The field of computing is growing day by day. There is a huge growth in career opportunities in different fields of computing and lot of students consider about following a degree in computing as a good choice nowadays.
But the problem is when they try to choose a degree program they find a lot of degrees choices in this domain such as computer science, computer engineering, information systems, information technology, software engineering, and many more offered by different faculties of different universities in both government and private sector.
Many questions naturally arises such as what are the differences between these degrees? What are the dissimilarities between these degrees? What are the prospective career opportunities available for each degree? How can I make sure the future is safe?, etc.
This post has been written to explain the characteristics of various undergraduate degree programmes and to help you to determine which programmes are most suited for your goals and circumstances.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of computing related degree programmes during last few years. But this post focus on five major disciplines what are prominent today.
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science
- Information Systems
- Information Technology
- Software Engineering
To illustrate the areas covered by each degree programme, the following graphical chart is used. In this chart the horizontal range runs from theory, principles and innovation on the left side to applications, deployment and configuration on the right side.
The vertical range goes from computer hardware and architecture on the bottom to organizational issues and information systems on the top. As we go up in this axis we focus on people, information and organizations, and as we move down the focus is to devices and data shared among them.
The shaded portion is the representation of the computer engineering discipline. It is spreaded all over the bottom because computer engineering covers the full range from theory and principles to the practical application deployment and configuration of hardware and software. It narrows towards as we move upwards because computer engineering interest is getting less as we move away from hardware and electronics.
Computer engineers should be able to design and implement systems that involve the integration of software and hardware devices.
The computer science discipline covers most of the vertical space between extreme bottom and extreme top because computer science generally doesn’t deal with computer hardware and organizational needs. Computer science focuses on everything between these two areas aiming to develop all types of software from system infrastructure to application technologies. Computer science aims to create these capabilities but do not manage the deployment of them. Therefore the shaded area narrows as we move to the right side.
Computer scientists should be prepared to work in a broad range of positions involving tasks from theoretical work to software development.
Information systems discipline covers the top most level because it has been designed with a focus on the relationship between information systems and organizations that they serve. Information systems professionals involved in systems deployment and configuration and training of users. The shaded area dips downward because information systems professionals tailor application technologies such as databases according to the needs of the business and they often develop systems that utilizes other software products that suit business needs.
Information systems specialists should be able to analyze information requirements and business processes and specify and design systems that are aligned with organizational goals.
In information technology discipline, the shaded area extends down most of the right side of the graph as it focusing on applications, deployment and configuration needs of organizations and people. Information technology has some overlap with information systems but IT has a special focus on satisfying people needs with the technology. IT shaded area goes leftward in application technologies towards theory principals because IT professionals develop web enabled technologies more often and this need a relevant theoretical foundation.
IT professionals should be able to work effectively at planning, implementation, configuration, and maintenance of an organization’s computing infrastructure.
Software engineering discipline covers most of the area between extreme bottom and extreme top. Software engineers fills a wide range of need in large projects with software expertise. The main goal of software engineering is develop reliable models and techniques to produce quality software on time within the budget. These concerns extend all the way from theories and principles to daily practice. This discipline also extends up into organizational issues because SE professionals interested about developing information systems that appropriate to client organizations.
Software engineers should be able to properly perform and manage activities at every stage of the life cycle of large scale software systems.
What is the ideal choice for your your career prospect?
The horizontal range of this chart runs from theory, principles and innovation on the left to application, deployment and configuration on the right. So, someone who is interested to working inside a laboratory to invent new things or in a university to explore and invent theories will want to work in the area that occupies the left. Conversely, someone who is interested to help people with the technology and who want to integrate software products to solve business problems will want to work in the area that occupies the right.
The vertical range of the chart runs from the computer hardware and architecture at the bottom to organizational issues and information systems at the top. So, someone who is like the idea of working with electronics and curious about computer inner workings will care about the bottom range. Someone who is caring about how technology can work for people or who is curious about technology’s impact on organizations, will care about the upper portions.
But we should not forget the fact, there are many kinds of job roles that fall between the extremes, one should not just look only at the extreme left or right, or extreme top or bottom but also consider possibilities between these extremes.
Resources: The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), The Association for Information Systems (AIS), The Computer Society (IEEE-CS)