With college comes the pressure of choosing a major, and for many students, the difficulty of the major is a deciding factor.
In this article, we go into the top 10 easiest and hardest college majors in 2022, discuss the pros and cons of each major, and give some helpful tips for pre-med students struggling to make a decision.
How to Choose a Major
One of the first decisions that pre-med students have to make is what college major to pursue. For some students, the choice is clear-cut. They have always been interested in science and want to go into medicine, so they’ll major in something like biology or chemistry. However, for other students, the decision can be more difficult. They may be interested in a variety of subjects and are not sure which path to take.
Choosing the right college major can seem like a daunting task. However, there are a few key things to keep in mind that can help make the process a bit easier.
First, think about what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, and what you want to be good at.
If you’re not interested in the sciences, it’s not worth your time (and money) to pursue a science degree just because you think it will look good on your medical school application. Because the truth is, for many medical schools, what you major in has no bearing on your candidacy. However, what you do during your undergraduate years and how well you perform academically do matter.
Since your major matters much less than your academic, preclinical, and extracurricular achievements, the decision of which major to choose is more about how you’d like to spend your undergraduate years. Do you want to learn about a subject in the humanities you find fascinating? Do you want to challenge yourself with complex math and science courses to prepare you for the MCAT? Do you want to pursue intensive clinical training outside of school?
Second, if you have a clear vision of your professional aspirations, it’s important to research the selection criteria of medical schools you’re interested in attending. If your favorite program puts a heavy emphasis on research experience, then consider majors that will fit the bill.
Additionally, it’s helpful to speak with your academic advisor and other pre-med students to get their insights on what majors they believe would be best for you.
Finally, remember that there’s a difference between being interested in a topic and being interested in learning about a topic — because not all learning is the same. Each major requires different forms of coursework and varies in difficulty. So make sure you understand what the day-to-day of each major entails before you make your decision.
Top 10 Easiest College Majors in 2022
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 easiest college majors in 2022 by looking at nationwide statistics on the GPA of graduates, drop-out rate, the time required to prepare for class, and self-reported stress levels during the final two years of college.
Easiest Majors: Pros and Cons for Pre-Med Students
These easiest majors are for students who want to minimize stress and academic workload during their undergraduate years. Ideally — if you’re hoping to enter the field of medicine, like many of the people we work with — you will take advantage of your extra time and energy to focus on activities that will help you get into medical school. This includes seeking out high-quality pre-med internships, studying for the MCAT, excelling in science courses, volunteering, and becoming involved in research.
In most cases, what you major in will not play a big part in a medical school’s decision to admit you. Statistically, certain majors appear more often than others when looking at the academic backgrounds of medical students. These include majors in the biological sciences, math and statistics, humanities, and psychology. However, these statistics more so represent the undergraduate interests of pre-med students than the weight admissions committees give to your choice of major.
The majority of prerequisite coursework for medical school is in the sciences. Whether or not you choose a major in the sciences, you’ll still be required to take these courses. The main difference between a science major and other majors is that a science major will likely have more upper-level science courses, which could potentially make your transition into medical school coursework smoother — and thus make you a more competitive candidate.
But, in this case, your proficiency in the sciences is what matters here, not your major. You also demonstrate competence through MCAT scores and your grades in prerequisite coursework.
Majoring in a field that relates to medical school can help keep you focused, however. If you’re taking a lot of courses that cover concepts included in the MCAT exam, for instance, you may have an easier time preparing for the test.
On the other hand, many medical schools encourage pre-med students to spend their undergraduate years exploring their intellectual interests. A diverse academic background can help you develop new perspectives and skillsets that will be valuable in medical school and your future career. As medical school curriculums become increasingly interdisciplinary, students with diverse academic backgrounds may have an advantage. Aspiring doctors who major in the humanities or social sciences, for example, often develop strong writing and communication skills as well as fluency in modern sociological perspectives — all of which are essential in medicine.
Finally, medical schools are aware that different majors have varying degrees of difficulty. It’s not uncommon for a graduate school to try and determine how rigorous an applicant’s undergraduate experience was by looking at the institution, coursework, and major. This can help contextualize an applicant’s undergraduate performance. Still, your major is not as important as how well you do in the courses and your fulfillment of other medical school requirements.
These are just some things to consider if you are on the fence about choosing an “easy” or “hard” major. All in all, your major will not impact your medical school application very much, if at all. But it may impact your ability to succeed in your undergraduate years.
