What is the hardest degree to get?

x EvilErmine x

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Well I don't know about hardest but Physiology was quite tough. My units at uni included genetics, drug metabolism and pharmokenetis, Virology, Human reproduction-development-and aging, Neuroscience, Microbiology, Organic chemistry, Statistical analysis, and anatomy.

But I don't think there is such a thing as the hardest degree to get really, it's all relative I think.
 

And Man

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If we're talking undergrad, then the hardest are Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. It can be argued which is harder between the two.

If we're talking Doctorate level, then everything is hard
 
Jun 11, 2008
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I honestly don't even. I know I'm a bit late but fuck some of the stuff in this thread is just I don't have words for it. I doubt many if any people here have any real basis to say what is easier or harder than anything else. All we can go on is that some degrees reach a certain level and compare to that ie a masters is easier than a phd.

Even then there are wildly varying work loads between colleges. For example, last I check my college takes in more Engineering students than pretty much most if not all other colleges in my country and has one of the highest(once again if not the highest requirements) to get into Engineering. Also on a quick check of NUIs and some big ITs it is the biggest and the highest requirements(doesn't make it or me better mind you).

Does that make my course better than other Engineering courses or other course in general? No and its as simple as that. Any college that cares about the course it is running will have a suitably difficult course. It is easy for me to say the computer science is easy and a joke of a course because I've sat a few modules programming and otherwise. That however, would be a stupid statement to make as I don't fully understand the work load they would have with their core modules compared to my own.
 

Nomad

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theboombody said:
"You need to specify this, you need to specify that, you need to prove this, etc. etc." That's all I ever hear on these forums. What you all really mean is, "You have to go by what the current authority calls proof. Any other proof is not acceptable." And this proof is based on the letter of the law (scientific, legal, etc.). I got to admit, you guys are great at following the letter of the law, but for the most part are truly awful at following the spirit of it. You never look at why the law was created. You just look at what it says, and go by it so exactly that common sense is forsaken in order to obey that letter. It is the defining characteristic trait of our generation, and it's beyond embarrassing. That's why a judge can say it's okay for the government to take someone's house because their property tax bill payment was six bucks short due to an oversight.

At some point, somebody somewhere is deciding what is legitimate and what is not. I question what is established as legitimate. You do not.
... Law? Now we're getting more than a little sidetracked. The law doesn't prove anything - it isn't descriptive, it's normative. As for accepting only established beliefs as truth, that's a very valid epistemological criticism of conventional science. Amusingly, the core of your argument is pretty well in line with the theoretical mainstream of feminist gender studies, a field I suspect you would dismiss as unscientific.

The thing is, though, that the criticism is only valid as a critique of social power distribution by way of a foucauldian "knowledge is power" rationality. It does not form basis for a claim that discredited views are automatically as valid as hegemonic views. This line of thinking that you're presenting here (that your oppressed truth is as valid as the truth of the current hegemonic authority) is actually a perfect example of the "cookie cutter similarity"-mentality that you've been claiming to criticize all along.

I would argue, in line with scientific realism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_realism], that while we may not be able to reach an objective truth about the world - we can reach an approximate truth through intersubjectivity. Simply put, if all we (think we) know points at one conclusion, the true answer can probably be found in that general direction. It's not a perfect solution, since the assumption leaves the door open for mass delusion (and the type of skewed power distribution your feminist analysis implies), but that's why we also speak of popperian provisional knowledge [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/]. We can not know the definite truth for all time, but we can assume something is true until something better comes along.

I think it's a nice surprise to see you starting to form a strong feminist critique of the patriarchal regime of truth, however, especially considering your earlier line of reasoning. You might want to work on your arguments for it, though: I'm missing some theoretical grounding and logical coherence.
theboombody said:
Many existing degree programs should never have been created, but they already have been. Someone on a yahoo article today was like, "There's a PHD program in human resources? That sounds a little ridiculous." I would have to agree.
Here's where I think your critical power analysis goes astray. It stops abruptly at a rather arbitrary point: you rightly question who gets to decide what is legitimate knowledge, and why. But then you go on and uncritically establish that the answer is "you" and "because". Why is your view on legitimate fields of study better than the established view? What gives you the mandate to decide what is worth knowing and what is not, and what is truth and what is not? The weakness of your feminist power critique is that it's a double-edged sword, like all scientific critiques oriented towards relativism. If knowledge is relative, then what gives your perspective weight? The logical conclusion of your argument is that all points of view are "cookie cutter similar" and cannot be discredited by one another, which I believe you have criticized at an earlier point of this discussion. You need to affix your critique to a theoretical framework allowing for a decision regarding what is right and what is not; you need to either establish a methodological approach for dismissing flawed descriptions of reality, or you need to attach a normative standpoint to your argument.

