What is the hardest degree to get?

Tarfeather

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It's possible to boil down any subject to simple "learning by heart" and puking out memorized answers on your exams. This includes computer programming, it's happened to me. So, yeah, any degree can be boiled down to requiring no skill at all.
 

dyre

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LifeCharacter said:
dyre said:
Now, I love history as much as the next guy, but as someone who is about to earn my bachelor's in History (alongside a Finance degree), I've gotta say it's not that hard. Flipping through the FRUS volumes, searching Proquest newspaper archives, and doing ever-interesting archival research of some dead senator's personal diaries is more work than people imagine, but it's more diligence and hard work than real difficulty. And there are only a few classes that require that level of primary research! Optimizing an investment portfolio using Markowitz Portfolio Theory and CAPM is a LOT tougher.
The problem is you stopped with a bachelors, which I'll admit isn't hard to get at all for history; most of it's just studying for tests and the occasional essay that you might have to actually research for in the higher level classes. Actual difficulty comes when you go for a masters or a PHD, since these both pretty much consist of some classes to prepare you for researching, researching, and then writing. The PHD also requires that you have an adequate grasp of anywhere from 1-3 foreign languages depending on where and what you're studying and overreliance on secondary sources in your dissertation will certainly cost you.
Yeah, I imagine getting the PhD is considerably more difficult (though if you're relying heavily on secondary sources in your dissertation then you deserve all the shit you're going to get, lol. Even my undergraduate thesis was 80% primary research...). I assume the OP is mostly thinking about undergraduate study, but admittedly it's pretty confusing when he lumps neuroscience with accounting with graphics design.
 

Drops a Sweet Katana

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Having just finished my first year of Aerospace Engineering, I can vouch for engineering being pretty difficult at times and definitely not for the faint of heart or the mathematically impaired. For example, me and one of my friends ended up spending between 40 and 50 hours studying for one of our four exams and maybe 20 to 30 for the others. It is not a degree to be slacking. Results are as follows:
And don't even get me started on CAD and MATLAB. You will find nothing closer to hell than wrestling with motion studies in Solidworks or trying to figure out why gravity suddenly reversed in a MATLAB script.
 

Nomad

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Tarfeather said:
It's possible to boil down any subject to simple "learning by heart" and puking out memorized answers on your exams. This includes computer programming, it's happened to me. So, yeah, any degree can be boiled down to requiring no skill at all.
Depending on what you mean by "learning by heart", I might disagree. If your intended meaning is in line with your next sentence (memorizing answers), I do. That won't work with anything that requires a significant portion of analysis.
dyre said:
I assume the OP is mostly thinking about undergraduate study, but admittedly it's pretty confusing when he lumps neuroscience with accounting with graphics design.
He explicitly speaks of PHD studies, so I don't think he's making that sort of distinction.
 

Eamar

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It should be pretty obvious that this is going to massively depend on your university. Not all universities are created equal, and the "easiest" degree at the best university is probably still going to be more difficult than the "hardest" degree at a really bad one where the standards are lower.

I don't know how it works elsewhere, but here in the UK degrees and exam marks aren't standardised across different institutions, so there's really no way to tell.
 

spartan231490

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It depends on who you are, what university you are attending, how you get alone with your professors. It's impossible to categorize
 

dyre

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Nomad said:
dyre said:
I assume the OP is mostly thinking about undergraduate study, but admittedly it's pretty confusing when he lumps neuroscience with accounting with graphics design.
He explicitly speaks of PHD studies, so I don't think he's making that sort of distinction.
In that case, then, what exactly does he mean by "history" anyway? When comparing to neuroscience, perhaps the PhD level history could be compared directly to the MD, but when comparing to accounting, then undergraduate level history is more comparable...

If we're accepting all levels of degrees, the list should be much more complicated:

Neuroscience [doctorate level]
Quantum Physics [doctorate level]
History [doctorate level]
Organic Chemistry [master's level]
Law [master's level]
History [master's level]
Organic Chemistry [bachelor's level]

I doubt there is anyone really qualified to compare a PhD in Physics against a PhD in History against a PhD in International Relations anyway. At least with undergraduate studies one could get some exposure to other majors, whether through friends/dormmates or from classes taken out of personal interest. As far as I know a history PhD student is unlikely to have much exposure to a physics PhD program.
 

