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Difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering

  1. May 16, 2010 #1
    So, when I'm looking at the college I'm pretty sure I want to go to, they offer CS. At some colleges, I've noticed that they have CS AND software engineering. So, is there a difference?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2010 #2
    Software engineer has more of a programming/OS/practical apps focus, whereas CS usually has a an even mix of theory and practical, skewed one way or another depending on the school.
  4. May 16, 2010 #3
    So, Software engineering is just a part of CS?
  5. May 17, 2010 #4
    think of it like the difference between chemistry and chemical engineering. There is a lot of overlap, but the focus in software engineering will always be on creating software, so there will be more of a focus on software design, software testing and debugging ect... Computer Science is the science of information and processes on information, just like chemistry can be thought of as the science of matter. Computer Science can be more theoretical, and includes areas such as artificial intelligence, theory of computation, computer graphics ect... Of course these are just general definitions about the fields themselves, if you want to know how actual courses are different from each other then this will depend on the individual university. For example, where I am at the University of Melbourne, there is very little difference between the two majors, only the capstone projects, and you could almost do the exact same subjects in either major if you wanted to. Just check online for each college you're interested in to see what differences there are in the requirements for each major.
  6. May 18, 2010 #5
    Software Engineering is a lot like project management but in a technical since. In the SE curriculum you will be study more on software management methodologies, System Requirements, life cycle, feasibility testing ,scale etc. In short SE is about the how to design software, maintain it and how to manage the project.

    Computer Science how ever is very theoretical, and for the most part about computation. You basically learn how software works and what is to computer limitation on computation. Computer Science topics are more theoretical; which include computer graphics, automata , ai .. etc.

    I think the main difference is Computer Science trys to look for the best way to solve a problem and Software Engineers look for economic solutions.
  7. May 18, 2010 #6
    You could also have a look at the course descriptions on the college website and compare them. If you can find the websites for the individual courses you might even get to see the individual course content. In brief, software engineering is all 'software' - programming and related skills. CS is about computers.
  8. May 18, 2010 #7

    "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes." - Edsger W. Dijkstra, Computer Scientist.
  9. May 18, 2010 #8
    Crap. So if I want to be a software engineer, and it isn't offered, can I still end up in the same thing with CS?
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