Top 20 Hardest Degrees In the World 2023

Top 20 Hardest Degrees In the World - Toughest Courses

Which are the hardest degrees in the world? The decision to pursue higher education is a major milestone in anyone’s life, and the choice of a degree program is a key determinant of the challenges and rewards that lie ahead. In this respect, some degree programs stand out as particularly rigorous, demanding a high level of intellectual ability, commitment, and resilience.

In this article, we take a close look at the top 20 hardest degrees in the world in 2023, providing insights on what makes these courses such intense endeavors. Our list is based on a combination of factors such as complexity of course content, volume of reading, hours of study required, and overall stress levels experienced by students.

On SchoolPeza, we write about different degree programs, universities, and the interesting courses they provide. Would you like to know the best universities for data science in USA? That’s just one example of what we cover.

Whether you’re a student looking to challenge yourself with one of the toughest degrees in the world, or you’re simply curious about the academic world’s most daunting challenges, this list should be an interesting read.

Hardest degrees in the world

As we take a look into the toughest courses in the world, here’s a a friendly heads-up: keep in mind that “hard” does not necessarily equate to “bad”. Often, the most difficult courses lead to some of the most rewarding careers, and they develop personal qualities like determination, problem-solving, and resilience that are valuable in every walk of life.

Does Studying The Hardest Degrees In the World Lead to Higher Earning Potential?

There’s a popular perception that studying one of the hardest degrees in the world might lead to higher earning potential. While there’s some truth to this, it’s important to note that the correlation isn’t always direct or guaranteed. Here’s a detailed explanation:

Firstly, many of the toughest degrees, such as Medicine, Law, and Aerospace Engineering, are indeed associated with high-income professions. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers often earn substantial salaries due to the high levels of expertise and responsibility required in their roles. The same goes for other challenging degrees like Biomedical Engineering and Dentistry.

However, it’s crucial to understand that earning potential is influenced by numerous other factors besides the difficulty of your degree. These include the industry and job market conditions, the country and region in which you work, your level of experience and specialization, and the specific career path you choose within your field.

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For instance, a research physicist might earn less than a software engineer, despite Physics being considered a harder degree than Computer Science. Similarly, a public interest lawyer might earn less than a corporate lawyer, even though both have undergone the rigorous process of law school.

Additionally, many high-earning careers also require significant investment in terms of time, money, and personal sacrifice. Medical doctors, for example, undergo many years of study and demanding residency programs before they start earning the high salaries associated with their profession.

In conclusion, while studying the toughest courses in the world can lead to high-paying career options, it’s not a guarantee of higher earnings. Potential students should consider their interests, skills, career aspirations, and the return on investment for their education before deciding on a degree path. Ultimately, the key to a successful and fulfilling career involves more than just choosing a difficult degree—it’s about aligning your education with your personal and professional goals.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top 20 hardest degrees in the world!

Top 20 Hardest Degrees In the World 2023

Below are some of the world’s toughest degrees and toughest courses in the world:

1. Astrophysics

Hardest degrees in the world - Astrophysics

Is Astrophysics the hardest degree in the world? The study of the cosmos, from the properties of individual celestial bodies to the large-scale structure of the universe, makes Astrophysics one of the most challenging degrees. It requires a strong grasp of advanced mathematics and physics, as well as the ability to grapple with abstract and sometimes counterintuitive concepts.

Students must master complex mathematical equations and physical theories to understand how the universe works, often requiring long hours of study and a lot of mental stamina. No doubt, it is one of the toughest courses in the world.

The career paths of an Astrophysics degree can lead to roles in research institutions, observatories, or even space agencies like NASA. Typical course duration ranges from 3 to 4 years for a Bachelor’s degree, with further study required for advanced roles.

2. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering is no doubt one of the hardest degrees in the world. Blending engineering principles with biological sciences, Biomedical Engineering is a multifaceted degree with a steep learning curve. It calls for a deep understanding of both fields, with students often needing to study advanced calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science.

