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Major: Computer Science or Computer Engineering

expo2005expo2005 Posts: 93Registered User Junior Member
edited November 2010 in College Life
I'm sorry if I put this topic in the wrong section, I wasn't sure which one to put it in so I thought this might be the one that best fit.

I'm a senior in high school right now and I probably don't have to worry about this much yet, but most applications ask, so think I should think about it at least a little: what should I major in. I've narrowed it down to computer science or computer engineering, but I'm not sure which one more fits me and I'm not even exactly sure what the differences between them are. Not all schools offer both and many schools have different explanations for these majors.

I'm leaning towards computer science just merely because I have taken Computer Science class in high school but I'm very curious to know what computer engineering is.

So basically my questions are as follows:
1. What's the difference between comp sci and comp eng?
2. Which do you recommend?

Thanks beforehand!
Post edited by expo2005 on

Replies to: Major: Computer Science or Computer Engineering

  • ctrain890ctrain890 Posts: 270Registered User Junior Member
    1. Basically, computer engineering deals with the hardware aspect, while ocmputer science more deals w/ software. Computer engineers design and fabricate computer systems, chips, etc. The guys who work at Pentium, figuring out ways make faster chips are computer engineers. Computer science, depending on how comprehensive the department is at the specific school, will deal mostly with computer programming, IT, or both. Some schools actually have an IT major separate from computer science, but I don't think that's as common.

    2. It really depends on what you enjoy. And I don't know what schools specifically you're applying to, but at most of the schools I applied to you didn't have to apply into a specific major, so you'll have time to decide. However, if you're at all ambivalent it's best to go in as a computer engineering major b/c engineers always have more requirements, and (in the first year or two at least) many of the courses will overlap anyway. And if you have a change of heart, it's easier to switch form comp. eng. to comp sci than vice-versa.

    HTH
  • Marines920Marines920 Posts: 269Registered User Junior Member
    Hooray for engineering
  • thomaschauthomaschau Posts: 510Registered User Member
    So comp eng. is more difficult and demanding?
  • jeff2jeff2 Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    >So comp eng. is more difficult and demanding?
    Usually, yes. Computer engineering is basically a combination of computer science and electrical engineering. At some colleges there is more of an emphasis on computer science, others more on EE. I would say computer engineering is definitely more demanding than computer science, and this is one reason I intend to switch to engineering next quarter (there are a lot of EE majors in my hall and they know--or will know--more about the actual computer hardware my software runs on than me, as a computer science major, and I'm jealous). At my college, a BS in computer science requires 186 units, while a BS in computer engineering requires 190.

    To give you an idea of the difference, computer engineers have to take Calculus III and Calculus IV, while these are optional for computer science majors. Computer engineers have to take one class of chem and 4 of physics; computer scientists can get by with 3 classes of chemistry -or- 3 classes of physics.

    Here are the major courses for computer science:
    Fund CSC I
    Fund CSC II
    Fund CSC III
    Discrete Structures I
    Digital Design (+Lab)
    Software Engr I
    Software Engr II
    Comp Des/Assbl Lang Prob (+Lab)
    Systems Programming
    Professional Responsibilities
    Computer Architecture
    Programming Languages I
    Des & Analys of Algorithms
    Theory of Computing
    Intro to Operating Systems
    Senior Project
    24 units of advisor approved technical electives (these are things like networking, AI, ...)

    For computer engineering:
    Computer Engr Orientation
    Fund CSC I
    Fund CSC II
    Fund CSC III
    Discrete Structures I
    Digital Design (+Lab)
    Software Engr I
    Software Engr II
    Comp Des/Assbl Lang Prob (+Lab)
    Systems Programming
    Computer Architecture
    Micro Contr/Embedded Apps
    Prog Log/Microproc-Bsd Sys Des
    CPE Capstone Preparation
    CPE Capstone Project
    Operating Systems I
    Senior Project
    Intro to Comp Networks
    Basic Circuit Analysis (+Lab)
    Steady-State Circ Analysis (+Lab)
    Cont-Time Signals & Systems
    Semiconductor Device Elec (+Lab)
    Digital Integrated Electronics (+Lab)
    12 units of advisor approved technical electives

    Of course, your milage may vary. Hope this helps.

    Update: Another advantage of Computer Engineering is that your college might be ABET accredited in that field, Computer Science usually (never?) is not. But its up to you; above all, pick what you think you would enjoy the most.
  • VTBoyVTBoy Posts: 580Registered User Member
    At my school we have a 3 Computer Majors.

    1. Computer Science
    2. Computer Science and Engineering.
    3. Computer Engineering


    The first two are through the division of Computer Science and Engineering and the 3rd one is through the division of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Looking at the clases they have to take, and talking to people in the majors, I have to say 1 is the easiest, 2 is the next hardest, and 3 is the hardest About non specific classes at my school Computer Science has 67 non-specific classes, Computer Science and Engineering has 40, and Computer Engineering has 15 total. Computer Engineering is the only one where the upper division is compleatly restricted.
  • SplashSplash Posts: 18Registered User New Member
    hey, if you like study something a little more tangible go ahead and choose comp E. Otherwise, if your're like me who dosen't like hardware or electrical courses, be a C.S. major. Comp E. and CS majors more or less take the same courses. Though comp E has more math than CS. I won't have to take anymore math after first semes of juniro year.
  • VTBoyVTBoy Posts: 580Registered User Member
    Splash I am not sure at his school they would take the same course because at my school all CS and CE take very different courses, drastically different courses. While CSE is like a middle ground between both.
  • KingComKingCom Posts: 14Registered User New Member
    It's almost always depends on the school you go to. I started out in CE but it was only 3 classes more than an EE degree. I'm a CS major now but I still take CE or EE classes. I switched to CS for the following reasons:

    1) I live in fargo and CS majors seem to get jobs more, not sure if its the same everywhere else but it seems like it when I go and do some quick job searches. (Microsoft is huge in Fargo so that's probably why also.)

    2) The Department of Labor Statistics says EE and Computer hardware Engineers is going to be decreasing quite a bit compared to Software engineer jobs, not to say that CE and EE guys can't do those jobs though, and also I'm not saying these statistics are right but if you have a better source please tell me haha.

    3) CE and EE guys seem to need more experience straight out of college where as CS guys don't (where I live). The pay for CE guys are higher (not that much more) but jobs are fewer (where I live).

    To sum it up though (just to prove I'm not against either cause I love both) I would stick with CE major if it had more CS classes in its curriculum at my school.
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