Is Biology a Hard Major?

Biology is a STEM major and a popular subject, particularly among pre-med students. The article takes a look at how hard biology is and whether it is a good choice for you.

Read on to understand what it takes to pursue a biology major.

Is Biology a Hard Major?

Biology is certainly a hard major but not quite as difficult as other STEM majors such as physics or chemistry. Most students find a biology degree difficult to pursue because it has an extensive syllabus, lots of lab work, several challenging concepts, unfamiliar vocabulary, and lots of things to memorize.

Biology is the study of living organisms, their functions, and their characteristics. A biology major incorporates regular classes with lab work and research-based projects which makes it a much more difficult major.

Biology degrees are known to have some of the most extensive and lengthy courses. During your major, you will be expected to take several foundational biology and chemistry classes. You will also enrol yourself for a few maths and physics courses such as biophysics and calculus.

Moreover, you will have to cover a plethora of topics including but not limited to anatomy, biochemistry, botany, cell biology, ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, and marine biology.

In organisms, the different living systems are highly interconnected. As a result, you must have a holistic understanding of the various living systems to comprehend the effect they exert on one another. At the same time, you must also know the nitty-gritty of the numerous biology topics to know what is really going on in an organism.

The study of biology is not limited to the classroom only; you must also master your lab and research skills. You will need to familiarize yourself with the different lab equipment. Biology practicals have a reputation for being complex and difficult. Preparing lab reports is an essential skill that biology students must also develop.

Biology is an easier major as compared to other STEM degrees. Physics and chemistry consist of complex mathematics, require higher-level critical thinking skills, and have more difficult concepts to learn.

Regurgitation, minimal analysis, and basic math skills can take you quite far in a biology major. In other STEM majors not so much. However, compared to all the other degrees available today, biology finds itself in the list of the hardest majors.

One of the reasons a biology major is so difficult is because of the competitiveness of the program. A large number of pre-med students take biology to fulfil their prerequisites.

Students studying medicine are known to be some of the most hardworking, talented, intelligent, and disciplined people. Students like these enable the biology professors to increase the difficulty of their courses, which results in an overall tough biology major.

Is maths harder than biology?

Maths is certainly harder than biology. However, biology is not an easy major either. Maths is a highly abstract subject, requires strong analytical skills, and is difficult to understand. Biology is not as difficult to comprehend nor do you require very strong analytical skills.

Is chemistry or biology harder?

Chemistry is harder than biology. Chemistry is a harder major because it is more math-intensive and has a greater number of challenging concepts. Memorizing can take you quite far in biology, but not so much in chemistry. In chemistry, you need to understand and critically analyse the underlying principles to get good grades.

How Hard is a Biology Major?

A biology major is quite hard. Most biology courses are lengthy, complex, and have lots of unfamiliar concepts and vocabulary. The difficulty of a biology major depends on the compulsory core courses offered by your college, the advanced courses you choose, and how competitive your university is in general.

A biology major usually requires 10-15 core courses. Other than that, you will also need to take several general electives and advanced courses in order to graduate.

Typically a biology major has the following core courses:

  • Introductory Biology: Cell and Development Biology
  • Introductory Biology: Comparative Physiology
  • Introductory Biology: Ecology and the Environment
  • Investigative Biology Laboratory
  • An Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Diversity
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II
  • Calculus I
  • Statistics
  • Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry
  • General Physics I
  • General Physics II
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Principles of Biochemistry

As you can see for yourself, most of the core courses in a biology major are introductory in nature. Not only will you be introduced to biology but also chemistry, physics, and maths.

The maths required in biology is not particularly difficult. Apart from a Calculus and Stats course, maths in other classes is quite easy. Most students have no issue with the level of maths needed to pursue a biology degree.

However, students do struggle with other parts of a biology major. The sheer volume of unfamiliar information and new terms can be overpowering. Developing a holistic understanding of all the processes and the efforts they exert on one another is another big challenge.

After fulfilling the core requirements, students will have a lot of options to choose from. General electives are essentially GPA boosters and you should use them as such. These relatively easy courses should be selected based on your interests and strengths.

Finally, the advanced courses are those classes that your faculty requires you to study before you can graduate. These lessons are quite complex and theoretical. Most of the advanced courses are taught in the junior and senior years of university and they should be selected based on what you intend to do in the future.

You can make your degree easier or harder based on the advanced courses you select. For instance, if you were to take courses like advanced cell and molecular biology, quantitative chemical analysis, and comparative vertebrate anatomy then you should not blame biology for being an extremely tough major. Those were choices you made!

The difficulty of your degree also depends on your universities’ reputation. Renowned universities tend to attract the brightest students. Professors are forced to make the classes competitive in such institutions as it is not possible to hand out an A grade to everyone.

Is Biology Just Memorization?

Biology is not just memorization, especially at the graduate or doctoral level. In high school and during introductory classes at university, biology may seem like sole memorization. This is because biology is a very broad and interconnected field; you must learn the basics of all the living systems before you can understand them in detail.

Why is Biology so hard?

Biology is so hard because of the massive syllabus, highly complicated interactions between various living systems, and unfamiliar terms and concepts. Many students find biology difficult because it requires a broad perspective as well as in-depth knowledge.


Biology is a great major especially if you are planning to study medicine. The fact that biology is a STEM field reveals a lot about its difficulty. Still, compared to other STEM majors, biology is a slightly easier degree.

Overall, most students struggle with biology, but this can be overcome. Regular revision and practice are great tools to subdue any difficulty you face while studying biology. If you are passionate about biology then studying for it will be much easier. Whichever degree you decide to go for, make sure it is a well thought out decision. Good Luck!