Which are hardest degrees ?


Which degrees are easiest or harder to get into at university?

  • For a practical view of which course is popular, check out this news article: Best HSC marks fail to guarantee place in medicine courses
  • ATAR results: A third of students hit 80.00 >> Read how ATAR scores may be misleading
  • NSW and ACT students may get details of Cut-offs for main round offers for here
  • Cut-offs levels for students from Victoria for main round offers are accessible here
  • WA students can find ATAR data here 
  • Queensland students can find minimum OPs and selection ranks information here

  • The easiest course for admission are those with  lowest  ATAR entry requirements
  • They are the ” unpopular ” or ” not cool”  courses, but that doesn’t mean they’re ‘ bad’ or won’t lead to attractive salaries
  • The easiest entry courses are those where few people apply to
  • The easiest courses are the ones where vacancies exceed applicants
  • But keep in mind, easiest courses may NOT always the the easiest to pass ( complete)
  • Many universities have a ATAR guide tailored to  it’s own admission history, an example may be found here. Such a guide provides a rough indication about the ATAR cutoff for any one chosen degree course you wish to apply to, based on the previous admission patterns.
  • Undergraduate  intake for degree courses at Australian universities is managed by a cutoff  scale
  • Cutoffs were decided by UAI (nsw/act ), TER ( sa/nt), ENTER (vic) OP( qld) score
  • Besides Queensland, ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) currently is the cutoff standard, it applies to local students seeking admission to universities at undergraduate level
  • For admission into a bachelor degree course, applicants from Australian secondary schools have to get scores equal to or higher than ATAR cutoff for that course for that university for any given year
  • ATAR and it’s predecessor, the UAI cutoff system, measures popularity and entry competition for any one course. Read here !

  • Since a limited number of vacancies exist for any one course, the ATAR figure is selected to implement a cutoff at the level allowing the optimal number of applicants to fill up available course vacancies
  • The more popular a course is, the more applicants there are, hence entry competition rises
  • Foreign students not resident in Australia applying for admission to a bachelor degree course at Australian universities are not assessed with ATAR, a different  selection system is used.
  • International students who complete their final year of secondary school (HSC) in an Australian school are  subject to ATAR selection criteria
  • To see ATAR cutoffs ( from previous year) for individual courses at a specific universities, please visit  the UAC site
  • The ATAR score  from previous year is a reliable indicator of  coming year’s ATAR score
  • In short, courses that are relatively easier to get into into are those with lower ATAR cutoffs.
    Such courses tend to be at  ‘ less famous ‘ universities and often in smaller towns where there will be less entry competition
  • ATAR cutoff values vary from uni to uni  for the same course Eg. Math degree
  • Teaching is a low ATAR course in some universities
  • A list of the most popular  ( ie. hardest to get in) courses  for  academic year 2013

Typically,  hardest courses to gain admission ( high ATAR ) are: (in no specific  order)
  • Actuarial Science studies
  • Aerospace Engineering ( this has limited job opportunities in Australian Economy )
  • Aeronautical Engineering ( this has limited job opportunities in Australian Economy )
  • Space Engineering   ( this has limited job opportunities in Australian Economy )
  • Architecture  ( this has limited job opportunities in Australian Economy )
  • Accounting
  • Medical / Medicine
  • Law LLB
  • Forensic science ( CSI stuff this has limited job opportunities in Australian Economy )
  • Physiotherapy 
  • Psychology- Honours
  • Veterinary Science  
  • Bachelor of Arts ( some types)  
  • Bachelor of Science ( some types) course
  • Some double degrees /combined degree programs

What an ATAR figure means and what it does not:

  • A high ATAR cutoff  does not always mean that course is difficult to pass.
  • It means admission is very competitive as  more students are applying for entry
  • A high  ATAR  does not always mean the degree  will lead  to a job that is in greater demand than one with a lower ATAR. ie. high ATAR course does not always make  a graduate more employable
  • ATAR cutoffs vary from university to university. Eg.  A high ATAR cutoff  for Commerce at University of Sydney, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be equally high at a smaller uni in the country side such as Charles Sturt University.
  • Courses at famous / older universities, especially those located in big cities like Melbourne or Sydney, typically have higher ATAR cutoffs, reflecting higher demand. This does not mean universities with lower ATAR course cutoffs are in any way inferior.
  • ATAR cutoffs are a measure of course popularity in terms of applicant volume. ATAR is not an indication on the quality, merit or employablility of a course or a university.
  • A course with inherently difficult subject matter such as Physics or Mathematics may have a surprisingly relatively low ATAR of 75 , not because it is not good nor is “easy to pass”,  it only means less people are applying for it since  most people do not like to apply for Maths or Physics in general.
  • ATAR cutoffs varies year to year, reflecting on the changing applicant behavior. They also vary from university to university.
  • Courses which combine 2 degrees  Eg Law and Psychology  etc, will generally have  higher ATAR
  • It is best to choose a 1) course and  2) university  with a ATAR cutoff lower than what you believe you can realistically achieve, to enjoy the highest chance of gaining admission in the first round.