Some majors may be easy for some students and hard for others. Throughout the years, the hardest college majors have evolved. Some of the hardest college majors remain the same, while some new majors have emerged. There is no such thing as an easy major in college, but there are most definitely hard college majors.
One of the biggest factors in determining which majors will be hard and easy for a college student are the skills that student excels in. If someone is good with math, an engineering major will not be one of the hardest majors for them versus someone who struggles with math. Students should determine their best skills before picking a college major and see how those skills align with their interests.
Students who are interested in something they are studying will do better in their major and will find their time in college more enjoyable. It is a lot easier to study for something that you are interested in versus something that you have no interest in. Students that can combine their skills and passions will be the best off in college.
There are definitely some majors that tend to be harder and require more work than other majors. These “hard” majors most often have better career opportunities post-grad and pay better in the long run. Students who put in the work for these hardest college majors tend to be well-off after graduation and have successful careers. Want something a little easier to study in college? Check out our list of easiest college majors.
Hardest College Majors
|Rank||Major||Average Retention Rate||Average GPA|
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Chemistry is the hardest major on our list. Chemistry is the branch of science that identifies the substances that matter is made up of. A chemistry major will investigate the properties of matter and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change. A chemistry major may also focus on the processes to form new substances as well.
Some students may choose to specialize in certain aspects of chemistry. Some of those specializations include forensic chemistry, environmental chemistry, and analytical chemistry. Some courses that all chemistry majors can expect to take include organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, calculus, and physics.
|Chemists and Materials Scientists|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||4%|
Civil Engineering Major
Everyone knows that engineering are some of the hardest majors in college. Civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering majors. Civil engineers are very important people who design and help build city infrastructure. Some infrastructure they design include roads, buildings, tunnels, and bridges. Civil engineers are valuable to many people including city and state governments, construction companies, and contractors.
Civil engineering includes a lot of math and science. Typically, students working towards a civil engineering degree will study a lot of real-world problems and cases so they can be prepared when entering the real world. Civil engineers should be comfortable working with geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and chemistry.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
Chemical Engineering Major
Another one of the hardest majors in college is a different engineering major. Chemical engineering major teaches students how to combine mathematics and scientific principles to design, develop and implement chemical processes. Some chemical processes that students may learn about include kinetic systems, heat transfer systems, and energy conservation processes.
Just like civil engineering, a chemical engineer will work a lot with math and science. Some common classes a civil engineering major will take include calculus, chemistry, mechanics, and engineering statistics. Chemical engineers solve very technical problems and create innovations that alter our everyday lives.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
Sociology is a social science and is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Sociology covers many different topics including social inequality, race and ethnicity, urban and political sociology. Some common careers students can go into with a sociology major include sociologist, researcher, behavior analyst, and mental health technician.
Some core classes a sociology major will take include introduction to sociology, anthropology, social problems, and crime and society. Many students who major in sociology go on to get their masters. Some students take it a step further and earn their doctorate in sociology.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||9%|
A philosophy major is a very misunderstood major. As a philosophy major, students will be using logic to answer abstract questions. As a philosophy major, you will spend a good amount of time reading, writing, and talking about your ideas. The major is usually set up so that classes are smaller to encourage discussion and exchange of thoughts.
Student who major in philosophy do not all end up being “philosophers.” Most of the time, student will choose to major in philosophy with plans on a career path that requires critical thinking like a lawyer, politician, or strategist. Many students will go on to law school after majoring in philosophy.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
Political Science Major
Political science is a social science that looks at systems of governance. As a political science major, you will learn how to analyze political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. Students will learn skills in analytics, communication, and research. Graduates with a political science major will most likely work in government or politics.
Some schools may offer different concentrations for political science majors. Some of these concentrations include American politics, global politics, public policy, political theory, and environmental politics. The concentration you choose will have an impact on what classes you take as a political science major.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||5%|
Nutrition Sciences Major
Nutrition science majors will study dietary concerns and health issues regarding food, eating, and medicine. Nutrition science is a tricky major because it involves many different fields of study. Some of the different fields it involves include chemistry, biology, and various social sciences. As a nutrition science major, you will have a couple of different areas you can specialize in – wellness, community nutrition, exercise science, and nutrition education.
