Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Which Degree Program Should You Pursue?


Choosing a degree program can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to technology-related fields such as computer science and computer engineering. Both of these degrees have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the ever-growing demand for technology professionals. However, the two fields are quite distinct and cater to different interests and career paths. In this post, we will explore the differences between computer science and computer engineering, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and provide recommendations to help you make an informed decision when choosing between the two. We will also discuss alternative options for those looking to pursue a career in the technology industry.

Overview of Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Computer Science is an academic field that focuses on the theoretical foundations of computing and programming, including algorithms, data structures, software engineering, programming languages, and computer architecture. Computer Engineering, on the other hand, combines the principles of computer science and electrical engineering to design and develop computer systems, hardware, and software.

Both of these fields share some commonalities, such as an emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking skills, but they differ in terms of the topics covered and the skills required. Understanding these differences is crucial when making a decision between pursuing a degree in computer science or computer engineering.

Differences between Computer Science and Computer Engineering

While computer science and computer engineering share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two. These include:

  • Curriculum Differences: Computer science focuses on the fundamentals of programming, data structures, and algorithms, whereas computer engineering involves both hardware and software development, including circuit design and computer architecture.
  • Career Paths: Computer science graduates often work in software development, data analysis, and computer programming, while computer engineering graduates typically pursue careers in hardware design, embedded systems, and robotics.
  • Skillset and Prerequisites: Computer science students need strong programming skills and a solid foundation in math, while computer engineering students require a good understanding of digital electronics, programming, and knowledge of electrical circuits.

By understanding these differences, students can make a more informed decision about which degree program aligns better with their interests and career aspirations.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Science

Like other degree programs, computer science has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering before deciding to pursue the course:

  • Advantages:
    • Diverse range of career opportunities in software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, AI and machine learning, and web development.
    • High demand for computer science professionals, with competitive salaries and benefits packages.
    • Fosters a problem-solving mentality and analytical thought process that is applicable to various fields.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Highly competitive job market.
    • Challenging curriculum that is rigorous in math and logic.
    • Requires a significant amount of time and effort to stay current with the latest advancements and emerging technologies.

Overall, computer science is a demanding but rewarding degree that can provide a solid foundation for a successful career in technology.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Engineering

Like computer science, computer engineering has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that prospective students should consider:

  • Advantages:
    • Opportunities to work on exciting, challenging projects such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and embedded systems.
    • High demand for computer engineers, with competitive salaries and numerous job opportunities.
    • Combines principles of computer science and electrical engineering to create a unique skill set that is applicable to a wide range of industries.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Requires significant knowledge of both hardware and software, which may require additional coursework and training.
    • May require a more niche set of skills and may not be as widely applicable as computer science.
    • Salary growth may not be as exponential compared to other technology-related fields such as data science.

Despite its challenges, computer engineering continues to be a popular and rewarding degree program for those who are passionate about computer hardware and enjoy working on complex systems.

Choosing between Computer Science and Computer Engineering

When it comes to choosing between computer science and computer engineering, it ultimately comes down to what interests you and aligns with your career goals. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Your Interests: Computer science is more software-focused and involves developing tools and programs, while computer engineering is more hardware-focused and involves developing computer hardware and systems. Consider what you enjoy and would like to pursue as a career.
  • Career Objectives: Consider the career opportunities available within each field and how they align with your career goals. While there may be some overlap in job titles in each field, the actual job functions can be vastly different.
  • Skills and Prerequisites: Consider the skills you possess and the prerequisites required for each degree program. If you enjoy math and programming, then computer science may be more suitable. If you are more interested in electronics and computer hardware design, then computer engineering could be a better fit.

Ultimately, it’s important to choose a degree program that you feel passionate about, as both computer science and computer engineering require a significant amount of work and dedication. That being said, don’t be afraid to explore other related fields, such as data science or applied computer science, if neither of these degrees is the right fit for you.

Alternatives to Computer Science and Computer Engineering

While computer science and computer engineering are popular degree programs, there are several other alternatives for students interested in technology:

  • Information Technology: This degree program focuses on the practical application of technology in business settings, such as network management, database administration, and cybersecurity.
  • Software Development: This degree program focuses specifically on developing and testing software applications, such as website and mobile applications.
  • Data Science: This degree program focuses on analyzing and interpreting large amounts of data, using statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms, to help businesses make intelligent decisions.