English is a fascinating major that is perfect for students who enjoy reading, writing, and critical thinking. One of the best things about pursuing an English degree is that it provides students with a broad range of skills that can be applied in a variety of fields. In addition to learning to critically analyze text, English majors also develop strong communication and research skills.
While English is statistically one of the easiest majors to complete with a high GPA, it still requires hard work and dedication. Students who major in English often find themselves challenged by complex texts and thought-provoking writing assignments. But the rewards of an English degree are well worth the effort. Those who study English gain a deep understanding of literature and culture, and they learn to think critically about the world around them.
According to AAMC data, high enrollment rates are found in medical school applicants who majored in the humanities — higher than biological science or biological science majors. Statistics like this should be taken with a grain of salt, but this data certainly helps make the case for majoring in English. Especially if the major appeals to you.
Psychology is a field that is perfect for students who are interested in people and behavior. Sometimes classified in the humanities, and sometimes in the social sciences, psychology studies the human mind and behavior. It’s a complex field that covers a wide range of topics, from the development of personality to the treatment of mental illness.
The best thing about majoring in psychology is that it provides students with a solid foundation in the scientific study of the human mind and behavior before diving deeper into the field during medical school. In addition to learning about the different theories of psychology, students also gain valuable research and critical thinking skills.
While psychology is not as difficult as some of the other majors on this list (in fact, it’s one of the easiest majors at many colleges), it still requires good study habits and intellect to succeed. Students who major in psychology often find themselves challenged by complex theories and thought-provoking assignments.
Psychology is the third most popular undergraduate major held by doctors. Psychological principles play a prominent role in the MCAT section, “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.” The field is also studied during medical school and is a major pillar of some residency programs, like psychiatry.
Education majors often enter college with the goal of becoming a teacher. However, there is more to a degree in education than just learning how to teach. Education majors also study childhood development, educational psychology, and pedagogy. As a result, education majors develop a deep understanding of how people learn and what motivates them. They also gain valuable experience working with students in the classroom.
There are different Education majors, such as Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education.
Majoring in education is a good choice for those interested in studying theories of education. It can be a valuable major for medical school students because it provides them with insight into how people learn. In addition, those who study education often develop strong communication and organizational skills. All of these skills are important for doctor-patient relationships, research, and succeeding in medical school.
4. Criminal Justice
Criminal justice majors take courses that cover a range of topics, from law and order to sociology and psychology. Students learn about the history of the criminal justice system and how it works today. They also study criminals and victimology, giving insight into the minds of both perpetrators and victims.
Criminal justice is a popular major for those interested in law enforcement and the court system. While it’s not a popular choice for pre-med students, criminal justice majors develop critical thinking and research skills. Additionally, the reading and writing load for criminal justice majors is reportedly low compared to other majors, which is appealing to some students.
5. Business Administration
Business Administration covers the many aspects of running a business. Students who major in business administration take classes in accounting, marketing, management, and finance. They also learn about business law, ethics, and entrepreneurship. The skills learned in a business administration program can be applied to many different types of businesses, from small businesses to large corporations. With a BA in business administration, graduates will be prepared for a wide range of careers, including management, marketing, and finance.
For pre-med students hoping to one day run their own medical practice or occupy leadership positions, a business administration degree can be extremely valuable. The skills learned in a business program are helpful for managing staff, budgets, patient records, and more. Business majors also develop strong administrative writing and communication skills. These skills are useful for writing grant proposals and a variety of daily administrative tasks.
6. Religious Studies
Majoring in religious studies includes delving into the history, traditions, and beliefs of various religions from around the world. Students learn about the major world religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, as well as smaller faith groups.
But majoring in Religious Studies is more than just learning about the world’s religions. In addition to religious texts, students also study philosophy, art, and literature related to religion. It’s also an opportunity to examine the role that religion plays in our lives and in the world around us. Through critical thinking and careful analysis, students of religious studies explore the origins and history of religious beliefs, as well as their impact on society. In addition, religious studies majors learn to think critically about religious texts and traditions, providing them with a unique perspective on the world.
As a result, majoring in religious studies provides a well-rounded education that can be useful in a variety of careers. As one of the easiest majors, it has surprising benefits. No matter what their chosen field may be, students who major in religious studies can think critically, communicate effectively, and appreciate different cultures and belief systems.
