Computer Science vs. Computer Information Technology; What's the Difference?


Aug 02, 2019

Bren Triplett, assistant professor, Director of CIT, ISM, MGT programs

When you lay awake at night, do you think about the difference between computer science and computer information technology? It is like thinking about the difference between green leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce.

What is Computer Science?

Computer scientists go deep into computational thinking and how to process information. This means there is a lot of science and math involved. Some say that computer science is theoretical, but computer science is actually practical. It requires hands-on development of code by using algorithms that may not appear to be real world solutions. Computer science is about the mastery of algorithms.

What is Computer Information Technology?

Computer information technology uses computers, network, and computer languages to solve real world business problems. This branch of technology is considered more practical than computer science but involves theories around management, leadership, selecting toolsets, and relationships. This degree involves programming an equal amount as computer science but in a different vein.

What kind of jobs can you get with each degree?

Availability and type of career will influence the decision of which degree would be the best fit for you. According to Onet (an online labor database), the jobs available for each degree are very similar:

  Computer Science Jobs

  • Computer Programmers
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Computer Programmers
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary
  • Bioinformatics Scientists

  Computer Information Technology Jobs

  • Computer Programmers
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • Computer Network Architects
  • Information Security Analysts - Bright Outlook
  • Computer User Support Specialists - Bright Outlook

How do I decide?

So, how do you determine which degree is right for you? This is where you need to look in the mirror and examine yourself. 

  • What attributes do you possess that would make one degree stand out from the other? Two attributes that make IT individuals successful above almost anything else is patience and persistence.
  • Do you like using computers and computer-related data, infrastructure, etc? This is required for either degree.
  • Are you relational? If so, computer information technology might be the right fit for you.
  • Do you like learning difficult math and solving problems? Computer science may be the degree for you.

Appearances are deceiving

The differences between computer science and computer information technology on paper seem vast, but both can be used to solve a myriad of computer problems and both benefit humankind. 

It is up to you to decide which degree can help you make a difference in the world.

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