Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: What’s The Difference?

programmer, computer, code
Image: Pixabay

New entrants in the field of computing often use computer science and computer engineering terms interchangeably. While they have a lot in common, they also have tons of differences. While computer science deals with processing, storage, and communication of data and instructions, computer engineering is a marriage of electrical engineering and computer science.

So, when opting for a degree program, think about your preferences and make the decision.

As the needs in computing industry are becoming more and more specific, the higher studies and degrees are becoming more specific. It has also created better job opportunities and more chances for the students to study whatever they like. This has also made the process of selecting the right program more challenging.

Computer science and computer engineering: Difference and similarities

While the names of computing courses have become more standard and you can get a pretty good idea of what you’re going to learn, people don’t know the clear difference between the basic terms like computer science and computer engineering. So, to explain that fine difference (and similarities), I’ve written this article.

Computer science is not limited to programming

The biggest misconception attached to computer science is that it’s all about programming. But, it’s a lot more than that. Computer science is an umbrella term that covers 4 major areas of computing. These areas are:

  • Theory
  • Programming languages
  • Algorithms
  • Architecture

In computer science, you get to study about data and instruction processing, and how they are communicated and stored by computing devices. By studying this, one gets to learn data processing algorithms, symbolic representations, techniques for writing software, communication protocols, organisation of data in databases, etc.

In simpler language, you learn what problems can be solved by computers, you write algorithms and create computer systems for people by writing apps, databases, security systems, etc.

In computer science undergraduate college programs, the degrees cover a broad range of topics and allow students to work and learn across multiple areas. On the other hand, in graduate studies, the focus in on one specific area. So, you need to research the right graduate program and the colleges.

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Computer Engineering is more applied in nature

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Image: UpWork

Computer engineering can be seen as an amalgam of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. By combining the hardware and software knowledge, computer engineers work on computing of all types. They take care of how microprocessors function, how they designed and optimized, how data transfer takes place, and how software is written and compiled for different hardware platforms.

In simpler language, computer engineering puts the software design and data processing concepts into action. A computer engineer is responsible for running a software created by a computer scientist.

Having told you about computer science and computer engineer, I must say that these two fields are always overlapping each other on some front. There are some areas of computing that act as a bridge between the two. As said above, a computer engineer brings along the hardware part and makes the tangible parts work. Talking about the degrees, both of them involve programming, mathematics, and basic computer operation. The specific and differentiating traits have been already mentioned above.

Overall, it depends on your preferences. Do you wish to be close to programming and algorithms? Or, do you also wish to deal with hardware? Find the program that’s right for you and achieve your goals.

Ishu Luthra

Ishu Luthra

Social Media Manager and Tech Journalist at Fossbytes For relevant queries, contact me at [email protected]
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