Top 10 Easiest and Hardest College Degree Majors


Undergraduates in all majors dedicate several years to their degrees, but some majors are harder than others, especially in online programs. The hardest degrees depend largely on individual students and their strengths, but generally, the hardest college majors require many prerequisite courses and extensive in-person requirements, like internships and labs.

This page introduces some of the easiest and hardest majors. It also outlines which degrees are the easiest to pursue online based on factors like average GPA, employment rates, and graduate salary data.

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Determining Which Degrees Are Hardest and Easiest

To identify the easiest college majors, this guide uses data from three prominent schools: UC San Diego; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The data gathered from each of these schools includes GPAs from various majors. Additionally, data was collected from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce about the average employment rates and salaries for graduates with each major.

Our formula for calculating the easiest and hardest college majors assumes that more difficult majors result in lower average GPAs.

What Are the Easier Online College Majors?

Some majors have a strong track record of success for online learners. This section introduces some of the easier online majors, such as special education, music, and social work. Online students majoring in these disciplines typically thrive, according to their high average GPAs and low unemployment rates.

What Are More Difficult Online College Majors?

Some majors are particularly difficult to complete online. For instance, fields that require extensive hands-on training, like engineering, can be challenging for online learners. Many of these majors also set competitive entrance requirements. However, many of the most challenging online majors report low unemployment rates and high average salaries. This section introduces the hardest majors to complete online.

Are Online Colleges Easier Than On-Campus Programs?

"Accredited online programs must meet the same standards as on-campus programs, meaning an online major should not be easier than an on-campus version of the same major."

More than one in three college students take online classes as part of their degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But how do online programs differ from on-campus programs, and are online colleges easier?

While online and on-campus programs vary in their delivery methods, they often use identical syllabi and course materials. Accredited online programs must meet the same standards as on-campus programs, meaning an online major should not be easier than an on-campus version of the same major. In fact, colleges that offer online classes often award the same diploma to online and on-campus students.

Students considering online and on-campus programs should choose the method that helps them learn effectively and best fits their schedule.

Finding an Online Program

Prospective online students can determine the best program for their needs by researching factors like tuition costs, program format, funding opportunities, and graduation requirements.

Many students start their college search by looking at costs. Tuition isn't the only factor in college costs -- undergrads should also factor in housing, book, and any other expenses. Online learners should also research scholarships and other financial aid opportunities.

Another important consideration for online students is a program's delivery format. Online programs may operate synchronously and/or asynchronously. Synchronous programs require set meeting times each week, while asynchronous programs do not, making this format the more flexible of the two.

Additionally, online learners should determine the graduation requirements of their intended program, such as labs, internships, and any other in-person requirements.

Students with prior college experience should check their prospective school's transfer credit policy. Transferring credits toward a bachelor's degree saves undergrads time and money, but each school sets different policies on accepting transfer credits. Prospective online students can reach out to individual schools for more information.

Determining the Best Major for You

"...each student should choose a major that aligns with their strengths, goals, and interests."

An easy major for one student can be one of the hardest majors in college for another student. Therefore, each student should choose a major that aligns with their strengths, goals, and interests. Students fascinated by language and communication might struggle as math majors, while learners who love numerical reasoning might find an early education major too challenging.

Learning styles are another important consideration when choosing a major. Some students thrive in lecture-based classes, while others prefer hands-on laboratories or internships.

Undergrads should also consider their career goals. Certain majors prepare graduates for specific careers. For instance, an education major trains students to work as teachers. Other majors, like social science, build transferable skills for many career paths.