Information Technology vs. Computer Science

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What Is The Difference Between Information Technology and Computer Science?

The fields of information technology (IT) and computer science (CS) overlap in many ways. Both require technical skills and a STEM degree. But what is the difference between information technology vs. computer science?

Computer science emphasizes the design, creation, and testing of new programs, operating systems, and applications. Computer science majors study programming languages, computer science theory, and algorithms. Within CS, professionals work as software developers, application developers, or software engineers.

Information technology, on the other hand, focuses on the business side of technology. In IT, professionals create technical solutions to business problems. For example, systems administrators keep networks operating smoothly, while database managers organize data.

The two fields require some of the same skills. For example, technical training, analytical abilities, and programming skills help both CS and IT professionals. As a more business-focused field, IT also draws on interpersonal and communication skills.

This article introduces the main differences between information technology vs. computer science, career opportunities in both fields, and choosing between an information technology or computer science degree. It also lists scholarships for information technology and computer science majors.

FAQs

Question Answer
What is the difference between information technology and computer science? Computer science focuses on creating programs and applications, while information technology focuses on using computer systems and networks.
What computer science jobs are there? Computer science jobs include software developer, web developer, software engineer, and data scientist. Many computer science jobs require a bachelor’s degree.
What information technology jobs are there? Information technology jobs include computer systems analyst, information assurance specialist, and network architect. IT professionals also work as data analysts, computer support specialists, and data scientists.
Can I study computer science or information technology online? Yes. Many schools offer both an online computer science degree and an online information technology degree. Prospective students can choose the program that best fits their career goals.

Career and Salary Outlook

Careers in Information Technology

Information technology careers bridge tech and business. In IT roles, professionals help organizations meet their data management needs, assist customers who need computing support, and solve technical problems for businesses.

Many information technology fields pay above-average salaries and show strong projected job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, computer systems analysts and computer network architects help businesses manage their computer systems and networks. Professionals in both fields earn a median salary of over $90,000 per year, according to the BLS.

At the associate level, computer support specialists provide tech support to users and organizations. They earn over $54,000 per year with faster-than-average projected job growth between 2019 and 2029.

With experience, information technology professionals move into management roles, such as computer and information systems manager, which pays a median annual salary of over $146,000.

Information technology professionals rely on strong analytical skills and a detail-oriented outlook. Like computer science, information technology professionals draw on their technical skills. Since they spend much of their time interacting with customers, executives, and tech coworkers, IT professionals also need strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Finally, professionals benefit from leadership and organizational skills, particularly since many IT careers require managing teams or interacting with non-specialists.

Careers in Computer Science

A degree in computer science prepares professionals for in-demand careers in high-paying fields. Most computer science careers offer above-average salaries and faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

Computer science graduates work as software developers, web developers, and computer programmers, fields that typically require either an associate degree or bachelor’s degree. Project managers, computer and information research scientists, and other data science professionals in computer science may need a master’s degree.

These computer science careers require strong analytical skills to create software programs, applications, and websites that meet user needs. In addition to technical abilities, computer science professionals must also draw on problem-solving skills to test programs and correct any bugs.

Some computer science careers overlap with the field of information technology. For example, computer and network systems architects may bring a background in computer science or information technology. Either degree prepares graduates for careers as database administrators and computer systems analysts.

A computer science degree provides focused training for development and engineering roles. Computer science professionals often spend their time independently developing programs or working with teams to test code. Unlike information technology careers, computer science professionals spend less time focused on the business side of technology.

How Much Do Information Technology Majors Make?

An information technology degree leads to a variety of careers at the intersection of technology and business. With a bachelor’s degree, professionals can work as computer network architects or computer systems analysts. A master’s degree helps professionals advance to management-level roles with above-average salaries.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Computer Support Specialists $54,760 8%
Computer and Information Systems Managers $146,360 10%
Computer Systems Analysts $90,920 7%
Computer Network Architects $112,690 5%

Source: BLS

How Much Do Computer Science Majors Make?

Graduates with a computer science degree pursue a variety of careers. A bachelor’s degree prepares professionals for a career in software development, computer programming, or software engineering. With a master’s degree, professionals can move into supervisory roles or work as computer and information research scientists.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028)
Software Developers $54,760 22%
Web Developers $73,760 8%
Computer Programmers $86,550 -9%
Computer and Information Research Scientists $122,840 15%

Source: BLS

Degrees

Computer Science Degrees

Earning a computer science degree prepares graduates for a variety of career opportunities. Depending on their degree level, computer science professionals can work as web developers, software engineers, data scientists, and computer science professors.

Professionals with an associate degree in computer science work as computer programmers, IT specialists, and computer support analysts. Pursuing a higher degree typically means a higher earning potential and more job opportunities.

A bachelor’s degree is the most common educational requirement for entry-level roles. With a bachelor’s degree, computer science majors work as software developers, systems analysts, and software engineers. Learn more about the best bachelor’s programs in computer science.

Some careers in computer science require a graduate degree. For example, most computer and information research scientists hold a master’s degree. Earning a master’s degree can also open up opportunities at the management level. Computer science professors typically hold a doctorate in their field.

A growing number of schools offer computer science degrees online. The online format offers an accessible and convenient route to the degree.

Information Technology Degrees

Students can earn an information technology degree at the undergraduate or graduate level. An associate degree in information technology provides foundational training in the field, introducing students to database management, programming languages, and computer systems. An associate degree meets the qualifications for roles like computer support specialist.

Many information technology careers require a bachelor’s degree. At the bachelor’s level, information technology majors learn to design network systems and manage databases. Computer systems analysts and network architects typically hold a bachelor’s degree.

