Computer Engineering Degree vs Computer Science Degree

Last updated: 15 January 2024 Computer Science

The technology industry is booming lightning-fast with career growth and opportunities, whether taking phone calls, using filters, or using personal computers; technology and innovation have made it accessible and easy for everyone. However, the mastermind behind all these mechanisms lies in computer scientists' efforts to implement their professional skills into scientific innovation. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer science and engineering careers are projected to grow by 13 per cent between 2020 and 2030, faster than average. 

Though computer engineering and computer science degrees are closely related, there is still considerable debate about which to choose. While pursuing a job in the computer field, it is crucial to figure out the kind of computer-based career that is right for you based on your skills and strengths. In this blog, we will discuss and analyse the comparison of computer engineering Vs computer science degrees and their related components.

If you want to learn more about computer science and computer engineering courses to study in New Zealand, why not arrange a free consultation with SI-New Zealand today? Our education consultants can take you through your study options and help you apply.

comp science comp engineering in new zealand

What’s the difference between computer science and computer engineering?

While computer science and computer engineering sound similar and some elements overlap, some aspects make them different. Computer science focuses primarily on computer theory and software development. Computer engineering deals with hardware and computer design. Here are the core differences between computer science and computer engineering degrees:


Computer Science

Computer Engineering

Focus and application

Focuses on software development, algorithms, and problem-solving

Focuses on integration of hardware and software to create effective computing systems

Programming vs hardware design

Emphasises programming and software development

Mainly emphasises hardware design, electronics, and microprocessing systems

Courses and curriculum

The curriculum comprises programming languages, such as Java, Python, PHP, software development methodologies, and data structures

The curriculum revolves around digital systems, microprocessor systems, and electronics

Theoretical and practical approach

Aims on a theoretical approach to problem-solving and algorithm development

Primarily based on practical approach and designing of computing systems

Job Roles and Responsibilities

Software developers, Data analysts, and Researchers are some popular job positions in computer science

Hardware engineers, embedded system designers, and network architects are some demanding jobs in computer engineering

Studying Computer Science

A computer science degree studies technology and how it can be used to solve problems. During the degree program, you can learn about hardware, software, and computer system performance. Computer science involves studying mathematics, graphics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and security. The field of computer science prepares students with excellent mathematics and numerical reasoning skills, attention to detail, approach to work and problem-solving. 

Students can opt for a bachelor of computer science or a master’s in computer science to define their career growth and development. Studying computer science and engineering includes courses such as programming, game design, web design, and data analytics. 

Subfields of computer science

The subfields of a bachelor’s or master’s in computer science include:

Studying Computer Engineering

Computer engineering involves designing and building hardware for computer systems and sometimes work with computer software. The responsibilities include designing hardware, testing and analysing computer systems, and ensuring that hardware and software work together. 

Students can learn coding, debugging, networking, problem-solving, critical thinking, analytic thinking, and cloud computing skills. A bachelor's or master’s degree in computer engineering can get you into career options such as circuit designer, game developer, and forensic computer analyst. On the other hand, with a PhD in computer science, you can get into the research work or serve as a professor in a renowned university. 

Subfields of computer engineering

Different specialisations in computer engineering comprise:

Computer Science and Computer Engineering Job Opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer science and engineering careers are projected to grow by 13 per cent between 2020 and 2030, with an average of 4600 job openings annually in the coming year.

Computer science focuses on the theoretical aspects of computer knowledge; some popular careers include computer programmer, AI research scientist, and database administrator. Computer engineering is a blend of computer science with elements of electrical engineering. As a graduate, one can find work in hardware, software design, and application. Some popular jobs include network architect, hardware engineer, and communications engineer. 

The career paths boast lucrative salaries and stable job growth. For example, you can advance from traditional database management to cryptocurrency data analysis positions through computer science and engineering, where you can learn how to apply statistical methods with occupational methods. Other booming fields include artificial intelligence and the AR/VR industry. The virtual and augmented reality industry is expected to grow $7.12 billion by 2028 from 25.1 billion in 2023. 

Computer Science Vs Computer Engineering Salary

The demand for careers in computer science and engineering is growing. Hence, the pay scale for both fields is competitive and above average. New Zealand's information technology sector is among the highest-paying sectors, with an average pay of $73,000 annually. 

Job designations 

Average Salary

Computer network architects


Database administrators and architects


Web developers


Computer systems analysts

$99, 270

Computer Science challenges

Computer Engineering challenges

Study in New Zealand

Are you interested in studying either computer science or computer engineering in New Zealand? Contact SI-New Zealand today for a free consultation on your future.


What degree is better, computer science or computer engineering?

Computer science primarily focuses on theoretical approaches related to computers. It can be a good fit for people who love researching and are more interested in strategising and analysing things. On the other hand, computer engineering is more practical and better fit for someone who is more into developing things. 

What pays more, computer science or computer engineering?

The pay always depends on certain factors, such as skills and experience gained. Many programmers and software developers positions require a bachelor’s degree or practical skills gained through a certificate course. 

Is a computer engineering degree harder than computer science?

Not necessarily. Computer science is a better fit for someone who likes analysing and research. In contrast, computer engineering relies heavily on practical knowledge and building computing systems. 

Can you become a computer engineer in the future?

To become a computer engineer, you must pursue a bachelor’s degree with a major in data science or artificial intelligence. To gain more hands-on experience, you can opt for a master’s degree in computer science or engineering. The course curriculum focuses on computing, mathematical design, and techniques, giving you the fundamentals to specialise. Further, to gain a doctorate position, you can pursue a PhD in computer science. 

Which branch of computer science is in demand?

Data analytics is the most demanding field of computer science. The branch is closely related to data science, which focuses less on coding and programming and more on logical thinking and analysis for data processing. 

How do you know if computer engineering is right for you?

If you are interested in hardware and software-related tools and have creative, strategic and independent thinking, then computer engineering is a perfect subject for you. Besides, you must be good with mathematics and computing systems.  

Back to Study Guide

"SI-New Zealand helped me successfully apply to study business in New Zealand and I cannot thank them enough for their support. They assisted me with each step, ensuring I was aware of all my options in terms of program and university selection, making the process totally stress free."

Isabella Ramos Business and Management

Isabella Ramos