If you are currently USC student, make sure to put extra efforts and time in these courses. Bases on student’s opinions, these are 10 of the Hardest Classes at USC!

1. ECON 351 – Intermediate Microeconomics

If you’re a business student, or aspiring business student, expect ECON 351 to be in your future–there’s no getting out of it. In fact, USC requires that every BUAD/pre-BUAD student pass this class in order to graduate with the degree. What makes this class so hard, is that it’s at an intermediate level, which means that while your AP Micro experience may help, you’ll still be in for a bit of a challenge. But not to fear! Being that this is one of the business school’s most challenging courses, the school offers free tutoring sessions.

2. BUAD 304 – Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Two words: group projects. That phrase alone probably makes you quiver in your boots. This class is also a requirement for business students at USC, and fortunately, most of them live to tell the tale. What makes this class so hard is that at least 40% of your grade will depend on your teammates. That includes HW peer evaluations, project evaluations, team case HW, and a team case analysis project. So yeah, a lot of projects, and a lot of relying on other people’s work ethic for a good grade.

Taking the courses? Get the complete and comprehensive study guide here.

3. CHEM 322A – Organic Chemistry

If you’ve you heard it once, you’ve heard it before: O-chem is hard. Now did that statement make sense? Eh, a little. But was it confusing as all heck? For sure, and that’s exactly what sitting in an O-chem lecture feels like. Schools across the country will cite O-chem as one of their hardest courses, and USC is no exception. This class is notorious for weeding out the pre-med hopefuls, but if you pass it, you’ll probably go on to do great things.

4. CSCI 109 – Introduction to Computer Science

You didn’t think a computing class wouldn’t be on this list, did you? As the name suggests, CSCI 109 is the “introductory” class to the compsci track. If you’re new to coding, this class might be a challenge for you because it moves fast, and waits for no one–like a WoW fanatic at BlizzCon. Stereotypical compsci-nerd jokes aside, despite this being a class for beginners, a lot of the students in the class will have already had some experience coding, and you might feel a little out of place because of it. Also, this class has had some notoriously bad professors who teach from books they write. But if compsci is your passion (or if you wanna make serious bank), don’t let these setbacks stop you. Take the class pass/fail if your major allows it.

5. Physics 152L – Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism

This course is the second in the series of physics courses that all engineering majors have to take. It’s reportedly the hardest course in the series, but by the end of it you’ll be able to calculate the acceleration of almost anything. The good news is, you’ll understand the many, many physics puns floating around on the internet to cheer yourself up.

6. IR 210 – Introductory Theory and Analysis in International Relations

Theory. Lots and lots of theory. The point of the class is to get you to think critically about different aspects of IR like war, human rights, globalization, etc. Basically, this class serves to give you the tools to save the world, and as such, is necessarily difficult. This is more than just a basic policy class. You will be pushed to your mental limits and forced to expand your mindset to think from a global perspective. For an introductory course, it’s fairly demanding, but if you do it right, the results could really pay off for all of us.

Taking the courses? Get the complete and comprehensive study guide here.

7. BISC 220 – General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology

Another “harder than it needs to be, in an introductory course’s clothing” type of class. If you traverse the internet instead of studying (like you are right now), you will find horror stories about this class. Bio 220 is the second intro course to biology, and another weed-out course for med school hopefuls. The average score is a reported 65% and tests often get curved to a C. Obviously, the professors are stingy with their A’s. In fact, a few years ago one student claimed his 220 professor told his students that they needed to study for 8 hours per lecture to get an A. Legend has it, that that student is still studying Bio 220 till this day.

8. MATH 225 – Linear Algebra and LInear Differential Equations

Matrices, vectors, transformations, and whatever the heck eigenvalues are…sounds fun right? DiffEQ is the bane of every math major’s life, and they’re math majors! If you’re not good with equations, modeling, and graphing, then you might find the class a bit challenging. The bad news is, that the sequence only gets harder as it continues, so if you struggle with this one, you might struggle in the next one. Fortunately, tutoring services are available for this course. As are therapy dogs for anxiety, should you ever need them (spoiler alert: you will).

9. CHEM 430a – Physical Chemistry

And the hits just keep on coming from the Chem department! Consider Physical Chemistry as the love child of physics and chemistry. If that doesn’t grind your gears, it’s probably because your calculated rotational velocity is off. CHEM 430 specifically studies life sciences, and tackles exciting topics like chemical equilibria, spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics. Due to its subject matter and status as an upper-division course, the class is just hard in nature. But chances are, if you made it this far in the sequence, you already know what to expect.

10. ARLT 100g – Arts and Letters


Plot twist, huh? Yes, it’s a humanities course, and yes it’s 1xx level course, but you also have to write. A LOT. And critically too. In this class, you analyze works from various sources of literature, philosophy, music, etc. The class is intense in its reading and writing expectations, because its goal is to make you a better writer. However, because writing is so subjective, getting a good grade can be a hit or miss with professors.

Taking the courses? Get the complete and comprehensive study guide here.


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