The 10 Hardest College Majors

While it is true that no college degree is 'easy,' there are certainly some degrees that require an immense amount of work, stamina, and determination. Because of the amount of work required, lots of these degrees have high drop-out rates – but for those who can make it across the finish line, jobs acquired as a result of your degree will make it financially worthwhile! 

Let's have a look at the top ten hardest degrees.



With such a vast and difficult array of subjects on which engineering students are tested (physics, statistics, calculus, etc.), this subject has the highest rate of C grades and the lowest rate of A grades. The drop-out rate, perhaps because of this, is as high as 60% in some colleges. 

For this degree, you will need a minimum SAT mathematics score of 490 and a reading score of 460. Many colleges require higher scores than this, however. Furthermore, not many colleges check your writing score for an Engineering degree. An average starting salary for a qualified engineer is around $54,000.

Biomedical Engineering

The average amount of time spent each week for a student preparing for biomedical engineering majors is approximately 19 hours. Biomedical engineering uses both biological and engineering principles to create usable products, including medical devices and diagnostic equipment.

Classes for this kind of major often include statistics, chemistry, biology, computer programming, and biochemistry. 



The most difficult aspect of an architecture degree is the amount of time students must dedicate to their work. Architecture can become a life-commitment! This is reflected in the exceptionally high drop-out rates of up to 82%. 

However, with average salaries starting at $45,000, this can be a good pay-off with many architects earning $75,000 as their careers progress. The minimum SAT score for entry into architecture majors is approximately 1700, and students are required to have compiled a portfolio of work prior to application.


Life Sciences

Whilst an interesting degree to study, many students enter this path to gain careers in medicine or veterinary sciences. A life sciences degree is only beginning of qualification in fields such as this, and so students often spend a further 7 or 8 years studying after they have acquired their life sciences degree! 

Despite this, early drop-out rates for this degree are only around 20%. Submitted SAT scores must include one science test, and the combined score should be approximately 2300. Starting salaries vary depending on which job field you wish to choose. An average starting salary, however, for those with a Life Sciences degree is around $55,000.


Business & Management

Business & Management degrees can lead to high-powered jobs, which can be stressful. Many students can find this degree very challenging due to the workload, and the drop-out rate can be as high as 50%. To apply for this degree, many colleges have their own written essays and tests for candidates to submit. 

Furthermore, you will need a combined SAT score for mathematics and a critical reading score of approximately 1200. The starting salary for a manager or business associate is around $50,000, and this salary can increase dramatically throughout your career.


Physical Sciences

This field includes subjects such as physics, chemistry, and geology. Because of the world's move towards cleaner energy, this has meant there are fewer jobs available in this field, and so graduates are finding it difficult to acquire full-time work. Despite this, the drop-out rate for Physical Sciences is only 20%! 

The required SAT score is 1800, with a minimum of 600 in critical reading, mathematics, and writing. Starting salaries for jobs in this field vary between $30,000 and $50,000 depending on the job you choose.


Social/Behavioural Sciences

What makes this degree challenging is not the level of work or commitment; its graduates are the 4th lowest in finding full-time work after graduation. Subjects in this field include psychology, sociology, and political science

Despite having one of the lowest SAT score requirements (approximately 1000), the drop-out rate is still rather high at around 48%. Furthermore, this degree provides one of the lowest starting salaries of around $37,000.


Philosophy and Religion

This difficult degree requires complete immersion in the subject. Constant work and self-improvement are required, and many graduates go on to become priests, etc. A combined SAT score of around 1600 is required for this degree , and dropout rates are only 20%. Starting salaries for a career after graduation are around $40,000.


Arts & Humanities

The difficulty in this degree lies in providing a varied portfolio and proving your talent. This degree will be more practical than theoretical; however, finding full-time work as an artist after graduation can be extremely difficult. 

The required SAT scores for admission are around 1500, and drop-out rates are only 20%. Earnings vary greatly depending on job choice after graduation; however, expect to begin somewhere around $40,000 for a full-time job.



Many college students enter into an education degree as they think it will be an easy A. However, education requires a huge amount of studying and theoretical learning; it is not just a practical subject. Therefore, drop-out rates can be quite high at around 40%. 

The SAT requirements are generally quite low at a score of 1000, and this is reflected in a starting salary after graduation of around $30,000.



Economics degrees require a good aptitude at Math, and the constant changing world means you need to be adaptable. The SAT requirement for an Economics degree is a combined score of around 1300, and there is a relatively average drop-out rate of 37%. The starting salary of around $48,500 is an excellent attraction to this field, however.

Mechanical Engineering

Most college students pursuing a major in mechanical engineering will put almost 19 hours into class preparation each week. This major encompasses the design, creation, manufacturing, and the analysis of different mechanical systems. It has to do with everything in motion. Under this major, you will find course topics that include chemistry, calculus, thermal dynamics, as well as design and manufacturing.

What Makes These College Majors Hard?

There really isn't a set of criteria we can use to base anything on when determining which college majors are the hardest. What one person may find overly difficult may be like second nature to the next person. So, what is considered hardest is up to each student and lies in where their strengths and passion are.

When determining which may be the hardest, however, we can take a closer look at the total amount of time it takes college students to prepare for the classes in their majors. The longer they spend on homework and studying, the harder that particular major is. 

What Are Considered Some of the Easiest Majors?

On the other hand, you also have some majors that are often considered the easiest. Among the easiest majors, you may find psychology, criminal justice, English, social work, sociology, communications, and history. These are also often considered the most accessible majors when compared to the others on this list.

Before Choosing a Major

So, before you choose your own majors in college, you will want to keep a few things in mind other than how difficult it may be. 

Interests and Passions

If you aren't actually interested or passionate about what you are considering, then you may eventually lack the motivation to complete the work. You need to find a major that excites you and challenges you and keeps you interested.


If you don't think you can do it or be successful in a particular major, then it is probably not the best fit for you. For example, if you want to pursue career opportunities in art, but you have absolutely no experience or skill in it, then it is probably going to prove to be a bad fit for you if you choose to pursue a degree program based on it.

Goals and Interests

You don't always have to choose a major that reflects your career goals, but you still want it to be somewhat related. If you are interested in music, for example, then you probably don't want to pursue your degree in chemistry or biology. You may become uninterested, lose motivation, and possibly fail to graduate.


Because these degrees in school are difficult, it certainly does not mean that they aren't worth your time and hard work. In fact, investing time and energy into a prestigious degree can pay off immensely in your future with a highly paid and well-respected job – as you can see from some of the starting salaries above! 

If you enjoy the courses, you choose then the hard work is never a chore. Don't forget that changing your major is possible; not everyone gets it right the first time, and it is not a failure to change your mind. The most important thing to remember is that your future is in your hands and you can carve out whatever career you want so long as you have determination and commitment.

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