Top 25 Hardest Degrees in the World 2023

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Choosing a degree is one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make. Its impact is one of those that will leave a lasting effect on your career and professional life.

However, you should never make rash decisions about your future based on misconceptions you’ve heard about the hardest degrees in the world. Many students consider these degrees “difficult” because they require you to work really hard to succeed in them.

And when you do, you too can succeed in these courses.

So, what are the hardest degrees in the world? This article will explain to you what the toughest programs to study are. We will highlight what makes each of these programs difficult, as well as explain what you’re in for if you opt to study any of the tough degrees in college.

Factors You Must Consider When Selecting a Degree to Study

Some degrees are more challenging than others due to the nature of their coursework; while others require a significant amount of hands-on experience or practical skills.

Naturally, when you think of tough degrees to study in college, some disciplines that come to your mind are engineering, medicine, and law. But what if we told you that’s not all there is to it?

When choosing a degree program, it’s important to consider your interests, career goals, and personal strengths.  It’s also important to consider the demand for graduates with these degrees in the job market and their salaries. For most of these degrees on this list, the career outlook is positive.

They may be the hardest degrees in the world, but they are surely some of the most lucrative careers you can pursue.

The List of Top 25 Hardest Degrees in the World 2023

Below is the list of the top 25 hardest degrees in the world:

Top 25 Hardest Degrees in the World 2023

From demanding coursework to the need for practical skills, these degrees require a high level of dedication and perseverance to succeed.

1. Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering is responsible for designing prototypes of aircraft, spacecraft, and many other vehicles that fly. They are considered one of the most important engineers in the world and thus are well compensated for their services.

To study aerospace engineering, you will need to study Mechanical Engineering or major in Aerospace Engineering during your college years, which takes more than 4 years. You will also need to have a strong foundation in mathematics and a passion for engineering.

BLS reports that aerospace engineers are in high demand for the foreseeable decade, and are well-paid ($122,270).

2. Law

Lawyers are considered one of the most important professionals in the world. And rightly so. These professionals are important people who make up the judiciary system in every country.

Lawyers interpret the constitutional law of every judicial system in the world to solve disputes.

It takes at least seven years to complete law studies. First, students would need to complete an undergraduate bachelor’s program, typically in art sciences, that would last for four years.

Then they would need to enroll in law school for at least another three years. Some of the core concentration areas lawyers specialize in include intellectual property, constitutional law, and business and finance. Lawyers are currently estimated to make $127,990 per year (BLS), which is good compensation for their troubles.

3. Chartered Accountancy

Chartered accountancy is a finance-related profession that heavily requires strong analytical skills and skills in calculating numbers that range from simple to complex.

Chartered accountants are historically affiliated with interpreting tax laws for businesses and work in fields like finance auditing and general management.

What makes becoming a Chartered Accountant challenging is the number of professional certification examinations that these students must pass to pass as CA professionals.

Chartered Accountants make $77,250 per year.

4. Architecture

Architecture is generally considered one of the hardest degrees in the world because of the level of drawing and design skills that its students must possess.

They are expected to have a strong understanding of design principles, as well as the ability to apply these principles to the creation of functional and aesthetically pleasing structures.

Architects are highly-paid professionals who make up to $80,180 per year. In addition to having a great eye for design, architects are also expected to maintain a high academic standard from the start of their program to the finish.

This makes it quite tough for many students to progress and complete their studies without hassle.

5. Computer science and engineering

They are part of the branches of studies in the Department of Science and Engineering that focuses on the design and programming of a computer system.

Computer science expert programs the software of a computer device while computer engineers specialize in building the hardware or body of the system.

These two courses work together to give society a reliable and stable device that can be of assistants in performing any task or research program. Programming a computer system is pretty intense and it takes time to accomplish but it is achievable.

6. Chemistry

Chemistry requires a strong foundation in mathematics and science, as well as excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.

Chemists are science professionals who work to perform qualitative and quantitative analyses in laboratories to contribute significantly to the future of medicine. Chemists make around $89,130 per year and spend more than four years during their undergraduate studies.

Chemistry is considered a tough program because of the degree of analytical and abstract thinking the subject matter requires. But generally, many professionals admitted that it is a fulfilling career path.

