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Various Computer Degrees are extremely confusing, PLEASE advise

  1. Oct 31, 2011 #1
    Hello, I am in my first year in college and my major is COMPUTER ENGINEERING. However I just learned that computer engineering is supposed to be about hardware stuff, and I love programming and coding, so that means the software stuff. My dream job would be to work at Apple, Microsoft or Google, you know, creating programs/applications, working on new operating systems etc. I learned that what I'm looking is COMPUTER SCIENCE and I wanted to know the difference... I also noticed that there is also SOFTWARE ENGINEERING and i just don't know what the he** to choose? I love programming but I read that computer engineers are taking over the jobs of computer science, so if that's the case i would choose computer engineering and just learn that electrical stuff and hardware stuff that doesn't interest me, but I will learn it, this is my life i'm trying to create so I wouldn't mind learning that but I don't want to end up being an electrician...

    What are the starting salaries and what kind of salary can I expect after a few years?

    Please advise me as soon as you can as I'm on a deadline and need to make a decision soon...

    Looking forward to your answer,

    Best regards
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2011 #2
    It depends on the program. I cannot speak for all schools, however, where I am located when one specializes in Computer Engineering they have to further specialize in 1 of 3 areas. In third year students chose whether they specialize in hardware, communications, or software. Furthermore, regardless of which of these sub fields you chose, the hardware aspect is going to follow. Last year (as cited by my university), Computer Engineers had the greatest starting salary on average out of all the engineering disciplines.
  4. Oct 31, 2011 #3
    CompSci people don't usually do amazingly well unless you go to Stanford or something. It would probably be best to double in CoE and CS -- it will make you a better overall candidate, and I can't see it being TOO many extra courses.

    You will be a lot more diverse this way knowing the hardware and software instead of only software.
  5. Oct 31, 2011 #4
    But will I learn languages such as C++, Java etc. with Computer Engineering? And will I be able to work as a programmer, you know, create software/applications/programs?

    And actually I'm in my first year so what does double in CoE and CS mean and how would I be able to do that?
  6. Oct 31, 2011 #5
    No, you'll learn those in CS.

    My suggestion is to double major in software engineering and computer science. Software engineering teaches you principles of software design and working with other programmers and nonprogrammers to make software to specifications. Computer science teaches you a more theoretical view of programming. It's more about the concepts of programming like algorithms and the like. Computer engineering, on the other hand, is about computer hardware and working with it.
  7. Oct 31, 2011 #6
    You can make software using C++,Java and others irrespective of the specific field of study.

    By doing software engineering, you will be focusing on software and only software.

    In computer science, there will be a good coverage of the theoretical basis and applications of programming to different fields.

    Computer engineering: its university dependent, basically the first couple of years should be common with electrical engineering then the courses start to specialize, it does have some overlap with computer science degree, but this depends on your choice of electives. It does in general cover both aspects of software and hardware.

    I would recommend computer engineering as its offers more flexibility given you are interested in engineering, you never know if you will maintain the same interests as your study progresses, plus its an engineering degree, else, I would second the computer science degree.

    You may want to have a look at the syllabus/study plan of each programme.

    On a side note, once you learn a single programming language, its never difficult to learn any others (I'm not a computer scientist/software developer but I already know C, C++ and Python).
  8. Oct 31, 2011 #7
    So computer engineering covers software (if you specialize your last 2 years of BS) with an extra knowledge of hardware while CS specializes only on software? So that means that I would be more valuable as a Computer Engineer, correct? But the thing is, I would like to be a programmer, to program/code software, operating systems and such and not to work with hardware... so with computer engineering I can do that, it will only make me more valuable because of the extra knowledge of hardware?

    What do they look more out there when you look for jobs? Which one is more lucrative?
  9. Oct 31, 2011 #8
    Depends on the university. There are certain courses that are MANDATORY in the computer engineering program (regardless of which sub field you specialize in) that focus on hardware. Note, however, much of these courses are the integration of software systems to the hardware.
  10. Oct 31, 2011 #9

    You can do all the stuff you mentioned with a computer eng. degree. The hardware is not necessarily a bad thing, its more essential, you must learn the basics be it comp. sc. or comp. eng., and depending on what field of software you want to focus on, understanding the hardware can be very important for writing fast programmes.
    For example, the assembly language is a low level language but its very handy in some cases, but its hardware dependent and in order to use it you need to know how certain things work in that specific processor/micro-controller/platform.

    The extra hardware knowledge is not what will make you more lucrative, its the 'engineering' part that will.

    Edit: I should also mention that fundamentals of computer hardware are also covered in comp. sc. programmes typically.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
  11. Oct 31, 2011 #10
    Thank you for your answer... so you're basically saying that Computer Engineering is better?

    Even though I want to program and not hardware, Computer Engineering is still better Computer Science?
  12. Oct 31, 2011 #11
    There is no better when comparing degrees, its only a matter of preference.

    As I mentioned, the first two years of computer engineering are typically electrical engineering courses for most part covering basics of programming, circuits & electronics and so.

    This is a sample courses plan (at UIUC):

    As you would notice, there is a lot of engineering courses throughout the programme.
  13. Oct 31, 2011 #12
    What I want to say in plain words, don't underestimate the engineering degree and overlook that it can be very challenging (and even difficult if you are not that interested in it) just for the sake of better employment.

    If you like computer science (or software engineering) then study computer science (or software engineering).
    What might help you in deciding is looking at the courses plan for each degree.
  14. Oct 31, 2011 #13
    No, of course I'm not underestimating computer engineering, I just want to say that even though I think I like CS more because hardware doesn't really interest me, if CE has more chances for a job, I would be willing to take it, so I don't care if I like CS more, if CE is better out there for a job, for a living, more money and more chances of employment, of course I'd take CE then.
  15. Oct 31, 2011 #14
    As most have said: it totally depends on your university as to what each degree covers.

    I've seen a college where 'Computer Engineering' was a direct subset of Electrical Engineering (but without courses focused on Power and HVAC). I've also seen a college where 'Computer Engineering' was more closely aligned with the Computer Science program (it was a rigorous computer science program with some of the Engineering theory attached).

    Personally - I would put a little more weight on the Engineering-type degree if you want to go into development. The 'hardware knowledge' is not something to be overlooked, but any of those degrees (by title) would get you the job you're looking for - presuming you have the proper skill set with it (I'd wager that you'd be working side by side with folks with several different degrees, including the ones you've listed).
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