Computer Science vs Computer Engineering

Computer science and computer engineering are two very similar majors but have big differences.Which major uses more math, computer science or computer engineering ? Read the whole article to get your answer.

Computer Science or Computer Engineering

Computer engineers focus more on hardware like: Computer chips, microprocessors, sensors and more..

Computer Engineering typically focuses specifically on computer hardware and software. It is an integration of computer science and electrical engineering.

While computer science majors focus on software.

Computer Science is an umbrella term which encloses four major areas of computing: theory, algorithms, programming languages, and architecture.

Every university is different so both the majors ” computer science or computer engineering ” will take the first introduction programming classes.

And this is the way you learn the basics of programming,

how to write:

  • Loops
  • IF statements
  • Functions
  • Declare an Integer, Character, Array, and so on..
  • Usually in Java and/or C to begin

And you have lots of programming assignments in these classes to get you familiar with coding. Then they both take Discrete Math, both computer science or computer engineering .

They both take Computer Architecture class where they go in depth of the Hardware design of the CPU. This is more about computer engineering based class, yet it’s different, they can teach you in computer science too.

But when it comes to Math both fields take:

(*) here means that in many schools they teach but in some they won’t. Or they would replace it with any other subject.


And now about their DIFFERENCES:

  • Computer engineers take about half of the classes of Electrical Engineers take
  • Including Circuit analysis I, II, III
  • Some Electronic courses (Intro to Electronic)
  • Digital Electronics
  • Signal Processing (where you analyze the math behind the signals such as sounds waves, or radio waves)

For those who hate Math, trigonometry and analyzing functions that class will not be fun for you.

And lastly they take their EMBEDDED SYSTEMS class, which involves creating project with something like ARDUINO.

This is where the hardware programming comes in that you hear computer engineers do and computer scientists don’t.

  •  it involves programming knowledge
  •  you also need to know Circuit analysis

Combine these and it can create a lot of projects like maybe a basic digital thermometer.

This could totally be a project you do and you see how their circuitry here

it’s to see the voltages in the circuit, that’s all from Electrical Engineering classes that computer scientists would not have a background.

Computer Scientist are going to take design and analysis of algorithms.

Computer Engineers do learn some algorithms but computer scientists go in way more depth.. Including programming and mathematically proving more complicated and famous algorithms. Like showing us the shortest path problem and this is where discrete Math comes in.


They also take their class of THEORY OF COMPUTATION

It is discussed as an abstract course

You learn more proves and determine how efficiently problems can be solved using an algorithm. It’s a Math and proves based class that involves again discrete Math.

Computer Engineers also use discrete math but not as much as Computer Scientists do

And of course there are more classes like Assembly Language, programming languages, operating systems and so on. Every school is different. And the big takeaway from this is how computer scientists are going to take algorithms and the theory of computation, Whereas computer engineers take all those circuits and electronics classes as well as Embedded systems that’s the main aspect of the differences to take into account when deciding. So now there comes a question:

Who uses more math?

Computer scientists or computer engineers?

Well the answer is “both”.

They both use a lot of math.

If you don’t like mathematical problem solving both these majors will be tough for you. As you saw computer scientists use more of the discrete math though, they use it in their algorithm and computation class because the kind of math performed by computers is discrete math.

Computer engineers use calculus and more of “continuous math” they are used to, in their electrical engineering classes, differential equation model health circuits behave and integration techniques are required when doing signal processing because those signals are continuous functions you can integrate. Computer engineers also do a lot of systems of equations constructions have lots of voltages and current variables these aren’t really tough mathematically but it is something to be ready for and it also will involve imaginary numbers.

What should you select if you hate math?

So if you are sitting there and thinking I hate my calculus class. Could I handle computer engineering or should I go into computer science I would say go with computer science but honestly you may hate that math you see too.

I wouldn’t call it easier just different. You might be able to handle computer engineering but you won’t like a fair amount of your classes that are math intensive that you just got to get through. It’s up to you to understand what you’re able to handle.

Now everything discussed here so far comes with a huge asterisk of *does not apply to every student especially for these two majors and here’s what I mean, both majors have to take elective courses and those elective courses can be in each other’s discipline so if we go back to our list, computer engineers are allowed to take any of these other classes and ones not listed as their electives so they can almost have a degree in computer science too if they wanted now the computer scientist would not take the electrical classes on the left here.

What the computer scientists would select they would be:

  • Cryptography
  • Game design
  • Software security
  • Computer Graphics
  • Software Engineering and etc..

And computer engineers could take these too.


Now the things both CSC and CPE can take are:

computer science or computer engineering -

And there are electives that they are more CPE and EE base and computer scientists would not take:

READ ALSO: Is Samsung better than iPhone

Which major has more programming?

If you are curious about which major has more programming

They are actually extremely close but computer scientists have a little more because computer engineers go often take circuits and electronics which don’t involve programming but when you factor an elective classes then a computer engineer could see just as much.

Just remember that’s not just these majors are all about.

If you want a real world example think of your phone.

Lots of engineers have put in work to design your phone as computer engineers worked on:

  • Circuit chips
  • Memory
  • Microprocessor
  • Controls

Where as computer scientists would write the:

  • operating system

iOS for the iPhone users

  • code for the applications
  • Encryption (to secure our sensitive information)

This could apply to the video games too where computer scientist would program the player’s movements and the physics of the game while computer engineers our make the hardware.

So, think about what you want to work on when it comes to a career and understand what you are getting into.

Computer Engineers are often qualified for software positions. So keep doing research.

Jobs in these fields

Both degrees and jobs in computing are becoming increasingly specialized. For this reason, it is more important than ever to fully research a computing degree program so that you can be certain that the program will provide you with the knowledge and experience that you need for your career.

However, it is not always easy to pick the right program just from the name of the program or the department. Although naming is becoming more standardized, there is still some variance from school to school and program to program. Knowing exactly what kind of computing you want to do for your career and finding the right program can be helpful in securing your dream job after graduation.

At the undergraduate level, programs usually cover a broad range of computing topics and allow students to engage in projects across multiple areas. For graduate studies in computer science, it is typical to focus on one area. Therefore, it is important to research the graduate program to make sure that the school has the faculty and resources that you need to complete your master’s or doctoral project.

Computer Engineering

“Computer Engineering” typically focuses specifically on computer hardware and software. It is an integration of computer science and electrical engineering. For this reason, many people who want to become computer engineers earn an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering (often with a minor or double major in computer science), and then earn a graduate degree in computer engineering. When searching for a graduate program, look for schools that are equally strong in computer science and engineering.

From theory to application, there is a specialty for every person with a passion for computing. During your undergraduate program, you may want to include some Electrical Engineering classes even if your program does not specifically require them for graduation. At the graduate level, there are far more great programs available than you might think. Instead of going for the biggest brand names, find the program that is right for you and your goals within the field.

It’s hard to distinguish between these two majors in a career setting.

It’s not as black and white.

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