Computer Science Vs Computer Engineering: Which is Best?
If you are considering pursuing a degree in computers, it is important to know about the curriculum and future scope of the degree. There are various degree programs in computers such as Computer Science, Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Information Technology and Information Systems.
In this article, we are going to discuss two popular degree programs Computer Science and Computer Engineering, and also compare Computer Science vs Computer Engineering so you can decide which is best for you.
Students often get confused between Computer Science and Computer Engineering as both terms have a common word Computer. Though, both degrees have some similarities but are different in various aspects. In the following sections, I have compared and differentiate computer science and computer engineering on basis of various outlooks. Before comparing both the programs let’s see what are the main focus of these programs.
What is Computer Science?
Computer Science is a field that focuses more on software and software systems than hardware. Computer Science is a study of data and computation on that data. It is the study of computers that deals with the theory of computation, design, and analysis of algorithms.
Computer Science is the study that requires an interest in Mathematics. Computer Science students use a lot of maths to design and analyze algorithms. Algorithms are developed mathematically and then translated into a program, in Computer Science more discrete mathematics is used. It includes the study of algorithms, data structures, and network design.
Computer scientists mostly deal with software systems. In Computer Science you will study operating Systems, applications, and encryption to store sensitive information and you can choose elective subjects like cryptography, game design, and software security. Good Programming skills are required in the field of computer science.
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What is Computer Engineering?
Computer Engineering is a study that focuses more on hardware than software. Unlike Computer Science, Computer Engineering focuses more on the hardware part of the computer system such as microcontrollers, microprocessors, computer chips, and sensors. Computer Engineering is a combination of computer science and electrical engineering.
The discipline of computer engineering includes the study of subjects from electrical engineering along with the subject of computer science. You will learn subjects like embedded systems, circuit analysis, and signal processing to work with the hardware of the computer system.
Computer Engineers are responsible to build computer systems that work efficiently. Computer Engineers need to know programming to program a piece of hardware such as Arduino. Computer engineering is a branch for those interested in learning hardware and software.
Computer Engineers focus not only on how a computer system works but the integration of the system into a bigger system. Computer Engineering focuses on the integration of hardware and software. Tasks of computer engineers include designing software and firmware for embedded microcontrollers, designing sensors and operating systems.
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Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: How are they different?
Computer Science is a field that focuses on the theory of computation, software, and software systems. In a Computer Science degree, you will learn software programming, programming languages like Java, C++, C to develop applications and learn algorithms.
Computer Science involves heavy use of mathematics and if you are not interested in learning mathematics then Computer Science is probably not an option for you. It involves more discrete mathematics to understand and prove algorithms. Computer Science is the art of understanding how a computer thinks and giving instructions to perform the task by writing codes in different languages.
Computer Engineering involves the study of both software and hardware but the focus is more on the hardware of the computer system. In computer engineering, you will get to learn the subject of both electrical engineering and computer science.
It involves the study of circuits and different devices used in circuits such as microcontrollers, microprocessors, and sensors. You will get to learn how the computer system is built and operated. Studies in Computer Engineering also involve mathematics and programming. You have to learn programming to run a piece of hardware.
To understand better let’s take the example of your phone, lots of engineers have put in work to design that phone Computer Engineers worked on circuit chips, memory, microprocessors whereas computer scientists worked on operating systems or ios for iPhones, writing codes for applications, and encryption to keep sensitive information safe.
Similarly, for video games where Computer Scientists worked on the movements of players using algorithms and codes whereas Computer Engineers worked on hardware.
The key difference between Computer Science vs Computer Engineering is that Computer Science focuses on software whereas Computer Engineering focuses on hardware and software. Both the degree involves a lot of mathematics and programming, computer scientists use more of discrete math in algorithm and computations whereas Computer Scientists use continuous math in circuit analysis. Computer Scientists and Computer Engineers both require programming skills but Computer Scientists use little more programming than computer engineers.
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Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Curriculum
Computer Science and Computer Engineering have different curriculum. Computer Science focuses on computer theory, programming principles, and logic and computation. On the other hand, computer engineering degrees focus on the courses such as embedded systems fundamentals of electronics along with similar subjects as Computer Science. Below are some core classes offered in Computer science and Computer Engineering degrees.
Classes offered in Computer Science
Design and Analysis of algorithm
An algorithm is a set of instructions or procedures to analyze and solve the problem. This course teaches you the fundamentals concepts of designing and analyzing algorithms to solve complex problems. You will learn to write codes to perform specific tasks.
Theory of Computation
Theory of Computation is a branch of Computer Science that enables you to understand how machines compute and solves a problem. It gives you a deep understanding of how efficiently a problem can be solved on a model of computations. The Theory of computation is divided into three branches Computability Complex theory, Computability, Automata Theory & language.
