+3 votes
in Opinion by (260 points)

I couldn’t decide wether to choose Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Please help me differentiate between them. Thank you.

3 Answers

+2 votes
by (37.1k points)
 
Best answer

Computer Engineering or Computer Science

Deciding whether to pursue computer science or engineering can be quite challenging mainly because both fields of study share a lot in common. What is you'll find is that both computer science and engineering share very similar courses which are great choices if you're interested in a career in technology. 

Understanding where the difference lies will help you navigate through your studies and career goals smoothly.

The key to making this very important decision is to evaluate your strengths against the requirements of both fields of study.

Computer Science is anchored on the theory of computation. If you comfortable with learning algorithms, programming languages, data structures and statistical models of systems or just a general understanding how computers work from an abstract and less hands-on level, Computer Science appears to be a good fit for you. A degree in Computer science will give you a deeper understanding of programming algorithms, operating system principles, computer architecture and software engineering

A deep interest in mathematics, puzzles, and problem solving is required for you to excel. If you're more interested in hardware circuit design and electronics than software, Computer Engineering makes more sense for you.

Computer Engineering is focused on system design. It is fusion of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. As you might have guessed, Engineering is much more hardware intensive than Computer Science. While you still learn the general software engineering principles, a lot more emphasis is placed on hardware circuit designs and implementation. If you're looking to understand how computers work with the goal of building systems of your own, Computer Engineering is a good fit for you. The computer engineer needs to have a deep understanding of how we can harness the laws of physics and electronics to create better computer components. 

Keep in mind that you are more likely to spend more time at the electronics laboratory than writing code. If you just want to write software, Computer Science looks like the right choice.

There is generally no fixed rule on what path you should follow. The chances are that whether you study Computer Science or Engineering, you will still be quite knowledgeable in all matters concerning computing if you follow through the learning process judiciously. For example, as a Computer Science student, you can spend some extra time researching more on hardware and electronics to compensate for the little gap in knowledge just as a Computer Engineering student might want to spend some time learning more about algorithms and programming language best practices.

The way these courses are taught varies from one University to the other. Remember this is just an opinion based piece; you will ultimately need to properly check with your University of choice to understand the courses offered by their Computer Science and Engineering departments and the depth to which they are taught. Comparing the course contents will give you an idea of what to expect at the end of each programme. Good luck with this!


Let us know what your thoughts are. Do you think you're fit for Computer Science or Engineering? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

Feel free to share this post with friends who might also be having a hard time choosing between Computer Science and Engineering.

by (4.4k points)
Well explained. I personally went for Computer Engineering because I was deeply interested in hardware & circuit design. Thanks for this post.
by (37.1k points)
You certainly made a good decision. Thanks for sharing your experience.
+1 vote
by (4.4k points)

Quoting @cpentalk below

You will ultimately need to properly check with your University of choice to understand the courses offered by their Computer Science and Engineering departments and the depth to which they are taught. Comparing the course contents will give you an idea of what to expect at the end of each programme

This is really important.

by (37.1k points)
This is key. Most Universities publish their course content publicly. It makes sense to go through everything before applying.
+1 vote
by (4.2k points)

A Circuit Board

An electronic circuit board

Computer Engineering is much more hardware intensive than Computer Science. Be prepared to learn about the electronics of computer systems in addition to a little bit of computer science too.

A code snippet of Python

A code snippet of Python

Computer Science revolves around the theory of Computation. Be prepared to write code, learn about algorithms and learn about the principles of software development, with a little bit of hardware as well.

by (37.1k points)
Well summarised. Computer Science appears to be more software oriented, while Engineering places more emphasis on hardware system design. But ultimately, both have a lot of shared courses. Thanks for sharing.

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