7. Medicine

Medicine is a degree program that needs no introduction. By far one of the most complicated programs of study in the world, Medicine typically requires excellent attention to detail from its students, as well as strong manual dexterity and problem-solving skills.

Medicine is considered one of the hardest degrees in the world because of its foundational focus on hard sciences, as well as life sciences like anatomy and physiology; which many students admit to having a tough time with.

However, medicine is a vastly multidisciplinary specialist course that allows students to choose what aspect of medicine they’d like to practice afterward.

Medicine programs typically take anywhere between six to seven years to complete, depending on the institution of study.

8. Pharmacy

Pharmacy students are expected to have a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology, and they must be able to apply this knowledge to the preparation and dispensing of medications.

However, the irony about this program is the fact that it is grossly underrated and relegated to a lower program in some countries of the world.

Pharmacy is an important course in healthcare; just like medicine, it shares the record for being one of the toughest healthcare degrees in the world. But pharmacists are well compensated. They are paid a median salary of $128,570 per year, which is nearly two times the average annual net income of a U.S. citizen.

Pharmacy programs typically take four years to complete and may take more if the student chooses to pursue further qualifications.

9. Psychology

Psychologists have a strong understanding of psychological theories and concepts, as well as the ability to apply these concepts to study human behavior and other cognitive mental processes involved in human thinking.

Psychology programs typically take four to five years of undergraduate study to finish and students have a variety of options on where to specialize in; viz:

  • Sports Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • I-O Psychology
  • Social Psychology, and many more.

10. Pure mathematics

This field of study has to do with learning mathematical approaches that would aid in solving societal problems. It consists of trigonometrical, arithmetical, statistical, algebraic, geometric, analytical, and other fundamental mathematical knowledge which would be taught.

It is a very calculating course that requires critical thinking and research work. A full study of this course in any university with take at most four years to learn.

11. Statistics

Unsurprisingly, Statistics is another one of the hardest degrees in the world simply for its over-reliance on pure and hard sciences. Students who want to study statistics must be excellent with numbers and data. Hence, they are well-paid.

Statistics programs last four to five years to complete. And they typically work in roles like data science and machine learning.

12. Nursing

Nursing is one of the most popular choices for healthcare. It is a discipline that requires heavy coursework and dedication to finish. However, nursing programs these days are known to have accelerated programs that allow students to complete their studies earlier.

Students who want to study nursing must have a background in science.

13. Physics

Physicists are widely credited as empirical researchers and critical thinkers who tinker daily with physical science concepts. Physicists are generally good in mathematics and physics subjects. They earn six dollar figures and study the course for four years.

14. Astrophysics

If you think physics is tough, imagine what astrophysics would do to you.

Astrophysicists study planetary motion and how interstellar bodies correlate with themselves. This foundational science propels how man interacts with space and its technology. Astrophysics is a highly technical, analytical, and research-heavy discipline.

Astrophysics programs typically take four to five years to complete.

15. Biochemistry

Biochemistry is a course study that deals with the concept of chemistry which can be used to carry out the biological operation of living organisms. It is a course found in the Department of Medicine that carries out advanced medical research.

It is indeed one of the 25 hardest degrees in the world that have to do with the study of living organisms. Studying this course at a university requires about 4 to 8 years.

16. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering requires competency in solving difficult mathematical, analytical, and science-related problems.

These engineers apply their technical knowledge to contribute to the design innovations involved in biomedicine. They make well over $97,410 per year. And BLS reports that BMEs will be in high demand over the next decade.

17. Astronomy

Astronomy requires students to have an understanding of everything beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. You will typically be required to have a foundation in mathematics and hard sciences.

Astronomy programs typically take four to complete.

18. Dentistry

Dentistry is a rewarding and fulfilling career. However, just like every other medical-related program, you will need to be at your absolute academic best to excel in this field.

Dentist students must have strong science skills, math problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities. It takes at least seven years to practice as a licensed dental health practitioner.

Students are required to first complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree (four years), then enroll in a doctoral program (DDS or DMD) in Dentistry that will take another three years.

If you plan to specialize further, or job shadow a professional in a residency program, then you will spend more than seven years studying to become a dentist.

This lengthy study time is one of the top reasons why dentistry is considered one of the hardest degrees in the world; apart from the other fact that you need to maintain a near-perfect score to graduate.

