Top 10 Hardest Degrees in the World
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Top 10 Hardest Degrees in the World

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Aishwarya
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on May 15, 2024 23:51 IST

Top 10 Hardest Degrees in the World: Are you up for an extreme academic challenge? Want a degree that will push your limits, test your perseverance, and demand your intellectual prowess? We're talking about the hardest degrees in the world. Check them out now!

hardest degrees in the world

What is the meaning of the hardest degrees in the world? While studying abroad, the toughest degrees in the world are those degrees which are mostly in-demand, challenging, have difficult coursework, in-between internships or work experience and completion of research projects. 

Degrees hardest in the world, usually have lower acceptance rates and their admission criteria are also very competitive. Thus, based on these parameters, we have curated a list of the hardest degrees in the world for international students, so go check it out now!

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List of Top 10 Hardest Degrees in the World

Here’s a list of top 10 hardest degrees in the world that international students must keep a note of:

List of Top 10 Hardest Degrees in the World

1. BE/BTech

2. LLB

3. MBBS

4. LLM

5. MBA

6. MD (Master of Medicine)

7.MS (Master of Surgery) 

8. MS(c)

9. CA

10. PhD

Check out the section below for a details on why the above given degrees are the hardest in the world. 

Hardest Degrees in the World

Check out why the below-given degrees are the hardest ones in the world for international students and also why they are the toughest. 

1. BE/BTech

Why is BE/BTech the hardest degree in the world?: BE/BTech is one of the toughest degree programs in the world because:

  • One of the technical degrees which are the stepping stones for postgraduate courses for students.
  • It is also one of the hardest degrees in the world because maximum students report having backlogs across semesters in BE/BTech.
  • Students who pursue BE/BTech have loads of coursework, assignments, projects and seminars which leaves no scope for additional work.
  • BE/BTech students face difficulty in passing the exams because of the technicality which also makes this degree the hardest in the world. 

BE/BTech Degree Highlights

Full Form

Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Technology

Duration 

3-4 years

Hardest BE/BTech Specialisations 

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering
  • Computer Science Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering 
  • Mechanical Engineering

Top BE/BTech Universities Abroad

Admission Requirements

High school scores 60% and above + TOEFL/IELTS + SAT/ACT

Scope 

Top-paid careers, good salary growth and industry benefits

Career Prospects

  • Software Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Network Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer 

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 100,640 (annually)

2. LLB

Why is LLB the hardest degree in the world?: LLB is also the most hardest degree in the world and here are the reasons why:

  • There is a lot of Law literature to read in LLB because of the number of laws. This in turn makes LLB the hardest degree in the world.
  • Secondly, LLB is also the hardest degree in the world at the bachelor’s level of study because students have to be technically correct. 
  • LLB curriculum is vast, hence, it can overwhelm students, which is also the reason why it is the hardest in the world.
  • Finally, LLB exams are tough and very challenging, thus, the majority of the students find it difficult to pass these exams. 

LLB Degree Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Bachelor’s of Legislative Law

Duration 

3-4 years

Toughest LLB Specialisations 

  • Criminal Law
  • Labor Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Environmental Law

Top Universities Abroad for LLB

Admission Requirements

High school scores 60% and above + TOEFL/IELTS + LNAT/LSAT/GRE

Scope 

Good scope in government and private sectors, law firms and even MNCs.

Career Prospects

  • Lawyer 
  • Legal Counsel
  • Legal Advisor
  • Legal Compliance & Litigation
  • Solicitor 

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 95,000 (annually)

3. MD Degree

Why is MD the hardest degree in the world?: MD is also the hardest degree in the world. Based on a variety of parameters, here's why MD is the toughest degree globally:

  • The MD degree's course curriculum globally is generally very tough and requires students to be physically and mentally involved at all times.
  • If pursuing an MD degree abroad, the students will not have time for hobbies or even socialising. 
  • MD is challenging at its own level, loads of medicines and formulae come into play in one particular day of an MD student, along with practicals and projects.