theboombody said:
Our society has totally lost its spirit of intuitive sense. No common sense anymore. Because the instant it's mentioned, someone has to say, "And what makes that sense so common? Can you prove it?" No I can't, and furthermore, I shouldn't have to. I will make no further effort to speak your language than the effort I already make.
Why shouldn't you have to prove your point? I'm genuinely curious. Where would the "common sense" be in uncritically accepting any random statement as truth? Ignore everything else I said if you so wish - but please provide a compelling argument for at least this one question: Why shouldn't you have to?

theboombody said:
I bet somewhere at some point, I could construct a degree program that would finally make you say, "Yeah, okay, if that were a real degree, that would definitely be much easier than the existing ones."
I'll take that challenge. Construct a degree program that conforms to the rules and regulations of existing programs, fulfilling conventional expectations of academic quality. Manage that, while still making it genuinely and qualitatively easier than the other programs, and I will cede the point to you. Heck, as a gesture of good will, I'll even let you pick any country you want as a starting point for your project (since regulations and academic traditions will differ from country to country).
 

Haukur Isleifsson

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I'm going with the "incomparables" crowd. For me math, languages and facts are hard but big theories and concepts are hard. For other people it is completely different. I know doctors who have struggled with sociology courses and engineers who have flunked history. Not because of a lack of interest or dedication but because of a lack of talent. If you want to call those talents they lacked "non-intellectual" than you can. But I'm not going to be taking you seriously if you do.
 

K12

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theboombody said:
Nomad said:
As for work-related injuries, you'd need to specify a country. Some countries include psychological injuries in their statistics, and some do not. Some countries have far-reaching regulations regarding physical work safety, and some do not. A country might display a low amount of work-related injuries simply because of a very strict definition of what a work-related injury is, while another country might display a low amount of work-related injuries because of strict regulations that prevent such injuries. In some countries, work-related injuries will be skewed towards certain kinds of jobs because of how the safety regulations or the working culture and tradition is shaped. This is all a sidetrack, however - I fail to see how it relates to relative academic difficulty in any meaningful way.
"You need to specify this, you need to specify that, you need to prove this, etc. etc." That's all I ever hear on these forums. What you all really mean is, "You have to go by what the current authority calls proof. Any other proof is not acceptable." And this proof is based on the letter of the law (scientific, legal, etc.). I got to admit, you guys are great at following the letter of the law, but for the most part are truly awful at following the spirit of it. You never look at why the law was created. You just look at what it says, and go by it so exactly that common sense is forsaken in order to obey that letter. It is the defining characteristic trait of our generation, and it's beyond embarrassing. That's why a judge can say it's okay for the government to take someone's house because their property tax bill payment was six bucks short due to an oversight.

At some point, somebody somewhere is deciding what is legitimate and what is not. I question what is established as legitimate. You do not. If universities actually had a degree for video gaming, would you question that? No. Because you were told it was a legitimate degree by your authorities. Many existing degree programs should never have been created, but they already have been. Someone on a yahoo article today was like, "There's a PHD program in human resources? That sounds a little ridiculous." I would have to agree.

Our society has totally lost its spirit of intuitive sense. No common sense anymore. Because the instant it's mentioned, someone has to say, "And what makes that sense so common? Can you prove it?" No I can't, and furthermore, I shouldn't have to. I will make no further effort to speak your language than the effort I already make.

I bet somewhere at some point, I could construct a degree program that would finally make you say, "Yeah, okay, if that were a real degree, that would definitely be much easier than the existing ones."
The reason people mistrust based on common sense is because the term basically just means "what makes sense to me" or "what most people think". i.e. either an argument from personal credulity or an argument from popularity.

I don't think it would be impossible to rank degree programmes by how intellectually challenging they are (although it would probably not be much more than a "high" "medium" and "low" bands)


Here would be my experimental paradigm to create this ranking:

Definition of a "highly intellectual course" would be a course where intelligence (measured by IQ) is very highly predictive of success in that course. Basically a more intellectual course where general intelligence is most important.

Pick a cross section of students in the subjects being tested for in a collection of university's in whichever country you are doing this (I'd say either the top ten/twenty rated universities overall or the top-ten/twenty rated universities for each subject)

You'd need to control for things like socio-economic background, time spent studying (with teachers, in groups and alone seperately), available resources and probably some other things to.

