Most Demanding College Majors

For some students, deciding what to major in can come down to two equally appealing courses, with the make-or-break decision factoring in the hardness of the major. Here are the most difficult majors, calculated by average GPA, number of study hours per week, and tuition.

1. Engineering

An engineering degree is most likely not going to be offered at a two-year college, so that means interested students have to apply to either a public or private four-year school, with tuition ranging from $15,918 for a public school degree to as much as $41,451 for an engineering degree at Cornell. As well, students need 19 or 20 hours per week to study, with 42% of students topping that number.

2. Science

Studying chemistry (average GPA: 2.78), astronomy, (molecular/cellular) biology (average GPA: 3.02), physics, earth sciences, zoology, or any combination of the above usually means a tough, four-year slog where students have to really want that degree and be willing to spend 18 hours studying each week. The graduate field is also highly competitive, which means that not only is a graduate degree a smart choice, but going to a brand name school makes that route easier--but also more expensive.

3. Business

It seems like getting an undergrad business degree wouldn't cause that many headaches to appear on this list, but it does. Once you factor in the 14-15 hours of week studying, 19% of seniors topping 20 hours a week, an average 2.95 GPA and business being the degree that takes the second-longest time to complete, it's a wonder why anyone gets into it in the first place.

4. Education

Students who study to become teachers may have an average GPA of 3.36, but it comes at a really high price. More than a quarter of seniors study at least 20 hours a week, with the average hovering around 15 hours a week. Plus, education students also have lesson plans to prepare, their own jobs to work at, and then actually attend their own classes, which means even more hours--45 hours before college classes factor in.

5. Humanities

Before the jokes start rolling in about how the only jobs humanities grads get are as Starbucks baristas, take a moment to crunch some numbers: up to 50 pages of reading per class each day (which, when keeping all classes in mind, works out to a novel a day), 17-18 hours a week prepping, almost a third of students spending at least 20 hours a week prepping, about 30 pages for one senior honors thesis, dozens and dozens of pages for the rest of the essays, and countless hours spent discussing extremely abstract, esoteric ideas. It's not a degree for the faint of heart.

Stay tuned for the next post to find out what the "easiest" majors are--who knows, you might just change yours!
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