Comparing Cybersecurity vs. Computer Science Degrees

Male cybersecurity professional works on his computer at night

Companies can benefit from being seen as trustworthy to conduct business and keep private information safe. However, they can lose this trust overnight if they fall prey to hackers who exploit their vulnerabilities. Data breaches impact not only an organization’s reputation but also its bottom line.

A company that can shorten its recovery time — or, ideally, thwart the hackers altogether — can save money and mitigate the damage caused by a data breach. The best way to prevent such problems is by hiring skilled cybersecurity professionals. If you are considering jobs in technology, cybersecurity is a growing field that needs educated professionals.

One common way to enter the cybersecurity field is by earning a bachelor’s degree in either cybersecurity or computer science. These degrees are similar enough to overlap and allow graduates of either to become cybersecurity professionals. However, there are enough differences between them that it is important to know more about each type of degree.

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

A Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity can lead directly to a variety of security jobs, such as a cybersecurity specialist. The bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity includes training and a curriculum that prepares students to address and prevent real cybersecurity attacks. In this degree program, you will learn valuable information on various programming languages and software to monitor and defend sensitive data. While learning how to be agile in learning new technologies, you will also be taught different methodologies to defend computer systems — which is vital to staying one step ahead of hackers.

Some of the more practical aspects of a cybersecurity degree program are conducting digital forensic investigations and reverse-engineering malware to understand how to best combat it. You will also learn about wireless security and network architecture as well as the possible flaws in these systems. Knowing what flaws can occur on a network can make it easier to fix them effectively.

Is Cybersecurity Difficult?

Although cybersecurity students have much to learn, they can succeed with the right mindset. The concepts themselves may not be difficult to grasp, but learning how to best apply them can be challenging. Troubleshooting issues is common in the field and you’ll have to problem-solve in order to find the best solution. Therefore, having a good education and attitude can benefit you greatly in this growing field. Due to the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, there is a need for nearly 3.4 million cybersecurity jobs globally.1

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

You can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with different emphases, including big data analytics. All computer science degree programs contain the same core courses, and it is the computer science core — not the emphasis — that prepares students for careers in encryption and other types of cybersecurity work.

A computer science degree may be most closely related to what you want to learn to pursue a cybersecurity career. Learning about big data analytics in a computer science degree program can aid you in analyzing large amounts of data. These practices can prove valuable in the cybersecurity field as you attempt to analyze what types of data have been compromised by hackers.

The bachelor’s degree in computer science consists of a strong foundation in mathematics, science and critical thinking. You can become an expert problem-solver and learn to approach technology using the scientific method. When you graduate with your computer science degree, you will be prepared to solve complex and evolving problems. These adaptive skills will be of great use in your cybersecurity career when you are faced with new issues that need new solutions.

Is Computer Science Difficult?

Although a computer science degree may require more time studying, much of the learning is similar to other STEM degrees. You will be working with higher-level concepts in math and science to meet your goals. What makes this degree stand out from other science degrees is that you have greater flexibility in deciding whether you want to apply your knowledge to a business or do research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for computer and IT jobs to increase by about 11% from 2019-2029.2

Which Degree Program Can Lead to a Career as a Cybersecurity Professional?

A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can lead you directly into a job as a cybersecurity professional. When you study information security, you learn how to develop and implement security measures. Companies are looking to hire graduates with these skills who can protect their data and computer networks. Cybersecurity positions are readily available in fields such as government, finance and healthcare.

However, every industry that stores data online, in networks or on the cloud must be vigilant about cybersecurity. A GCU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can use their formal education and practical training as soon as they are hired. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can also lead to potential careers in security consultation, information security, security auditing or network architecture.

A computer science graduate can also pursue a career in cybersecurity, although there may not be a direct path from the degree to a job. Because the computer science bachelor’s degree does not focus solely on information security, a person who holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science may need additional training and certification for a career in cybersecurity. Computer science graduates have many opportunities available, such as software development, research and development, software engineering and more.

How To Choose Between Cybersecurity and Computer Science

If your goal is cybersecurity, then you may want to pursue a degree in that field. A master’s degree in cybersecurity could be useful if you want to work your way up to a management position. Additionally, this higher degree could open up career paths such as that of senior security engineer/architect, director of security and senior security application developer.

If you are still uncertain of what jobs in technology you want to pursue, a bachelor's in computer science provides a wide variety of emphases. Various computer science programs like big data analytics, business entrepreneurship and game and simulation development can lead to different types of job opportunities.

Grand Canyon University prepares technology graduates for whatever career they choose to pursue. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and get on the path toward a rewarding career in technology.


1 Retrieved from (ISC)2, 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, in December 2022

2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: Computer and Information Technology Occupations

Approved by the Project Manager for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology on Oct. 3, 2022.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.