People often discuss certain courses as being more difficult than others. Comparing one major course with another is something that we have learned from listening to conversations of our seniors or even our parents. And though the fact that things that don’t have an equal base should not be compared has always prevailed, there are some aspects of a college major degree that we can take into consideration while assessing the toughest of them.

The degree of difficulty in pursuing a field is a matter of subjectivity. A subject might be easy for you but your friend might find it disinteresting and hence hard to grasp its fundamentals.

Yet, there are certain variables of a major that help us know the magnitude of difficulty in understanding. These variables could be the study time required, time spent on theory and practical application, or the amount of cognitive energy required to process knowledge. Again these all are subjective in nature and difficult to measure, but they do give us an insight into different aspects of a course.

In this article, we listed the top 20 hardest college majors and if you’re considering them and you want to study abroad, we also shared some articles on where to study them.

Is it Good to Study Hard Majors in College Abroad?

Well, the answer will depend on the student, because studying abroad alone can be challenging. However, if you’re going to take one of these hard majors in another country, it can open many perspectives for you. For example, not all engineering majors are available in all countries. So if you’re aiming for a specific engineering major and you study it in a country that has a reputation for it, even if it’s hard, you’ll have a solid foundation for it.

Check Also: Bachelor’s Programs for International Students

20 Hardest Majors in College

1. Architecture

Architecture is one of the most multi-dimensional fields. It is a blend of art, science, and technology. Along with these, it demands creativity while keeping in mind an understanding of the modern social, cultural, and practical demands. Theory and its practical application in college degrees are two stepping stones to creating a strong base of its fundamentals.

Students are trained in building accurate 3D designs with their hands and on computers. Along with this, a thorough knowledge of architectural history, its revolution, and its modern-day trends are some important aspects that aspirants need to learn.

Once done with the degree, individuals dedicate their time to the land subdivision industry or research and development while a major portion of them are self-employed. Typically, it’s a 5-year Bachelors in Architecture in the US, and 2-3 years of master’s in the same.


2. Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering is again a multi-disciplinary field that requires a thorough knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, and biochemistry.

Along with this, this hard college major requires an aptitude for mathematics and economics during real-life scenarios. Chemical engineers understand the chemical mechanism of objects and organisms around us and solve problems to make a more comfortable environment for everyone.

From carbon nanotubes to fog harvesting, every possible field is covered in a college chemical degree. Bachelor’s courses are usually 3-5 years long and are suitable for people with a strong interest in chemistry and mathematics. The average salary of chemical engineers is $74,000.



3. Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering involves using mathematics and science to build and design spacecraft, airplanes, and missiles. Sure this hard college major sounds very interesting and impressive, but it is also one of the toughest tasks.

Students go through a vigorous training in applied and theoretical aspects of physics, chemistry, and engineering. Practical projects are given immense importance and students are also supposed to prepare their own prototypes.

In their final years, aspirants can specialize in propulsion, thermodynamics, structure, control, and avionics. The average salary of aerospace engineers in the US is $80,000


4. Information Technology

Information Technology holds a bright future for us and hence it’s no surprise that a significant number of people are working in the IT industry.

With its increasing industry demands, many students have started pursuing it from an undergraduate level, which was an unlikely thing to do a decade ago. Students are vigorously trained in programming, computer languages, database management, machine learning, and other software.

IT bachelor’s degree is usually divided into four years with the last two dedicated to advanced learning in the field with specializations. IT bachelors can go on to become computer support specialists, network architects, programmers, database managers, and IT scientists.


5. Bioengineering

Bioengineering is the culmination of two sciences, biology and engineering, where students explore the ways in which biomedical and biological systems could be studied, worked upon, and improved through modern engineering techniques.

This hard major in college promotes scientific discovery, exploration of healthcare and medicine, policy formation, education, and better environmental quality.  Students require a fantastic aptitude for anatomy, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, and physics.

These core competencies help students work alongside medical practitioners to develop better healthcare solutions and indulge in research and development for policy formation.