They you just see which subject most closely fit the "high IQ ->" prediction and there's your rankings.

Obviously you'd get all the same criticisms that IQ tests get plus a few extra ones but it'd be a doable experiment.

Although fundamentally I have no idea why you'd care.
 

Tarfeather

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K12 said:
Definition of a "highly intellectual course" would be a course where intelligence (measured by IQ) is very highly predictive of success in that course. Basically a more intellectual course where general intelligence is most important.
My IQ is below average, but my grades in maths have always been far above average with little to no practice. Don't put too much faith into the IQ. ^^'
 

K12

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Tarfeather said:
K12 said:
Definition of a "highly intellectual course" would be a course where intelligence (measured by IQ) is very highly predictive of success in that course. Basically a more intellectual course where general intelligence is most important.
My IQ is below average, but my grades in maths have always been far above average with little to no practice. Don't put too much faith into the IQ. ^^'
I don't put that much faith in IQ but if you want to have a general measure of intelligence that you can make comparisons with then you pretty much have to use it. I think this whole endeavour is stupid but if anyone wants to go through with I think that measuring against IQ is the only way I can think for judging how "intellectually demanding" a course is.

Later on in my earlier comment I said that my paradigm would get all the same criticism as IQ plus some extra. I didn't list the criticisms because the comment was long anyway but I'm well aware of them.
 

Nomad

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K12 said:
Here would be my experimental paradigm to create this ranking:

Definition of a "highly intellectual course" would be a course where intelligence (measured by IQ) is very highly predictive of success in that course. Basically a more intellectual course where general intelligence is most important.

Pick a cross section of students in the subjects being tested for in a collection of university's in whichever country you are doing this (I'd say either the top ten/twenty rated universities overall or the top-ten/twenty rated universities for each subject)

You'd need to control for things like socio-economic background, time spent studying (with teachers, in groups and alone seperately), available resources and probably some other things to.

They you just see which subject most closely fit the "high IQ ->" prediction and there's your rankings.

Obviously you'd get all the same criticisms that IQ tests get plus a few extra ones but it'd be a doable experiment.

Although fundamentally I have no idea why you'd care.
This is an interesting proposition, but my main problem with it lies in the bolded part. There are too many sources of error to control for, and for some of them it's just not even practically possible. It would be a simply massive undertaking, requiring an experimental design in order to guarantee a reasonable measure of validity - and even then, you'd still have enormous problems with some of the relevant factors.

Time spent studying, for instance - you'd have to either monitor students 24/7, or have them input their own time spent. The latter is what is conventionally done in course evaluations, and the results are horribly shaky - either the students don't actually keep track of how much time is spent, or they basically lie about it (in both directions - and not always on purpose!). Then add the fact that "time spent" is a fuzzy concept - if I think about a course assignment while cooking, does that count as studying? There could be any number of answers to that question alone. While none of these issues are damning, consider that they are all tied to one single factor you need to control for.
Tarfeather said:
My IQ is below average, but my grades in maths have always been far above average with little to no practice. Don't put too much faith into the IQ. ^^'
This is not a valid criticism against IQ as a concept, because it does not claim that high IQ invariably leads to high math performance and vice versa. What the concept does claim is that there is a strong correlation between the G-factor [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)] (measured by IQ - which is a scale, like in the metric system) and performance at various cognitive tasks. The concept is ironclad. The correlation is there, and it is strong. It does not imply that a strong G-factor (high IQ) guarantees academic performance or vice versa. That's not how correlations work, unless they're r=1. For reference, the strongest correlations between G and performance are around r=0.8.
 

theboombody

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Nomad said:
I'll take that challenge. Construct a degree program that conforms to the rules and regulations of existing programs, fulfilling conventional expectations of academic quality. Manage that, while still making it genuinely and qualitatively easier than the other programs, and I will cede the point to you. Heck, as a gesture of good will, I'll even let you pick any country you want as a starting point for your project (since regulations and academic traditions will differ from country to country).
I didn't say I'd conform to existing rules and regulations. I'm not about rules. I'm about common sense. There are many rules out there in this world that are based on common sense, and many that are not.

I'm not playing by your rules. Instead I WILL say that if I construct a degree program called, "Operating a cell phone" then that degree program is a farce. Regardless of whether I go by the rules and regulations of existing programs.

