be competitive in their chosen profession. The study of Spanish language and culture is of special importance in the United States, the country with the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. The Spanish minor offers students the linguistic confidence needed for studying in another country and the benefits of being exposed to other cultures.


Writing courses train students in academic discourse and provide them with extensive opportunities for professional development within and across the disciplines. Emphasizing writing as a process, writing minor courses offer challenging curricula that develop students' abilities to research, synthesize and innovate. Within these courses, students demonstrate individual and collaborative responsibility, applying their studies from other courses. The analytical approaches they practice in writing courses are applicable to any course that they take at the university.

The writing minor enhances students' understanding of the theoretical, interdisciplinary and professional aspects of writing, and helps them develop the vocabulary, syntax, style and voice appropriate to the practice of composition in diverse fields. By using the writing process to strengthen their ideas, students develop strategies for participating in research, policy-making, professional advancement and creative expression. The writing minor fosters respect for language, for the contributions of peers and for the value of effective communication.

The minor in writing is open to — and appropriate for — students majoring in any field, and prepares those proceeding on to graduate work for the challenges of advanced academic writing. By representing the student's intensive work in writing, the minor also signals to prospective employers the student's distinguished preparation for the demands of the professional workplace.