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Top 10 Hardest College Majors You Should Consider

There are several cons and pros of choosing a difficult college major: for one, it’s no surprise that they pay more, and thanks to the relatively low competition, graduates are in high demand.

On the other hand, choosing a hard college major will set you up for what could be the most challenging and time-consuming experience of your life.

While there are some metrics for determining the difficulty of a college major, there’s still some subjectivity to it. Your high school strengths and weaknesses will determine what counts as hard for you. With that said, here’s our best try on an objective compilation of the hardest college majors for aspiring students.

What Makes a Major Hard?

Excess Math

Having too many mathematical elements is one of the main factors. Calculations are complicated for many students. This reason is why science is more challenging than other departments.

More Study Hours

Some courses, like medicine and dentistry, require you to spend more hours in class than others. After spending many hours in class, you also need to do additional study to comprehend what you learned. For many students, this hectic schedule is what they hate.

Despite spending long hours, these degrees are usually STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) They’re time-consuming and academically demanding.

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Strict Professors

Another valid but not so apparent reason a major can be difficult is if it has strict professors. This issue applies to degrees in both arts and sciences. Understanding a course can be challenging if you have a strict lecturer. Surprisingly, difficult majors have the strictest lecturers.

Grading Policies

Grading policies which is the method by which schools grade your exams. Most majors with stricter grading policies are harder to pass.

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Personal Preference

Another factor that determines a major’s difficulty level is you. Whether a course is challenging or not, it’ll all be for you to decide in the end. Sometimes, what’s difficult for others can be easy for you.

We all have that one student in school who understand science courses like Albert Einstein. Students like that won’t entertain any dialogue that says science is arduous. Also, if many people think the course length is long and it fits your schedule, you’ll have no problem with it.

What are the Hardest College Majors

1. Chemistry

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Chemistry is the study of chemical processes. Students will study chemical compositions, properties, structure, and change of matter. Majoring in Chemistry is one of the hardest things in college.

Expect to study inorganic Chemistry, Integrated Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and many other aspects of the degree. Students spend around 18 hours in class weekly. Possible job opportunities include researchers, teachers, or lab chemists.

Students who love lab work and discovery might find something interesting in the discipline. For others, it’s best to find other specialties. The average base salary for Chemists in the United States is $76,631 in 2022.

2. Mathematics

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If you’re a genius in Math, you’re undoubtedly one of the most respected students in class. Other students see you as a rare breed that understands what most others do not. Here’s the time to extend your knowledge by pursuing a degree in the discipline.

The courses you’ll study in Mathematics will be mainly numeric. You’ll do algebra, geometry, calculus, and other essential aspects of the subject. Expect some liberal art courses like English Literature and Psychology too.

Vast employment opportunities await you after completing your degree. You can work as a Mathematician, Financial Analyst, or Operation Research analyst. A mathematician can earn upwards of $111,000.

3. Economics

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Economics studies social behavior and how it relates to market and finance. You’ll examine people and what influences essential decisions that they make. This degree is perfect for students with a knack for finance and research.

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Despite its difficulty, it’s a captivating course because the more you advance, the more you understand the world around you. You’ll develop analytical, numerical, and problem-solving skills while studying economics. Economics can work in banks and other financial companies and earn around $106,000 annually.

4. Biology

Biology needs no introduction because most students have done it at some point in high school. This particular Biology is more complex and detailed. Here, you study all there is about life, from evolution to growth, to life cycles and other essential aspects.

You’ll use the first years at school to learn different theoretical concepts to make you understand the hidden components of the course. Expect many memorizations of seemingly complex terms in this period, usually the hardest aspect for most people. The last years of school will be more practical as the school ready you for after-school challenges.

A big plus is that you can choose a specialization that suits you the best. You can study, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genetics and Developmental, and the like. Biologists earn $79,000 annually in the US, but the pay can rise or fall depending on skill level and experience.

5. Geology

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Geologists study the earth. They utilize their knowledge to give us weather forecasts and accurate predictions of natural disasters. Geology is crucial to human survival and is perfect for students with a natural inquisitive ability about the universe.

Geologists need complex calculations to make things work, and Physics and Chemistry are essential subjects. You’ll learn the origins and development of landscapes, volcanoes, glaciers, and many others. Every challenging course has its good side, and for Geology, it’s life after graduation.

