There is nothing easy and fun about getting a college degree and working on a major project no matter how much you know about the subject being under the study. But you can make this process easier if you pick the right college major focus and drop the hardest college majors. So what to consider when deciding on your academic specialization? What college majors are considered the most challenging ones, and which ones can open lucrative career opportunities?
Picking the Right College Major Is...
Different academic degrees take a different amount of time and effort; some of them result in brighter career opportunities, higher income rates, and inevitable professional growth. Still, some academic programs are considered underwhelming and will hardly be in great demand in the labor market.
Of course, “hard” means different things to different people, your personal enjoyment in studying a certain topic has an effect on whether you perceive it as “hard.” To determine the hardest college majors, you should consider your abilities, knowledge, and skills. Some students are naturally adept at complex math or calculus; others may excel at writing, designing, or architecture. By recognizing your natural strengths and weaknesses, you can eliminate the risk of picking the most challenging college majors. Even if you lack academic talent, you can always count on professional assistance from Homework-Writer.com and rest assured about your academic excellence.
At the same time, the rigor and demands of a specific program can have an impact on its difficulty level. However, based on weekly study hours, average GPAs, ROI, and a pool of other factors, we have made a list of the hardest majors in college.
Homework-Writer’s Top 10 Hardest College Majors
Start thinking about the major that suits your best? We have made a list of the hardest academic options. So instead of assuming what STEM majors are complicated, you can take a quick look at our rating and have a clear idea of what academic programs are better to avoid and why.
By average GPA and weekly academic hours, the most challenging college majors include:
- Chemistry – 2.70;
- Mathematics – 2.87;
- Economics – 2.93;
- Biology – 3.01;
- Physics – 3.02.
Please note that average GPAs somehow vary depending on the college, program requirements, and school type. Thus, the Grade Point Average for any of the above disciplines may be different in a public/ private college, liberal arts/ trade school, online/ offline academic program. Some educational establishments have a reputation for being among the hardest colleges, which should be taken into account as well. However, our rating will guide you and help you make the right choice.
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#1 - Chemistry
According to the average GPA, chemistry is one of the most difficult academic fields when it comes to obtaining a college degree. First of all, you will need to spend no less than 18 hours per week studying the subject. Secondly, it is hard to earn a degree in chemistry, at least, if you are not passionate about chemical “affairs.” Otherwise, it is a great degree to consider providing a wide range of career options open to you. Pharmacy, medicine, patent law, and forensic examination - these are some of the professional directions you can choose from.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you can count on the following income rates based on a chemistry degree job you pick:
- Biochemist / Biophysicist - $91K+
- Chemist / Materials Scientist - $76K+
- Environmental Scientist / Specialist - $69K+
#2 - Mathematics
It is no wonder that mathematics comes second in our rating. It is by far one of the most challenging college majors with due regard to the effort it requires to learn algebra. If you are aimed at getting a bachelor’s degree in math, then be ready to study complex formulas, mastering your calculation skills, and learning economics, cybersecurity, astronomy, etc. Of course, you can get a well-paid job right out of college with a predicted 20-year ROI of up to $563K. However, all math-/ accounting-related positions require a graduate degree.
According to the BLS, you can count on the following income rates based on a mathematics major job you pick:
- Actuary - $100K+
- Statistician - $84K+
- Financial Analyst - $84K+
- Operations Research Analyst - $81K+
#3 - Economics
If you are not good at math and statistics, then getting a college major in economics will be a real challenge for you. The discipline requires critical thinking skills and being able to synthesize data. Otherwise, you will fail after the first important project. Economics majors spend no less than 15 hours per week studying related disciplines, and the average GPA is 2.93 here. However, once you get a well-deserved degree in economics, you have a real chance to be sitting pretty in business, technology, government, or finance. Predicted twenty-year ROI rates for majors in Economics exceed $626K, which explains the high popularity of the discipline.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can count on the following income rates based on the economics degree job you pick:
- Economist - $102K+
- Actuary - $101K+
- Financial Analyst - $84K+
- Budget Analyst - $75K+
- Auditor - $69K+
#4 - Biology
Although biology provides a lot of specializations to choose from (cell biology, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, etc.), you must follow developments and findings happening outside the class every day. If you are ready to keep up with science in all the directions, then you are good to go with the college major in biology. In case you are not ready to deal with the toughest workload and multiple lab reports/ experiments, then we recommend that you pick a different academic path. Once you obtain an advanced degree in biology, there are ample opportunities for you to build a great career in bioengineering, business segment, or lab research.