7. Social Work
Social work covers a broad range of topics, from family and child welfare to mental health and substance abuse. As a social work major, you will learn about the systems that impact people’s lives, such as education, employment, and healthcare. You will also gain skills in research, writing, and communication. Most importantly for many, you will learn how to advocate for those who have been marginalized or oppressed.
A major in social work is an excellent choice for students who want to understand what it takes to make a difference in the lives of others. Social workers are trained to help people cope with challenges, and they provide vital services to individuals and families in need. Students who major in social work learn about human behavior, communication, and problem-solving strategies. They also gain an understanding of how to work with diverse populations. In addition, social work majors will develop some research and writing skills.
For some aspiring physicians, majoring in social work provides a glimpse into the social and behavioral determinants of health that will become important later in their careers. Students interested in public health and serving underserved communities will find that a major in social work provides them with essential skills and knowledge. Social work majors can also use their skills to pursue careers in human resources, government, or non-profit organizations.
Sociology is the study of human social behavior, including the origins, development, structure, and functions of society. It covers a wide range of topics, from family dynamics and criminal justice to inequality and theories of social change. As a sociologist, you’ll learn to analyze data and research findings to develop theoretical explanations of social phenomena. You’ll also gain important skills like critical thinking, writing, and research that prepare you for medical school and beyond.
Sociological concepts are increasingly integrated into nearly every academic field. A deep understanding of social behavior and the ability to think critically about complex social issues empower students and doctors to diagnose and treat large-scale social ills. For example, sociologists have played an important role in improving public health by identifying social determinants of health and developing interventions to address them. In addition, sociological research has helped to improve access to healthcare, reduce inequality, and understand the impact of racism on health outcomes.
For pre-meds interested in public health, sociology is an excellent choice. Students interested in medical research or who plan to work with underserved communities will also find that a major in sociology provides them with relevant skills and knowledge.
Communications is a broad field that encompasses many different types of media and messages. Professionals in this field work to create, manage, and deliver information. They may work in advertising, public relations, or journalism, among other fields.
Pre-meds who study communications often develop strong writing and oral communication skills. They learn to analyze and interpret data, and to think critically about the impact of media on society. In addition, they may gain practical experience working with different types of media. As a result, those with a communications degree often have a wide range of skills that can be applied in many different settings.
10. Health Science
Health Science majors learn about the workings of the human body, how to prevent and treat illness, and how to promote healthy lifestyles. This major provides students with a foundation in the biomedical sciences, as well as training in public health and healthcare administration. As a result, Health Science majors are positioned to pursue a wide range of careers in the healthcare industry.
Health Science majors often go on to medical school or other health professions programs. They may also pursue careers in public health, healthcare administration, or biomedical research.
Students interested in a career in medicine will find that a major in Health Science is a less intensive introduction to studying medicine than majors in the hard sciences. In many Health Science programs, pre-med students will be completing the same hard science courses that are prerequisites for applying to medical school. In later years, Health Science majors learn about health systems management, global health, and bioethics. As a result, they are well-prepared to pursue further studies in medicine.
Top 10 Hardest College Majors in 2022
This list of the top 10 hardest college majors in 2022 was compiled by looking at nationwide statistics on the GPA of graduates, drop-out rate, and self-reported stress levels during the final two years of college.
Hardest Majors: Pros and Cons for Pre-Med Students
Many of the fields that are important to study of medicine are also some of the hardest majors. These include molecular biology, chemistry, and physics. Because of this, pre-med students often have a difficult time choosing what to focus on during their undergraduate years.
On one hand, it can be beneficial to major in a field that is directly related to medicine. This can help you better prepare for the rigors of medical school and your future career. But on the other hand, majoring in a difficult field can make your undergraduate years more challenging.
More time spent studying means less time developing AAMC’s Core Competencies and pursuing volunteer work and pre-med internships. However, science majors will be better positioned to excel in MCAT preparation. This is not only because of the relevance of the material, but also because of the strong study habits a science major develops early on. If you’re spending every semester honing your ability to retain and apply large amounts of scientific information, this will come in handy when you’re studying for the MCAT.
Additionally, it’s not the case that all medical school pre-requisites need to be fulfilled while you are actively attending classes. While medical schools do favor consistency in activities like volunteering and other extra-curriculars, there are plenty of ways to develop a strong application during academic breaks. Students that enroll in IMA’s pre-med internships abroad, for instance, participate in a variety of powerful learning experiences that cover the gamut of AAMC’s Core Competencies — all during academic breaks. Programs like these help students with difficult majors stay focused on their studies while still getting valuable experience in the field of medicine.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to major in a difficult field is up to you. If you are passionate about a particular subject and feel that you would be able to excel in it, then it’s worth considering — even if it’s one of the hardest majors. But if you are not sure if you can handle the workload, or prefer to prioritize excelling in other medical school requirements, it may be better to major in a less challenging field.
1. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering is the study of the design, development, and operation of chemical processes. These processes are used to produce a wide variety of products, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, cosmetics, plastics, and metals. Chemical engineers must be able to understand and apply the principles of chemistry, physics, and mathematics to the design and operation of these processes. They also need to have strong problem-solving skills. While a chemical engineering degree can be challenging, it can also lead to a rewarding career in a variety of industries.
The first two years of the program are typically spent completing prerequisite coursework in mathematics and the sciences. The last two years of the program are spent completing advanced coursework in chemical engineering.
As with other difficult majors, keeping a high GPA and finding time for extracurricular activities may prove challenging. However, if you’re able to succeed in studying chemical engineering, you’ll enter medical school with exceptional problem-solving skills in chemistry and math. These skills will come in handy when you’re trying to understand complex medical concepts and solve difficult problems.
A degree in architecture typically takes five years to complete and includes coursework in both design and technical skills. Students learn how to use various software to create detailed plans and drawings, and they also study engineering principles to gain a better understanding of how buildings are constructed.
The field of architecture is creative, challenging, and ever-evolving. It requires both artistic talent and exceptional technical skills. Architects must be able to think spatially and be familiar with a variety of construction methods and materials. In addition, architects must be able to work within the constraints of budgets and schedules. As a result, studying architecture can be both demanding and rewarding.
Architecture majors spend more time preparing for class than any other undergraduate student, on average. The large workload poses a challenge for students hoping to graduate with a high GPA. This is what makes architecture one of the hardest majors.
Architecture and medicine and very different fields, but they share some commonalities. Both require creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work within constraints. Architecture is not usually recommended for pre-med students, so if you’re drawn to a degree in architecture, keep in mind the challenges.
Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes it undergoes. Chemists investigate the properties of atoms and molecules and their interactions with one another. They use their findings to develop new products and processes or to improve existing ones.
A degree in chemistry can be both challenging and rewarding. Chemistry majors spend a significant amount of time in laboratory courses, where they learn how to safely handle chemicals and conduct experiments. They also take courses in mathematics and physics, which provide a foundation for understanding the principles of chemistry. In addition, chemistry majors must be able to communicate their findings clearly and concisely, both in writing and in oral presentations.
While a degree in chemistry can be demanding, it provides students with a strong foundation in the sciences and prepares them for careers in a variety of fields, including medicine, engineering, and research. Together with biochemistry, this major makes up a large portion of the MCAT exam.
Physics is the study of the fundamental principles governing the natural world. It covers a wide range of topics, from the smallest particles to the largest structures in the universe. Physics majors take courses in mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, optics, and quantum mechanics. In addition, they complete laboratory courses in which they conduct experiments and analyze data.
Majoring in physics is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and most importantly, a strong understanding of how to use math and science. But for those who are up for the challenge, physics can be an incredibly rewarding field of study. Not only will you learn about the fundamental laws that govern our universe, but you will also develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied to a wide range of real-world scenarios.
Questions that test your knowledge and understanding of physics make up around 7% of the MCAT exam.
5. Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineering applies the principles of electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics to develop electrical products and systems. Electrical engineers are responsible for the design, development, testing, and manufacturing of electrical equipment, including radios, television sets, cell phones, computers, and more. They may also work in power generation and distribution, telecommunications, motors and control systems, or signal processing.
There are a few reasons why majoring in electrical engineering is considered hard. For one, the coursework can be very challenging. Students need to have a strong understanding of mathematics and physics to be successful in electrical engineering courses. Additionally, electrical engineering is a rapidly changing field. Technology is constantly evolving, and students need to be able to keep up with the latest advances to be prepared for their careers.
In philosophy, even “what is philosophy?” is a hotly debated subject. This major studies the history of thought and deals with novel and complex concepts in fields such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, logic, and hermeneutics.
Students learn how to analyze arguments, think critically, and articulate and develop philosophical positions and critiques. Philosophy majors need to be able to think abstractly and have a strong understanding of logic. They must also be able to communicate their ideas clearly and persuasively, both in writing and in oral presentations.