However, dentists will take solace from the fact that they are one of the highest earners in the healthcare space.

19. Optometry

Optometry is a discipline that has to do with eye care and treatment. They are often referred to as “eye doctors.” However, they are not to be confused with ophthalmologists.

The former has to do treatment of eye diseases such as cataracts, and sometimes run tests for eyeglass frames for visually impaired people; while ophthalmologists are eye surgeons.

Like other medical-related fields on this list, it is a well-known fact that optometry is one of the hardest degrees in the world and it takes about seven years to complete.

20. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is a field that focuses heavily on electrical design equipment, power systems, electronics, and communication technologies.

Electrical engineers are expected to be strong problem-solvers and have a background in mathematics and hard sciences.

21. Civil Engineering

It is a field of engineering that focuses on the design and construction of we’ll structured buildings, roads, railways, dams, and any other work that can aid society.

It is a course that requires a creative mind in other to visualize the kind of structural work and the measures that would be taken to achieve it.

Civil engineers are highly respected and recognized for their job well done. They satisfy the public by giving them shelters to live in or carry out a business, good roads for vehicle transportation, railways for train movement, and so on.

22. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers are expected to have a strong understanding of advanced mathematics, physics, and engineering principles, and they must be able to apply this knowledge to the design and analysis of complex systems.

What makes mechanical engineering so tough is its vast technical requirements; students must complete long hours of advanced engineering mathematics and thermodynamics problems, which are usually the brunt of their studies.

Albeit, mechanical engineering is a wildly lucrative course with several specialization options like:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Corrosion Engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Solid and Fluid Dynamics
  • Biomechanical Engineering
  • Energy Science and Technology
  • Microelectromechanical Systems, etc.

23. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers must have a strong knowledge of chemistry as well as other pure science subjects, in addition to maintaining a perfect academic record.

Chemical Engineering is a core engineering discipline that lays a foundation and plays an important role in order aspects of engineering, including mechanical and textile engineering.

As a result of the bulky coursework, chemical engineers are historically known to get burnt out quickly. However, being a “universal engineering” course, many chemical engineers find it easy to cross-skill into (almost) any field they want.

24. Anthropology

Anthropology requires students to have a strong understanding of cultural anthropology, archaeology, and physical anthropology, and they must be able to apply this knowledge to the study of human societies and cultures.

It passes as one of the hardest degrees in the world when you mention the social science branch; second only to psychology.

25. Materials science and engineering

Material science is focus on the theoretical knowledge and understanding about the behaviours and general properties of any material substance while material engineering is concern with the relationship the structure, properties, composition and performance of the material and how it will aid the society.

These courses are part of the 25 hardest courses in the world that refine materials into useful substances.

Why are these degrees regarded as the Hardest?

There is a broad explanation for why this particular set of courses is seen to be challenging to study. Following are some of the main reasons;

  • They need a certain degree of accuracy and focus. Errors are prevented to avoid failure, wastage of resources and accidents that might happen in the field.
  • They demand both a wide and in-depth comprehension of the underlying ideas, theories, and concepts. They entail a deep dive into disciplines like mathematic, physics, chemistry, biology and more.
  • They call for creativity, critical thinking, and the capacity to apply abstract ideas to concrete contexts.
  • These are dynamic fields that are always changing. Professionals must keep up with the most recent developments since discoveries, technologies, and approaches are always being developed.

FAQs and Answers

What is the quickest degree to complete?

An Psychology programs is usually the quickest way to earn a bachelor's degree. Students can take more credits at once and graduate earlier — sometimes in 1-2 years.

Are these the only hard degrees?

No, this is a list of the top 20 hardest degrees based on our research and analysis. There may be other degrees that are also tough. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Can I still be successful if I study for a hard degree?

Yes, it is possible to be successful in any degree program, even if it is considered one of the hardest. It will require dedication, hard work, and a willingness to seek help when needed. It may also be helpful to connect with other students and professionals in your field for support and guidance.

Wrapping It Up

Obtaining a college degree is a challenging and rewarding endeavor, and the level of difficulty can vary significantly depending on the field of study.

If you’re considering pursuing one of these degrees, it’s important to consider your interests, career goals, and personal strengths, as well as the demand for graduates in the job market. With hard work and determination, you can be successful in any degree program.

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