What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science Degree Programs?

Author: Bambi Majumdar
Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
Reading Level: Grade 9
Reading Time: 7 minutes, 23 seconds
Original Publication Date: November 2021
Updates: 3

In a world that runs on technology, it is no wonder that IT professionals are in demand. Are you seeking an online information technology degree to help you advance in your career? To enter the IT industry, individuals must have specialized skills and knowledge. This has led to the rise of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs. These STEM degrees prepare students for these high-demand jobs. Leading colleges offer a wide range of STEM degrees, each one offering specializations in specific areas. These degrees can be in IT as well as computer science. These degrees are very similar at their core. Still, they can be pretty different and influence students’ career paths. 

It may be hard for students to decide which online IT degree is right for them. Understanding the difference between computer science and information technology is important. Only then can they choose a major that suits them best and provides them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in technology. 

Featured Programs

What Is Information Technology (IT)?

An IT program teaches students both the business and technology needs of organizations. They learn the business side of computer science and help organizations function smoothly. Professionals in the field focus on computers and software to store, process, protect, transmit, and retrieve data. IT majors learn to identify, configure and build complex computing systems and platforms. They focus on networks, servers, and databases to keep a business’s technology up to date to function.  

What Is Computer Science? 

Computer science is a broad field. It focuses on creating and using algorithmic and mathematical processes linked to computer systems. Students who major in the field go on to work in areas like:

  • software engineering
  • scientific computing
  • research and development
  • software developer
  • web developer
  • computer engineering

Students gain sound knowledge about the principles of computation and the problem-solving process. Subfields within computer science include:

  • artificial intelligence
  • programming language theory
  • software engineering
  • computer engineering
  • computer graphics
  • computer security
  • network security
  • data science
  • database administration

Computer scientists often:

  • Work with computer architectures and operating systems
  • Design and develop software for end-users, IT professionals, and embedded systems
  • Write computer programs, including writing code that is up to date
What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

What Is the Difference Between Computer Science and Information Technology?

The future is bright for both computer science and IT graduates. The main difference is that IT professionals install and maintain computer programs. They then apply them to businesses. They learn to communicate with businesses to meet their needs through technology. Computer science professionals use fields like mathematics to develop and improve computer programs. They use these skills in mathematics and theories to make information technology possible. Each of these disciplines demands different skills, aptitudes, and attitudes.

Students who enjoy solving technological problems should consider an online IT degree. Students interested in learning about computer software development should consider computer science. 

Information Technology and Computer Science – Which degree should you choose ro study? 

Students should take the time to discover the career paths they are interested in. They should consider which is the best option based on their skills and preferences. Choosing between IT and Computer Science can be a challenge. But they are not alone. This is one of the most common questions colleges and enrollment advisors face. The confusion arises because, at times, the terms are used interchangeably. That’s why we will discuss the differences between IT and computer science degrees.  

What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

Information Technology and Computer Science-Key differences

Computer Science programs train students to develop and test software and software systems. They learn to work with things like:

  • Mathematical Models
  • Algorithms
  • Data Analysis and Security
  • Computational Theory

Graduates work as computer scientists. They will establish the computational principles that are the basis of all software used by people and organizations. Their work is behind security standards, data transfers and data storage, encryption, etc

 

IT degrees train students to develop, support, implement, and manage computers and information systems. The best programs teach students to work with software systems that include:

  • Operating Systems
  • Web Browsers
  • Mobile Applications

They also learn to work with hardware systems like CPUs, RAM, and hard disks. Graduates go on to work as expert IT professionals in various industries and career paths. They ensure that computers, networks, and systems work well together. 

 

How do specializations or concentrations differ between IT and Computer Science? 

Now, it is time to examine what specializations or concentrations each offers. Delving deep into these will give students a better idea about each program. It may help them choose the stream that best aligns with their goals and interests. 

Classes and specialization options in Information Technology degrees:

  • Network Administration
  • IT Security
  • System Administration
  • Enterprise Systems
  • International Biometrics
  • IT Management
  • IT Strategy and Innovation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science specializations
  • Machine Learning
  • Data Science
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HIC)
  • Cyber Security
  • Video Game Development
  • Cloud Computing
  • Computer Engineering
What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

 Classes and specialization options in Computer Science degrees:

  • Information Technology 
  • Network Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Operating Systems
  • Information Security Fundamentals
  • Database Fundamentals
  • System Analysis
  • Business Technology
  • Network Administration
  • Programming Languages
  • Hardware and Software Troubleshooting
  • IT Ethics
  • Theory of computation
  • Computer Science classes
  • Software security
  • Algorithms and data structures
  • Computer graphics
  • Calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • Web development
  • Programming Knowledge
  • Cryptography
  • Computer Engineering

Information Technology vs. Computer Science skills – Which aligns with your career goals? 