MD Degree Abroad Highlights 

Full Form

Master of Medicine

Duration 

years

Hardest Specialisations 

  • Neurosurgery
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Pediatric Oncology
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Hematology/oncology

Top Universities for MD Abroad

  • Harvard University
  • University of Oxford 
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Cambridge 
  • Stanford University 

Admission Requirements

BSc or MBBS + TOEFL/IELTS + MCAT / any other entrance test + 1 year residency

Scope 

Medical practice, research and scope for a good career

Career Prospects

  • Medical Practitioners
  • Consultants
  • Policymakers
  • Health Administrators
  • Public Health Organisations

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 150,000 - USD 200,000

4. MBBS

Why is MBBS the hardest degree in the world?: MBBS is one of the hardest degrees in the world. MBBS abroad is also the hardest degree in the world. MBBS admissions are also very tough and selection is also very selective. Other reasons why MBBS is the hardest degree in the world is because:

  • MBBS is the hardest degree in the world because it is the longest bachelor’s level course - six years.
  • One year of residency is important to pass the MBBS degree which is also challenging for students.
  • MBBS degree is also the hardest among other bachelor’s degree courses because there is everything here - coursework, practicals, projects, assignments and even workshops or seminars. 
  • There is always so much to learn, from medicines to formulae and what not in MBBS. Thus, making it harder for students and in turn making MBBS the toughest degree for study.  

MBBS Degree Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

Duration 

6 years (3+2+1)

Top Universities for MBBS Abroad

Admission Requirements

BSc (in USA) / high school scores + IMAT/MCAT/OMET/USMLE + TOEFL/IELTS/PTE

Scope 

Scope for higher education + practice medicine 

Career Prospects

  • Hospital Management
  • Medical Teaching
  • Diagnostic Imaging/Radiology
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Researcher

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 60,000 - USD 70,000

5. LLM

Why is LLM the hardest degree in the world?: LLM is also a very difficult degree to complete and is considered one of the hardest degrees in the world. The reason being:

  • LLM is a demanding course in terms of lots of reading, giving mocks, attending seminars and preparing for exams and assignments at the same time.
  • LLM is the toughest degree in the world also because of its challenging modules and rigorous curriculum design.
  • Students usually cannot take up any additional activity along with an LLM degree, because the course curriculum doesn’t allow room for it.
  • LLM is also the hardest degree in the world because of time management of students is challenged.

Thus, overall, LLM is very challenging and demanding, though it is the hardest degree in the world finding a job after LLM is still difficult. This is the only course where this kind of circumstance exists. 

LLM Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Master of Legislative Law (LLM)

Duration 

2 years

Hardest LLM Specialisations

  • Legal Studies
  • Criminology
  • Administrative Law and Policy
  • Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law
  • Corporate & Financial Law

Top Universities for LLM Abroad

Admission Requirements

LLB + TOEFL/IELTS + SOP

Scope 

Jobs in teaching, government and research

Career Prospects

  • Administrative Law and Policy
  • Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law
  • Corporate & Financial Law
  • Masters in Comparative Law
  • Criminology Law

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 55,000 - USD 60,000

Also Read:

6. MBA

Why is MBA the hardest degree in the world?: MBA also makes it to the list of top hardest degrees in the world because of its demand worldwide accompanied by tougher competition and selection process. 

  • MBA is the hardest degree in the world because it requires its applicants to score well on the GRE or GMAT, have prior work experience and be at the top of their class.
  • MBA curriculum is vast and with internships kicking in between, it can make it tougher for students to complete with good scores.
  • Another reason why MBA is the hardest is because they are challenging its students constantly. 
  • While there are pros of choosing the hardest MBA degree program the students can also enjoy lucrative job opportunities. 

Check:

MBA Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Duration 

1-2 years

Toughest MBA Specialisations 

  • Business Analytics
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship 

Top Universities for MBA Abroad

Admission Requirements

Bachelor’s degree (any stream) + GRE/GMAT + TOEFL/IELTS/PTE/Duolingo + SOP + LOR

Scope 

Top-paid jobs, best companies for work, scope for higher education also

Career Prospects

  • Business Analyst
  • CxO
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • CFO

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 100,000 - USD 120,000

7. MS Degree 

Why are MS & MD (Medicine) the hardest degrees in the world?: As the name suggests, Master of Surgery is a postgraduate course after MBBS and is one of the toughest degrees in the world. 

  • The master of Surgery degree is the toughest but very rewarding because of its complex learning procedures. 
  • There is a commitment to continuous learning and a promise of consistency to hone your skills to perfection for being a successful surgeon.
  • Surgeons are some of the highest paid jobs in the world, thus, so is their training and education. 
  • Finally, those who are enrolled in a master of Surgery have to devote a lot of their time and energy to complete their degree successfully. 

Students who have the skills of good concentration skills and have a passion for becoming a surgeon can choose this tough degree. 

