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      Computer Science vs Computer Engineering

      Difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering

      Computer Science and Computer Engineering are the terms oft-heard, yet misunderstood as much. For students contemplating a master’s degree in Computers, the terms are quite familiar. However, the two terms overlap substantially. Hence, it is of paramount importance to understand the difference between the two to ensure you select the course which is right for you.

      Let us first explore what each of them entails.

      What is Computer Science?

      Computer Science deals with the theory of computation. It deals with the virtual aspects of computers and focuses on software instead of hardware. It involves code writing to integrate data, data structures, algorithms, statistical models, etc. in an efficient manner. 

      Creating algorithms to perform complex tasks, for instance, emulating a human brain or determining the best route for a cab, are part of this field. It closely aligns with mathematics and applies theoretical ideas to provide solutions for real-world problems. This degree covers the essential hardware and software topics, including Computer Organisation and Architecture. A computer scientist writes effective codes with the help of computational theory, mathematics, and data structures.

      What is Computer Engineering?

      Computer engineering is at the intersection of electrical engineering and computer science. It deals with the hardware aspect of Computers. It focuses on building devices like smartphones, integrated circuits, etc.; it is closely related to physics and involves understanding how the laws of physics and electronics can be used to create better components. However, programming skills are still essential for computer engineers; this degree covers programming topics such as software design.

      To start with, Computer Science and Computer Engineering have a different core curriculum. While the courses in a computer science degree focus on the theory of computation, languages and environments; the focus in computer engineering is on physics, electronics, and computer architecture.

      A Computer Science degree consists of the following courses

      • Design and Analysis Algorithm
      • Introduction to Operating Systems
      • Software Engineering
      • Data Analysis

      A Computer Engineering degree consists of the following courses

      • Mechanics
      • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Calculus
      • General Physics
      • Electric Circuits
      • Waves, Optics, Thermodynamics
      • Digital Logic, Machine Design

      Specialisations Offered

      Computer Science specializations

      • Computer and Network Security
      • Mobile and Web Computing
      • Human-Computer Interaction
      • Software Engineering
      • Bioinformatics
      • Information Management and Data Analytics
      • Artificial Intelligence

      Computer Engineering Specializations

      • Mobile Device Design
      • Embedded Systems Design
      • Microprocessor Design
      • Academic Research
      • Proprietary Research

      Other than being different in their core curriculum, both the degrees equip students with a different skill set.

      Skill set gained from a Computer Science degree

      • Designing efficient algorithms
      • Finding optimal, scalable solutions to problems
      • Managing data efficiently
      • Designing useful and effective software
      • Managing software development projects
      • Understanding the theory of computation
      • Writing high-quality code
      • Proficiency in various programming languages and environments

      Skill set gained from a Computer Engineering degree

      • Designing integrated circuits
      • Designing microprocessors
      • Understanding the physical phenomena that electronic devices rely on
      • Creating efficient and effective devices and computing systems
      • Designing computer architecture

      It is evident that both Computer Engineering and Computer Science have different course structure, focus on different aspects and offer different skill sets. Thus, depending on the aptitude and the interest, one should carefully decide between the two. Please note that the rankings of both of these majors are different. Check out the latest rankings as per US News.

      Computer Science Computer Engineering
      Carnegie Mellon University
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Stanford University
      Stanford University
      University of California–Berkeley
      University of California–Berkeley
      Carnegie Mellon University
      University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
      University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
      Cornell University
      Georgia Institute of Technology
      University of Washington
      University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
      Georgia Institute of Technology
      Princeton University
      Princeton University
      California Institute of Technology
      University of Texas–Austin
      Cornell University

      Author Bio:

      Prasad has been working in the overseas education industry for the last 12 years; he holds the distinction of servicing 700+ students to the USA for various programs. His accurate shortlisting skills and student-centric approach have been integral parts of his successful journey.

      Prasad has guided students to top universities such as Columbia University, UIUC, National University of Singapore, University of British Columbia, University of Southern California, Indian School of Business, Purdue University, York University (Schulich), University of Washington, University of California-Davis, etc.

      Author: Manya Education Group

      Manya Education, the largest partner of The Princeton Review (TPR) globally, offers end-to-end guidance and solutions for all the overseas education requirements.

      Founded in 1981, The Princeton Review is headquartered in New York, is a part of ST Unitas, a global education company; and has grown to become one of the leading companies in EduTech.


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