Top Hard Majors In College In 2023

According to Statista, approximately 19.78 million students enrolled in colleges across the U.S. in 2021. Among various majors, will students select the hard majors in college or take the easy paths? How are career prospects different for graduates of these majors?

Top 7 Hard Majors In College


A recent study by the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE) at Indiana University revealed that architecture students work the hardest. They spend 22.2 hours every week working on projects and keeping up with the course. During the projects, they go back and forth with various aspects to make sure the project will work in the end. They consider the design, planning, different sections, axonometric models, and other elements.

One reason why many young students want to take up an architecture career is its job opportunities. The U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics reveals that architects have a positive job outlook in the next decade. In 2020, an architect in the U.S can earn a handsome annual salary of $82,323 on average. Hence, though it could be among the most difficult college majors, architecture is an attractive job for many to pursue.

Chemical Engineering

The intensity and complexity of their course make chemical engineering one of the hardest majors for college students. Chemical engineering students learn challenging subjects, including physics, chemistry, advanced math, OChem, PChem, and Thermo. The same survey by the NSSE at Indiana University shows that they spend about 19 hours per week balancing their workload. They juggle between homework, additional reading, writing, research, and lab practicing. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for chemical engineering careers till 2019 will increase by 4%, with fourteen hundred more jobs. Chemical engineering graduates can expect a median pay of $108,540 per year or $52.18 per hour with a bachelor’s degree.

Top Hard Majors In College In 2021
Chemical engineering students work nineteen hours a week. Image: University of Bath

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering is a challenging inter-disciplinary study field, requiring knowledge in both engineering and medicine. It may be surprising that biomedical engineering students will study chemical engineering, physics, and electrical engineering. Besides, they learn computer science, material science, and biology. Thus, biomedical engineering is among the top ten hard majors in college.

With their expertise, biomedical engineers design new equipment, devices, computer systems, or software in the pharmaceutical industry or R&D. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% increase for biomedical engineering job outlook in the next decade. Currently, the median annual salary for biomedical engineers is around $92,620.

Aero and Astronautical Engineering

Aero and astronaut engineering are also among the most difficult college majors. This major is extremely specialized and covers a large number of areas. Students of this major should do quite well in math, physics, and chemistry. Besides, their course comprises other fluid mechanics requiring detailed calculations and advanced math physics.

Depending on expertise and aspirations, students can choose between two branches of engineering. Particularly, aeronautical engineers work with aircraft, while astronautical counterparts deal with the science and technology of spacecraft. According to Collegegrad, aerospace engineers receive an average annual wage of $116,500. The demand for aerospace engineers will continue to grow 3 percent over the next ten years.

Aero and Astronautical Engineering
Aero and Astronautical engineering have a good job outlook. Image: htm-technologies


Medicine is, of course, among the hardest, costly, and time-consuming majors a student can choose. On average, a medical student spends 18 hours every week in the ceaseless cycle of learning and practicing. It is hard to meet the entry requirements to become a medical student, but it is even harder to graduate. Thus, the medicine major is a stringent path requiring extreme passion and dedication.

Students can choose their medical specialty during their course. There are many medical specialties, such as allergy and immunology, dermatology, diagnostic radiology, proctology, pediatrics, psychiatry, etc. Their specialization will affect their salary. For example, the average annual salary of a proctologist is $249,550 while an immunology specialist earns about $200,890 a year in the United States (Career Explorer, 2021).

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering studies the development and exploitation processes of crude oil and natural gas fields. Students learn geoscience to understand the geological structures and conditions that guarantee petroleum deposits. They also learn how to conduct technical analysis and use computer modeling to forecast the production output. They work tirelessly from 17 to 18 hours per week to keep up with the training.

This major requires a combination of knowledge about chemistry, physics, geomechanics, calculus, petrophysics, and more. Therefore, petroleum engineers with such expertise can enjoy a median salary of $137,330 annually or an hourly rate of $66. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this field to increase 3% from 2019 to 2029.

Petroleum Engineering
Petroleum engineering requires up to 18 hours of work per week. Image: gsiedu


With the current pandemic situation, nurses are needed more than ever before. However, those who want to pursue nursing jobs should know that nursing is one of the hard majors in college. Students of this major spend approximately 17 hours preparing for class per week (Collegevine, 2020). In addition, they deal with a high workload and challenging exams full of specialized knowledge related to microbiology, nutrition, anatomy, and physiology. 