For many students, the hardest part of philosophy is understanding complex arguments and internalizing new, counterintuitive concepts. Mastering these skills takes dedication, patience, and a truly attentive and open mind.
While the study of philosophy may be demanding, it is also incredibly rewarding in its versatility. Those who major in philosophy develop critical thinking and analytical skills that can be applied to a wide range of real-world problems. For those planning to pursue higher education, such as medicine, philosophy is an excellent foundation.
7. Cellular and Molecular Biology
The Cellular and Molecular Biology major provides students with a strong foundation in the cell and molecular biology of plants, animals, fungi, and microbes. This major explores the structure and function of cellular components, the regulation of gene expression, and the mechanisms of cell signaling. Students also receive training in genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology.
Cellular and molecular biology is a challenging field that requires students to have a strong foundation in both the sciences and math. In addition, students must be able to think critically about complicated relationships. As a result, it’s not surprising that many students who declare this major end up switching to another field. But for those who are up for the challenge, the cellular and molecular biology major can do wonders to prepare you for the rigors of medical school.
The Cellular and Molecular Biology major is an excellent choice for students interested in pursuing careers in biomedical research, pharmaceuticals, or biotechnology. Many of the concepts undergrads encounter while completing this degree are necessary to prepare for the MCAT, medical school, and beyond. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to develop strong study habits and take on large, challenging workloads.
8. Aero and Astronautical Engineering
Aero and astronautical engineering is one of the hardest engineering majors. It requires not only a strong understanding of the principles of aerodynamics and orbital mechanics, but also a high level of mathematical ability. Students who wish to pursue this field of study must be prepared to dedicate themselves to long hours of work.
Aero and astronautical engineers design and build vehicles that allow us to explore the universe. Students learn about the science of flight – both in terms of how aircraft are designed to stay in the air, and how they move through it. They also learn about the physics of space travel, and how to design spacecraft that can safely navigate the hostile environment of outer space. They are responsible for everything from spacecraft and satellites to missiles and aircraft. With continued advancements in technology, there is no limit to what they may achieve.
This engineering major is difficult because it includes two challenging fields, requires long hours of studying challenging mathematical and scientific concepts, and relies on a high capacity for complex problem-solving.
If you’re up for the challenge, this major can be useful for those hoping to enroll in medical school. The mathematical ability required to excel in this major will give you a significant leg up when it comes to the MCAT. In addition, the analytical and problem-solving skills you develop will be invaluable in a career as a doctor.
Biophysics is the study of physical principles governing biological systems. It is a relatively new field that emerged from the need to understand how living things work at the molecular level. Biophysicists use tools and techniques from physics to investigate the workings of cells, proteins, and other biomolecules. Although the field is still in its infancy, biophysics has already made major contributions to our understanding of many complex biological processes.
Despite its promising potential, biophysics is an extremely challenging field. One of the biggest challenges is that living systems are incredibly complex and often defy simple explanation. Another challenge is that many biophysical phenomena occur on very small length and time scales, making them difficult to observe and measure. Furthermore, the interaction between biomolecules is often highly sensitive to temperature, pH, and other factors, making it difficult to control experiments. As a result, biophysicists must be highly skilled in physics, biology, and the scientific method to be successful in their research.
If you can keep your GPA high, graduating with a degree in biophysics can surely make an impact on your chances of succeeding in medical school. The skills and knowledge you develop while studying biophysics will give you a major advantage when it comes to the MCAT. In addition, your experience in understanding complex research practices will be invaluable in medical school research programs.
Astronomy is the study of the universe and everything in it. This includes stars, planets, galaxies, and even the origins of the universe itself. It’s a complex field that requires a deep understanding of physics and mathematics. And because the universe is constantly changing, astronomers must always be learning new things. They also need to be able to communicate their findings to the general public and engage with highly theoretical material.
While a degree in astronomy can be very rewarding, it is also one of the most difficult majors to complete. The math and physics requirements are extremely challenging, and the coursework can be very time-consuming. Astronomy majors report taking around 19 hours a week to prepare for class. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the workload.
Despite the challenges, a degree in astronomy can help sharpen your scientific skills and give you a better understanding of the universe. These skills will be useful in any number of careers, from teaching to research.
No matter what you decide to study in college, we wish you the best of luck. Remember, the most important thing is to find a major that you’re passionate about and can excel in — regardless of if it’s one of the easiest or hardest majors.