Which Degree Programs Require the Least Amount of Reading and Writing?

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All degree programs require you to read and write at some point during your college career. However, some majors require less reading and writing than others. For example, those with an aversion to the written word will want to avoid majors such as communication, English, journalism, and literature, all of which require extensive amounts of reading and writing. To some students, reading and writing are deterrents from those options. However, simply because a degree program requires less reading and writing than others does not mean it is the easier choice. A lack of book study often corresponds with a higher level of hands-on practice, which is often a more challenging approach to learning than cracking open a book or typing an essay, but it may be that this type of active education is appealing to you.

If your interests lie outside those of the English majors, this list of degree programs that require the least amount of reading and writing is for you.

1. Architecture

The bachelor’s in architecture is far from writing-intensive, primarily focusing on design, math, and science. Common coursework includes architectural and digital drawing, architectural theory, calculus, physics, and the occasional sustainability course. Some architecture degrees may also require art history courses, which will require the most amount of reading as compared to other courses taken by an architecture major. However, the architecture degree is primarily a hands-on learning opportunity, with several classes providing first-hand experience in building and design.

Despite it being less reading- and writing-intensive, the architecture degree is far from easy. Architecture requires an eye for detail and creativity, as well as a firm grasp of math and sciences like geometry and physics. Additionally, a bachelor’s in architecture is typically a five-year program. There are several four-year programs available, but they are likely not accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, unlike the five-year programs. If you decide to take a four-year program, you will need to also earn a National Architectural Accrediting Board-accredited master’s in architecture to achieve licensure. An architect license is required to successfully enter the workforce.

2. Chemistry

Outside the classroom, the chemistry degree will include laboratory-based learning and first-hand knowledge regarding the behavior of matter and its elements. Although lab reports will require writing, it will be observation-based and technical, as compared to the creative and lengthy essays expected from the humanities majors. The chemistry degree is more research-heavy, including courses such as calculus, organic and inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics. All of these will require more lab work than reading or writing, though lab reports can be extensively detailed, and students will be expected to supplement their hands-on learning with informational textbooks assigned by their professors.

Exams will consist mostly of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, as opposed to essay questions that require extensive amounts of writing. However, this does not mean the degree will lack challenges. The chemistry degree is known for its complex curriculum that is created to prepare students for successful careers in government, medicine, research, and more. Those considering a degree in chemistry should be prepared to develop strong problem-solving skills and a profound knowledge in their chosen specialization of chemistry.

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3. Computer Science

The computer science major will acquire in-depth experience in coding, research, and technology. Very little reading and writing is required for the computer science degree, as most students’ time will be spent completing coding assignments, such as creating a video game, debugging code, or developing a user interface. The majority of assignments require active learning and application, with writing assignments being few and far between. The most reading one will do as a computer science major will be in courses that are more dedicated to theory than practice, but those are in the minority, compared to the more practical courses.

Computer science is considered a challenging field of study, despite its lack of essay requirements. Coding is finicky and requires perfection. Therefore, it is best suited for innovative and curious thinkers, as well as excellent problem-solvers with an eye for detail. There are several opportunities for those with a degree in computer science, including careers and/or graduate school in fields such as entertainment, software engineering, web development, and even medicine.

4. Criminal Justice

According to U.S. News & World Report, “a criminal justice major gives students an understanding of the three main elements of the justice systems: the courts, policing and corrections.” The majority of the criminal justice major’s coursework will include topics such as criminology, political science, psychology, and other social sciences. It is often considered among the easiest majors offered undergraduate students for its lack of reading and writing, and surplus of hands-on curriculum. Courses in psychology and sociology will be the largest source of reading and writing assignments for the criminal justice major, occasionally requiring multiple-page essays based on assigned readings. However, the number of such reading-heavy courses can be minimized by specializing in topics unrelated to the social sciences.

Possible focus areas for a criminal justice major include cybercrime, homeland security, and information technology. Combining a criminal justice degree with a technology-related minor will further minimize the amount of reading and writing expected of students. While it may limit the amount of career options a criminal justice major has to choose from, there is still a plethora of job titles for those specializing in fields other than the social sciences, among which are correctional officer, customs inspector, fingerprint technician, and state trooper.

5. Economics

An economics major’s primary goal is to answer “questions related to resource allocation, incentives and wealth, among others,” as stated by U.S. News & World Report. The course load will consist of calculus, micro- and macroeconomics, and policy classes, all of which require very little reading and writing. Most assignments focus on business, data analysis, and studying behavioral patterns, as opposed to essays and assigned reading. Theory-based courses (such as game theory) will be the heaviest source of reading, but the load will remain light. Typically, schools will offer both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in economics. For those searching for a degree with the least amount of reading and writing, the latter option will hone students’ quantitative skills and expect a limited number of written assignments from them.

