Are sciences harder than humanities? (Yes or No?)

In this article we will discuss the frequent debate ”Are the sciences more difficult than the humanities?”. Check the differences between these two fields and why people choose to glorify science.

Are sciences harder than humanities?

Studying science seems to be more difficult than the humanities, but that involves different factors such as: class hours, topics and motivation. Studying sciences (mathematics, physics, etc) is difficult, but humanities (literature, economy, sociology…) are a labor, too. 

The sciences have always been considered harder than humanities, I guess this is because there are so many of them and all the information that must be memorized, but are they really more difficult?

Science subjects, known as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), are in fashion And yet, institutions as prestigious as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), point out that many of the engineering projects fail because they don’t take sufficient account of the social and cultural contexts in which these projects will be applied.

Similarly, a study by Michigan State University has established a direct relationship between successful students in STEM university careers and their first school education rich in subjects such as music, art, literature or history.

In an increasingly technological society, should we prioritize an education in the sciences over the humanities?

But, what are STEM careers and why are they considered more difficult?

The word STEM is an acronym for the following words: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. So we could say that STEM careers are those that are related to the following areas of knowledge:

  • Science (Science).
  • Technology (Technology).
  • Engineering (Engineering).
  • Mathematics

Within these four branches of knowledge there are an infinity of university careers, ranging from Nanoscience to Aeronautics, through Web application development or Medicine.

Think for a moment, what careers you know that could fall within the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. Surely many have come to mind, and we could all classify them as STEM careers. Here are some examples of some of what are considered STEM careers:

  • Science: Biotechnology, Medicine, Nursing, Genetics, Chemistry or Physics among others.
  • Technology: Informatics, Telecommunications, Robotics, Software, etc.
  • Engineering: Naval Engineering, Public Works, Electronics, Architecture.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, Systems Analysis, Physics.

We could say that all these careers are the best known by society, but the truth is that new disciplines are currently emerging trying to respond to the new demands of companies and today’s society.

The new STEM degrees are related to data processing (Big Data), virtual reality and augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), Bioinformatics, etc.

Why are STEM careers the most demanded by companies?

Every day more and more job offers related to STEM disciplines are published, and many of these are left unfilled. But why are STEM careers so in demand by companies?

We live in the Information Age, and it’s normal that the demand for technical profiles has grown in recent years. Companies increasingly need these types of professionals, but the education system doesn’t seem to provide enough graduates in these types of disciplines to meet the demand.

This is why many important companies, both in the USA and globally, are hiring professionals of other profiles and training them internally in specific subjects in order to respond to the consumer demands of society.

Think that every day we use more automated resources, we consume more apps, we cure ourselves with nanotechnology, implants and chips.

Our society increasingly consumes more and faster technological products and services, designed and produced by professionals with scientific and technical profiles, that is, graduates in STEM careers, so everything seems to indicate that the demand for these professionals will increase exponentially in the next years.

What skills do I need to study a STEM career?

Without a doubt, students of these STEM careers should feel a certain attraction to science and technology. From there, to study this type of degree, it would be convenient for you to have the following skills or aptitudes:

  • Analytical skills, it’s necessary to investigate a topic, develop a project and draw conclusions from the results of the investigation.
  • Mathematical skills will help you with calculations, formulas and measurements, keys in this type of career.
  • Scientific skills, which will help you to be able to break down a complex system into smaller parts, recognize cause and effect relationships, and defend opinions using facts.
  • Technical skills, when the time comes, apply your theoretical knowledge to reality.
  • Ability to collaborate and work as a team, which will allow you to work hand in hand with other professionals and be able to carry out the project you are working on together.
  •  Creativity, which will allow you to solve problems and develop new ideas.

What are Humanities careers and why are they considered less difficult?

When choosing what to study, young people usually opt for technical careers or studies related to Engineering and Technology. People considered humanities “boring” or “Literature Careers’’.

The world is evolving towards the STEM disciplines, and with this advance, a myth has developed that affirms that only those who choose this type of university careers will be able to ensure their employability in the future.

Despite this belief, the area considered traditionally opposed to STEM also grows accompanying the advancement of these careers: the Humanities are increasingly in demand by technology companies.

Humanities study the development of human beings, their behavior, their culture and their evolution over time. Choosing one of these careers implies understanding the history and progress of the human being in all its dimensions.

The most traditional humanities majors are:

  • Literature
  • Economy
  • History
  • Art (music, plastic arts, dance, fine arts, theater and cinematography)
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy
  • Translation and interpretation

Applicants to study arts and humanities careers must possess very specific aptitudes and abilities, among which are:

  • Creative and problem-solving skills
  • Skill and manual dexterity.
  • Taste for research.
  • Abstract thinking and spatial relationships.
  • Good use of language and spelling.
  • Linguistic ability.
  • Development of intrapersonal intelligence.