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Introduction to Operating Systems
Operating System is software that manages and performs different tasks like memory management, processing inputs, and outputs. It is responsible for the coordination of activities, provides services for computer programs, and managing computer hardware and software resources. This course will cover topics like CPU scheduling, Processes, and Memory Management.
Data Analysis is a process of modeling data to obtain desired information and create a useful database. In this course, you will study the process of data analysis like collection, storage, processing, and analysis.
The integrity and authenticity of the software are very important. In this course, you will get an understanding of the techniques to protect and mitigate malicious attacks. This course focuses on the secure design and implementation of software.
Calculus is an important subject in Computer Science. In this course, you will learn differential and integral calculus, calculus is useful in understanding algorithms and subjects like machine learning, image processing, data mining, and image processing. Calculus is also used in programming.
In this course, you will learn important concepts that are crucial for various areas in computer science like machine learning, graphics, and cryptography. You will use linear algebra in problem-solving and programming like to write a basic program to implement a matrix.
Cryptography is used for encrypting information to maintain integrity. It is used to transform data into a format that cannot be understood by an unauthorized user. This technique is used to protect sensitive information so if someone intercepts it won’t be able to decipher it.
Throughout your Computer Science degree, you will learn different programming languages such as Java, C, C++, and python. These programming languages are used to write codes for a certain task. These codes are instructions to the computer to perform a specific task.
Courses in Computer Engineering
Circuit Analysis a process to find unknown parameters of the circuit such as voltage, current, impedance, resistance using mathematical tools and techniques. You will deep knowledge of how the circuit works and learn to make functional circuits
An Embedded system is a combination of software and hardware which is designed to perform a particular task in a given time. An embedded system can be an independent system or the part of a large system. In this course, students will learn how to program a piece of hardware like Arduino and how to build embedded systems.
In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of digital electronics and acquire knowledge of digital logic levels and understand digital electronic circuits. You will learn how to design and analyze sequential and combinational circuits.
Electromagnetic fields and Waves
In this course, students will learn electric and magnetic fields and understand mathematical concepts related to electromagnetic waves and apply them to various coordinate systems.
In this course, you will get knowledge of how the network is organized, how a routing protocol works, how packets on the internet are delivered, and skills to understand the layered protocol models. You will be able to design, analyze and implement network protocol and evaluate the network.
In this course, you will develop a deep understanding of the autonomous system. You will be able to identify suitable actuators and sensors for robotic systems and use programming tools to develop a successful autonomous robot.
Programming skills are important in computer science and computer engineering. You will learn different programming languages like Java, and C++. You will be able to program a piece of hardware.
Computer vision is a field that focuses on making a computer understand visual data in the same way humans do. In this course, you will get an understanding of modern computer vision theory. You will be able to analyze and evaluate the building and integration of computer vision systems.
In this course, you will learn the structure, function, and characteristics of a computer system. You will get knowledge of the memory hierarchy and an understanding of the functionality and design of different components of a computer. You will be able to identify different methods of computer I/O.
Digital Signal Processing
In the Digital Signal Processing course, you will get knowledge properties of signals and systems, designing of filters, and the importance of signal processors. You will learn concepts to analyze operations on signals and select proper tools for analog to digital and digital to analog conversion. You will be able to integrate computer-based tools for engineering applications.
When we compare the Computer Science vs Computer Engineering curriculum, some courses are offered both the programs. Students from both majors will acquire knowledge of some common subjects such as programming, computer architecture, mathematics.
Computer Science and Computer Engineering have some common subjects and also offer specializations in some subjects. Let’s see what are some specializations in both majors.
Computer Science Specializations
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
- Game Design
- Cloud Computing
- Data Science
- Cyber Security
Computer Engineering Specializations
- Hardware Systems
- Embedded Systems
- Computer & Network Security
- Medical Image Computing
- Robotics & Cybernetics
Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Career & Job Roles
Every student must know about career and job opportunities before pursuing any degree. In this case, where we compare job opportunities between Computer Science vs Computer Engineering, you should not worry as both degrees are the gateway to a plethora of job opportunities. Below are some job titles offered to students after pursuing a degree in computer science and computer engineering.
Computer Science Jobs
Students can secure a job in different sectors like Software development, Network & Database design, Web Design and testing, Computer Programming. Below are the job titles for computer science students.
- Computer Scientist
- Software Developer
- Computer System Analyst
- Web Designer
- Business Analyst
- Data Scientist
- Database Administrator
- Network System Administrator
- Security Analyst
- Java Developer
There are some other fields like Artificial Intelligence, Cryptography, and Cyber Security in which you can secure a good job with a computer science degree.
