Hardest University Degrees

A college degree is essential for joining the job market today, both at home and internationally. Many careers demand that you have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Some jobs even ask that you have a Master’s, Ph.D., or professional degree.

Deciding which university to attend is usually one of the first major decisions you make in life. There are so many factors to look at and things to consider. 

Many people base where they go to school on what degree they want. A degree is essential as it will determine your career. Although any degree is good to have, the hardest degrees usually have a better pay off in terms of salary. Keep in mind, the hardest degrees also demand the most work in and out of college.

So if you are looking to make the amount of money and time spent in university worth your while, you may want to research which fields or majors are the hardest. 

What Determines a Degree’s Difficulty?

When it comes to identifying the toughest degrees in the world, many criteria come to mind. Elements used to determine the ranking of degrees are usually based on the amount of effort and work it takes to maintain a study in that field.

Factors used when ranking degrees and their difficulty includes: how long does it take to prepare for class, what is the average grade point average for students in that field, hardest university courses, and more. However, the amount of time a student takes in preparing for a class each week seems to be the essential factor.

Some other key elements play a role in how difficult a degree is, however. As you know, people are different, and degrees are different. Determining which degree is the hardest degree will rest on who you ask. For example, a student’s academic background and interest will play a defining role in whether a degree is difficult or not for that person.

Keep in mind that there are many different types of disciplines. You may look into the most challenging degree in science-based fields or look for the toughest degrees in non-science based areas. Regardless of the field, however, some degrees are known to be more difficult than others.

Our Ranking of the Top 10 Hardest Degrees:

To help future students make wise decisions regarding what career they want to pursue, we have taken a look at the rankings of several different degrees. We have compiled a list of the hardest degrees. These degrees are in both science-based and non-science based fields. Our list considers what a student must do to acquire the degree and job and salary potential once you are in the field.

Let’s takes closer look at the top 10 hardest degrees to study around the world:

1. Architecture

Architecture is the study of the design and construction of structures. Students studying architecture not only take design and art classes; they must also study physics and calculus. An architect can work as an urban planner, a restoration or research architect, or even an extreme architect who helps design structures for severe weather conditions. The top architect program in the U.S. is currently at Cornell University. 

  • Job Prospects: High
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: High

2. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering is the study of designing and developing chemical processes. Students in this field spend more than 20 hours a week preparing for their coursework. They can use their degree to be nuclear engineers and manufacturing engineers.  After graduation, most chemical engineers go on to work at research labs or warehouse plants. Top schools for chemical engineering include the University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

  • Job Prospects: Average
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: High

3. Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical science degrees are fields that focus on scientific research of diseases, diagnosis, and treatment. Students in this field include people who study chemistry, engineering, physics, and more. Students who graduate with a degree in any biomedical field do not usually have issues finding employment. There are many top schools, such as Harvard University, which rank among the best. 

  • Job Prospects: High
  • Entry-Level Education: Ph.D.
  • Salary: Above average

4. Electrical or Mechanical Engineering

Students studying either electrical or mechanical engineering are putting in many hours of class preparation a week. People in this field are usually the ones behind the design and systems of machinery we use every day. Students take classes in design, physics, mathematics, and manufacturing. The best programs in this field of study are at MIT and Stanford University.

  • Job Prospects: Average
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: High

5. Computer Science

Computer Science is considered one of the hardest degrees to attain. Computer Science is another field of study that is deemed to be difficult. Courses may include programming, systems and architecture, software development, and more. Jobs in this field include but are not limited to systems analysts, software developers, and programmers. As technology continues to expand, graduating with a degree in this field is always a good idea. Carnegie Mellon University and MIT boast the best programs in this field.

  • Job Prospects: Very high
  • Entry-Level Education: Master
  • Salary: Above average

6. Physics and Astronomy

Students who choose to study physics and or astronomy should prepare themselves to set aside many hours for study. Careers range from astrophysicists to seismologists. Some of the best programs are at Lancaster University, in Great Britain and Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. Employers usually are those that deal with aerospace, energy, climate change, and more. 

  • Job Prospects: High
  • Entry-Level Education: Ph.D.
  • Salary: Very high

7. Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering is the study of oil and natural gas and how to extract and produce it. Students spend about  20 hours a week preparing for classes in this field. As you can imagine, top programs in this field are located in regions known to deal with gas and oil. You can find some of the best Petroleum Engineering programs at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the University of Texas in the United States.

  • Job Prospect: Average
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: High

8. Economics and Business

Students who decide to study economics, financing, or business spend a little more than the average study hours required a week for university students. This field is vast, and careers include economists, accountants, financial advisors, and more. Graduates of these programs will not find it difficult to find a job.. Some top programs include the London Business School and University of Pennsylvania.

  • Job Prospects: High
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: Average

9. Behavioral Sciences

Behavioral sciences include a variety of fields such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and more. Students spend a somewhat average amount of hours for course preparation a week. Students in this field usually do clinicals and internships as well. These programs are among the toughest degrees in the world. The top anthropology programs, for example, are at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

  • Job Prospects: Average
  • Entry-Level Education: Varies
  • Salary: Above average

10. Education

Students studying education take a variety of classes, depending on their precise major. However, most will have to take courses such as psychology, curriculum development, philosophy, and more. Education students go on to be teachers, principals, and more. There is a misconception that this major is not as difficult as some of its counterparts. 

On the contrary, education students spend more hours studying than the average university student. The degree offers its graduates a vast amount of transferable skills that are recognized by future employers. 

  • Job Prospects: Good
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor
  • Salary: Average

Final Thoughts

Challenging degrees do not only depend on the factors listed. They also depend on the region and where you live. The United Kingdom, for example, touts medical-related degrees as the hardest degrees in the UK of all the science-based degrees. A law degree is also considered one of the hardest degrees in the UK for non-science based degrees.  

Lists of hardest university degrees may vary, but rest assured that the degrees listed here are some of the world’s toughest degrees. It is up to you now to decide if you are up for the challenge.