Tarfeather

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Nomad said:
That won't work with anything that requires a significant portion of analysis.
What I'm saying is that you can dumb down any test not to require any analysis at all. Yes, even maths. You will find more of these dumbed down tests in certain subjects(like for instance history), but in theory history can be just as tough and intellectually challenging as maths.

In other words, I disagree with the OP's premise. No subject is fundamentally harder than another, it's just the average level of difficulty at universities that varies. I think there's a reason for this, too: Engineers need to actually be able to do their job once they graduate. A historian, on the other hand, might not have the faintest clue of what they're doing, and still get a job, because other clueless people will have no way of evaluating his merit.
 

shootthebandit

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FriesWithThat said:
Having just finished my first year of Aerospace Engineering,
Just wondering what sort of job your looking at going into. I work in the aviation industry and I dont have a degree (or know many people that do) so im just curios what sort of jobs you can get. As far as im aware its only a CAT C certifier that requires a degree
 

dyre

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Tarfeather said:
Nomad said:
That won't work with anything that requires a significant portion of analysis.
What I'm saying is that you can dumb down any test not to require any analysis at all. Yes, even maths. You will find more of these dumbed down tests in certain subjects(like for instance history), but in theory history can be just as tough and intellectually challenging as maths.

In other words, I disagree with the OP's premise. No subject is fundamentally harder than another, it's just the average level of difficulty at universities that varies. I think there's a reason for this, too: Engineers need to actually be able to do their job once they graduate. A historian, on the other hand, might not have the faintest clue of what they're doing, and still get a job, because other clueless people will have no way of evaluating his merit.
You can't exactly dumb down history research though...it's not a test, and there's nothing to dumb down, since you're the one who has to justify the methods and conclusions (they're not given to you).

And with tests, you can't really "dumb down" a test question like "read this poem and analyze how it reflects the cultural attitudes of the period." Granted, you can probably "bullshit" it, but that's a separate skill.
 

Tarfeather

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dyre said:
You can't exactly dumb down history research though...it's not a test, and there's nothing to dumb down, since you're the one who has to justify the methods and conclusions (they're not given to you).

And with tests, you can't really "dumb down" a test question like "read this poem and analyze how it reflects the cultural attitudes of the period." Granted, you can probably "bullshit" it, but that's a separate skill.
I thought we were talking about degrees and not research. ;) Look, here's how it goes at a lot of schools and universities around here: You get a bunch of text to read that outlines certain problems and conclusions. You learn the problems and conclusions by heart. In the exam, you pattern match the questions against the learned problems, and write down the answer you from memory. You can do this with literally every subject.

Maybe I didn't make clear enough that this depends on the teacher/professor, not the student. Of course it's possible to create tests that require deep understanding of the subject matter. But just because it's possible, that doesn't mean it'll be done. And also vice verca, for every subject, it's possible to create tests that require analysis/understanding, and the questions can be arbitrarily hard.
 

Nomad

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dyre said:
I doubt there is anyone really qualified to compare a PhD in Physics against a PhD in History against a PhD in International Relations anyway. At least with undergraduate studies one could get some exposure to other majors, whether through friends/dormmates or from classes taken out of personal interest. As far as I know a history PhD student is unlikely to have much exposure to a physics PhD program.
I am in full agreement.
Tarfeather said:
What I'm saying is that you can dumb down any test not to require any analysis at all. Yes, even maths. You will find more of these dumbed down tests in certain subjects(like for instance history), but in theory history can be just as tough and intellectually challenging as maths.

In other words, I disagree with the OP's premise. No subject is fundamentally harder than another, it's just the average level of difficulty at universities that varies. I think there's a reason for this, too: Engineers need to actually be able to do their job once they graduate. A historian, on the other hand, might not have the faintest clue of what they're doing, and still get a job, because other clueless people will have no way of evaluating his merit.
I disagree with both the OP's premise and yours. It is certainly not possible to remove analysis from any test - dyre gives a good example of this. If the test contains an essay question that explicitly calls for analysis (very common in the social sciences), then there is simply no way to get around it. I've had students who were very good at memorizing textbook accounts, but this did not help them at all when it came to using these accounts as a basis for political analysis. Even though they could recount certain theoretical frameworks, they were unable to adapt and apply them to the case at hand, and were therefore also unable to solve the problem.