The ability to apply engineering concepts to solve complex biological and medical problems is what makes this degree a challenge, hence, one of the toughest courses. Careers can range from designing medical equipment and devices, to developing biocompatible prostheses, or creating software to run medical equipment. A Bachelor’s degree typically spans four years, but many graduates go on to pursue Master’s or Doctoral degrees.

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3. Aerospace Engineering

As one of the most specialized branches of engineering, Aerospace Engineering demands a robust understanding of physics, mathematics, and material sciences. Students study everything from aerodynamics to propulsion systems, which requires a high level of technical proficiency and creativity. Did I hear you say studying more courses in one?

A degree in Aerospace Engineering often leads to careers in aircraft and spacecraft design, but the demand for these skills is also high in industries such as automobile design and energy production. You can’t dispute the fact that it is one of the hardest degrees in the world. The duration of an Aerospace Engineering degree usually runs four years for a Bachelor’s degree.

4. Medicine

Medicine is widely known as one of the toughest courses in the world, and for good reason. It requires students to master a vast amount of scientific knowledge, from anatomy and physiology to pathology and pharmacology. The pressure of dealing with human lives further adds to the intensity of this degree.

Doctors are in high demand and have numerous career paths, from surgery and general practice to various specializations. The length of medical training varies significantly by country and specialty but usually involves at least 5-6 years of undergraduate study and further residency training. Do you agree medicine is one of the hardest degrees in the world?

5. Law

Hardest degrees in the world - Law

A Law degree is among the most demanding courses due to the vast amount of reading required, and the complex critical thinking and argumentation skills it develops. Law students must absorb large volumes of case law, legislation, and legal theory, often with high levels of precision and attention to detail.

Legal professionals can work in many sectors, from private practice and government to academia and the non-profit sector. A law degree usually takes three years to complete, but this is followed by further training to become a solicitor or barrister.

Are you dreaming of becoming a lawyer and studying one of the most challenging courses? Let’s have your comments in the opinion box below this article.

Also Read: Best Law Universities in South Africa

6. Architecture

Next on the list of the world’s toughest courses is Architecture. An Architecture degree is an intense blend of creative design, historical knowledge, and technical proficiency. Students must learn to balance aesthetic considerations with structural safety, environmental sustainability, and client needs. It involves rigorous studio work, theory classes, and often hands-on experience at construction sites.

Architecture graduates typically go on to become licensed architects, though some work in related fields such as urban planning or interior design. A Bachelor’s degree in Architecture usually takes five years, and most countries require additional professional experience before granting an architect’s license.

7. Chemistry

Chemistry, often referred to as the “central science”, ties together physics, biology, geology, and environmental science, making it one of the hardest degrees in the world. Students need to understand and apply complex theories and equations, and lab work requires precision and safety awareness.

Chemists can work in a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, materials science, food and beverage, and environmental conservation. A typical undergraduate Chemistry degree lasts for three or four years.

8. Physics

Physics degrees are notorious for their complexity, involving a deep dive into the fundamental laws that govern the universe. Students must grasp abstract mathematical concepts and develop strong problem-solving skills, often spending long hours working on challenging problem sets.

Career paths in Physics can lead to academia, research, engineering, data analysis, and more. A Bachelor’s degree in Physics usually takes three or four years, but many physicists go on to pursue graduate degrees.

9. Chartered Accountancy

Chartered Accountancy is one of the most difficult business degrees, demanding a high level of numeracy, analytical skills, and understanding of complex financial regulations. It also requires a professional qualification beyond the degree, involving rigorous exams and a specified period of practical work experience.

Chartered Accountants can work in virtually any sector, from financial services and corporate management to public sector roles or running their own business. The degree itself takes three or four years, but the full qualification can take longer to achieve, depending on the speed of completing professional exams and work placements.