You can find a decent job after your Bachelor’s degree without needing to go to any specialized school. Averagely, Geologists earn around $56,000 every year. Your pay can rise if you’re highly skilled and have experience in the field. If you’re adventurous, you’ll love the job because you’ll do a lot of exploration and earth-based research.

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6. Philosophy

The chances that you’ve come across quotes from the likes of Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato are very high. These are all famous philosophers, and they understand themselves and the world around them. They spend their time asking and answering questions that would clarify the world around them.

If you’d decide to chase a career in Philosophy, you’ll aim to become like one of these guys by studying their ideas. It’s divided into four parts, namely theoretical, practical, logic, and history of philosophy. You can decide to specialize in any of these four.

You’ll develop exceptional writing and analytical skills if you graduate with a philosophy degree. After finishing your Bachelor’s degree, you can further your education by attending law school or taking up employment opportunities in teaching, journalism, publishing, or other industries. Philosophers can make between $82,000 to over $160,000 in the US.

7. Finance

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If you are the type that always wants to understand how money works, a career in finance might appeal to you. Be warned that it won’t consist of only the exciting aspects that made you fall in love with the degree. You’ll use complex math to make extensive data analysis.

The pros of studying the course are that it’s one of the most in-demand jobs in the labor industry. Job opportunities will be available in business, government, and many other sectors. You can earn over $100,000 annually with a degree in finance.

8. Physics

Physics is all about the universe, and you’ll study the largest and smallest particles around it. It’s the pillar for all other science majors. A physics degree will give you excellent problem-solving skills, a vast understanding of the universe, and good teamwork.

Learning Physics isn’t the best experience for students, and you can spend up to 40 hours per week in class. However, working after graduation is usually interesting because it attracts one of the highest pay in the labor sector. Physicists can earn from $69,000 to $92,563 in the United States.

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Employment opportunities are open for Physics graduates in Engineering and Manufacturing, Defense and Aerospace, Teaching, Journalism, and many other industries. Another fun advantage of studying for the degree is that people will consider you a genius.

9. Engineering

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Engineering is all about constructing everything around us. Almost everything that makes life easier is the handwork of engineers. Think of your computer devices, domestic and heavy machines, buildings, and computer software. While it’s generally a strenuous course, your area of specialization can influence the level.

Engineering has six Branches; Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, Civil, Geotechnical, and Management. These branches have many specialties like Aerospace, Architectural, Biomedical, Computer, etc. Chemical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering are the most challenging engineering discipline.

Others are generally easier than these three, but they are arduous compared to other science and arts subjects. Depending on your specialty, you can work in many industries with an engineering degree. The pay varies, but generally, they are one of the highest-paid professionals in the labor force.

10. Computer Science

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Computer scientists study every about computers. Everything includes learning how to create software and how it works. Computer scientists are masters of mathematical algorithms and programming, so expect to study them in school.

While it might sound like the degree should be okay for anyone interested in computers, it isn’t particularly so. Most things you’ll deal with at school won’t look interesting until you master them. It’s imperative to conduct extensive findings on the course before studying it.

Technology is ever-advancing, and the need for highly skilled computer scientists continues to rise. Computer scientists earn an average of around $109,000 in the US.

What are the Easiest College Majors?

Now that you know the arduous college majors, knowing the easiest might help. Almost all the simplest courses in college are in Arts. The reason is that they’re abstract and don’t require many practicals.

It doesn’t mean students that study these courses have it easy, but they don’t need to work as hard as their science counterparts to pass. Therefore, art students tend to get higher GPAs than science students.

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English is one of the easiest college majors. It’s all about learning all the components of the English language. You’ll ace this major if you have a knack for the language. Psychology is another easy college major. You learn about human behavior within its culture and society.

Other courses that make the “easiest” categories include Sociology, Communications, Education, Liberal arts, Religious studies, etc. Most of these degrees don’t earn as much as the “hard” ones. However, they get good pay and are respected professionals.


These are the most challenging college majors. Whether challenging or not, you can pass all courses if you study. It’s just about knowing the demand and adjusting your study and personal schedule to fit.

If a degree is too hard, you can look for simpler ones. The good thing about our educational system is that you can find something that suits you irrespective of your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct adequate research on your course before you enter college.

Most schools have websites with all their degrees and information about them. This website is the best place to research courses specifically for your school. Asking students already in school about their experience is the best way to know what studying for a particular degree feels like.

About Martin Vernon

A lifelong learner, educator, and advocate for education as a means for individual and social change. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!

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