Computer Engineering Jobs
When we compare jobs between Computer Science vs Computer Engineering, there some common jobs for which students with either computer science or computer engineering degree can apply as computer engineering is a combination of computer science and electrical engineering.
Some sectors where computer engineers can find jobs are Developing and designing, manufacturing microprocessors and Integrated Circuits, Robotics, and aerospace. Below are some job titles for students having a computer engineering degree.
- Computer Engineer
- Computer Architecture Developer
- System Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Mobile Device Engineer
- Embedded Software Engineer
- Electrical Design Engineer
- Quality Control Engineer
- Firmware Engineer
- Hardware Engineer
Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Higher Education
Computer Science and Computer Engineering graduates might want to pursue higher education after a bachelor’s degree. Computer Engineering might want to pursue higher education in the field of computer engineering to get higher salaries. Computer engineering graduates can pursue master’s degrees and can choose to specialize in a particular sector like aerospace, robotics, product and project development, computer networks, and development of the wireless network.
A graduate with either a computer science degree or computer engineering degree is eligible to pursue Masters in Business Administration with a focus on technology. Computer Science graduates who want to advance their careers in the field of technology can choose a master’s program that focuses on fields such as artificial intelligence, information systems, and data science.
Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Skills
Considering Computer Science vs Computer Engineering which is best for you, you can consider the skills you might want to learn and start your career and achieve your career goals with the right skillset. Below are the skills or topics you will learn during your studies in computer engineering and computer science.
Skills learned in Computer Science
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Knowledge of designing, coding, and testing
- Operating Systems Design
- Writing Efficient Codes
- Programming languages –Java, C, C++, etc
- Understanding of Theory of Computation
- Cybersecurity & Cryptography
- Designing efficient algorithms
- Software production & Designing
- Understanding of how Computer Network works
Skills learned in Computer Engineering
- Understanding of computer hardware: how it works
- Designing, coding, and testing for software
- Designing Integrated Circuits
- Designing Microprocessor
- Build efficient devices
- Wireless Technology
- Designing Computer Architecture
- Device Drivers
- Embedded Systems
- Repair & management of devices
There are some common skills mentioned below that you required for both computer science and computer engineering degrees.
- Problem Solving
- Analytical Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Good Mathematical Skills
- Programming Skills
Computer Science vs Computer Engineering vs Software Engineering
Software engineering is another degree in computers about which students often get confused. So here is a quick comparison between computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering so you can decide which is best for you.
Computer Science is essentially a branch of mathematics that is theory-based and focuses on data structures, algorithms, theory of computation, and data analysis. A Computer Science degree is beneficial for those who are interested in fields like artificial intelligence, cryptography, data analysis, machine learning, etc.
Computer Engineering is a field that focuses on both software and hardware. It is a combination of computer science and electrical engineering. Computer Engineers develop systems using concepts of both computer science and electrical engineering. Computer Engineers sometimes deal with both software and hardware as software is a part of the system. Software is a part of the system integrated with the hardware which allows the system to run efficiently.
Software Engineering is a field that uses computer science topics such as algorithms, data structures, storing methods to build an efficient software system. The software engineer has the same base knowledge as computer scientists. You should choose software engineering if you want to learn the entire process of how software is built. The job of a software engineer is to understand requirements, make the software fast, easy, secure, and user-friendly. Software Engineer is responsible to look after the entire process of software development.
Job roles of Computer Scientists and Software engineers are interchangeable. You might have seen it mentioned computer science or equivalent discipline. Below are some job roles for software engineers.
- Software engineer
- Software developer
- Front-End Developer
- Web Developer
- Java Developer
|Computer Science||Computer Engineering|
|· Focus on software and software systems
· Data Structure and algorithms
· Theory of Computation
|· Focuses more on hardware than software
· Computer Architecture
· Embedded systems
Career & job opportunities
|· Area of Software Development, Network, and database design and Web Design
· Java Developer
· Software Designer
|· Area of developing, designing, manufacturing of microprocessors and Integrated Circuits
· Computer Engineer
· Firmware Engineer
· Hardware Engineer
Students can pursue higher education in areas that focus on technology like artificial intelligence and information systems
Students can pursue higher education in specializations like aerospace and robotics.
How to decide Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Which is Best for you?
Throughout this article, we have compared computer science and computer engineering on different outlooks. Every student needs to consider various factors before deciding which degree they want to pursue. Both degrees Computer Science and Computer Engineering are among the popular degrees for students having interests in computers. Computer Science and Computer Engineering both the disciplines are different but overlap at some point.
Computer Science vs Computer Engineering which is best for you depends on what your interest, skill set, and career goals are. Both the degrees require good mathematical and programming skills and If you are some who is interested in software and programming then computer science is your option, On the other hand, if you have an interest in software as well as the hardware you can pursue computer engineering as it focuses more on the hardware of the system.