There are three education paths to become qualified to work as a nurse. You can take a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Once you are a registered nurse (RNs), the job opportunities are endless. You can work in hospitals, home healthcare services, or nursing care facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job outlook for nursing to increase 7% in the next decade, and the median salary of RNs is $75,330 per year.

Nurses are in high demand. Image: engagetu

Top 5 Easy Majors In College


Education is surprisingly among the easy majors in college. Even though the teaching job synonyms many responsibilities, the training program is not very exhausting. The majority of the classwork is around educational theory, which is not too complicated to absorb. Especially for students who do not enjoy desk work, education can be a good match because of its hands-on nature. The entry requirements for education majors include SAT scores but are relatively lower than other undergraduate courses.

After earning an undergraduate degree, education graduates participate in supervised teaching and pass specific assessments. They take the PRAXIS II or state regents’ exams according to the subject they teach. After that, they obtain a state teaching license which includes a criminal background check. Depending on their degree and preference, they can teach in high schools, kindergarten, or elementary schools. 

According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school teachers’ median salary is $62,870 annually, while kindergarten and elementary school teachers make $60,660 per year.

Social Work

Social work is the major for those who love to help others and want to make a difference in the world. The major does not require mathematics or physical sciences abilities; hence, it is among the easy majors in college. Students of social work specialization study deeply about family trauma, violence, and also social dysfunction, which could cause stress occasionally. 

An undergraduate degree in social work can give you a career as a mental health therapist or a social worker. Though the current median salary of social workers is only $51,760 per year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects its job demand to increase by 13% by 2029. Moreover, working as a nursing home administrator can earn you $88,808 per year, which is not bad at all!

Social Work
Social workers can make a change in their community. Image: socialworkconnected


Many people consider the history major to be easy because most people think it is about remembering all of the events have already taken place. Most of the coursework in the history major is based on reading and writing papers. There are no compulsory lab reports or technical writing.

An undergraduate degree in history would set you up for a job as a research analyst or curator at museums. But if you pursue a Master’s degree, your job as a historian can earn you about $63,100 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not suggest a very high increase in the demand for this major in the next ten years. However, competition for work might be intense due to a limited number of positions compared to many job seekers.

Liberal Arts

Liberal arts are usually considered the contrary of practical STEMs. This is a theoretical major which helps students develop critical thinking and emotional intelligence. These two skills are desirable to potential recruiters but only as secondary soft skills. In other words, a liberal art major could be a good stepping stone for a more complex graduate degree.

However, if you want to find jobs with a liberal arts undergraduate degree, you absolutely can. For example, you can work as a customer service representative responsible for improving the customer’s experience. Your emotional intelligence will help you handle problems and complaints efficiently. That is why says that this position is needed in most industries with an hourly rate of $13.17.

Linguistics or Languages

People consider linguistics an easy major in college because it is a relatively narrow field. The major revolves around language, dialect, and vernacular and does not require maths, science, or physics knowledge. That is why a linguistics major is not as competitive as others, and linguistics students tend to have a more relaxed time in college. 

A Linguistics major can give your travel opportunities to meet new people across the globe. Even though some career options for linguistics graduates require a Master’s degree or equivalent, linguistics careers are pretty versatile. Linguistics graduates can work as interpreters, translators, or writers. If you study further to become a speech-language pathologist, your median salary would be as high as $80,480.

hard majors in college - Linguistics or Languages
A speech-language pathologist can better lives. Image: CentraState Healthcare System

The Final Thought

Choosing your major usually requires a natural passion for the field of study. If you always put your mind to your chosen path, you can graduate from one of the hard majors in college with flying colors. But if you opt for an easy college major, it can also be an exciting pathway for you to go after your passion. As Charles Lazarus, the American entrepreneur and pioneer of the toy industry, once said: “Hard work is the key to success.” As long as you focus enough to do well in college, you can succeed in your career. 

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John Hobbs

At Jobandedu, John Hobbs holds the position of senior blogger. Though Hobbs has achieved massive success as a researcher, adviser, and writer, he still had to undergo multiple trials and tribulations before finding his true calling. He considered it his life's work to assist others in discovering and developing their full potential. His broad expertise in diverse fields and specifications allows him to provide insightful, real-world advice. His writings offer in-depth guidance on finding and excelling in a career, using information gleaned from extensive study and his personal experience. Hobbs also has a creative and engaging writing style, which he uses to publish pieces wherein he discusses his interests, views, and studies.