Students weigh in: The most and least difficult majors

Category:  News
Thursday, May 4th, 2017 at 8:07 PM

Many college students can probably agree some of their nights have consisted of long hours, long papers and no sleep. But, is the workload in certain college majors heavier than it is in others?

The Best Colleges website used the average GPAs within a major, average employment rates and average salaries for workers in each major from the University of California, San Diego; University of Nevada — Las Vegas; and the University of Wisconsin- Madison in order to determine what the “easiest” and “hardest” majors are.

The website determined that the top three most difficult majors by GPA were biology, with an average unemployment rate of 4.7 percent and average salary of $96,000; computer science, with an average unemployment rate of 5.6 percent and average salary of $83,000; and civil engineering, with an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and average salary of $83,000.

The top three least difficult majors, according to the same study, were education, with an average unemployment rate of 4 percent and average salary of $44,000; music, with an average unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and average salary of $49,000; and social work, with an average unemployment rate of 5.9 percent and average salary of $42,000.

The Spectator surveyed 100 Edinboro students, asking them to indicate which majors they believed were the most and least difficult.

Nursing was voted the most difficult major, while communication studies was voted the least difficult.

Sophomore Emily Dinsmore, a secondary social studies and special education major, believed nursing to be the most difficult major.

“One of my really good friends is a nursing major, and she is way more stressed out and puts way more hours into studying in one week than I do in half a semester,” she said.

“Freshman year, I would have said the art majors,” she continued. “But that’s not true. I don’t think we have any easy majors. We have some majors that are really hard and at the top like math, science, and nursing majors but the rest of the majors are equal in how hard they are.”

Junior communications major Erin Boring doesn’t think there is a most or least difficult major. However, she said there are “definitely majors with intense workloads.”

She disagrees with communication studies being named the least difficult major and said, “In communications, you don’t have to just know how to write and speak well, but you have to do research, make surveys and interviews, and do event planning.”

Physics was voted the second most difficult major, while biology and health services and chemistry tied for the third most difficult major.

Barbara Israelson, a senior physics major, agreed that physics is the hardest major because it “not only requires a high degree of rigor and discipline, but it is also strongly cross-disciplinary, incorporating math, language and computer skills.”

“I think the least difficult major is history because while it requires a strong command of writing skills, it is mostly memorization and regurgitation,” she said.

She continued: “I wish people knew that it (physics) is actually really accessible. There’s this stigma that math and physics are impossible subjects, but with a little determination and dedication, you can do them.”

Senior Rachael Troutman, a math and English writing major, said while every major has its difficulties and challenges, “The amount of free time one student has compared to another student in a different major isn’t distributed evenly.”

She continued: “As a result, physics, mathematics, computer science, biochemistry and art appear to be the most difficult majors.

“I believe that one of the reasons why there aren’t a whole lot of majors in the STEM fields is related to the difficulty of the subject and people usually want to take the easy route.”

Troutman believes that majors such as criminal justice, communications, psychology and early childhood education are the easiest. She added her rationale was these majors seem to have the most free time.

“Additionally, these exams are typically curved and the students are presented with quite a few opportunities for extra credit, which is a rarity for the STEM majors mentioned above,” she said. “While this is not always the case, students tend to fall back on these majors if they were unsuccessful in their previous major due to the lower level of difficulty involved.”

Music and theatre was voted the second least difficult major, which was close to The Best Colleges’ survey. Business and economics was voted the third least difficult.

“I wish people knew that if you are working to become a master in your field, whatever you pick will be ‘hard,’ so it’s not fair to compare majors,” Boring said.

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at 

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