Pursuing a graduate degree helps IT professionals advance their career and qualify for new roles. At the graduate level, information technology students can earn a master’s degree to specialize their skills or add management training. Computer and information systems managers may need a master’s degree.

Professionals with a doctorate in information technology can work in research and academia, such as working as an IT professor.

Many schools also offer an online information technology degree for students seeking a flexible schedule. Learn more about the top online bachelor’s programs in information technology.

Accreditation for Information Technology and Computer Science Degrees

Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students. Regionally and nationally accredited institutions undergo a rigorous review process to earn accreditation. In general, regional accreditation is the best type of accreditation for STEM degrees like computer science and information technology.

In addition to institutional accreditation, prospective students can look for an accredited program. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) grants accreditation to computer science and information technology programs. An online computer science degree or online information technology degree should also hold accreditation.

Students can research accredited schools and programs through the U.S. Department of Education database and learn more about why accreditation matters.

Courses in Information Technology

During an information technology program, students take courses in computer networking, cybersecurity, and programming. Information technology courses build strong problem-solving, analytical, and project management skills. Many programs incorporate business courses, since IT professionals draw on business training in their careers. Depending on the program, students may complete projects or a thesis to strengthen their skills.

The following list covers common courses during an information technology program. Many programs, particularly at the graduate level, also let students choose a specialization area, such as data analytics, information security, or informatics.

Computer Networking

Students learn how to create and manage computer networks. Introductory courses introduce learners to local area networks, network operating systems, and network architecture. Students gain the skills and knowledge to succeed in advanced coursework and careers in network administration.

Cybersecurity

This course teaches students how to protect data from cyberattacks. Coursework covers the tools and techniques of information assurance, including cybersecurity risks, penetration testing, and privacy concerns. Students also learn how to prevent and investigate data breaches, including the process of formulating data breach response procedures.

Cloud Computing

These classes introduce students to cloud infrastructure and related IT services. Students explore the process of migrating information systems into a cloud system, building cloud data environments, and different resources for storage and networking. The course prepares students for careers in the growing cloud computing field.

Courses in Computer Science

Computer science students take classes in programming, computer systems, and cybersecurity. At the advanced level, learners may specialize in topics like artificial intelligence, human computer interactions, and machine learning. By selecting a focus area, graduates prepare for tech careers.

Computer science coursework builds strong analytical and technical skills. Students learn to conduct research, test computer programs, and problem-solve during the degree. Many programs strengthen these skills through a project or thesis.

The following list introduces common courses in a computer science degree. Specific courses vary depending on the program and degree level.

Programming Fundamentals

Many computer science programs include programming classes that introduce students to multiple programming languages. Students examine programming theory, primitive operations, and control statements. They also learn debugging techniques. Depending on the program’s requirements, students may learn languages like C++, Java, Python, and JavaScript. Programming classes prepare computer science majors for advanced coursework.

Mobile Computing

Students learn how to build mobile systems from programming operating systems to designing mobile networks. The course explores mobile computing security, mobile applications, and mobile computing infrastructures. A background or specialization in mobile computing prepares graduates for careers as mobile developers.

Machine Learning

These courses train students how to write algorithms and programs that improve their performance over time. The class may cover topics like computational learning theory, reinforcement learning, and unsupervised learning techniques. Students may also explore the connections between machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Scholarships

Information Technology Scholarships

Students pursuing an IT degree may qualify for scholarships. These scholarships support undergraduates at two-year and four-year colleges and graduate students. In addition to the following opportunities, students may qualify for scholarships for STEM or computer science majors.

Lilly/BDPA Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This award supports minority students pursuing a degree in information technology. Applicants provide an essay and recommendation letters. Recipients must attend an accredited four-year university.
Amount:$4,000

Alice L. Haltom Educational Fund Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in information technology or records management programs can apply. Bachelor’s and graduate students can receive $2,000, while students in a two-year program can receive $1,000. Applicants submit an essay, a transcript, and three recommendation letters.
Amount:$1,000-$2,000

CompTIA Rising Star
Who Can Apply: CompTIA awards 10 scholarships annually to student members pursuing an education in information technology. The award supports students who contribute to the success of their student chapter or their local IT community.
Amount:$2,000

Betty Stevens Frecknall Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Information technology majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA qualify for this scholarship. Applicants must complete at least one semester at the college level and enroll on a full-time basis to receive the award.
Amount:$2,000

William R. Reaugh Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship funds information technology majors who demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA on at least 12 credits. Recipients must attend an accredited institution full time.
Amount:Varies

Computer Science Scholarships

Computer science students at the undergraduate and graduate level can apply for scholarships to pay for their degree. Several professional organizations and private foundations support computer science learners with scholarships. Computer science students may also qualify for STEM, cybersecurity, and information technology scholarships.

SWE Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The Society of Women Engineers offers scholarships to women who attend an ABET-accredited program in computer science or a closely related field. The scholarship also supports graduate students.
Amount:Varies

(ISC)2 Graduate Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports graduate students with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Recipients should focus on cybersecurity or information assurance. The organization also offers an undergraduate cybersecurity scholarship.
Amount:$1,000-$5,000

ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The International Society of Automation offers a scholarship to full-time college students at the undergraduate or graduate level. Recipients need a minimum 2.5 GPA and must focus on automation or a closely related field.
Amount:Varies

DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
Who Can Apply: This fellowship supports students pursuing a computer science degree at the graduate level. Fellows receive a tuition waiver and an annual stipend.
Amount:$38,000

Gladys Carol Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship funds students enrolled in a STEM program at an accredited four-year institution. Applicants need a minimum 3.75 GPA.
Amount: Up to $5,000

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