Talk about taxation, public sector accounting, cost accounting, and other tough accounting courses. Becoming a chartered accountant requires a lot.

Also Read: Top 20 Best Online Data Science Programs

10. Pharmacy

toughest courses in the world - Pharmacy

Pharmacy is a highly technical medical field, requiring a strong foundation in chemistry, biology, and human physiology. Isn’t that three different courses to master to become a professional pharmacist?

As one of the hardest degrees in the world, it also demands precise attention to detail and high ethical standards, given pharmacists’ responsibility for dispensing medication safely.

Career paths for Pharmacy graduates are varied, with roles in community pharmacies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or public health organizations. The degree typically takes four years to complete, followed by a period of practical training to become a licensed pharmacist.

11. Nursing

Talk about the toughest courses in the world and you’ll find nurses sharing their various educational journey. Nursing is both academically and emotionally challenging, calling for a deep understanding of healthcare principles, strong technical skills, and the ability to provide empathetic patient care. The shift work and high-stress environment also add to the difficulty of this degree.

Nursing graduates have a wide range of options, from general nursing roles to specialist areas such as pediatrics, mental health, or critical care. The course duration typically spans four years for a Bachelor’s degree, with additional certification required for some specialties.

12. Psychology

The study of the human mind and behavior makes Psychology a fascinating but complex degree. It requires a strong understanding of research methods, statistics, and theoretical models, as well as the ability to apply this knowledge to practical situations.

Career paths for Psychology graduates can range from clinical and counseling roles to research, education, human resources, and more. An undergraduate Psychology degree usually takes three years to complete, with further study required for clinical roles.

13. Astronomy

As a close cousin of Astrophysics, Astronomy is another complex course on the list of the toughest degrees in the world. Astronomy involves the study of celestial objects and phenomena. It requires strong mathematical and scientific skills, as well as proficiency with specialized tools such as telescopes and computer simulations.

Astronomy graduates often work in research institutions, universities, observatories, and space agencies. A Bachelor’s degree usually takes three to four years to complete, with further study often necessary for advanced research roles.

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14. Statistics

Statistics is a demanding degree due to the high level of mathematical aptitude required, as well as the need for proficient coding skills. Students must understand complex statistical theories and methods, and be able to apply them to real-world data.

Statisticians can work in many industries, including government, healthcare, business, and academia. The typical duration of an undergraduate Statistics degree is three to four years, but many statisticians go on to pursue graduate degrees.

15. Dentistry

Most difficult courses

Dentistry is a tough medical degree combining rigorous academic study with practical training. Students must master a variety of skills from diagnostics and treatment planning to performing complex dental procedures.

Dentistry graduates typically work in private practice, hospitals, or public health roles, and can specialize in areas such as orthodontics or pediatric dentistry. The degree usually takes five years to complete, followed by additional training for specialization.

16. Foreign Languages

Our list of the hardest degrees in the world isn’t complete without include the study of foreign languages. It has been considered one of the toughest courses.

Diving into the realm of foreign languages is quite an adventure, my friend! It’s not just about memorizing words and grammar rules – it’s about immersing yourself in a whole new culture, lifestyle, and history. Plus, did you know that mastering a foreign language can sharpen your memory and enhance your critical thinking and problem-solving skills? And in our increasingly interconnected world, being multilingual can give you a significant edge as a global citizen.

For example, here are some of the most difficult foreign languages to master;

  1. Mandarin Chinese: Over 1.2 billion people worldwide converse in Mandarin. With China standing as a key player in the global economy, this language skill could open countless doors for you.
  2. Spanish: Spoken by over 550 million people globally and used at home by 12% of the U.S. population, Spanish will make you feel at home not just in Spain, but also in Mexico, Costa Rica, and a host of South American countries.
  3. Korean: The rising global influence of Korea in politics, economy, and culture makes Korean a strategic language to learn, boosting your prospects for international job opportunities.
  4. French: As the second most widely learned language after English, French holds a special place thanks to its historical influence. It remains an official language in 29 countries worldwide, offering you a wide global reach.
  5. German: As the engine of the European economy and a global hub for STEM education, proficiency in German can unlock a world of opportunities for you.