Interesting you chose the term conventional. I could brow beat you forever on what that term means, but that's the style of many others in the forum, not mine. As far as I can tell, conventional means common sense. I could also brow beat you as to what expectations and quality mean and to define them and cite sources and all that BS. But that's a tactic you guys use. If I get the idea, I don't care about the semantics or the references. Many of you guys like to ignore the idea and focus only on the semantics. I don't like to do that. It's too much like a scumbag lawyer finding ways to defend an even worse scumbag to me.

I do digress to other ideas obviously, but that's not the same as browbeating somebody over what a stupid term means.
 

theboombody

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And Man said:
If we're talking undergrad, then the hardest are Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. It can be argued which is harder between the two.

If we're talking Doctorate level, then everything is hard
Finally, someone who sees the obvious, and doesn't just automatically jump to calling everything equal right off the bat. That's what I can't stand, even though I wanted to see how many people would say it.
 

Nomad

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theboombody said:
I didn't say I'd conform to existing rules and regulations. I'm not about rules. I'm about common sense. There are many rules out there in this world that are based on common sense, and many that are not.

I'm not playing by your rules. Instead I WILL say that if I construct a degree program called, "Operating a cell phone" then that degree program is a farce. Regardless of whether I go by the rules and regulations of existing programs.
Prove the bolded part by doing it. If you disregard the the rules of the game, then your statement becomes tautological - of course you can put together an easy program if you throw all requirements of stringency out the window. If I wasn't constrained by gravity, I would be able to fly.
theboombody said:
Interesting you chose the term conventional. I could brow beat you forever on what that term means, but that's the style of many others in the forum, not mine. As far as I can tell, conventional means common sense. I could also brow beat you as to what expectations and quality mean and to define them and cite sources and all that BS. But that's a tactic you guys use. If I get the idea, I don't care about the semantics or the references. Many of you guys like to ignore the idea and focus only on the semantics. I don't like to do that. It's too much like a scumbag lawyer finding ways to defend an even worse scumbag to me.

I do digress to other ideas obviously, but that's not the same as browbeating somebody over what a stupid term means.
Let's review what "conventional" means, then, since you brought it up:
Merriam Webster said:
Full Definition of CONVENTIONAL
1
: formed by agreement or compact

2
a : according with, sanctioned by, or based on convention
b : lacking originality or individuality : trite
c (1) : ordinary, commonplace (2) : nonnuclear 1

3
a : according with a mode of artistic representation that simplifies or provides symbols or substitutes for natural forms
b : of traditional design

4
: of, resembling, or relating to a convention, assembly, or public meeting
There's absolutely nothing about common sense in there, and especially nothing about your idea of common sense. Because the thing is that there's nothing common about your sense of common sense. It is, in fact, very specific for you.

I am also puzzled by how you're putting forth an argument in one breath, and then say you won't do just that in the next breath. Clearly you intended to "brow beat" me with the definition of "conventional": you attempted to do so in the starting two sentences of that paragraph, and then continued on by attempting to do so over "expectations" and "quality". That's tantamount to me saying "I could quote Merriam Webster's definition of conventional, but I won't" - when I clearly just did.

Frankly, you're the only one I've seen who's gotten hung up on semantics so far. There's a difference between discussing a term and discussing a concept, especially when the latter is a baseline requirement to build a common idea of what is being discussed.

As an aside, I would still like you to respond to the main question I posed before: Why shouldn't you have to prove your point? I am genuinely interested. How do you think we should determine what is true and what is not, if we can't defer to empirical testing or intersubjective perceptions?

I'd also appreciate it if you could pick up on all (or even a couple) of the points I put forward to you, rather than just consistently picking out the least relevant part. I kind of feel like I'm arguing against the wind here - whatever I say appears to just blow straight past the recipient. It's a little frustrating, because I genuinely think this is a very interesting topic of conversation, and there's a lot of wasted potential for a fruitful debate here.

theboombody said:
Finally, someone who sees the obvious, and doesn't just automatically jump to calling everything equal right off the bat. That's what I can't stand, even though I wanted to see how many people would say it.
Again, noone is saying everything is equal. What we're saying is that everything is different and uncomparable. Furthermore - what you consider obvious is obviously not obvious, since most people obviously don't agree. That much is obvious.
 

theboombody

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Nomad said:
As an aside, I would still like you to respond to the main question I posed before: Why shouldn't you have to prove your point? I am genuinely interested. How do you think we should determine what is true and what is not, if we can't defer to empirical testing or intersubjective perceptions?
As much as I like to argue, even I don't want to spend that much time doing it.

