Why Are Some Degrees Harder Than Others?

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

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College allows a person to gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in a specific field and makes them qualified for a job. It is a crucial stage of gaining personal and professional skills with the aim of making a mark in the industry.

A common dilemma among students is choosing the right college degree.

When Does College Become Difficult for Students?

College is challenging in general, but it can even be more difficult when:

Students are not motivated to attend or engage in class.

Striking a balance between your workload and other pursuits is hard enough. Without the right motivation, even the simplest task appears difficult. Pursuing a college degree that you don’t care about and are initially unsure of exacerbates this situation. It pays, therefore, to select a degree you would be happy with.

Students are not ready to become independent.

For many, college is their first step toward independence. After living with their parents, students become thrilled over the idea of transitioning to college dorm life. While others thrive in the new environment, others find themselves struggling to adjust and live on their own.

Students feel overwhelmed by the demands of their coursework.

Students who put off tasks, don’t have the background knowledge necessary to address the material, or are just unprepared for the volume of work and required readings are not bound to thrive in college!

Students find it hard to handle personal and academic issues at the same time.

College is the season for new relationships and lifelong friendships. It’s an exhilarating time for students, but when the problems come, they find it incredibly difficult to meet the demands of their coursework while nursing a broken heart or spirit. The social pressure that students deal with doesn’t help.

Students find it a challenge to meet their academic and non-academic obligations.

Time management is a life skill! Apart from studies, you might need to join clubs and organizations and partake in extracurricular activities. You may even work and study at the same time. All these circumstances require you to be adaptive to any situation and to balance everything so you can succeed. 

The Hardest College Degrees

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Because students deal with challenges and cope with them differently, there isn’t a definitive list of degree programs that everyone will find difficult. Some college degrees, such as the ones listed below, make the cut because of rigorous coursework, intensive research required, length of the program, and other stringent program requirements. 


Defined as the scientific study of the human mind, Psychology suggests an abstract notion that is mostly examined through behavior and personality. You gain a thorough understanding of the variety of human experiences from this subject.

Even if it’s a broad area with several subfields, you should at least be conversant with its scientific, biological, and social components. 

A degree in Psychology demands you to have strong people and communication skills, not just for the educational process but also for your profession, as it largely deals with people and their experiences.


Many students have developed the perception that chemistry is frighteningly difficult as early as middle school. However, what makes Chemistry extremely challenging is that it deals with the scientific composition, properties, and structures of substances. 

Chemistry will require you to perform a lot of research and experiments, and require time-intensive studies. There are several employment options in this foundational science field, ranging from academic research to toxicity. You may even be able to become an environmental and safety specialist in your area of expertise. 


Even numbers enthusiasts will agree that Mathematics is a challenging major. Math deals with a lot of abstract concepts and cutting-edge discoveries that push the boundaries of the field. Studying pure arithmetic is no longer a requirement for majoring in Math; many other fields of study interconnect with this discipline, making it even more complicated. 


Medical students must understand the sciences behind illnesses and treatments. They should acquire suitable patient interaction skills through rigorous clinical practice.

Becoming a doctor takes a long time! Students must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree before being matched to a residency following graduation. They become residents for three to seven years, depending on their specialty, before sitting for the medical licensing exam. We’re talking about years and years of dedication, motivation, and commitment to the medical field!


Physics is difficult on its own. Astrophysics, a subset of Physics, is a whole new ballgame. This college major integrates math, statistical mechanics, calculus, thermodynamics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and relativity.

Technical knowledge is a must to keep up with the technological advancements in this field. Most astrophysicists acquire a master’s degree, at the minimum, to pursue this profession.

Aerospace Engineering

The aviation industry isn’t for the weak! Aerospace Engineering programs accept students with high GPAs. Because it’s such a practical field, students must have problem-solving skills.


Statistics integrates mathematical concepts that, consequently, make the subject even more complicated to the average mind! Statistics fundamentally involves complex formulae and tables and, therefore, welcomes students with the strongest computer science skills and a working grasp of calculus, linear algebra, and probability. It won’t hurt to have exceptionally high analytic and problem-solving capabilities, either!

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Why Do Students Choose Hard Degrees?

Family Influence

Choosing a college major does not always involve personal preferences. Some students factor in their family, values, beliefs, and culture. You can bet some medical students seek to belong to their family of doctors or lawyers. To them, choosing a major or pursuing a profession is tied to family honor or legacy.

Excellent Career Opportunities

A common path toward a lucrative career is a college degree. It pays to acquire more than just unique knowledge in your field of specialization, and it matters just as much to demonstrate critical thinking skills, understand challenging material, and articulate critical ideas.

Growth on a Personal and Professional Level

Earning a hard college degree makes you more competitive and increases your chances of getting promoted at work, among other practical reasons. People underestimate the level of personal development they will undergo during their degree program, though.

Students who attend a difficult college program must prepare for the many obstacles!

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.