What is the difference between a computer science and a software engineering degree?

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A computer science degree and a software engineering degree have a lot of academic overlap in many areas, but there are some fundamental differences between the two degree programs. Essentially, a computer science degree covers all of the various aspects of the study and application of computer programs whereas a software engineering degree focuses on the study of creating software for computer use.

The differences between a computer science degree and a software engineering degree are subtle in many aspects but are still wildly different. The main difference between these two highly popular degrees is that a student pursuing a computer science degree will be instructed in the aspects of program automation theory, logical design theory, system organization, various popular computer languages and the practical applications of software management.

A student that is enrolled in a software engineering degree-granting program will be taught a curriculum which focuses mainly on the systematic development of computer software by being provided with a broad range of programming techniques which will ultimately lead to the creation of reliable computer software for a variety of different applications.

A computer science degree is what one might consider an “umbrella” degree program, in that it covers all of the aspects of computer science to provide students with a broad understanding of the discipline which will allow them to have a larger degree of career flexibility.

On the other hand, a software engineering degree is an area-of-study that falls under the “umbrella” of computer science, but it is a more specialized area-of-study in that it is meant for students that want to work in the area of software engineering particularly. Due to this specialization, a software engineering degree will provide students with a more in-depth study of software engineering while a student that is enrolled in a computer science degree program will only learn the core essentials of software engineering that they will need for their chosen career paths.

The classes that each of these students will have to take include many of the same core credit courses which will provide them with a solid understanding of various aspects of computer science up to a point. The divergence of what these classes cover usually happens during the upper-level courses where a computer science degree will start to cover a broader spectrum of computer science disciplines and a software engineering degree will start to focus solely on the more specialized area of software engineering.

We have also ranked the top 10 colleges for online engineering degrees to help with your college search.

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