IT vs. Computer Science: How to Decide on the Right Tech Degree

student earning tech degree smiling in front of computers

You might be surprised by how many different tech-related degrees are available at colleges across the country. If you are interested in the world of tech and you plan on pursuing a career in the field, it is good to know which type of degree may best suit your interests and career goals.

While you are researching tech degrees, you may come across both an information technology (IT) degree as well as a degree in computer science. They may seem very similar, but there are some unique differences. Let's learn more about each to figure out which degree might be the best one for you.

What Is IT vs. Computer Science?

IT professionals solve technical problems. They may work in businesses and help people in person or they may work over the phone or virtually. They understand how computer programs and networks work and brainstorm solutions to problems.

Individuals in computer science careers know how to create computer programs and applications. They study the theory and the processes of how computers work. Additionally, they have a firm foundation in coding and testing applications.

Why Should I Go Into IT or Computer Science?

Both IT and computer science degrees can lead to fulfilling and high-paying careers. However, job and salary prospects may not help you decide between IT vs. computer science. You will have to choose a degree plan based on your interests and specific career goals.

IT and Computer Science Degree Similarities

After you earn your IT or computer science degree, you will need some practical experience to find a job in the field. That can be easier than you think because most universities offer hands-on degree programs in these technology fields. While you are earning your degree, you will be writing programs and solving problems that apply computer science theory. After finishing basic courses, many students find work or internships where classroom practice is applied to real-world problems.

With your tech degree, you will be able to find an entry-level position. IT degree grads and computer science grads with strong technical backgrounds are able to find jobs in just about any place across the United States. There is a need for people to fill jobs in both fields, especially in the healthcare industries.

Differences in IT vs. Computer Science Degrees

While a computer science degree is focused on computational theory and application, the IT degree is focused on the administration of the application. IT graduates can code and develop software, but that is not the primary goal of an IT career.

Instead, they work more directly with people to help them solve technology-related problems. They may also work with hardware, not just application development. Computer science degree holders often go into jobs where they are more independent. They don't necessarily interact with people to support using the applications they create.

IT degree programs often focus on:

  • Project management
  • Information systems
  • Customer service

IT professionals tend to need these skills because they work with others and teams. They need to know how to begin a project so that it meets the end goal. They also need to work with clients, both internal and external, to ensure their technology is working for them. IT grads also focus on information systems because in their careers, they look at how technology works together, rather than just program by program.

Computer science programs focus on:

  • Computers and computer systems
  • Software and software systems, including theory, design, development and applications
  • Programming languages

Career Options for IT vs. Computer Science Degree Grads

In both an IT and computer science degree program, students will learn languages like SQL and Java. They will also learn basic and advanced software development, depending on the degree program. Due to this, there is some overlap in jobs that are available to people with either an IT or computer science degree. Graduates with either degree may find work as a:

  • Computer systems engineer or architect
  • Computer analyst
  • Database administrator

The different focuses in these programs can lead to degree-specific jobs in tech. Jobs for IT graduates include:

  • Computer support specialist
  • Network administrator
  • Technology project manager

A computer science degree holder may work as a software, web or application developer. They may work in artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human computer interaction, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics and theory of computing.

Popular jobs for computer science majors include:

  • Programmer: This role creates codes for software programs.
  • Hardware Engineer: Hardware engineers design computers and computing systems, oversee their manufacture and installation and conduct product testing.
  • System Manager: Primary duties include planning and maintaining coordinated technologies and ensuring they work together seamlessly.
  • Developer: Developers design and build websites.

Now that you know the differences between an IT and computer science degree, you may be able to make a decision about which tech-related degree you would like to earn. Whether it's a computer science degree or an IT degree, Grand Canyon University has a degree program just for you. Join us for the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program or the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree.

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.