6. Economics

Money is what moves our world, and economics helps us know how and where it’s moving. A bachelors in BA or a B.Sc in economics prepares students for banking, insurance, business economics, agricultural economics, and international economics.

Individuals master statistics, calculus, econometrics, and micro and macroeconomics. The bachelor’s degree is spread across 3 years. All programs have a GPA system where students need to maintain a score of 2.5 and above.

Some of the best colleges of the world including Stanford, Harvard, and Chicago University provide the best bachelors in economics.


7. Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum runs our life today and hence each of its products is very important to us for our survival. Petroleum engineering explores every field related to petroleum; discovering oil wells, evaluating its potential, maximizing its production, and storage and transportation.

Though a major in petroleum engineering is more often available in post-graduate courses, the recent shift to clean energy has provoked people to take during their under graduation.

A masters degree in the field requires a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and computing skills.

Students in their final year can opt for specialization in geology, well drilling, petroleum production, geophysics, energy economics, and reservoir analysis. Average salary of petroleum engineers is $101,000.


8. Astronomy

An astronomy major is usually a 3-4 year course at the undergraduate level and 1-2 year at masters. This hard college major do not require any prior knowledge of the field but demands a strong base in mathematics, physics, and other sciences in general.

A degree in any of the astronomy courses is that of a strong theoretical and conceptual framework since students deal with celestial objects which are not even visible to naked eyes, let alone studying the nearest ones which we have managed to reach.

Core subjects to be dealt with under astronomy are solar system, astrophysics, mathematics, physics, planetary astronomy, and stellar astronomy.


9. Mathematics

Most of us have had our personal rage against mathematics at school. Hence, it’s no surprise that it makes it to this list of hardest college majors. Any degree in mathematics at any level deals with a great deal of reasoning, critical thinking, formulas, and other technicalities.

The courses under a mathematics major deal with either general, pure, or applied mathematics. Some basic subjects that are covered across all the courses are algebra, differential calculus, geometry, statistics, and probability.

Some of the specializations in this major are topology and foundations, analysis and functional analysis, algebra and number theory, geometric analysis, and applied mathematics.


10. Psychology

A psychology degree explores in depth an individual’s as well as the society’s behavior. People usually have the notion that this hard college major is one of the easiest majors to pursue due to it not being a part of the usual sciences, but that’s not the case.

A bachelors in psychology is a very broad field, usually taking 3-4 years to complete, where students have a lot to read. It is only in its masters that one gets to specialize in a stream.

Also, it involves writing a lot of lengthy research papers which get tedious sometimes. The positive about doing a major in psychology is that it leaves other doors open for a student to pursue, hence making it a popular option, but far from an easy one.


11. Philosophy

Philosophy is probably the only subject on this list which is applicable everywhere yet has very bleak career options. A significant aspect of a student’s life pursuing philosophy is reading; reading being devouring knowledge from a library full of books on ancient philosophy, mind, and matter, computer philosophy, logic, racism, sexism, school and society, and the state.

Students develop a deep critical thinking ability while debating over paradoxes, society, existence, and nature.

While writing essays on a particular area, students need to thoroughly understand the technicalities of it in order to make necessary conclusions on a completely different dimension. People pursuing philosophy often take teaching as a career option.


12. Physics

To put in simple words, physics deals with the laws of nature and the relationship between energy and matter. Sounds perfect, but over the years, many great men have enlightened upon these laws and made it a fact that physics is one of the toughest subjects to pursue.

This hard college major is so broad that aspirants learn about various fields of studies which are common in every specialization, their sub fields, and a couple of branches further in these sub fields.

When they are past this, they specialize in a field like thermodynamics, astronomy, applied physics, or nuclear physics, etc. A strong mathematical background always helps in physics while pursuing either bachelors or masters, or even double masters in the subject. A physics bachelor degree can get you salaries as high as $64000 per year.


13. BioChemistry

Biochemistry deals with the chemical composition of biological beings and how it affects the organisms. Students are trained into chemistry and biology on theoretical and practical basis.

