You live and breathe computers, and you can’t get enough. Everything about them fascinates you, and you dream of the day you’ll get to play with them all day, every day, for a living. But when you look through potential degrees, you can’t figure out the differences between computer science vs. computer engineering, so you find it challenging to choose the right program for you. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back.
Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Learning Materials
Computer science students learn how to build computer systems, and how to solve problems on computers and other electronic technologies using data storage and processing. Computer science students learn a variety of computer languages and computer environments, which helps them master a range of skills – from creating computer graphics, through developing and analyzing numerical and mathematical algorithms and complex networks, operating systems, and building and storing databases, to improving human-computer interactions.
Computer engineering students, on the other hand, are somewhere between computer science and electrical engineering. Therefore, you’ll probably find system operations and computer architecture courses in a computer engineering degree as well. However, computer engineering programs focus on the development, prototyping and design of both software and hardware, as well as the integration of the two. As a result, they put a big emphasis on the physics and manufacturing of physical devices and integrated circuits. Computer engineering students learn to master robotics, pattern recognition, speech processing and so much more.
Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Job Opportunities
Graduating with a degree in computer engineering opens diverse doors to students. They can develop and manufacture aerospace, automotive, fuel, water, medical and telecommunications systems and devices, to name a few options. Among others, they can also develop computer architecture systems and equipment, including circuit boards, routers and sensors. If they prefer to develop software, computer engineering graduates have enough training to land jobs in this field.
But if you’re looking at computer science vs. computer engineering when it comes to landing a job as a programmer, a degree in computer science is probably your best bet. Computer science students can often land a job in their profession while still moving through their degrees. Some of them will start programming right away, while others will start in technical support roles or QA (quality assurance of software products).
As they gain knowledge and expertise, computer science graduates can specialize in computer and app programming, as well as automation roles, but they can also develop network systems, databases and websites.
Every industry needs the skills computer science graduates have, because every industry these days has software products, apps and websites, so there are no limits to what computer science graduates can do.
Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Further Higher Education
A critical part of the computer science vs. computer engineering discussion is what options are out there in case you want to pursue further higher education after your bachelor’s degree. Computer engineering graduates might want to get a master’s degree in the field of computer engineering’ to advance their career or get higher salaries. In their master’s, computer engineering graduates can choose to specialize in a certain industry (like aerospace), or to specialize in robotics, computer networks, project and product development, or in the development of wireless networks or very large scale integration circuits.
If you want to lead a company’s technological strategies and execution, the computer science vs. computer engineering discussion is a matter of specialty. Both degree programs enable you to be eligible to get a master’s in business administration (MBA) with a focus on technology, which will help you move up the ranks to management roles like a CTO (chief technology officer) or CIO (chief information officer).
Some computer science graduates will want to focus on technology in their master’s degree. In this case, choosing a master’s program that focuses on information security or information systems, databases, optimization or artificial intelligence might be a better choice.
Computer Science: Bachelor’s or Associate Degree?
If you’re contemplating whether you need a degree at all, or if you’re too overwhelmed by the cost of a bachelor’s degree, it might be best to get an associate degree in computer science. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, it takes 2 years instead of 4 to complete it, which means smaller tuition costs and less time living off student jobs.
But take into consideration that you’ll likely have to work much, much harder to prove yourself than a bachelor’s degree graduate when it comes to landing your first few jobs – and your paycheck will be smaller too, at least in the first few years. In addition, advancing to higher positions might require you to complete a bachelor’s degree – maybe even a master’s degree.