I feel like grad students want any reason to boast about being a grad student. We really want people to know how tough things are, why we are superior, and why grad students are better than undergrads. But is grad school harder than undergrad and is our struggle actually justifiable? Well, today I want to cover this topic and why I think that grad school can be harder than undergrad and also why it isn’t as bad as undergrad. Also, at the end, I’ll share a grad school meme with you. But promise me that you will read a little bit of this post before going directly to the mem. Anyway, let’s get into the super exciting, and super informative topic of….IS GRAD SCHOOL HARDER THAN UNDERGRAD?????????
Is A Master’s harder than Undergrad?
You might be asking this question as you start your grad school journey. You may have heard horror stories about grad school and how difficult it is. Yes, grad school can be pretty difficult but it can also be a cake walk. If you are one that is going into a master’s program, you will most definitely get into some very difficult concepts. For me, I went from undergrad engineering into a master’s in engineering. Was there a difference in material? Not really. Was it harder than undergrad? Absolutely not. In fact, my master’s was much easier than undergrad because I was taking the same classes I took before.
This is not always the case. You may get into a master’s program that has some pretty tough coursework. The main reason it is tough is because you will be learning about stuff that you may not have ever learned before. Many of your undergrad courses dealt with topics that covered a ton of subjects but didn’t dive too deep into one field. In a master’s program, you start learning more about one or two subjects in depth. This will bring up some very complex ideas and concepts that only a few people in the world have mastered. You get to learn about that and try and master it yourself! That is where things can get more difficult.
So is it harder than undergrad?
So, if you were to ask me if a master’s was more difficult than undergrad, I would say it really depends on what you got your BS degree in. If it was in something like engineering, a master’s is just a continuation and even easier than undergrad. If you are getting a master’s in finance and only took business classes in undergrad then yes, a master’s is going to be difficult. This is because you are diving deep into subjects that you barely covered in undergrad.
Is A PhD harder than Undergrad?
A PhD is just hard. It doesn’t come down to the concepts or the course load. It is hard because it is a mental stressor that will take you places that are pretty depressing. But more about that later. If you want to look at coursework then I would say a PhD is harder than undergrad. You are taking classes that are hyper-focused on the subject in which you are doing your thesis on. You may have to take multiple classes on very tough topics that are taught by professors that are the only people that can decipher the text book. Will you fail the classes? Probably not. Yes, you learn some very difficult concepts but you are not going to fail any class that you take. If you do then either something happened that semester in which you were not able to do the work or you tried really hard to fail.
So what’s harder? A PhD or undergrad?
The course work and work load are pretty rigorous but you learn quickly on how to make them less strenuous. The part that really makes a PhD harder than undergrad is the time spent with your thoughts. The beauty about undergrad is you have a ton going on, all of the time. You are probably taking 4 classes, going out each night, hanging with people, joining clubs, you get the picture. In a PhD program, you can do a lot of things but they will mostly be towards your research. You won’t be as active as you were in undergrad and you will spend a great amount of time by yourself. Not only by yourself, but by yourself in thoughts too. See, there are very few people you can go to for help with your research. You are on your own and that’s lonely. I truly believe this makes a PhD harder than undergrad. In undergrad, when you got stumped on a problem, you just looked at the back of the book. There is no “back of the book” in a PhD, because the problems are unique to your research.
Is Undergrad Harder than Grad School?
So, I had to put this in here as well. There may be someone tat types in “is undergrad harder than grad school?” I don’t know why they would, but I am sure someone will. Undergrad, in my opinion was hard because it was such a life transition for me and so many others. It is the first time you really live somewhere by yourself. You will feel alone, homesick, happy, sad, overwhelmed, all at once. It can be scary and the best experience all at once.
You won’t be taking high school courses anymore. This means you actually have to study for exams and A’s are not given out unless you work for them. Undergrad, especially in the beginning can be harder than grad school. See, once you get to grad school, you’ve gone through all that emotional stuff and you know how the system works. When you first start out in undergrad, you are starting fresh.
I would say freshman year, or if you are a transfer, junior year, are the hardest years for a college student. You have so much to learn and really not that much time to master it. This can really cause problems and makes these years some of the hardest I’ve faced ever. Grad school was a piece of cake compared to when I transferred to UF. That first semester was the hardest semester of my life. So, in a way, yes, undergrad can be harder than grad school. In fact, I think undergrad is actually the hardest years of college due to the emotional transition and finding yourself.
It’s hard to really say what the hardest years of college are because they are different for everyone. Grad school can certainly be a tough experience but sometimes undergrad is even harder. For me, undergrad was the hardest years of my college life. Grad school has been difficult, but I have a ton of tools in my academic toolbelt that have helped me along the way. People will find that grad school is more difficult than undergrad. Depending on the master’s or PhD program, you could be doing so really hard stuff. Either way, grad school will challenge you in a ton of different ways, but you are all ready for it. Don’t be afraid to do difficult things. I guarantee you’ll be just fine.
I want to incorporate more grad school memes into my work, so here’s today’s! If you want more, go check out my posts about my favorite grad school memes as well as my favorite comics/jokes (Here are the links 1, 2, and 3).
There is a reason less classes in grad school per semester is considered full time studies. It is more work and may be more challenging. People had more time to be social at the undergrad level. Less people have jobs if going full time at the grad level.