Proof is only for someone who wants to convince, not for someone who wants to plant seeds of doubt. I like to dwell on unprovable truths and unprovable falsehoods, since they're so very close that they might as well be the same.
 

Nomad

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theboombody said:
As much as I like to argue, even I don't want to spend that much time doing it.
A follow-up question, then: why do you start discussions (and even sub-discussions) if you're not interested in participating fully in them?

theboombody said:
Proof is only for someone who wants to convince, not for someone who wants to plant seeds of doubt. I like to dwell on unprovable truths and unprovable falsehoods, since they're so very close that they might as well be the same.
You're not planting seeds of doubt by tossing out random, baseless statements, though. They'd have to be either empirically grounded or logically coherent for that to work - or better yet, they'd have to point out logical incoherence in the opposing argument. Simply claiming something does not make it so.

Putting aside the fact that the concepts of "unprovable truths" and "unprovable falsehoods" generate a Schrödinger's cat-situation (oh look, quantum mechanics!), that kind of thinking and focus also generate the kind of "cookie cutter similarity" that you're criticizing. What makes you sure the "unprovable truth" you put forward is more true than the "unprovable truth" (or the provable one, for that matter) someone else puts forward? You're claiming that you're right and we're wrong - and that it's obviously so, even, but you simultaneously claim that there is no way to prove this (making the truth potential of both stances equal - and yes, this time equality is actually on the table).

Can you provide one good reason not to just dismiss your claims outright?
 

theboombody

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Nomad said:
theboombody said:
As much as I like to argue, even I don't want to spend that much time doing it.
A follow-up question, then: why do you start discussions (and even sub-discussions) if you're not interested in participating fully in them?

theboombody said:
Proof is only for someone who wants to convince, not for someone who wants to plant seeds of doubt. I like to dwell on unprovable truths and unprovable falsehoods, since they're so very close that they might as well be the same.
You're not planting seeds of doubt by tossing out random, baseless statements, though. They'd have to be either empirically grounded or logically coherent for that to work - or better yet, they'd have to point out logical incoherence in the opposing argument. Simply claiming something does not make it so.

Putting aside the fact that the concepts of "unprovable truths" and "unprovable falsehoods" generate a Schrödinger's cat-situation (oh look, quantum mechanics!), that kind of thinking and focus also generate the kind of "cookie cutter similarity" that you're criticizing. What makes you sure the "unprovable truth" you put forward is more true than the "unprovable truth" (or the provable one, for that matter) someone else puts forward? You're claiming that you're right and we're wrong - and that it's obviously so, even, but you simultaneously claim that there is no way to prove this (making the truth potential of both stances equal - and yes, this time equality is actually on the table).

Can you provide one good reason not to just dismiss your claims outright?
Reason and coherence are overrated. I'm bored. You can have the last word. Just for fun, see if you can make it shorter than my post.
 

Axolotl

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theboombody said:
Yeah, but the consequences of a wrong historic theory aren't as drastic as the consequences of an incorrect program. If your program is typed in incorrectly it won't work at all. At least if your theory in history is off a little bit, you won't lose your job. At least I'd hope you wouldn't.
The real life consequences of histories being wrong include genocide. Now a program not working is serious business but not that serious.
 

viscomica

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Johnny Novgorod said:
theboombody said:
Yeah, but pure math sometimes makes you wonder why you're doing it.
EVERY career makes you wonder why you're doing it at some point.
Not law :p It's pretty straight-forward. And you know you want to be a lawyer from the get go.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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viscomica said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
theboombody said:
Yeah, but pure math sometimes makes you wonder why you're doing it.
EVERY career makes you wonder why you're doing it at some point.
Not law :p It's pretty straight-forward. And you know you want to be a lawyer from the get go.
I dunno panda, a classmate of mine dropped law school to go to film school. Straightforward career doesn't necessarily mean straightforward person. Surely you've lost a classmate or five since you started law school?
 

viscomica

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Johnny Novgorod said:
viscomica said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
theboombody said:
Yeah, but pure math sometimes makes you wonder why you're doing it.
EVERY career makes you wonder why you're doing it at some point.
Not law :p It's pretty straight-forward. And you know you want to be a lawyer from the get go.
I dunno panda, a classmate of mine dropped law school to go to film school. Straightforward career doesn't necessarily mean straightforward person. Surely you've lost a classmate or five since you started law school?
Nope. We actually don't have the same classes with the same people you decide which courses to take and in which order. With the massive student population my university has it's very unlikely to run into the same people twice. My university mates and I know each other from first year of college though! And I reckon the drop out curve is lower than in other careers.