However, although reading and writing are scarce, the economics career path certainly has its challenges. After receiving an undergraduate degree in economics, graduate school is a common and necessary next step to becoming a professional in the field. A graduate degree in economics will open several opportunities. Actuary, economic analyst, operations manager, and sales representative are a few of the job titles available to those with undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics.

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6. Engineering

Engineering majors take a wide variety of courses in math and science, thus reducing the amount of reading and writing required throughout their four years of study. Colleges and universities do not require engineering students to take the same number of humanities courses expected of other majors. With less humanities courses, students will endure fewer reading and writing assignments than most other majors. While their degree is primarily STEM-based, engineering majors will be required to take certain humanities courses, depending on the university. However, the engineering degree requires less reading and writing, compared to those found outside the STEM field.

Due to its active nature, the engineering degree is taught through hands-on assignments and collaborative work. Common courses include chemistry, circuits, physics, and programming, all of which include labs and technical/professional lessons, which is a more manual alternative to essays and textbooks. Although reading and writing assignments will be rare, engineering students will be expected to work diligently. Some schools require engineering students to maintain a specific GPA to remain in the program, and internships are strongly encouraged for upperclassmen. Communication skills are also beneficial for those seeking a career or education in engineering, as group work is prevalent within the field.

7. Mathematics

Mathematics majors study subjects such as advanced algebra, calculus, and number theory, to name a few. The beginning of their undergraduate career will prove the most challenging for those opposed to reading and writing, as many schools require freshmen and sophomores to take liberal arts courses that are unrelated to the mathematics degree. However, extensive reading and writing can be avoided by taking liberal arts courses like geology, bypassing reading-heavy courses such as English and literature. Once the general requirements are completed, the math major may primarily take courses like analysis, number theory, and topology.

Although light in regard to reading and writing, the mathematics major is far from easy. Assignments will include mathematical proofs and challenging equations, most of which will require intensive study groups and meetings with teaching assistants. Additionally, since mathematics is a broad degree, interest in all of math’s components (including calculus, statistics, and trigonometry) is highly recommended. Do not decide on a major unless you are certain the subject matter will interest you.

8. Music

One of the degrees requiring the least amount of reading and writing is music, a top choice for those opposed to both STEM subjects and reading-intensive subjects like literature. The most reading one will complete as a music major will come in the form of music notes, not written words, and STEM classes can be avoided completely as long as the school’s general requirements are met. In general, it is an excellent fit for those wanting to avoid reading and writing. Music analysis courses may be the largest source of writing with which a student will be confronted.

Although it is often considered one of the easiest undergraduate majors, it is not as easy as it may seem. A music degree is mentally challenging, requiring students to spend hours a day practicing their chosen instrument, and performance evaluations come at the end of every semester. Because of the extensive practice time required, music majors should be passionate about their chosen subject, whether that is piano, violin, or vocals, and creativity is strongly recommended for the experimental aspects of music.

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9. Statistics

Statistics majors use and interpret data to find solutions to real-world problems ranging from accounting to disease prevention. A degree in statistics often leads students into career fields like banking and government. Given the statistics degree’s focus on mathematics and pattern recognition, reading and writing assignments are few and far between. Common coursework includes calculus, data analysis, and probability, all of which are classes that do not require much reading or writing. Some colleges offer students the opportunity to double major in statistics and another topic that is light in reading and writing (such as computer science or economics), thus further minimizing the amount of reading and writing.

The most challenging aspect of the statistics major is the number of math courses required of students. However, those who are confident in their math skills and enjoy the topic will thrive as a statistics major. Additionally, many schools allow statistics majors to minor in a separate topic (such as architecture or chemistry) so they may tailor their undergraduate education to their interests. As mentioned above, minoring in the correct subject may also allow one to further avoid reading and writing assignments.

10. Studio Art

Studio art majors spend most of their undergraduate career designing, drawing, painting, sculpting, or otherwise completing hands-on projects. The majority of studio art majors’ education occurs through active learning and thus requires one of the least amounts of reading and writing, when compared to other degree options. However, some studio art programs require students to take art history courses, which will be the heaviest source of reading and writing within the degree. Depending on the program, these courses may be avoided, though they offer excellent information for those wishing to discover art through a historical lens and learn from the best artists of any given century.

Studio art majors may choose to specialize in topics including ceramics, graphic design, painting, photography, and fibers. No matter the specialization, the requirement for reading and writing is minimal, as most of students’ time will be spent actively creating projects.

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BDP Staff
August 2021

This concludes our article on which degree programs require the least amount of reading and writing.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris