What's the Difference Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering Majors?

One way to prepare yourself for a job in the computer world is to choose the appropriate education program for your career. Keep reading to find out the difference between a computer science major and a computer engineering major. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering Majors

Computer science majors are taught how computer technology can be used for a variety of purposes, such as finance, graphics, Web design and Internet networking. Computer engineering programs lean more toward the inner workings of computers. You can learn how to use scientific principles and electrical engineering applications to build, assemble, repair and modify computers usually in a team environment.

Important Facts About These Programs

Computer Science Computer Engineering
Online Availability Fully offered at graduate and undergraduate levels Fully offered at graduate and undergraduate levels
Other Program Requirements Internships are available at the bachelor's level Undergrad internships are available for work experience
Degree Levels Offers programs at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral levels Offers programs at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral level
Specializations At the master's level, one can specialize in areas such as computational perception, computer graphics, and human-computer interaction At the master's level, one can specialize in areas such as artificial intelligence, analysis and design of algorithms, and computer systems
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 19% growth (for computer and information research scientists) 5% growth (for computer hardware engineers)
Median Salary (2018) $118,370 (for computer and information research scientists) $114,600 (for computer hardware engineers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Computer Science

Computer science majors begin with fundamental courses in computer hardware and software as well as program development. Other beginning courses delve into data structures, database management, web applications and networking skills.

Advanced computer science courses offer an eclectic mix of choices, including studies in computer graphics and animation, robotics and artificial intelligence, programming language, web design, security and software design. Independent study courses allow you to work with and learn from computer professionals. Theoretical and ethics courses examine the problems in society that can arise from computer technology, such as crime and privacy issues as well as the ethical decision-making process.

Computer Engineering

Computer engineering programs start with basic science courses in chemistry, calculus, algebra and physics. After that, courses are more technical, examining the applications of assembly, circuits, electrical circuits and algorithms.

Advanced courses in computer engineering instruct you in how to design computer structures and use digital electronics in computer applications. Some colleges offer lab courses in electronic circuit engineering, while others give you choices such as software and operating system design, computer architecture and modeling concepts. Schools give you a number of elective opportunities in computer engineering, and many majors require a senior project.

Career Choices

Computer Science

Computer engineering graduates can find entry-level employment as computer hardware engineers, who are responsible for the construction and installation of circuit boards, computer chips and other electronic components. Computer software engineers develop the software that controls computers, putting them in high demand in a variety of industries. Software engineers also coordinate the construction and expansion of a company's computer system. Programmer and system analyst are another two positions that require an engineering degree. The BLS reported the median salary for computer and information research scientists was $118,370 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).

Computer Engineering

Computer science graduates have a variety of job choices. You could become a systems administrator, database administrator, web designer or computer graphics artist. There could also be opportunities to use your knowledge to design a variety of computer security programs for the government or private industry. The BLS reported the median salary for computer hardware engineers was $114,600 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools