Student Life

12 of the Hardest College Classes

We rank the top 12 hardest college classes, according to students.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

April 14, 2021

12 of the Hardest College Classes
If you find any of the following courses particularly easy or awesome, consider yourself lucky, smarty-pants!
While the ultimate list is going to be subjective to each student, we've trudged through forum after forum, site after site. We’ve compiled Google searches and followed every social media thread known to man to come up with a general list of courses that most students find…unbearable. That’s not to say that students aren't able to handle them or that some students don’t love them – there are exceptions to every rule. While you may find a course easy to comprehend as a math major, someone else may find it excruciating (and vice versa). As we said, it’s all relative. However, there are courses that have a reputation across college campuses for being the most torturous, often even for those majoring within the subject. So, if you find any of the following courses particularly easy or awesome, consider yourself lucky, smarty-pants!
Though these courses can be difficult, they’re not impossible. This list should not scare you away from taking any of the following courses, either. Plenty of students pass them with flying colors. You should just go into them prepared to put in some extra time and effort, which you should do with all of your classes, should you need to. Here’s a list of courses that have a reputation amongst students for being the most challenging college courses and college majors -- as well as the college scholarships that go along with them:
  1. Organic Chemistry – This course weeds out the doctors from the wannabes. It’s certainly difficult. There’s a consensus that it takes a lot of work, memorization, and commitment. With motivation, however, it is manageable. In organic chemistry, students will study the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds and organic materials.
  2. Linguistics – Linguistics isn’t just the study of different languages; it’s the analysis of language form, meaning and context. As students get into higher-level linguistics, things start to get more complicated. Colleges don’t mess around.
  3. Economics - It seems like a lot of students simply find economics a combination of extremely challenging and extremely boring. Boring makes a lot of people zone out, and you have to focus to understand challenging concepts, which is a lethal combination for a GPA.
  4. Anatomy – Anatomy is the study of the human body and all of it’s parts and processes. This course is tough because it’s a lot of memorization. Because, in case you haven’t heard, the human body is pretty complex.
  5. Calculus – If you’re not into math or not math-minded, calculus can be a nightmare given the abstract and difficult concepts in mathematical theory, like limits, functions, derivatives, and integrals. Enough said.
  6. Quantum Mechanics / Physics– What some describe as a tedious subject to learn, other students find the abstract aspects, like the theory that everything is made of waves and not particles, applied to numbers is challenging to comprehend. Apparently, you either get quantum mechanics and physics or you don’t.
  7. Philosophy / Metaphysics – In metaphysics, you learn and discover extremely abstract concepts and theories that question reality and physical senses. It’s a philosophical head spin, which many have trouble grasping. We don’t blame them, either.
  8. Thermodynamics – Extremely time intensive, this course involves all sorts of memorization as well as the understanding of concepts involving physics. Therefore, memorization time and effort, plus understanding are required in thermodynamics courses.
  9. Statistics – Statistics involves collecting, analyzing, interpreting, presenting and organizing all aspects of data. That means it involves a lot of charts, numbers, equations and controlled experiments with numbers, which many students find confusing to follow, difficult to comprehend, and monotonous.
  10. Theory – There are different disciplines that fall within theory, such as political theory or scientific theory. Many find theory difficult because the courses study different explanations of thought and the results behind them. The subjects can be difficult to follow and rigorous in terms of course material, which is likely why students often deem theory subjects among the most challenging.
  11. English Literature – If you’re not a strong or particularly fast reader, readings can pile up quickly. Reading the material isn’t the only requirement, either. Students must comprehend large quantities of material (often in old English) and apply it by writing lengthy essays and on dreaded essay exams. While many may find these courses a snap, the majority of STEM majors avoid English Literature like the plague.
  12. Psychology – If you’ve met a handful of people in your lifetime, you know that the science of understanding individuals and groups can’t be easy. People are hard to grasp and society can be even more difficult to understand at times. Now, put that in the context of an academic setting. In Psychology, students cover everything related to human behavior and processes.
Browse scholarships by major on Fastweb. What’s the hardest college course you’ve taken?

You Might Also Like

Kathryn Knight Randolph

Associate Content Editor

Kathryn Knight Randolph is the Associate Content Editor at Fastweb. She has 17 years of higher education experience, working first as an Admissions Officer at DePauw University before joining Fastweb. In b...

Fastweb makes finding scholarships a breeze.

Become a member and gain exclusive access to our database of over 1.5 million scholarships.

By clicking, I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.