IT Degree vs. Computer Science Degree

A deep dive comparison of college degrees in information technology and computer science, including educational focus, core skills, career opportunities and earning potential.

IT vs Compsci degrees

In today's technology-driven world, pursuing a career in the lucrative and fast-growing tech space is a popular choice. However, when it comes to deciding between an Information Technology (IT) Degree and a Computer Science (CS) Degree, aspiring tech professionals can find themselves unsure of which path to take. Both disciplines offer numerous benefits and career opportunities, but they also have their own unique traits and considerations. In this article, we’ll highlight the key similarities and differences between IT and CS degrees, helping you make an informed decision about your learning plan and professional future.

Let’s begin with a simple side-by-side comparison of CS and IT degrees. We’ll dig deeper into the specifics later on.

Computer Science vs IT Degrees

Aspect IT Degree CS Degree
Educational Focus Practical application of technology to support and manage business processes. Theoretical foundations of computing, inc. algorithms, data structures, programming & computational theory.
Skills & Competencies Network administration, database management, cybersecurity, IT system support and integration. Algorithm design, programming, computational thinking, computer architecture & software development.
Career Opportunities Technical support, network and systems administration, database management, cybersecurity, IT management. Software engineering, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, web and game development.
Earning Potential Competitive median salaries ranging from $60,000 to $110,000, depending on experience, location and industry. Higher earning potential, with salaries ranging from $70,000 to over $130,000, depending on role and experience.
Adaptability & Growth Broad understanding of technologies and systems, beneficial when transitioning between roles or industries. Strong theoretical foundation, enabling quick adaptation of new programming languages and technological frameworks.

Now let’s dive a little deeper into the similarities and differences between information technology and computer science degree programs.

Educational Focus

IT Degree Focus

A degree in IT focuses on the practical application of technology to support business goals and processes. The curriculum of an info-tech degree typically includes topics like networking and telecommunications, database management, cybersecurity and computer systems administration. The goal of an IT degree is to equip students with the skills needed to setup, maintain and secure vital computer systems.

CS Degree Focus

On the other hand, a compsci degree concentrates on the theoretical foundations of computing, including algorithms, programming, data structures and computational theory. It involves a deeper understanding of how computers and software function, allowing students to develop the tools and techniques needed to create new technologies and advance the field of computing.

Skills & Competencies

IT Degree Skills

Key skills developed in an information technology degree program include:

  • Network and systems administration
  • Database design and management
  • Cybersecurity and information assurance
  • Technology troubleshooting and support
  • Information technology project management

CS Degree Skills

Skills gained in a computer science degree program include:

  • Algorithm design and analysis
  • Programming in multiple languages
  • Computational thinking and problem-solving
  • Understanding of computer architecture
  • Software development and engineering
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning (ML)

Career Opportunities

Both IT and CS degrees offer a wide range of job opportunities. The specific roles available to you will vary depending on the skills and credentials acquired in your program. Here are some of the popular roles you can pursue with CS and IT degrees.

IT Degree Careers

Career paths you can pursue with an information technology degree include:

Related: Research and compare IT careers.

Earning Potential & Outlook

Although graduates of both info-tech and comp-sci degrees can expect to find ample job opportunities and competitive salaries, there are some differences in earning potential depending on which program you choose.

Information Technology

Information technology professionals typically earn competitive pay, with roles such as technology manager, network administrator and cybersecurity analyst taking home median annual salaries ranging from $60,000 to $100,000, depending on experience, location, company and industry.

Computer Science

Computer science majors enjoy slightly higher earning potential than their IT counterparts in proliferating fields like software development, data science, DevOps and artificial intelligence. Median annual salaries for these roles range from $70,000 to over $120,000, with experienced professionals in high-demand areas commanding even higher wages.

Keep in mind that salaries and job outlook vary significantly based on factors like location, industry, and individual skills and certifications. As such, it's essential to conduct thorough research and consider your personal circumstances when comparing info-tech and comp-sci degrees.

Related: Top 6 Highest Paying IT Degrees

Adaptability and Growth

The tech industry is constantly evolving, and professionals in both IT and computer science must be prepared to adapt to new technologies and trends. Pursuing either an IT or CS degree can provide you with the foundational skills and expertise to stay current in the ever-changing world of technology.

IT professionals often benefit from a broad understanding of various technologies and information systems, which can be advantageous when transitioning between different roles or industries. Similarly, CS graduates possess a strong theoretical foundation in computing principles, enabling them to quickly learn and adapt to new programming languages and frameworks.

In both fields, continuous learning and professional development are essential for long-term success. By staying informed about emerging technologies, and having a strong commitment to lifelong learning, graduates of IT and computer science degrees can remain competitive in the workforce and well-equipped to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

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