The best IT programs cover theoretical and practical applications of the technologies they cover. While every job may have additional requirements, the skills required to succeed in IT or computer science may overlap quite a bit. Some of the most essential skills students need to develop are:

Featured Programs

  • Troubleshooting
  • Communication (oral and written)
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Project Management
  • Creativity
  • Attention to Detail
  • Team Collaboration 
  • Technical Support 
  • Customer Service 
  • Aptitude with Linux and SQL, and Related Technologies  
  • Programming Languages
What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

 Computer Science Vs Information Technology-Career outlook 

To start a career in information technology, students must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree or a related subject. A degree can set you on a solid path to being competitive for many types of computer-based jobs. Others can opt for a computer science undergraduate degree. Computer science skills and programming knowledge can help one advance even in an IT career. IT and computer science careers can take you in many directions, but they do have distinct paths. Students with bachelor’s degrees can start in help desk positions and learn more on the job. They can then advance to graduate-level programs. These will help them grow in their careers. IT professionals work in various industries, while computer scientists may work in very niche areas. 

What is the Difference Between an IT and a Computer Science Degree?

 A career in information technology

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT jobs are rising. They will continue to grow at an estimated 15% through 2031. It’s one of the fastest-growing occupations with high demand for degree holders. It can lead to an average annual wage of around $97k.

What do IT professionals do?

IT professionals primarily work as part of a team and with other departments or clients. IT professionals typically solve issues related to business processes using learned technologies. A database or systems administrator job is one of the more common career choices. They focus on developing technologies with current systems that help meet the clients’ or employers’ goals. Students specializing in a particular area can have an IT career in areas like:

  • Networks
  • Cloud Computing
  • Security

A career in computer science vs. information technology

A computer science major prepares students to work as computer scientists and engineers. They find jobs in tech-driven organizations and environments. They learn computer science principles, such as coding and software development. They also gain the experience and certifications to prove their competency. Along with knowledge of information systems, they are also expected to have:

  • SQL and Linux Capabilities
  • Systems Engineering
  • Java
  • Software Engineer Skills

What do computer science professionals do?

Computer science jobs are growing at a fast rate. They are expected to be up to 22% by 2026, with an average developer salary of around $93k per year. Computer scientists holding a bachelor’s can work as senior IT professionals or computer systems analysts in:

  • Programming
  • Web Development
  • Operating Systems Development
  • Systems Engineering or Software Engineering
  • Software Applications Development

Both fields need well-trained employees with computer and digital skills 

‍ Students with an IT bachelor’s degree should ensure they complete all internship and capstone requirements. That and work placement opportunities help them gain experience and improve job eligibility. 

What is the Difference Between IT and Computer Science?

Information Technology vs. Computer Science Programs-A look at various jobs and related salaries

Salaries for both IT and computer science may vary quite a bit. Jobs requiring specialized knowledge, experience, or a degree may increase salaries. Entry-level IT or generalist jobs often don’t need a four-year bachelor’s degree. Graduates can enter the workforce with lower starting salaries but have immense growth potential. Here’s a quick overview of salaries from various computer science and IT careers. We’ve included the average salaries in the US based on data from Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com.   

Information Technology jobs and salaries

  • IT Technician – $41,513 USD/year
  • IT Business Analyst – $72,188 USD/year
  • IT Consultant – $82,791 USD/year
  • IT Project Manager – $490,149 USD/year
  • IT Director – $123,688 USD/year
  • IT Security Analyst – $102,600 USD/year

Computer Science jobs and salaries

  • Java Developer – $82,639
  • System Analyst – $69,085
  • Computer Scientist – $82,447
  • Web Designer/Web Developer – $78,300
  • Data Scientist – $98,782
  • Software Programmer – $67,546
  • Business Analyst – $72,188
  • Systems Engineer: $84,556
  • Software Developer: $76,113

Information Technology and Computer Science degrees lead to different careers. They offer different opportunities to specialize. So, one is not better than the other, just different. Students must explore the differences to see what attracts them most about each program.

Conclusion 

‍At a glance, IT and computer science degrees touch the basics of computer and hardware systems. IT covers operating networks and installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems and databases. Computer science uses mathematical solutions for program systems to run more efficiently. The former is sometimes considered fundamental for a computer science degree, though not always vice versa. Computer scientists work in businesses, game or app development companies, or teach in colleges. Most IT professionals work in an organization, serving internal needs or for clients. Both degrees offer lucrative job opportunities and have immense potential for career growth

Sources:

  • U.S. News & World Report
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Coursera