International Institute in Geneva

Two occupations often confused in the technology industry are Computer Science and Software Engineering. Pretty hard to understand from a student's perspective, right? Well, at Geneva International University, we're here to help you make the right decision. 

While the two may seem close at first glance, we hope the differences between computer science and software engineering will be more obvious for you after our explanations.

Computer Science vs Software Engineering : the match

Software engineers are professionals who specialize in writing code for computers and digital devices. Their main duty will be to find and generate relevant and valuable software. They are implicated in the big picture of software’s creation & development and maintaining & improving of computer programs. 

Computer scientists, on their side, will study and master the fundamentals of computer design, and programming languages. Computer science’s field will more focus on the way data and instructions are sorted and stored, processed and carried out between different computing devices.

Still, the two titles show a lot more than that and vary in some aspects. 

Let's go deeper into these two programs.

To go deeper

Software engineering - 

The curriculum in software engineering prepares students to conduct technical processing on computer both software and hardware. With a specific attention paid to design, mathematics, and analysis, the curriculum emphasizes the construction and management of computer systems through engineering principles.

Combining the expertise of engineering and software development, students will have a thorough understanding of the numerous steps involved in the development of a software systems. Courses typically focus on software design, engineering fundamentals, software quality and security, but in addition, software engineers will also be able to create a pleasing UX design.
How to build software, how to apply mathematical analysis and software engeneering principles, throughout the design and development process... 
Due to their unique skills set, Software engineers are in high demand on the market.

Computer Science – 

A computer science degree program provides students with an in-depth knowledge of computer theory, structure, architecture, and applications. Originally, it was a sub-branch of mathematics, and nowadays there still is an emphasis on science and math. 

Computer Science Bachelor will focus on how computer work as a whole and how they connect with another one, through physical, or wireless networks. 

A computer scientist is an expert in a variety of related fields, covering both technical and abstract computing skills, programming languages, computer architecture, data science, data structure, cybersecurity, software development and algorithms.

Besides, computer science degrees typically explore emerging computing applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or cloud computing.

So what are the biggest differences between these degrees ?

If it is obvious that these two formations share many common points, it is important to note that they also have important differences, which make them clearly singular from each other.

Software engineering is mainly applied, whereas Computer Science is a bit more theorical. To sum it up, software engineering is more related to software than Computer Science, and then provides a larger software applications. On the other hand, Computer Science is a lot more in the middle between soft and hardware. Computer Science is about creating the good and effective connections between the two and thus will be more demanding on both sides. 

Programming Languages 

Concerning the coding abilities, both need good knowledge of different languages, but they would not use it the same way at all. When Computer Scientist will be focused on ensuring the code provides an effective communication between software and hardware, Software engineer will use various languages to produce software from the ground up. 

Mathematics approaches

Applications in mathematics are also very different. While Software engineers will concentrate on his engineering capacities in order to create software, Computer Scientist will focus on mathematics, calculus to help conceive a brand new and efficient computer system. 

Roles and Careers

Computer Scientists are responsible for security networks and data sytems. In the meantime, Software Engineer will work side by side with marketing and product managers to create software solutions for companies or users. 

Concerning the career path, on their side Software engineers will be limited to software and applications development, whereas Computer Scientists can apply their talents in a larger range of companies, or industries, from web developer to IT manager, or Security Administrator. 

Ok but which one should I choose?

Well first, for those afraid of pursuing in the wrong field, (spoiler alert) there is actually no wrong field as both programs will offer rewarding opportunities. However, it is our mission at International Institute in Geneva to alert you, if you choose Computer Science and want to switch to Software Engineering, it will be really easier for you because you will have a solid knowledge of software and coding… Opposite is less obvious. 

Apart from this specific warning, the choice you have should more refer to your career goals. Are you more into computing systems, digital solutions, software design… Anyway technology drives change across pretty much all industries, intensifying the need for advanced skill candidate to bring them further, so opportunities await you, whatever your choice is. 

At International Institute in Geneva, we would be delighted to have you as a student of Computer Science as it is one of our most emblematic program. 

If there is any missing information in order to make the good decision, our team will be happy to help. Do not hesitate to contact us bachelor@iun.ch.