10 Easiest Engineering Degrees in 2024

November 5, 2023

easiest engineering majors degrees

So, you want to study engineering, but you’re a little anxious about the workload. You’d like to find an engineering major that’s going to pay off with a stable, well-paying job, but you also don’t know if you’re smart enough, hardworking enough, or even interested enough to dedicate five, six, seven hours to studying every night after a heavy series of classes and labs (on top of having fun, joining clubs, making friends, the list goes on). You’ve come in search of a list of the easiest engineering degrees/majors in hopes that one will spark your interest and satisfy your desire to major in engineering while also reassuring you that you can, in fact, succeed in this conventionally difficult pursuit.

Let’s start here: this is a totally normal thing.

American culture values making a lot of money, and we talk endlessly about how much money engineers make. And then we say that studying engineering is one of the hardest things you can do. Yikes. What’s an aspiring college student to do? Suffer the slings and arrows of organic chemistry and MATLab? Or start Googling “easiest college majors”?

At this stage, your next step is to gain an awareness of the different kinds of engineering majors that exist. Check out our primer on the Different Types of Engineering Majors. This blog will help you to gain some insight into the discipline in general. You might also want to check out our list of the ten most difficult engineering majors, as a point of contrast.

Then, you’ll want to ask yourself this question: what are my interests? Why do I want to major in engineering, anyway?

Following Your Interests Makes Your Life Easier 

Conventional wisdom says, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And while this isn’t always true in the working world (I hate to break it to you), following your gut, your instincts, and your intrinsic desires is actually scientifically proven to make things easier.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison write that interest takes two forms: situational and individual interest. Interest, according to the literature, is “both a psychological state characterized by increased attention, effort, and affect, experienced in a particular moment (situational interest), as well as an enduring predisposition to reengage with a particular object or topic over time (individual interest).”

Put another way, the researchers say that transforming situational interest into individual interest is definitely possible through routine, positive engagement with a subject. They write that “students interested in geophysics might be especially likely to be in a state of interest during a lecture on tsunamis, whether the lecture is entertaining or not, because their interest is more developed and less dependent on situational factors.” Researchers have also shown that “passionate interests can even allow people to overcome academic difficulties or perceptual disabilities.”

How does this relate to the idea of the easiest engineering major? Well, as user justplayin104 said on a vintage 2004 forum about this very question: “I’d say the hardest is the one you like the least. The easiest being the one you enjoy the most.”

Quite literally, you can make anything easier for yourself just by continually showing up with interest, engagement, and a willingness to do whatever it is you’re doing.

Easiest Engineering Degrees – Okay, But What’s Actually Easier? 

That being said, of course, there are some engineering majors that will be less challenging than others, on the whole. Still, this list is relative. All engineering majors are challenging, and what’s hard for one person might be easier for someone else. If you’ve spent your whole life learning how to program in your high school robotics club, computer science engineering might be a fun undertaking, while for others, it could be really tough. Because of that, some of these degrees below will also crossover with our most difficult engineering degrees list.

Another thing to consider when thinking about the relative difficulty or ease of an engineering degree is to consider the level of conceptual abstraction that a student needs to understand the ideas being presented. Engineering disciplines that deal with the concrete world around us might enable students with an easier intellectual load, simply because they can touch, see, and manipulate the very things that they are engineering.

The level of high-level math that is required can also increase the difficulty of any given major, depending on the interest and preparation of the student. Nuclear and chemical engineering, for example, topped our list of the hardest engineering majors because they combine that high level of conceptual abstraction with intense mathematical and scientific requirements across other STEM fields.

1) Architectural Engineering 

“Architectural engineers apply practical and theoretical knowledge to the engineering design of buildings and building systems. The goal is to engineer high-performance buildings that are sustainable, resilient, economically viable, that ensure the safety, health, comfort, and productivity of occupants,” according to Penn State.

This can contribute to the relative sense of ease in the major, because there’s a low threshold to understanding the concepts. We all share an interest in the safety, health, comfort, and productivity that is enabled by a specific building. You can see the direct relationship between the math you’re studying and the way it’s being implemented. Removing that extra layer of abstraction can make this degree a little easier than others.

2) Civil Engineering

Civil engineering also made our list for most difficult engineering majors because of its perceived difficulty by students. However, the relative difficulty of this major follows the same logic as architectural engineering above. Civil engineers work to optimize the world around us by studying green infrastructure, creating sustainable power supplies and water systems, and by designing buildings that are earthquake-resistant and roads that can enable autonomous vehicles.

