Computer Science vs. Software Engineering

There are some similarities between computer science and software engineering. However, the ideas that underlie each field might differ substantially. What is the difference between these two majors?

Computer science works on the science of how hardware and software engage with computer applications. On the other hand, software engineering deals with the concepts of developing, planning, and evaluating software products.

This article includes a side-by-side comparison between the two fields. We also offer some possibilities for choosing one over another. Let’s read on to discover!

What is Computer Science?

Computer science includes the subjects of computers and computer systems. During the design and construction stage of software systems, a computer scientist can hypothesize and estimate many elements contributing to the systems.

Furthermore, computer scientists may conduct research and work in artificial intelligence, security networks, monitoring systems, programming languages, and computing theories. Some other essential sections are user interaction and mathematical analysis.

Computer science map

Software engineering is the only common concept of computer scientists and software engineers.

Computer science students can expect to learn about computers, their operations, and their broad applicability.

Software programming may matter in this field. On the other hand, computer scientists may take responsibility for creating new programming languages or discovering new technologies to push the industry’s frontiers.

In terms of technological tools, computer science combines both abstract and concrete principles.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is the process of designing, implementing, maintaining, testing, and assessing computer software employing engineering standards and approaches.

The objective of software engineering is to use basic software and computer tools to improve efficiency or address problems. As a result, software engineers may expect to build and maintain software for various reasons.

software engineering map

A computer programmer, software developer, or software designer are all terms that describe a software engineer.

Because of the essence of software engineering, it may be essential to have a solid comprehension of programming languages and software development ideas.

Software engineers can also be computer programmers that test and evaluate the software for quality management. They aim to guarantee that the system is productive and valuable when used in the actual world.

Software developers may even be acquainted with software use principles. On the other hand, dealing with theories may not be part of the job because computer scientists are the ones that build and test ideas about coding and functioning.


There are some similarities between computer science and software engineering. However, several significant differences keep these two fields distinct.

The duties of these two jobs are one of the most fundamental contrasts.

Computer science vs Software engineering model comparison

Software engineers focus on the software development, design, monitoring, and evaluation of software and its applications.

Meanwhile, computer scientists speculate about the most effective methods to design, code, and use the software via computer languages and other mathematical concepts.

Other differences between these two fields of work include the following:

1. Core subjects


Some fundamental subjects in both majors may be similar.

Students from computer science are likely to enroll in courses that focus on computation and analysis. They also study data applications and systems of a computer program.

Meanwhile, the software engineering students apply the said concepts to the product development, interaction, effectiveness, and other functional elements of computer systems in software engineering.

The main distinction is that a computer science curriculum emphasizes the science of computer operation.

On the other hand, software engineering employs mathematical and scientific methods to develop, construct, and execute hardware and software applications.

2. Hardware & Software relation

hardware vs software

The connection between computer hardware and software is an issue in computer science. A computer scientist, for example, may figure out how to create code that must be compatible with the computer hardware.

On the other hand, a software engineer works only with software applications, including the development, maintenance, evaluation, and manufacturing of software products.

3. Coding

programming languages

Computer science and software engineering are both dealing with programming languages and coding. However, a software engineer may emphasize writing code to apply it in the design and expansion of the software.

A computer scientist could specialize in programming and computer languages. They may also utilize various computer codes to verify hardware and software integrity.

4. Development program

Development process

The application of computer programming and development is another distinction between these two majors.

Computer science is in charge of computing and determining the ideal ways to develop software. They also need to come up with calculations that will help developers and engineers to create high-quality software.

Then, software engineers rely on the research and descriptions provided by computer scientists to build a new ultimate software framework.

5. Engineering concepts


Computer science programs include mathematical engineering. The subject assists computer scientists in terms of computing systems. Meanwhile, software engineering research often goes with engineering concepts and ideas.

Computer science needs an understanding of engineering concepts, such as constructing whole new frameworks on which programs may execute. Software engineering, on the other hand, is where real-world engineering principles are in use.

6. Scientific theories

Theory - Prediction - Experiment - Observation

Computer science deals with the scientific ideas that underpin system operations, computers, information systems, and the architecture of the software. Computer science investigates and develops concepts underlying computer operations.

On the other hand, software engineering applies those theories to the software development of real-world applications.

7. Product management

Product management

The algorithms and complexity of software programs are generally the core of computer science. Computer scientists also do analytics such as computational coding, graphic architecture, and user interface.

Meanwhile, the key to software engineering is product management. This work covers software design, installation, assessment, automated testing, and quality control.

8. Job opportunities

Another significant difference between a software engineer degree and a computer science degree is the scope of employment opportunities.

Computer science degrees may lead to a wide range of job prospects in the information technology business, ranging from computer programmer to game developer.

Some popular jobs for computer science students are web architect, programmer, business analyst, and cloud developer.

technology consultants

On the other hand, a software engineering degree might limit a candidate’s career opportunities to specialized corporate roles. Mid-sized enterprises that design and develop apps and programs might also be potential employers.

Most software engineering graduates work as software developers, software engineers, IT consultants, and technical product managers.

Software engineer and software developer are the most frequent jobs for graduates with a computer science and software engineering degree.

Other similar positions include product manager, quality assurance analyst, or technology consultant. Your selections depend on your skills and preference.

9. Regular tasks

freelance computer scientist's laptop

Typical responsibilities of a computer scientist include analyzing and monitoring the operations of computer applications. They may also work for a tech firm or freelance for other businesses.

Computer scientists are often in charge of managing the data systems, security networks, and other computing systems that the firm needs to run.

A software engineer may work for a business that is comparable to a computer scientist. Moreover, they also work on building and designing the particular software applications their business utilizes for its operations.

Which Major Should You Choose?

Software engineering and computer science are nearly equivalent in terms of statics and math requirements. The primary computer science foundation is similar in the two majors too.

Comp Science vs Software Engineer

The main distinction is that software engineering includes higher electrical engineering and software technology foundational demands.

On the other hand, computer science offers more electives for high courses. You may pick from a variety of topics, including security and database administration.

Your decision on choosing computer science or software engineering depends mainly on your preference:

If you love logic and math, computer science is the field for you. Computer science is also a fantastic choice if you want to pursue a specific subject in CS, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, machine learning, graphics, or network security.

If you prefer a more hands-on method, software engineering is the course for you. On the other hand, software engineering is a good option if you want to learn about the whole software lifecycle and maintenance.

You may also consider computer science as a means to get into the software engineering field. Both career options provide applicants with the opportunity to work in the software development industry.

Computer science concentrates on various sub-sectors. Meanwhile, software engineering appears to be a sub-sector in and of itself.


We have compared computer science and software engineering. Both paths are exciting yet challenging to follow. However, with the high demand for technological jobs, both offer learners promising career opportunities.

Hopefully, you will find a suitable path to pursue. No matter which career you choose, you can earn lots of skills and knowledge during your journey.