Now, imagine the career prospects! If you major in a foreign language, you could become a translator, interpreter, or even work in an embassy. But the fun doesn’t stop there! If you pair language proficiency with another professional skill set, you could find yourself leading international departments in various organizations or climbing the ladder in the hospitality industry.

As for the journey to language mastery, well, it’s as unique as you are! Research suggests that it could take between 480 and 2,200 hours of study and practice, but it all depends on the level of fluency you’re aiming for. So, how about taking the plunge into this linguistic adventure? Trust me, it’s worth the ride!

How about we share with you more undergraduate hardest degrees?

Undergraduate Hardest Degrees

Some of the hardest undergraduate degrees include:

  • Bioengineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering

Related: List of Top Universities In Alberta for International Students

FAQs About The Hardest Degrees In the World

Which is the hardest subject in science?

The Hardest Science Degrees

  • Chemistry. Chemistry degree is famous for being one of the hardest subjects. …
  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Biomedical Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Nursing

Which is the Hardest Degree in the World Guinness Record?

Let’s just cut it short, the simple answer is ‘none’.

If you’ve been scouring the Guinness official website searching for the title of the “hardest degree in the world”, you’re likely coming up empty-handed. You see, the reason for this is pretty straightforward: Guinness typically grants awards based on factual measurements, and unfortunately, the “difficulty” of a degree isn’t something that can be objectively quantified.

Now, you may have heard some buzz about a BSN course (that’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing, by the way) being tagged as the toughest degree. The source of this? A poll conducted on social media, not any official ranking or record.

So, let’s set the record straight: there’s no official decree marking one particular course as the hardest degree in the world. But don’t let that fool you into thinking nursing is a breeze—it’s far from it! As a matter of fact, nursing proudly holds its place in our list of challenging degrees. So, if you’re a nursing student or considering that path, give yourself a pat on the back for your courage and dedication! It’s a tough journey, but one that’s incredibly rewarding.

Is MBBS the Toughest Course In the World?

There is no one straight-forward answer to this.

MBBS, is known for its lengthy duration and vast syllabus. It’s like running a marathon where your endurance and determination are tested at every step.

It is undisputed that MBBS requires a heap of dedication and a sprinkle of tenacity. Remember, it’s all about the journey, and the sense of achievement at the end is beyond comparison.

Related: Top 10 Best Nursing Schools In Ontario

Hardest Degrees In the World (Summary)

In conclusion, each of these degrees presents unique challenges that make them some of the hardest degrees in the world. However, the reward often matches the effort, as these degrees can lead to highly rewarding careers. So, if you’re looking for a challenge and are ready to put in the work, these could be the degrees for you!

In the realm of higher education, the top 20 hardest degrees in the world represent a diverse range of fields, each presenting its own unique challenges. These degree programs, from Astrophysics to Dentistry, demand a high level of intellectual ability, dedication, and resilience from students. They require mastery of complex theoretical concepts, rigorous practical skills, and often involve a large volume of study and high stress levels.

These courses, often deemed the toughest degrees in the world, are not for the faint of heart. They entail understanding abstract ideas, applying intricate equations, conducting detailed research, and in many cases, dealing with high-stakes real-world scenarios. The pressure is intense, but the rewards are proportionately high, with graduates often going on to pursue fulfilling and impactful careers in a variety of sectors.

However, it’s important to remember that while these are some of the most difficult courses to study, they also provide opportunities for significant personal and professional growth. Despite the challenges, students who undertake these degrees develop valuable skills such as determination, problem-solving, and resilience, which are universally beneficial. These degrees may be difficult, but for those willing to put in the effort, the potential benefits are immense.


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