Tarfeather said:
I thought we were talking about degrees and not research. ;) Look, here's how it goes at a lot of schools and universities around here: You get a bunch of text to read that outlines certain problems and conclusions. You learn the problems and conclusions by heart. In the exam, you pattern match the questions against the learned problems, and write down the answer you from memory. You can do this with literally every subject.
Pattern matching is a form of analysis. Disregarding that, however, you are assuming that there is a textbook case similar enough to the test case that you can just directly translate the analysis. Even more than that, you're assuming that the textbook contains a practical example of a case analysis - most often in my field, they don't. They just describe and discuss the theoretical framework.
 

dyre

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Tarfeather said:
dyre said:
You can't exactly dumb down history research though...it's not a test, and there's nothing to dumb down, since you're the one who has to justify the methods and conclusions (they're not given to you).

And with tests, you can't really "dumb down" a test question like "read this poem and analyze how it reflects the cultural attitudes of the period." Granted, you can probably "bullshit" it, but that's a separate skill.
I thought we were talking about degrees and not research. ;) Look, here's how it goes at a lot of schools and universities around here: You get a bunch of text to read that outlines certain problems and conclusions. You learn the problems and conclusions by heart. In the exam, you pattern match the questions against the learned problems, and write down the answer you from memory. You can do this with literally every subject.

Maybe I didn't make clear enough that this depends on the teacher/professor, not the student. Of course it's possible to create tests that require deep understanding of the subject matter. But just because it's possible, that doesn't mean it'll be done. And also vice verca, for every subject, it's possible to create tests that require analysis/understanding, and the questions can be arbitrarily hard.
I mean, with master's and doctorate level history, it's really not about tests; it's about your own original research. Heck, even my 400-level undergraduate seminars I've been writing original research papers; I don't think I've taken an actual final exam in a history course since sophomore year. A lot of majors aren't as exam-based as CompSci; for example, Music, Fine Arts, Graphics Design, Journalism, Literature, etc are often more about you producing your own original work than just memorizing for an exam.
 

Tarfeather

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Nomad said:
It is certainly not possible to remove analysis from any test
Meh, that's what I get for writing sloppily. I meant "you can create dumbed down tests for any subject", not "you can dumb down any existing test".

dyre said:
I mean, with master's and doctorate level history, it's really not about tests; it's about your own original research. Heck, even my 400-level undergraduate seminars I've been writing original research papers; I don't think I've taken an actual final exam in a history course since sophomore year. A lot of majors aren't as exam-based as CompSci; for example, Music, Fine Arts, Graphics Design, Journalism, Literature, etc are often more about you producing your own original work than just memorizing for an exam.
Case in point, I'm sure this is true for where you live, but it's not generally true for all universities in existence.
 

Nomad

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Tarfeather said:
Nomad said:
It is certainly not possible to remove analysis from any test
Meh, that's what I get for writing sloppily. I meant "you can create dumbed down tests for any subject", not "you can dumb down any existing test".
Then your main point is that there's no inherent academic superiority in any subject? If so, we are in agreement after all. However, I would argue that certain disciplines require an analytical component to actually conform to the norms of the subject. Removing that component by "dumbing down" tests simply turns the subject into something that it's not, it becomes part of the field in name only.
 

Drops a Sweet Katana

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shootthebandit said:
FriesWithThat said:
Having just finished my first year of Aerospace Engineering,
Just wondering what sort of job your looking at going into. I work in the aviation industry and I dont have a degree (or know many people that do) so im just curios what sort of jobs you can get. As far as im aware its only a CAT C certifier that requires a degree
I'm hoping to go into propulsion design. Not sure if it'll be rockets or jets, since I find both pretty interesting.
 

Tarfeather

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Nomad said:
Removing that component by "duming down" tests simply turn the subject into something that it's not, it becomes part of the field in name only.
Yeah, I suppose so. So, in this ideal universe, where subjects are taught properly, what's actually relevant with regards to the OP is which subjects require the least intellectual skill to actually "do right". I don't know whether there is such a distinction, though.