10 Hardest College Majors

Choosing a major is a big decision! It can impact your career choices in the years to come, and careful consideration should be given to this selection. And when it comes to majors, some are generally deemed harder than others. When choosing your ideal major, you should give careful consideration to your own strengths and weaknesses as well as your goals – and be honest with yourself.

If you’re opting for one of these 10 hardest majors, it’s important to be prepared.

Check out easiest degrees and see how they compare to this list’s “hardest.”

What Makes these Difficult Majors?

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While perceived difficulty in in the eyes of the beholder, a difficult major doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily excel in it. If you have strengths in these areas of study, you could absolutely rise to the top of your class. However, there are a few differentiators that separate these subjects from the others.

These challenging college majors often considered more difficult because:

  • They tend to require more study time and homework compared to other majors
  • Grading standards can be more rigorous
  • The majors are usually in STEM
  • They often take more than 4 years to complete

Of course, “hard” and “easy” are subjective. English or Philosophy majors may be difficult for one student, but easy for the next. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your own strengths and weaknesses when choosing a major.

10 “Hardest Majors”

1. Chemistry

It’s no surprise that chemistry is one of the hardest majors in college. There are a ton of majors related to chemistry like analytical chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and chemical engineering that all fit.

But what makes chemistry majors so hard? Students have to have a solid understanding of not just chemistry, but also in their coursework for math, physics, biology, calculus, statistics, and more. It also tends to require intensive studying outside of the classroom.

2. Engineering

Like chemistry, engineering is an umbrella for a variety of other majors. There is electrical engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and more. Within these engineering majors, the course load is quite a lot. They often incorporate math, chemistry, calculus, physics, and other difficult subjects, on top of requiring a lot of hours of studying and homework.

Specific types of engineering can also require unique skill sets. For example, mechanical engineering will require knowledge of design, manufacturing, and mechanical systems.

3. Physics

Everything we see in the world is physics. From the way cars stop and go to a lemon falling from a tree, physics students are basically math majors with constant application. The average physics student will need to study advanced math, concepts like force, energy, and time, thermodynamics, quantum physics, and more.

With a lot of math and variables involved, a physics major is on our top list of challenging degrees.

4. Architecture

Every building has been designed by an architect or a team of architects. Architecture majors not only design the layouts and overall style of a building or home, but you’re also considering the safety behind each frame and concrete slab. It’s a difficult major that requires a lot of calculations, creativity, and critical thinking skills which is why it’s on our list for one of the hardest majors in college. Architecture students have a variety of advanced courses in their major studies.

5. Biology

Whether you’re studying botany, molecular biology, general biology, microbiology, zoology, or another related course, biology is hard. You likely will be learning about animal behavior as well as organic chemistry, calculus, ecology, immunology, and more – all subjects that require a lot of work and studying outside of class. The exact subjects you’ll be taking depend heavily on your concentration.

6. Accounting

 If you don’t have a solid foundation in math, accounting and finance are going to be extremely difficult majors for you. And it’s not just the math portion that makes these majors hard. You’ll need an understanding of technical rules and knowledge of regulations and how they apply to the real world.

These subjects cover a breadth of knowledge, and accounting is so much more than keeping an eye on cash flow. Critical thinking skills, for example, are a must have as you’re going to be required to make judgment calls that can have a lasting impact on the businesses you work for.

7. Physical Sciences

Whether you opt for geology, earth science, environmental science, or another subject, physical sciences is a difficult major. It incorporates three already difficult areas of study together: math, computer science, and science. Your knowledge of basic and complex concepts are going to be put to the test while you solve physical problems. Students in this major generally have to take a broad range of STEM related courses on top of specialized classes.

8. Physiology

Physiology is another major that is based in math, chemistry, and physics (notice a trend?). It also requires students to understand concepts rather than simply memorizing the material, with a focus on understanding how the systems of the body operate. Even if you just opt for a single course in physiology, it will require a lot of studying outside of the classroom.

9. Economics

Nothing is black and white when it comes to economics, and students need to have the right mindset and affinity for math when studying this particularly difficult major. Whether you opt for macroeconomics, microeconomics, or another related field, you’re going to have to master complex concepts like supply and demand, diminishing returns, and more.

It’s important to note, too, that undergraduate economics is often considered much easier when compared to the advanced degree in graduate economics.

10. Computer Science

From IT to cybersecurity, computer science is one of the most popular majors at the moment. It’s also one of the most difficult. Students need to be prepared to learn about how hardware and software works. Depending on the area of focus, too, those pursuing this major may need to learn several coding languages, study design, and develop problem solving skills. Like many of the other difficult majors on this list, it’s also going to require a lot of work at home between studying, homework, and testing of your applications and work.

Just because a major is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not for you. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses while also considering what challenges you and your passions will help you determine the best major for you, whether it’s hard or easy.

Are you wondering if one of these difficult majors is the best choice for you? Want to explore related areas of study? Head over to our Major Search tool to explore subjects today!

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