Five Hardest Online Degrees in 2016

To practice some of the best-paying professions, you’ll need to complete quite challenging academic programs. Professionals like engineers and surgeons have to go through years of intense studying before they can begin making serious money.

Wondering about the hardest degrees that can be completed online? Needless to say, you can’t become a physician by attending a virtual campus. Several other quite complex majors, however, are available either in an online or a hybrid format.


The engineering departments of various universities have online programs in a number of fields. You can acquire an online degree in software engineering, industrial design, information systems engineering, electrical engineering, engineering management and various others.

Why is it so hard to become an engineer?

For a start, this is a scientific discipline. There’s a lot of theoretical and analytical knowledge to acquire. Engineering students rank among the ones that dedicate the most time on preparing for classes, doing assignments and studying for exams. An engineer has a serious professional responsibility, which is why colleges can’t take the preparation of these experts lightly.

The good news is that the hard work will pay off. Engineering students have some of the highest starting salaries among all professionals. According to 2011 information, the starting salary across all engineering disciplines was 61,872 dollars.


Business administration disciplines may be considered far from challenging but some of them will put even the toughest students to the test. Business management is one such discipline that’s available in the form of an online learning opportunity.

Some of the students that choose to acquire a degree in the field of management will specialise in either finance or accounting. Both of these are difficult. They involve math and analytical skills.

Because of these requirements, management students are among the ones that require one of the longest periods of time to complete their studies.

Physical Sciences

Physical sciences include chemistry, geology and physics. When offered online, these are available in a hybrid format. Sciences require hands-on laboratory experience and they can’t be provided in a 100 percent distance learning format.

It’s obvious why these disciplines rank among the most challenging ones. Even in high school, many students can’t excel in such scientific and highly analytical disciplines. The ones that are scientifically-inclined, however, will enjoy some amazing professional opportunities in the future.

A person having a physical science degree will enjoy a median starting salary of 61,000 dollars per year. More experienced professionals that have worked in the field for 10 to 20 years can expect to make more than 98,000 dollars per year.

Life Sciences

Just like in the case of physical sciences, students can’t complete a life science academic program online. Most of these are available in a hybrid format – the theoretical portion can be learned online and students will need to visit the campus for lab activities.

Life sciences are typically considered “soft” in comparison to physical sciences. The group includes disciplines like biology, anthropology and psychology. Though not as mathematical as the physical sciences, these disciplines still require hard work and a lot of preparation.

According to The Scientist Magazine, dedicating time to obtaining a life science degree is certainly a good idea. The magazine’s 2014 survey suggests that biochemistry professionals earn 100,433 dollars per year. People having a degree in biotechnology will earn 114,084 dollars on the average and the ones that have studied cellular biology can expect a salary of 79,069 dollars.


Architecture is another quite demanding academic discipline and the good news is that many colleges have online architectural programs.

There’s a lot of work and numerous assignments that students will have to prepare for their classes. As a result, studying to become an architect isn’t going to be a breeze (and the number of student parties will most definitely be limited).

This is one of the main reasons why architectural disciplines have one of the highest drop out rates – 82 per cent. Students that persist and manage to obtain their degree, however, will benefit from workplace stability and lucrative professional growth opportunities. The average starting salary of architects is 42,000 dollars per year. The number is quite exciting in comparison to what other recent college graduates earn (not to mention the unemployment rates within some of the fields).

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