A major portion of the courses is dedicated to experiments in laboratory where individuals explore molecular genetics, protein chemistry, and organic chemistry. A strong mathematical and physics background goes a long way in this major.

Apart from mainstream careers in biotechnology, biogenetics and medicine, students can also pursue biostatistics and medical informatics. The salaries of these jobs go as high as $100,000.


14. Geology

A geology degree involves studying and exploring earth’s physical and chemical structure and hence addressing pressing concerns such as climate change. A bachelor in geology requires a strong aptitude for all sciences in general along with mathematics.

Students learn in detail about the origin of natural landscapes, species, climate, ecosystems, and evolution. A not very sought after field, geology is for those who are close to nature and have a curiosity to understand how our earth functions.

Possible careers in geology are geophysics, geochemist, geoscientist, hydrogeologist, and mud logger. The average salary for a geologist is $900,000.


15. Computer Engineering

Computer engineering deals with the design and construction of computers and similar products that serve us in our daily life. This hard college major is available to aspirants on undergraduate as well as post graduate level.

A strong foundation of mathematics and science is a pre-requisite of this major. Students are trained into testing the functionality of hardware and software, computing languages, calculus, programming, logic, robotics, AI, and advanced data base.

A degree in computer engineering in one of the most sought after yet a difficult one to get. It’s technicality over the years has increased and hence individuals backed up with its skills are hired everywhere.

Possible career options in this field are hardware engineering, computer programming, electronics engineering, and software development.


16. Finance and Accounting

A degree in finance and accounting helps students understand the behavior of financial markets and businesses. A thorough learning of course subjects such as taxation, derivatives, accounting, investment management, and auditing gives individuals the required skills to manage and run a business profitably.

A bachelors degree in finance and accounting is usually 3-4 years long and students can pursue banking, auditing, consultancy and financial management, and investment analysis. The average salary for students from finance and accounting background is $69,000.


17. Biotechnology

Biotechnology involves studying living organisms and technically applying it to solve problems by building new products.  These products could be vaccines, medicines, food additives, and hormones.

Biotechnology is generally pursued in post graduation by students with a background in biology. A student can become a microbiologist, food scientist, bio chemist, and agricultural chemist. Students thoroughly study principles of biochemistry, immune system, DNA, and cell and tissue culture during the programme period.

Average salary of people with biotechnology background could vary between $50,000 and $400,000, depending upon the area of expertise of the individual.


18. Political Science

A political science degree is best suited for people who are interested in current affairs, the different government establishments across the globe, and policy making and its impact on people.

Students learn in detail about different aspects of public administrations, how campaigns are formed, and how public opinions are influenced.

It heavily focuses on research, analysis, and writing and understanding public documents. Average salary for students from political science background is between $50000 and $100,000.


19. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering involves the use of mathematical and scientific principles to build machines and tools for specific purposes in production and other processes.

In this hard major in college, students can focus on areas like robotics, heat transfer, elevator technology, and fracture mechanics. The course requires a great deal of personal creativity since students have to invent and innovate a lot. The courses cover in detail about calculus, circuits and electronics, chemistry, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, and electrical energy conversion.

The average salary for mechanical engineers is $85,000.


20. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering revolves around the physics and mathematics of electromagnetism, electronics, and electricity. Electrical engineering involves a lot of abstract thinking, which is mostly not the case with other engineering areas. Current in a wire cannot be seen; hence students need to have a strong fundamental base to design and develop gadgets.

Career options after a degree in electrical engineering are telecommunication engineer, electronic engineer, IT technician, consultant, and project manager. On average, electrical engineers earn around $70,000 a year.



The above-mentioned list of 20 hardest college majors might include some fields which are easy for you but not for everyone. However, these majors can be considered a bit more lengthy and tedious to understand and when compared to some others. They require a strong base in certain subjects and more time due to their technical aspects. Still, you can pursue any of them and make a successful career for yourself.


I hope that this article on hard majors in college was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Bachelor’s Programs for International Students!