If you’re not sure that a technology-related degree program is right for you, consider exploring other trades such as electrician or plumber. Check out this article on electrician vs plumber for more information on this alternative career path.

Interesting facts

Here are some interesting facts about computer science vs computer engineering:

  • Computer science degree programs tend to focus more on software programming and algorithm development, while computer engineering programs focus on hardware design and development.
  • Computer science graduates can work in various fields such as software development, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, database management and more, while computer engineering graduates usually work in embedded systems, microcontroller design, computer hardware and peripherals development, etc.
  • Both degrees require an in-depth understanding of math, physics, and other engineering disciplines.
  • Many people confuse computer engineering with computer science as they are two different fields.

If we have to find a comparison, a plumber is to pipe as computer science is to software development and a pipefitter is to computer engineering as they focus more on hardware design and development, which is similar to fitting and aligning pipes. For more information about this comparison, follow this link: Plumber vs. Pipefitter.


Q: What is Computer Science?

It is a field that focuses on computation, algorithms, programming languages, software development, and theories related to computer systems.

Q: What is Computer Engineering?

It is a field that combines computer science with electrical engineering to design and develop computer-based systems.

Q: Which one is harder, Computer Science or Computer Engineering?

Both are challenging, but it depends on the individual’s abilities and interests.

Q: Can I switch from one degree to another?

It depends on the college or university you attend and their policies.

Q: What is the job outlook for Computer Science graduates?

The job outlook is excellent as the demand for software development and related jobs is increasing rapidly.

Q: What is the job outlook for Computer Engineering graduates?

The job outlook is good as there is a high demand for computer hardware engineers and related jobs.

Q: What are the minimum educational requirements for both degrees?

You typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering.

Q: Is there a significant salary difference between the two?

Both degrees offer high earning potential. However, salaries may vary depending on the location, industry, and other factors.

Q: Are there any prerequisites for studying either degree?

You need a strong background in mathematics, science, and other technical subjects.

Q: What are the alternatives to studying Computer Science or Computer Engineering?

Other technology-related degrees include Information Technology, Information Systems, and Data Science. Self-education and coding boot camps also offer training in these fields.

Real experience

John had always been interested in tinkering with technology, programming and building robots as a hobby. But when it came time to enroll in college, he was torn between two degree programs: computer science and computer engineering.

He spent weeks researching the two courses, trying to decide which one he was more passionate about. He spoke with family and friends, looked up online forums and reviews, but the more he learned about either degree, the more uncertain he became.

John finally decided to meet with his academic counselor to discuss his options. The counselor gave him a brief overview of both programs and suggested he explore each area more in detail. John appreciated the advice but still felt that he was no closer to a decision.

One day, while browsing through news articles, John stumbled upon a story about an autonomous robot that a team of engineers had developed in response to a fire at a nearby factory. He was fascinated by the complexity of the robot and the various components that went into its development. The article listed the engineering staff involved, and their qualifications, which included computer engineering degrees.

In that moment, John realized that computer engineering was the path he wanted to pursue. The degree would allow him to combine his love for robotics and tinkering with the skills, knowledge, and hands-on experience necessary to design and build his own autonomous robots.

He went back to his counselor and informed them of his decision to pursue computer engineering. Over the years, he would look back on that moment as one of the most important and life-changing decisions he ever made.


Choosing the right degree program is essential for anyone looking to pursue a career in technology. By understanding the differences between computer science and computer engineering, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, students can make a more informed decision about which degree program aligns better with their interests and career aspirations.

Remember, personal interests and career goals should guide your decision. Consider exploring alternative fields like data science or information technology if neither computer science nor computer engineering fits your needs. Furthermore, as the field of technology continues to grow and evolve, new fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning offer exciting and promising opportunities. For more information on artificial intelligence and machine learning, check out this site.

Ultimately, the key is to choose a degree program that aligns with your interests and career aspirations and to always seek out opportunities to develop new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements.

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