The Difference Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Students who browse the list of engineering majors often wonder about the difference between computer engineering and computer science courses. The two majors are very similar, but they each have a different school of thought. Some of the classes overlap, but these engineering majors are not the same.

Computer Science Major

A computer science major focuses more on programming and computational algorithms. If the student enjoys programming, algorithms and solving desktop issues through automated systems, then computer science is the right major. Computer science courses mostly involve programming and some microprocessor coding. Some typical computer science classes include:

  • Discrete math
  • C++ programming
  • Database programming
  • Logic design
  • Windows programming
  • Optional iPhone development

These are just a few of the common classes that are a part of the computer science major. This list does not cover the technical requirements for science majors in general including physics, chemistry, and advanced calculus.

Computer Engineering Major

As robotics and computer design become more popular, computer engineering is grabbing the attention of students who prefer the hardware side of machinery. Computer engineering focuses more on the circuits and microprocessor sides of the computer majors. Students who prefer designing circuit boards, programming microprocessors and building automated systems using electronic parts will enjoy what a computer engineering major offers. The following classes are typical computer engineering courses for a typical student:

  • Discrete Math
  • Microprocessors and assembly programming
  • Logic Design
  • Engineering statistics
  • Software design
  • Computational modeling
  • Digital system design

Many computer science and engineering classes require laboratories. These laboratories are where you use the theories lectured by the professors and build small circuit layouts and program microprocessors. The laboratories are difficult for someone new in the field, so having a partner helps when designing your circuits and completing the lab assignments.

The Job Market

The job markes for both college majors overlap. A computer engineering major may go into software design, and a computer science major might find himself working with circuits and logic design. Some computer engineers work closely with both the circuit design and programming in low-level languages such as C++ and assembly.

Computer science majors are more likely to find jobs in software design. The job market offers these students several areas of expertise. Students can go into web design working with PHP, ASP, web hosting and database management. Computer science majors can also go into desktop programming or game development. These jobs are mostly set in a corporate environment creating software such as customer relations systems, financial applications and sales support. Game developers have a high salary requirement, but the work hours are long and the

Before diving into any college major, check the types of classes needed to graduate. Each class has different prerequisites and labs, so take that into consideration as part of your academic planning. Students also need to consider the basic, core subjects such as English, history, math and electives to earn a computer science or engineering degree.