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Difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering

Confused between Computer Science and Software Engineering ?

If you have envisioned to enter a field of technology, you must bat around from where to start. The field of technology has improvised immensely over the past decade. And degrees like computer science and software technology are highly recommended to land a job in a tech company. When it comes to choosing between computer science and software engineering you might find it quite mystifying. As both of them overlap in terms of jobs as well as opportunities. So what to go for? Well! That’s exactly what you will discover from this write up. We will list out the prominent differences between software engineering and computer science.

Is Computer Science and Software Engineering the same?

If you are of the opinion that computer science and software engineering are the same disciplines, then you have taken it wrong. Both of them differ in their scope as computer science is more of a theoretical field that works with algorithms and data structures and it doesn’t include the principles of software engineering. On the other hand, software engineering does include principles of computer science and is more on the practical side.

Computer Science Vs Software Engineering

To put it in simple and plain words we can say that computer science is specifically about how the computers work. We learn how a computer performs its task by using different coding languages. Computer science is a specialized and in-depth field where you learn about the hardware as well as the software which is used to operate that. If you intend to try your luck in the emerging computer disciplines including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing then computer science is the go to option for you.

The things you will learn in your degree of computer will help you a lot in the beginning of your career. This will help you to have a bird’s-eye view of what is happening in the industry around you.

On the contrary, software engineering is the study about how the software systems work. What is the software development lifecycle and what processes are involved from start to the end of developing a software.

If you are in doubt about your programming skills or want to opt something which requires less programming skills, then software engineering is relatively a better option in this scenario.

How does they differ as degrees?

So how does they differ as college degrees? The basic fundamentals of computer and mathematics should be covered by both computer science and software engineering. These are the logics used in programming in one or more languages. Both degrees consist of courses that focus data structures, algorithms, statistics, and mathematics. So, they both at some point overlap in terms of course outline.

Since computer science is a theoretical study of computations it will cover more advance knowledge in these areas. Such as advance algorithms and wide range of data structure. Computer science degree is built on this foundational area to have a deep concept of everything.

A computer science degree is a great option for those who love to learn things at a deeper level. It is also a great choice because when you plan to study further. While considering to get a masters or a PhD you can have this choice to get in specialized area of your choice. Woah! No subject restrictions.

A software engineering degree will also cover the foundational knowledge. But since software engineering is more on the application side of the computer. A software engineering degree will take the foundational knowledge and teach you how to develop a software for the real world. In a software engineering degree, you will learn a lot about software lifecycle, software testing, design of software and many more related things.

Software engineering is great option for you if you want to work with high levels of engineering practices in building a software in the real world, and of course if you want that title of an engineer.

Jobs opportunities:

Here’s the spoiler! 98% of the time when you go for a job interview, they make no distinction if you should have a computer science degree or a software engineering degree. The employers don’t put that much thought to it as long as you have the required skillset needed for the task employers want you to perform. Nowadays tech companies don’t even put the name of a specified degree in the job criteria. Employers just look for the right candidate with the best skillset. So, your degree doesn’t really count if you have skills.


To summarize the argument, I can say that computer science helps you to understand how the computers work. And software engineering lets you put that knowledge into practical use to develop a computer software. This is “by the book” definition but as with anything in the real world it’s not that cut and dry. There is not a universal standardization of how computer science and software should differ from each other. If you want to decide which one is the best for you, here’s the last comment. If you have an interest in the hardware side, go for computer science. But on the contrary if you love to work with software then go for software engineering.  

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