Computer Science vs Computer Engineering

What distinguishes computer engineering from computer science?

Because they train students for professions in both technical and non-technical domains, both degrees are in high demand.

Over the past several decades, the area of computer science has experienced exponential growth. We are incorporating computers more and more into our daily lives as they become more powerful. The future of computer science appears promising, with applications ranging from self-driving cars to smart houses.

Computer engineering works with the actual applications of computers, while computer science focuses on the theory and software that underlie computing. Hardware and software solutions created by computer engineers address real-world issues. Additionally, they create cutting-edge technologies that boost effectiveness and production.

The similarities and contrasts between the two programs will be explored in more detail in this article. We’ll look at what makes each degree special, how they contrast with one another, and whether either program is the best fit for you.

Computer Engineering vs Computer Science

Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: What’s the Difference?

Computer science and computer engineering are the two primary degree kinds that focus on computer science and software development.

  • Computer Science (CS) focuses on programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and other topics related to software development.
  • Computer Engineering (CE) focuses on those areas and includes hardware design, embedded systems, networking, and other areas related to computers. It’s a combination of computer science and electrical engineering. 

There are two distinct degrees: CS and CE. Both are technological disciplines that have an emphasis on computers and information systems. However, there are a lot of distinctions between them.

Computer engineers frequently concentrate on creating new computers. Computer scientists put a lot of attention on networking, algorithms, and computer theory.

You might prefer computer engineering to computer sciences if you enjoy designing interfaces, making computers, or analyzing hardware. A computer science degree, however, can be the ideal option if you enjoy computing theory and data analysis.

Although many engineers may argue that computer science is simply another field of engineering, computer science is not an engineering discipline. Electrical engineering and computer science differ significantly in two ways:

  1. Software development is the main focus of computer science, whereas hardware design is the main focus of computer engineering.
  2. While computer engineering focuses on using theory to solve problems, computer science is problem-focused.
Computer Science Coding and Computers

Computer Science vs Computer Engineering Market Outlook

The tech sector is expanding incredibly quickly. For individuals who want to enter the field, there are numerous chances. Every job in technology pays well, and wages are rising year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that software developers make an average yearly pay of $110,140. The average salary for computer engineers is $128,170 per year.

Computer scientists, software developers, and computer engineers are needed in numerous other expanding sectors. They consist of the following:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Cloud Computing
  • Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Mining, Smart Contracts, and Distributed Ledger Technology
  • Quantum Computing.

Additionally, you can pursue an advanced degree in a field unrelated to your current work and progress beyond your current role. A master’s degree in public health, for instance, could be obtained before moving into the field of healthcare management.

Or you may obtain a PhD in biochemistry and work in a lab to explore cancer therapies. A graduate degree will set you apart from the competition and may even provide you an advantage when applying for future positions.

Choosing between a career in computer science or computer engineering when you are just starting out can be challenging. Both professions provide plenty of job prospects and good compensation, but they also differ greatly from one another.

You must think about the kind of software development experience you want to acquire, the projects you want to work on, and the corporate culture you would like.

CS vs CE – Roles and Responsibilities

Compared to computer engineers, computer scientists typically work with more abstract concepts. They frequently have educational backgrounds in statistics, biology, chemistry, arithmetic, and physics. As a result, they excel in creating sophisticated models and analyzing vast volumes of data.

Circuit boards, microchips, and mechanical devices are frequently used by computer engineers in their work. To make items that people really use, they draw on their expertise in electronics, mechanics, and materials.

New technology design and creation are the responsibility of both categories of specialists. However, they tackle these jobs in various ways. Computer engineers develop things, and computer scientists consider how things function.

Computer Scientist Role and Responsibilities

A computer scientist creates programs and applications using logic and mathematics. A computer scientist might create code to imitate system behavior, analyze data from many sources, or automate repetitive operations.

Robots could be programmed by computer scientists who study artificial intelligence to carry out certain duties. She might also be entrusted with writing programming to identify network irregularities.

It’s possible for computer scientists to create programmers’ tools. Compilers, debuggers, and programming languages are a few examples.

Typically, computer scientists are knowledgeable about:

  • Programming languages like Java, SQL, and python.
  • How to run, maintain, and fix Linux and Windows operating systems.
  • Data structures and algorithms.
  • Basic cybersecurity and cryptography.
  • Knowledge of designing, coding, testing software.
  • How computer networks work and how they should be managed.
Computer Engineering

Computer Scientist Role and Responsibilities

An engineer in computer science creates hardware and software systems. This can entail inventing a new operating system, a new kind of robot, or even a new kind of vehicle.

A computer engineer may be in charge of making sure a device is trustworthy and safe. Before producing a prototype, she might test it. Or she can be requested to investigate a problem with a product that has already been made available.

An understanding of computer hardware and architecture is necessary for a computer engineer.

  • How the CPU, RAM, hard drive, motherboard, etc., all interact together.
  • They need to be able to design, code, test, and debug software.
  • They also need to be flexible enough to work with a wide variety of software, which can vary greatly depending on the company and industry.
  • Computer engineers must be able to build their own personal computing devices and maintain them.

CS vs CE – Degree Programs

Computer science and computer engineering degrees are offered by numerous universities. The best colleges and universities in the United States provide graduate and undergraduate degree options.

You can prepare for entry-level positions in the IT industry with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering. Although you might not gain much practical experience, it will provide you a solid foundation in computing’s foundations.

More hands-on training in topics like networking and security will be given to you if you have an associate’s degree in computer science and/or computer engineering. Working with computers will help you obtain essential experience in the real world.

You can develop your career in the IT industry with the aid of master’s degree programs in computer science. You learn cutting-edge computer science and technology topics from them.

You must carry out at least three years of research while receiving your master’s degree if you wish to pursue a PhD in computer science or computer engineering.

CS vs CE – Which is Right for Me? 

Depending on your job goals, you should decide between computer science and computer engineering. When selecting between these two possibilities, keep the following in mind:

  • Do you prefer hardware design (CE) or software design (CS)?
  • Are you interested in learning about how computers operate (CE), or do you want to create applications and products using those principles (CS)?
  • What kind of job are you hoping to land?
  • Is your goal to become a programmer, designer, researcher, or manager?
  • Do you prefer to work alone (CS) or more in a team (CE)?

The main consideration for me at Stanford University while picking between computer science and computer engineering was how much I liked programming. I was certain that I wanted to work as a programmer.

I was able to use every concept we covered in class to complete my tasks. I cherished being able to put my knowledge to use by creating apps and websites. Additionally, I like being a part of a group where individuals held diverse viewpoints and thoughts.

If you’re not interested in programming, it could be better for you to major in computer engineering because there are more job placement chances there.

Computer Science Coding at Desk

CS vs CE Final Thoughts

Every major has advantages and disadvantages. It all boils down to what you hope to achieve through your schooling. Do you want to learn more about how computers operate or about software programming?

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Written by:

Chris Wood
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer for the past 5 years. While working in this field I’ve had the pleasure of developing software in a wide variety of industries. I look forward to using my experience in order to find a role where I can utilize my creativity and passion for solving complex software engineering problems.