And while program requirements will pull from a number of STEM disciplines (think: chemistry, geology, biology, and physics), applying them in the familiar realm of buildings, streets, and bridges can simplify the work your brain needs to do to understand the concepts.

Easiest Engineering Degrees/Easiest Engineering Majors (Continued)

3) Mining and Minerals 

Mining and minerals engineers study and think about the mining and extraction of minerals and other natural resources used to produce energy. You might think first of coal mining, but a student with a mining and minerals engineering degree today is more likely to find themselves working in a career that deals with electric vehicles or other forms of green energy production.

The same kind of idea applies here as to architectural engineering. Thinking about extraction in the physical world can help students to conceptualize easier, even when ideas become more complex or abstract.

4) Biological Systems 

Biological systems engineering might sound relatively broad, but this kind of engineering deals directly with creating systems that can ensure society’s food supply and energy needs. The perceived demand for this kind of engineer is high; as climates change and temperature changes become more severe, growing cycles will change, and so will the demands on global systems that process and distribute food.

You can expect the kind of math for biological systems to be rigorous, but not impossible. The University of Wisconsin Biological Systems Food Engineering degree requires advanced math through calculus and linear algebra and differential equations. After that, the strict study of math turns into application through engineering courses. An interest in biology with a desire to work at a large-scale food processing company might make you the perfect student for this major.

Easiest Engineering Degrees/Easiest Engineering Majors (Continued)

5) Environmental Engineering 

While we’re on the subject of creating sustainable food and energy systems, let’s talk about environmental engineering, which also happens to pop up on our list of the most difficult engineering majors. Environmental engineers study things like water safety, air pollution, hazardous waste clean-up, and then more modern concepts like human health, green design, pollution prevention, carbon sequestration, and alternative energy production.

The requirements for this degree can be really challenging, but environmental engineering is one of those passion-oriented pursuits in which the desire to protect the environment and remediate the effects of the climate crisis can motivate students to overcome those challenges. However, burnout can frequently come with the kind of passion required of these kinds of careers, so balance is crucial when you undertake an environmental engineering degree.

6) Computer Engineering

Computer science as an engineering degree rather than a liberal arts degree can be a heavy lift, but it’s all the more enjoyable if you’ve got programming experience in your background. Given the number of high schools that offer coding classes and robotics clubs, as well as the sheer number of students who take up programming as a hobby, computer science engineering gets a spot on our list, if you’ve got the requisite preparation and practice in your background. Yes, you’ll still have to tackle mathematics for computer science, algorithmic thinking, and linear algebra (if you go to MIT, for instance). However, the passion and interest with which an already-coding computer scientist might tackle these subjects could make the entire enterprise an enjoyable one.

Note: Industrial engineering, general engineering, and materials engineering round out our easiest list. Students rate these majors as fairly difficult. However, they could be easy depending on the type of student you are.

Easiest Engineering Degrees/Easiest Engineering Majors (Continued)

7) Engineering Technology 

Engineering technology might be great for you if you’re more pragmatic than theoretical. An education in this discipline means you’ll be thinking a lot about application and less on higher-level theory than the other degrees on this list. So, if you want to work with tech and engineering, but aren’t super interested in algorithmic thinking, engineering technology could be a great match for you.

8) Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineering follows the same kind of intuitive thinking that our first entries on the list, though in a slightly different way. Here, you’ll be thinking at a very large scale, which might make the aspect of dealing in the physical world still more challenging.

Easiest Engineering Degrees/Easiest Engineering Majors (Continued)

9) Materials Science

Materials sciences will have you thinking about the behaviors of materials under given conditions. This could seem tricky, unless you have the kind of brain that loves to consider cause and effect and is interested in watching for patterns that help us understand how things react over time.

10) General Engineering

Finally, general engineering allows students to take classes from across the engineering curriculum in order to get a better idea of what they might like to study in graduate school or pursue in the workforce. In that way, collecting a breadth of information and practice would be great for students who love novelty and exposure to new things.

10 Easiest Engineering Degrees – Final Thoughts

Whatever direction you choose, when you’re ready to start compiling your list of target schools, check out our list of the top universities to place students in engineering jobs, based on a comprehensive analysis of data available through LinkedIn. And when you’re ready to start preparing your applications, set up a free consultation with a College Transitions counselor.