MS Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Master of Surgery (MS)

Duration 

2 years

Hardest MS Specialisations 

  • Cardiology
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Anesthesiology 
  • Oncology 

Top Universities for MS Abroad

Admission Requirements

BSc / MBBS + IELTS/TOEFL + Written Test and/or interview

Scope 

Research and higher education or very highly-paid jobs

Career Prospects

  • Cardio Surgeon
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Radiologist
  • Orthopaedic 
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 120,000 - USD 200,000

8. MSc Degree 

Why is an MSc the hardest degree in the world?: MS abroad or MSc as it is commonly referred to is also one of the world’s toughest degrees. Check out why:

  • MS is a science-based course and a level up from a bachelor’s, thus students usually find it difficult.
  • To complete an MS degree, can be tough because either a dissertation will be required or simply coursework can be taken into consideration. 
  • MS constitutes a complex curriculum which is spread over 1-2 years and students in between have to complete it and also gain work experience in some cases also. 
  • While MS degrees are tough, the subjects chosen might be tougher which further makes the degree a hard nut to crack. 

MS is usually the next best option for those who wish to go into research, hence this is why MS can be tougher than other degree programs in the world. 

MSc Degree Abroad Highlights

Full Form

Master of Science (MSc)

Duration 

1-2 years

Toughest MS Specialisations 

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Data Analysis
  • IT & Networking
  • Computer Science
  • Nanotechnology

Top Universities for MS Abroad

Admission Requirements

Bachelor’s degree + GRE + IELTS/TOEFL

Scope 

Research or PhD or go for a job

Career Prospects

  • Researcher
  • Analyst
  • Associate Professor
  • Statistician
  • Biomedical Scientist

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 65,000

9. CA Degree

Why is CA considered the hardest degree in the world?: CA degree is a professional degree which is very challenging. Reasons why it is the toughest degree globally is because of the following reasons: 

  • The nature of CA degree coursework is tough. It is a long journey of 5 years which requires a lot of hard work.
  • There are a series of exams that applicants have to pass, and this makes the CA degree the hardest. 
  • CA degree also requires its students to have three-year’s articleship experience and along with that, they have to pass the CA finals, which is tough. 
  • Missing an attempt for an exam over five years of the CA degree can make things tougher for students in future. 

Thus, the exams of CA are tough, articleship is challenging and finally qualifying for CA’s exams is the hardest. All these three things make CA one of the world’s hardest degrees. 

CA Degree Highlights

Full Form

Chartered Accountant (CA)

Duration 

5 years

Hardest CA Specialisations 

  • Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Financial Management
  • Auditing
  • Business Advice

Top Universities for CA Abroad

Admission Requirements

High school / bachelor’s + ACCA exam/entrance exam + TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo

Scope 

Business advisor for companies 

Career Prospects

CA

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 90,000

Check: Masters vs PhD: Which one is right for you?

10, PhD 

Why is a PhD the hardest degree in the world? PhD is the hardest degree in the world because of the following reasons:

  • The research is vast and so is the depth of study. From choosing the right research project topic to completing it is a task.
  • PhD is the hardest degree because it is the pinnacle of educational qualifications, thus, a lot of hard work, research work and brainstorming is required.
  • What also makes a PhD one of the most hardest degrees in the world is its nature of research, which should be of very high standards.
  • The final thesis submission also requires a couple of rounds for clearance. Applicants have to undergo a tough interview taken by evaluators who finally approve or disprove. 

Unless everything is clear, acceptance for the thesis and awarding a PhD can take some time. This is why PhD is one of the hardest degrees in the world.  

PhD Degree Highlights:

Full Form

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Duration 

3-6 years

Toughest PhD Specialisations 

  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • Sciences
  • Medicine
  • Business 

Top Universities for PhD Abroad

Admission Requirements

Master’s / M.Phil + GRE + TOEFL/IELTS + Research Project approval + Written Test & Interview

Scope 

Research opportunities, international networking, funding for projects 

Career Prospects

  • Lecturer
  • Researcher
  • Scientist
  • Consulting
  • Education & Training

Average Salary After Graduation

USD 70,000 - USD 80,000

Check: 

Pursuing one of the world's hardest degrees is a feat reserved for the bravest souls. It's a journey filled with sleepless nights, mountains of coursework, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. These programs are designed to mould the brightest minds into experts in their respective fields, preparing them for careers that shape industries and drive innovation. It is good for you if you have decided on your hardest degree program and are dwelling in the right direction. But if you want a second opinion, you can sign up for free counselling at Shiksha Abroad Counselling. You can also get in touch with us in the comments below. Good luck!

About the Author
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Written by
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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