Nutrition science is always changing as new trends become popular. People are starting to become more health conscious, so the major is increasing with popularity. Dieticians and nutritionists are starting to become more sought-after jobs because of people becoming more health conscious.
|Dietitians and Nutritionists|||
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||11%|
Psychology is the study of the conscious and unconscious occurrences, as well as what we feel and think. Psychology is the science that looks at our behavior and mind. Psychology is a very vast field and students can choose to enter into a specific concentration of psychology. Some of these fields include social psychology, quantitative psychology, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology.
Psychology is such a vast field, there are many opportunities for students post-graduation. Some students may even choose to get their master and doctorates in psychology after they complete their undergrad years. With the increase in mental health awareness, psychologists can expect to see an increase in job opportunities.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||14%|
Computer Science Major
Computer science is the study of computers and various programming languages. A computer science major will vary depending on the program offered by your school. This field is always changing. New programming languages are being used every year, best practices are always changing, and new technologies are popping up left and right.
Computer science is one of the hottest majors right now. Students will have numerous job opportunities post-graduation with a computer science major. Students may end up working for big tech companies, fortune 500 companies, or small businesses. Every business has the need for computer science majors because of the evolution of technology. If students can struggle through this major and graduate, they will be set.
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||21%|
Plant Biology Major
Plant biology is the study of plants, plant habitats, and ecosystems. Students in this major will study how plants function as organisms and interact with their environment. Students will have the opportunity to concentrate in specific fields within plant biology. Some of these concentrations include physiology, cell and molecular biology, development, and genetics and genomics.
After graduating with a plant biology major, some students may choose to enter the workforce, while other students may choose to pursue graduate degrees. A plant biology major is great for students who wish to pursue medical school or law school with an interest in environmental or patent law.
|Biochemists and Biophysicists|||
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
Electrical engineering majors will study the design and application of equipment, devices, and systems that use electricity. These could vary from small micro-chips to huge generators. Electrical engineering can be categorized into a couple of different branches – power generation and transmission systems, motors, and battery and control systems.
Some skills than an electrical engineering major should have include problem solving, critical thinking, math, science, and physic skills. Electrical engineering is one of the hardest college majors because of the complexity and scope of problems evaluated throughout the major. The field changes as technology evolves, so students need to be able to adapt on the fly.
|Electrical and Electronics Engineers|||
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||2%|
Hardest Degree to Get
The above majors are our hardest college majors based on several factors. Every major in college will require work and dedication to complete. While these are the hardest majors based on our findings, some of these majors may be easier for some students depending on their skills and interests. Most of all, it is important for students to choose a major they are passionate about.
When looking at different college majors, try to imagine yourself doing work in that field after you graduate. If you can see yourself doing that job post-graduation, and you would be happy about it, consider majoring in that topic. Do not let a major being considered “hard” deter you from not pursuing it. If there is something you truly want to pursue, and you are truly passionate about it, do it!
Hardest College Majors FAQS
There are a ton of difficult college majors out there. A lot of what makes a college major difficult depends on what kind of person you are. If you hate math, then engineering majors will be the hardest majors for you. In general, we found that chemistry was the hardest major out there. Students who were chemistry majors had a lower retention rate and GPA when compared to other college majors.
College Total’s Top 10 Hardest Majors:
1. Chemistry. Average GPA: 3.35
2. Civil Engineering. Average GPA: 3.33
3. Chemical Engineering. Average GPA: 3.36
4. Sociology. Average GPA: 3.31
5. Philosophy. Average GPA: 3.36
6. Political Science. Average GPA: 3.39
7. Nutrition Sciences. Average GPA: 3.45
8. Psychology. Average GPA: 3.50
9. Computer Science. Average GPA: 3.43
10. Plant Biology. Average GPA: 3.53
After looking at hundreds of college majors and different statistics for each of those college majors, we found that dance was the easiest college major. While dance may be the easiest college major, there will still be a ton of work and dedication needed to graduate. All college majors will require hard work and dedication. Check out our list of the easiest college majors here.
In order to find and rank the hardest college majors we used a couple of different factors. We used retention rates for college students based on majors – these retention rates indicated to us what percentage of students remained in their declared major or decided to change their major. We determined this would be a good indication of how easy or hard a major was.
After determining retention rates, we paired those specific majors with the average GPA’s for each major. GPA is a great indicator of how easy or hard a major is. We then assigned a weight to each factor and scored the majors using both criteria. We realize that GPA’s can vary from school to school so some GPA’s may be higher or lower depending on the school you are looking at. There is no perfect system for finding the hardest college majors but we decided this would be the best way.