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Despite being in a laid back city, (not to mention the beach which is a stone throw away from campus), UCSD stands as one of the most academically challenging public universities in the country. We may have sunny blue skies but it’s not all fun and games. UCSD offers many hard courses. However, this is only an opinion which may vary from student to student depending on your major and college, your interests, and especially your professor. Here are 10 of the Hardest Classes at UCSD.

1. The Making of The Modern World (MMW) series

M.M.W. Say these letters to any ERC student and you’re bound to ruin their day. Making of The Modern World is a mandatory 5 course series for ERC kids. In essence, it’s the combination of History, Literature, and Philosophy. Ultimately, it is a writing course and UCSD students know that writing courses are a GPA killer. I am personally a history buff but the amount of reading, writing and research nearly killed me. One advice to future ERC comrades: Choose a good professor or you’re setting yourself on the trail of misery.


2. CSE 20: Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science

In general, many CSE courses are extremely gruelling with less than 12% of the class getting A’s.

3. ECON 100A

The exams aren’t exactly impossible but if you are not willing to put in the time and effort, this isn’t the class for you. Miss lectures = don’t even dream about passing this course. ECON 100A is a Microeconomics course which means a strong understanding and foundation in calculus is required.


4. ECE 107: Electromagnetism

Everybody knows that UCSD’s quarter system zooms past real quickly. ECE 107 has way too many topics to be covered in such a short amount of time which makes it an extremely intense course. Vector math seeps in throughout the course so, be ready to love it if you haven’t already done so.


5. ECE 100: Electronic Systems Lab

Exams are horrifying which result in a crazy high number of students failing the course.



6. CHIN 10A, B, C, (non-native speakers)

Learning a foreign language isn’t always going to be easy. The Chinese 10 series is known for being time consuming especially if you are starting out with absolutely 0 background in Chinese. You’ll be given dictations (spelling tests) once or twice a week which means you’ll have to practice writing Chinese characters everyday. On top of that, you’ll also have quizzes which are usually biweekly and since Chinese is a tonal language, it takes awhile to get a good grasp of speaking the language. This course is curved and contrary to popular belief, many students hate the curve and it’s because many many students (especially in their first quarter) will get high 90s which pulls the curve up so high that the 80s could mean a C.

7 Math 20A,B,C: Calculus for STEM majors

Although the Math 20 series is taken by a huge number of students, it still remains as one of the most difficult courses. Many complained that the final exams ruined their entire grade. Although discussions are usually not mandatory unless stated, you better not slack off if you want a decent grade. Students usually spend 10-14 hours revising.


8. Math 20E: Vector Calculus

What’s harder than Math 20A, B, and C? Math 20E of course!


9. Math 140A, B, C: Foundations of Real Analysis

This math course is a rigorous three-quarter sequence which focuses on proof and theory. This series is comparable to an honors program series at several other universities hence, standing out as one of the most challenging but interesting math courses at UCSD.


10. CHEM 140A, B, C: Organic Chemistry

Most STEM majors can agree with me on this one, that OCHEM is arguably the toughest Science class ever. The amount of workload in this course is simply gut wrenching and not for the faint hearted.



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