I am going to run with the ethos provided by the previous IQ rankings. I am a double technical major at a top public university. Having taken extensive upper level technical classes as well as a few higher level liberal arts (nothing too major centric though, so I may not have a representative sample), the difference I would say is two-fold.
First, in technical classes, the curves can often be much steeper. In my most recent technical class, the curve was centered on a C, i.e. #A's = #F's, #Bs=#Ds, and #Cs>#Bs>#As, with a slight leniency towards the bottom - a few C's became B's, and most F's dropped. In the liberal arts classes I took, there were never any curves - if you got the lowest score in the class, an A- was still possible (albeit not probable).
Second, in technical classes the workload is much heavier. I would spend a few hours a night working on homework and studying, usually about 10-15 hrs/wk per class (20+ for finals). In my liberal arts classes, I had at most an hour of reading a night, and when time came to write papers, I could knock those out in about five hours (fifteen for final papers). Now, I did not take any classes that required more than four, at most five papers, so again my perspective could be skewed, but I am very inclined to say the technical majors require more of a time commitment.
So, in summary, at my university, in my experiences, technical majors work longer hours for on average lower grades. The "difficulty" of the concepts is too subjective to enter into this discussion, but from a perspective of what is the value of a grade in a technical major vs. the value of a grade in a liberal arts major, I would posit that the technical major is more difficult and therefore their grades should be counted more highly.
With that said however, a quick trip to LSN will show you that aside from, as was mentioned before, a few schools looking to boost their IP roster (or maybe just actually giving a "hard major boost," who knows) and accepting borderline technical majors over borderline lib. arts majors (occurrence <10%), the difference is absolutely nothing. I.e. if you are in a technical major, you can feel better about your 3.5 than a liberal arts major, but it really will not do you much good as far as law school is concerned - and that sort of makes sense: they don't hire lawyers to integrate anything other than legal concepts.
Last edited by derwin
on Sun May 23, 2010 4:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.