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Computer Science vs Information Technology, Which?


Has this debate about Computer Science vs Information Technology constantly plagued you for far too long? As if everyone around you is having an easier time pushing their prospects while you can’t?

“Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes”

Edsger Dijkstra, 1970

Regardless of whether you are looking for useful information for your studies or merely want to understand the scope of IT vs the scopes of Computer Science or difference between IT and Computer Science, this is the post you can certainly make a start with! Let us help you a tad bit while you figure out a coherent roadmap to your accelerated career success.

Computer and Information Technology (IT) are synonymous to many but have a different set of objectives and tasks in the industry.

Although there are overlaps, there are key differences too between Information Technology and Computer Science.

Factually, both have good scope and students from both branches are very much employable in the IT & software industries.

The Key Difference – IT vs CSE

A laptop, a Kindle, a mobile phone, a camcorder, Microsoft Office Suite, search engines like Google Or DuckDuckGo, Windows Operating Systems, a Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) Network, a Tata Sky TV box, a GPS unit, scientific calculators, a social networking site, a payment transaction service, are all examples of IT products and services.

All these IT products and services are designed, developed, and programmed by Computer Scientists and installed, tested, run, and maintained by Information Technology professionals as well as Engineers from other disciplines.

Computer Science

In this section we have collated some of the roles you will be required to work on while doing Computer science engineering jobs:

  • Development and programming of computer processors – known commonly as microchips that run various computing devices, systems, applications, etc.
  • Programming of computer hardware components (yes, hardware need programming too)
  • Programming and development of computer system operating software (such as Windows 10, Linux, Ubuntu, etc.)
  • Development of Computer programming languages such as C++, HTML, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.
  • Research, design, and development of Computer software development tools, development frameworks, cloud computing tools, and project management tools such as – Linx, Atom, Cloud 9, GitHub, Bootstrap, code Lobster, Jira, etc.
  • Development of algorithms (a set of rules or processes for solving a problem using computers) for solving computational problems – such as finding out all the millions of possibilities of mutation of the Coronavirus or screening of millions of molecules to find out which molecule can kill the virus.
  • Development of system architecture of complex computer systems and computer networks such as the systems and software that run banks, airline ticket booking, e-commerce portals, etc. Networks like the Internet, networks within an organization, etc.
  • Development of application software – such as MS-Word, cloud technology application software, various mobile apps, etc.
  • Development of encryption software, firewalls, and other cybersecurity software – such as BitlBee, Barracuda NextGen, SonicWall TZ, McAfee, Norton, etc.

In your pursuit to get an answer to the question – Computer Science vs Information Technology, what to study for career success, the above gives you a complete overview of the various roles of a Computer Science professional. Remember that even professionals with qualifications in Information Technology can be involved in a few of the above, but it is the Computer Scientists who are mostly involved.

Information Technology

In this section we have collated some of the roles you will be required to work on while doing job for information technology industry:

  • Development of application software – various computer software such as those used in business – for e-commerce, customer relationship management, database management, accounting, etc.
  • Development of mobile application software – such as the Uber App, Swiggy App, and so many others you use daily.
  • Installing, testing, running and maintaining computer software systems including computer networks.

Remember that even professionals with qualifications in Computer Science can also be involved in all of the above. So, in the war of Information Technology vs Computer Science, Information Technology may have a less sharp edge.

Figure 1: Computer Science vs Information Technology

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Which one is better for getting jobs?

Understand that in the game of Computer Science vs Information Technology, job scope wise, there aren’t many differences. In most companies today, both Computer and Information Technology degree holders can work in the IT industry.

However, an Information Technology career doesn’t necessarily require a Computer Science (CS) degree, although a computer science degree opens certain doors that otherwise would not be available.

Computer Science vs Information Technology: What are the differences in academics?

  • Information Technology (IT) as an academic discipline which mostly deals with industry-oriented learning whereas Computer Science (CS) is more research-oriented. You may say that, Computer Scientists design tools and Information Technology professionals apply these tools.
  • Information Technology refers to the hardware, software, products & systems that result from the work of Computer Scientists and researchers from other associated disciplines linking aspects of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • Computer Science is the study of the principles of computing and how computers solve problems. Whereas, IT is the study of current tools/ computing techniques that can be used to best meet the technological needs of a particular organization to bring out the desired effect or develop a product of the company.
  • Computer Science is a scientific & practical approach to computation, programming, and other applications. That means they understand the “why” behind computer programs. It also includes abstract concepts like computational complexity theory.
  • Information Technology includes more practical concepts that have more “real world” applications such as database management, networking, data querying, and more. IT utilizes existing operating systems, software products & applications to create a larger system to solve specific business problems.

Snapshot of College Curricula – Computer Science vs Information Technology

  • Ultimately, as a student, what really would matter to you is how far course curricula differ among different colleges.
  • Most of the top-notch institutes (including all the IITs, IIITs, BITS, and most NITs) have either Computer Science & Engineering or Information Technology but not both.
  • The difference between the two branches is not significant enough to warrant their simultaneous presence on campus at least in the eyes of the top engineering colleges of the country.
  • Further, for the few colleges that do offer both CSE and IT(Computer Science & Engineering and Information Technology), the difference in the course structure is minimal. Moreover, students from both branches are employable in the same set of industry sectors. Recruiting corporations make little difference between these disciplines while selecting students.

So, What Puts Them Apart?

Few universities that offer courses in both Computer and Information Technology may have distinctive electives for each. These electives are not very diversely different subjects and also have overlapping industrial applicability.

Examples of electives:

  • For Computer Science – Advanced Computer Architecture, Robotic Control, Digital Signal Processing, Computational Geometry, Modeling & Simulation
  • For Information Technology – Analysis & Design of Information Systems, Inter-networking, Data-warehousing & Data-mining, Business Information Systems
Figure 2: Computer Science vs Information Technology: Examples of elective courses at colleges

Computer Science application & research often combine the pillars of information management, computation and system design with other domain-specific areas linking aspects of engineering, science, linguistics & liberal arts, as well as mathematics.

Such domain-specific research includes Robotics & Control, Computer Vision & Human-Machine Interaction, Geographic Information Systems, Music Technology, Finance, Media Studies and so on.

Thus, the answer to the question, which one is better – Computer Science or Information Technology, is not a straightforward one. It all depends upon what you want to do and which degree is more suitable for you.

Final Thoughts

Many are known to fret over this debate of Computer Science vs Information Technology (or IT vs CSE) having failed to come up to a solid conclusion. A combination of degrees and domain knowledge expertise in other disciplines combined with knowledge of Computer Science opens a wealth of employment opportunities in the industrial scenario of today.
So, as far as job opportunities are concerned in the areas of Computer and Information Technology, Computer Science has a slight edge over Information Technology.

I’m sure you’ll find multiple suggestions all over the Internet to drag you out of this confusion over Information Technology vs. Computer Science. In spite of all the suggestions, you may continue feeling a bit confused.

With a choice to make in the coming months or maybe years over this contest of Computer Science vs Information Technology, it is often useful to reach out to expert counselors for addressing individual issues.

iDreamCareer, with its Career Planning Program, engages millions of young confused minds from 9th class, 10th classclass 11, class 12 with an aim to select their suitable career choices.

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