IT vs Computer Science. How to Choose the Right Degree?


By knowing the difference between IT vs Computer Science, you can make sure you choose the best degree for your career goals.


With the major growth and dependence on technology, it’s no wonder why a career in the field is attractive; however, you may be questioning the differences between studying IT vs. Computer Science. While the two fields overlap and share commonalities, they also serve different purposes.


How do you know that you’re choosing the right degree? While there is naturally some overlap between the two, they do require different skills and interests, and therefore, have different career opportunities. Depending on what you find interesting and the type of skill set you have or want to develop, it will be easier to choose given the following information.


We’ll take a look at the major differences, education requirements for employment, and the salary outlook graduates of both degrees.


To begin, it’s useful to define the two subjects.



Information Technology (IT):


The use of computer programs to solve business processes. It requires the installation, maintenance and organization of systems, databases and networks for proper functioning. Information technologists are the users of technology, and they are more likely to interact with clients and people outside their department to ensure systems are working as they are intended to be.



Computer Science:


The creation of computer systems and applications and the theories behind their designs. It requires the knowledge of algorithms to program computers. Computer scientists understand the theory behind computer applications and use advanced mathematics to manipulate information to be used efficiently.



Source: Unsplash



So, what does it take to be successful in either field?


Here’s a look at some of the standout skills that are needed in each:

  • IT: Project Management, Customer Service, Tech Support
  • Computer Science: Java, Information Systems, Software Engineering
  • Overlapping: SQL, Linux


Education Required for Employment

In the field of Information Technology, about 85% of employers prefer at least a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 90% in Computer Science desiring the same level.


Regardless of which field you enter, you’ll more often than not need a degree to excel, so let’s take a look at the curriculum you can expect.



What You Learn


Both Computer Science and Information Technology will provide you with practical skills to understand how computers work, but importantly, they’ll differ in their focuses.


For example, particularly at University of the People, the Computer Science program offers students the option to earn an Associate degree or Bachelor’s degree in the field.


The program goals are as follows:


Provide students with the background knowledge and understanding of computer systems

  • Be able to code, program and test solutions
  • Understand the design and usage of databases
  • Describe and use the structures of hardware and software


Develop the technical knowledge and skills to tackle practical problems within computing systems in various ways

  • Build conceptual models and physical computers
  • Develop creative solutions between hardware and software to solve problems


Enhance critical thinking in computer security, ethics, and privacy

  • Acknowledge and understand the complex relationship between computers and society
  • Recognize the ethical concerns regarding data privacy and security and be able to develop solutions for safety



Source: Unsplash



In order to accomplish this, the curriculum includes the following courses, along with additional electives:

  • Programming 2
  • Computer Systems
  • Databases 1
  • Communications and Networking
  • Web Programming 1
  • Operating Systems 1
  • Software Engineering
  • Data Structures
  • Web Programming 2
  • Databases 2
  • Operating Systems 2
  • Comparative Programming Languages
  • Data Mining and Machine Learning
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Calculus


At UoPeople, all degree programs are tuition-free and can be accessed from anywhere with nothing more than an internet connection. The accredited Computer Science degree program is geared towards educating students to be ready to enter the field upon graduation because of its top-quality professors and curriculum designed by professionals in the field.


Although UoPeople does not currently offer a degree in IT, here’s a look at what courses can be expected from other institutions:

  • Basic Computer Applications
  • Web Design, Authoring and Publishing
  • Databases
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Security
  • Foundations of Information Technology
  • Telecommunications and Computer Networks


Although there is overlap in some of the foundation courses, the two degrees open the door to different career opportunities.



Employment Opportunities and Salary Outlook

For those who study IT, jobs are generally available in businesses where IT professionals are responsible for installing and overseeing the systems that help the business function. This job is needed in both the public and private sector.


These job titles include: information security, network architecture, database administration, systems administration and computer support. Payscale shows that a project manager in IT earns an average annual salary of $85,001, whereas a systems administrator earns $61,509.


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job growth is expected to be 15% to 37% over the next ten years. The average salary ranges from $48,000 to $91,000, depending on location, years of experience and level of education.


As for Computer Science, there is a wider range of job opportunities, from businesses to government and educational institutions. Most computer science majors become software developers and programmers. To give some context, in America, the average salaries for Computer Programmers is $87,530 and the average salary for a software developer is $106,710.


Although salaries vary greatly based on many variables, computer science majors can expect a lucrative career as demand is high and the job prospects are reported to be growing at 13% from 2016-2026, signaling a faster than average increase.



The Flow of Operations

Computer engineers build the hardware for computer systems, and then computer scientists design and develop programs, software and applications for use by people and businesses. For installation, maintenance and troubleshooting, information technologists help to connect the software and applications with the people who will use them, all with the goal to benefit businesses and individuals alike. As an ecosystem, the three fields work together to ensure technology is safe, useful and innovative.



Choosing What’s Right

Deciding between Computer Science and Information Technology is a personal choice, of course, but once you know the type of job you want and the aspects of technology that you find most interesting, it should be easier to decide given the aforementioned information.


Both IT and Computer Science play a pivotal role in the progression of society, especially as computer systems and their roles in business and personal lives continues to expand exponentially. With the number of internet users surpassing 4 billion worldwide, it’s easy to see how a career in either field will be filled with purpose, passion, and good pay.