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What is the single word to refer to either a university major or minor?? When used, the speaker does not want to emphasize whether that study area is his/her major or minor in the university, but just one subject he/she is working on.

Personally I would use "study area" to talk about this and I think people can understand without ambiguity. I'm just wondering whether there is a more native word that exists.

Is "discipline" an appropriate word for this case??

  • You wrote, "When used, the speaker does not want to emphasize whether that study area is his/her major or minor in the university, but just one subject he/she is working on." So simply saying, "I am studying anthropology among other subjects at the university" is one way to avoid saying that anthropology (in this example) is one's major or minor field of study. – Mark Hubbard Sep 4 '16 at 14:35
  • You can say: that "academic discipline" is his minor/major subject area. – Graffito Sep 4 '16 at 16:14
  • Be aware that "major" and "minor" are North American terms, and not universal among English speakers. For example, in the UK I believe they say one has "read" this or that subject "at university". – Tom Hundt May 11 '18 at 6:36
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Discipline works, as does field of study.

Area of study is not quite as good, in my opinion, but it certainly works better than study area.

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The hypernym for academic majors and minors is academic program.

A course of academic study; a curriculum. [American Heritage]

At least one academic discipline underlies a given major or minor, but is not identical with it. The one discipline of Sociology underlies major and minor programs in Sociology across myriad institutions, but a Sociology major or minor is a set of course requirements at one specific institution (perhaps coupled with an additional requirement for an internship or thesis).

It may well be that discipline is the word you are looking for, but when you ask specifically for a term referring collectively to college or university majors and minors, the term is program.

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How about interest?

interest: a feeling that accompanies or causes special attention to an object or class of objects [Merriam-Webster]

Examples: "Anthropology is an interest of mine" or "Anthropology is one of my interests."

This statement doesn't indicate that anthropology is your major or minor, but it does indicate, as per your question, that it is one of the subjects you are studying.

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    Sorry, Richard, I don't think that's quite right. After all flower arranging is an interest for some people but its study and practice is unlikely to count towards anyone's degree (except in Japan, perhaps). The term 'interest' sounds more like a hobby than a formal study discipline to me. – BoldBen Sep 4 '16 at 20:14
  • @BoldBen Appreciate the comment [I can see why you call yourself Bold Ben :-)], but I think you have to take the context into account. As per the OP, "The speaker does not want to emphasize whether that study area is his/her major or minor in the university, but just one subject he/she is working on." So the context is an academic or other setting in which the speaker has been asked if she's studying anthropology, say, and she wants to answer without indicating whether anthropology is her major/minor. So she says, "It's one of my interests." "Academic interests" are implied; hobbies are not. – Richard Kayser Sep 4 '16 at 20:33

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