According to the BLS, you can count on the following income rates based on the biology major job you pick:
- Microbiologist - $69K+
- Environmental Specialist - $69K+
- Wildlife Biologist - $62K+
- Biological Technician/ Expert in Engineering - $43K+
#5 - Physics
Providing for long hours to be spent to prepare for class, physics is on the list. If you are good at abstract thinking, problem-solving, and are questioning life-changing discoveries, then it is a major for you to consider. However, you should be ready that more advanced education will be necessary when looking for a job outside of the lab or teaching niche.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can count on the following income rates based on the physics major job you pick:
- Physicist - $117K+
- Aerospace Engineer - $113K+
- Nuclear Engineer - $105K+
- Materials Scientist - $76K+
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Factors to Consider When Choosing A Major
Does the work interest me? You will have a much harder time securing good grades and retaining concepts if you are pursuing a major that does not interest you. We are not saying you have to choose something that fascinates you - not everyone can be a professional musician or writer - but make sure you choose a major that holds your attention.
Do I have natural talent in this field? Everyone’s brain is wired a little differently. It follows that certain subjects will be easier for certain students. Natural talent is not a prerequisite for pursuing a given major. In fact, many leaders in their field report initial setbacks that they had to work hard to overcome. However, choosing to major in an area where you already have an intellectual advantage based on your brain chemistry is a good way to make your college years easier.
How much time do I want to spend studying? Realistically, academic coursework is not every student’s top priority. One of the best parts of college is making lifelong friendships. Another is exploring your interests through clubs and internships. Only commit to a time-intensive major if it really is your top priority in school.
What career options will be available to me after graduating? Too many times, we see students treat their undergraduate years as being completely unrelated to what they will do after school. Then, when they find certain career paths are closed to them, they become disappointed. Avoid this outcome up front by choosing a major with your future career in mind. If you are interested in exploring many different fields, choose a major like Communications or Economics that opens the door to many different industries. If you already know you want to pursue a very specific path, such as film or medicine, choose a major and take the courses that prepare you for your industry.
What are my financial prospects with this major? Even if your goal is not to become a millionaire, keeping an eye on finances will save you a lot of heartache in the long run. If you are split between two majors, consider using return on investment (ROI) as your tie-breaker. If you want to go into a less lucrative field, that is okay! Just be sure you are not taking out large loans to finance a major that will take decades to repay.
How to Find the Right Major for You: 3 Key Factors
These are the hardest college majors based on the amount of preparation they typically require. The real question now is this: which major should you choose? This is an important question to think about, both before and while you're in college. So how can you make sure you're choosing the right major for you?
First off, don't be tempted to choose a major simply because of its perceived difficulty. Though it might sound impressive to choose one of the hardest college majors, if you're not passionate about the field or don't want a career in it, it likely won't be worth majoring in.
At the same time, don't avoid one of the most difficult majors purely because it's known as being one of the harder ones. If you're committed to pursuing a career in architecture, for example, then go ahead and major in architecture—don't pick something else just because you're scared of how hard it might be! Most likely, another major simply won't make you happy and you won't feel nearly as fulfilled had you just opted for the major you initially wanted.
Ultimately, there are three key factors you'll want to think about before choosing a major:
- Your interests and passions: If you are not genuinely interested in the major you've chosen, you'll likely lack motivation to keep up with your studies. Pick something that excites you on a deeper level.
- Your abilities: Ability matters because if you can't do something at all or do it well enough to be successful in it, then the major is likely not the one for you. For example, it might not be in your best interest to pursue a major in drawing if you have no experience drawing and aren't particularly skilled at it.
- Your career goals and interests: Although your major doesn't need to directly mirror your career goals, it should be at least somewhat related to your future aspirations. Don't major in biology if you're way more interested in becoming a professional violinist, for instance.
These are the main factors to consider before you commit to a major in college.
Note that it's OK if you're undecided on your major when you start college—not all schools require you to declare a major in your application anyway. Still, you should definitely take some time to explore your options to help you figure out what your ideal course of study might be.
No Desire to Challenge Yourself?
If you are not ready for another academic challenge and are looking for a perfect mix of an interesting and prospective college master, then you need to consider your personal interests and our rating. Thus, you will have a reasonable idea of the difficulty of different academic fields and professional prospects they open for you.
When it comes to the most difficult majors, what one student might consider difficult can vary a lot from what another student might consider difficult. This is because the difficulty of a college major ultimately depends on each person's individual interests and abilities.
Still, this hasn't stopped people from trying to come up with lists of the hardest college majors. A 2016 study called the NSSE surveyed US college students, asking how many hours they normally spend preparing for classes each week. The study then divided these answers up by major to give a rough idea as to which majors generally required more preparation time than others.
When it comes to finding the right major for you, don't choose (or avoid!) majors simply based on their perceived difficulty. Instead, try to take into account your passions and interests, your abilities, and your career goals. These are what will help you figure out your ideal major!