What Is Software Engineering vs Computer Science?

Denise Wilkinson

Are you confused about the difference between Software Engineering and Computer Science? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

While both fields are related to computer technology, they are distinct in their focus and application. Let’s dive deeper into what each field entails.

Software Engineering

Software engineering is a discipline that focuses on the development of software systems. It involves designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software applications that meet specific requirements. Software engineers use various programming languages like Java, Python, C++, and many more to build software applications that solve problems for businesses or individuals.

Roles of a Software Engineer:

  • Designing software architecture
  • Coding and implementing software applications
  • Testing and maintaining software quality
  • Collaborating with other team members such as designers and project managers
  • Ensuring that software meets the client’s requirements

Computer Science

Computer science is a broader field that deals with the theoretical aspects of computing. It involves studying algorithms, data structures, programming languages, computer networks, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and many more. Computer science aims to understand how computers work at a fundamental level.

Roles of a Computer Scientist:

  • Theoretical research on computing algorithms
  • Developing new programming languages
  • Coding software for new hardware devices such as smartphones or wearable technology devices.
  • Analyzing data using AI or ML algorithms.
  • Inventing new ways to use computing technology in various industries such as healthcare or finance.

The Key Differences Between Software Engineering vs Computer Science:

While both fields are related to computer technology, there are some key differences between them:

  • Focus: Software engineering focuses on the development of software applications, while computer science focuses on the theoretical aspects of computing.
  • Skillset: Software engineers need to have strong programming skills and knowledge of software development processes, while computer scientists need to have a deep understanding of algorithms, data structures, and computer theory.
  • Tools: Software engineers use specific tools such as Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) or project management software like Jira. In contrast, computer scientists use more general-purpose tools like text editors or command-line interfaces (CLIs).
  • Career Options: A degree in software engineering can lead to careers such as software developer or project manager. A degree in computer science can lead to careers such as data scientist, AI/ML specialist, or research scientist.


In summary, while both fields are related to computing technology, they have different focuses and skillsets. If you love coding and want to build practical applications that solve real-world problems, then software engineering may be the right choice for you. If you’re interested in exploring the theoretical aspects of computing and how it can be applied in various industries, then a degree in computer science may be more suitable.