Where do Humanities graduates work?

The crisis in the humanities has been occurring since science began to mark ground and automate us as machines; the labor field of humanists has been strongly reduced.

However, the humanities with the ‘’perfection’’ of technology and the approach to more cultural spaces, has opened spaces in museums, art galleries, book publishers, where young people and adults concentrate in search of a little culture and a little of information from the past to fill your mind with something other than the modernity that rolls it.}

The professional with a degree in humanities can easily serve as a professor at any university in the world. The most prominent humanist researchers still publish famous and award-winning works that recall the best times of past humanist studies.

Are there university degrees more difficult than others?

Despite being a widely debated issue and a recurring topic of conversation, especially among students, the question: What are the most difficult university majors? It doesn’t really have an answer, as there are no rigorous scientific studies to prove it.

Yes, it’s true that there is a more or less generalized perception that the most difficult careers are in science. Engineering would be included in this group, especially some of them such as telecommunications, aerospace or aeronautics, and also physics or mathematics.

Without empirical arguments, it only remains to resort to subjective surveys and opinions. In addition, the difficulty of a career has a lot to do with factors such as the level of demand of teachers, and this can vary greatly depending on the country and between one faculty and another.

The arguments of those in favor of placing these degrees in the leading positions in terms of difficulty is that they require the understanding of complex concepts, often related to mathematics. A subject that, for some reasons, causes serious learning difficulties in a high percentage of students.

Sometimes, the fact of dedicating exclusively to a career that has more hours of classes and practices, causes many people to point to STEM as difficult careers (especially Medicine).

However, STEM doesn’t have to be horrible. The nuances of mathematics can be unpleasant when taught in certain ways, but really, they are based only on concepts. When the student gains confidence, he can do everything correctly in a short time.

For example, once a student understands a material (equations, formulas), they can solve a physics problem in no time. Even the most desperate problems can be solved after several attempts, until the concept is grasped.

However, a language student will rarely be asked to prove understanding through a memorized formula or easy multiple-choice answers. They are likely to be asked for an essay written by themselves, an activity so underrated that even engineers are not even required to take.

The question of personal skills

Above beliefs, stereotypes and opinions, the truth is that each person has their own abilities and facility for certain subjects.

There are students who excel more in memorization and others, on the contrary, are better at numbers. For this reason it is tremendously unfair to speak of easy or difficult careers or subjects, since the very concept of difficulty varies from student to student.

Finally, we come across the issue of motivation. A student, who is really interested in passing a certain university degree because he really likes it and considers it essential for future, will be able to pass the different tests, even in subjects that are difficult for them.

And the exact opposite can also happen: if a student is forced to study something for which doesn’t feel motivation or sufficient interest, it’s very possible that their academic performance is not satisfactory.

So, are sciences harder than humanities?

Yes, studying mathematics, physics and all the hard sciences is an effort, a labor. But it’s also a labor reading a complete novel in a few days, doing literary analysis, knowing history, to put together economic models or even to be able to carry out a production as big as a theatre performance.

Creativity, self-improvement, capacity for analysis, effectiveness in problem solving, research, debate, reflection, collaboration, empathy … are not skills that depend solely on scientific knowledge.

The purpose of education shouldn’t just be to train productive people for society. In our opinion, the purpose of education is to train people with the ability to manage their lives in a healthy physical and mental way, so it allows them to achieve their own personal goals and those of the society in which they are integrated.

Faced with the concrete, specific, exact, absolute, empirical that science implies, it shouldn’t be opposed, instead, complement the more global, social, relative and even random vision of the humanities.

In this article we discussed the frequent debate ”Are the sciences more difficult than the humanities?”. Checked the differences between these two fields and why people choose to glorify science.

We celebrate knowledge! And for you, is science or humanities more difficult?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

FAQS: Are sciences harder than humanities?

Which is harder math or science?

Science can be more difficult. For mathematics you need a logical mind, and in science you need both a logical and a practical mind.

Why science is the most difficult subject?

Science is difficult because it is abstract and involves logical and practical chains of arguments, concepts, theories, experiments, and results.

How is Humanities different from science?

Science studies the natural world and its properties, while humanities studies the inner world of individuals and society.

Which science is the hardest?

Chemistry, according to students, is the most difficult science. Since it combines the content of biology, mathematics and physics.

What is the toughest degree in the world?

The toughest courses in the world are:
Chartered Accountancy.


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Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Melton, M. (2011). STEM: Science Technology Engineering Mathematics. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Larivière, V., Archambault, É., Gingras, Y., & Vignola‐Gagné, É. (2006). The place of serials in referencing practices: Comparing natural sciences and engineering with social sciences and humanities. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(8), 997-1004.

Slingerland, E. (2008). What science offers the humanities: Integrating body and culture.