Is Computer Engineering Harder than Computer Science [FACT]

Computer engineering typically focuses more on the hardware aspect of computing, including designing and building computer systems and components such as microprocessors, memory systems, and circuit boards. This can involve a strong foundation in electrical engineering and mathematics, as well as proficiency in programming languages and software tools.

On the other hand, CS often focuses more on software and programming, including algorithms, data structures, and programming languages. This field has strong analytical skills. Logical thinking is another plus point.

Both fields can be challenging, but the level of difficulty may vary based on individual preferences and aptitudes. Some people may find CE more challenging due to its emphasis on hardware and electrical engineering concepts, while others may find CS more challenging due to its focus on abstract concepts and algorithms.

Key Differences Simplified

Short answer No, computer science is not harder than engineering simply because it does not deal with the hardware aspect of computing. Computer engineering focuses on hardware design. It requires a stronger background in math and physics. It also deals with digital systems and electronic circuits. It is more likely concerned with the physical construction of computer systems. The courses that are included in this field are digital signal processing, control systems, and communication systems.

Computer science emphasizes software development. It deals with the theory and principles behind computer systems and software development. It requires an emphasis on mathematics and logic. It focuses more on algorithms and data structures. The students of this course study algorithms, programming languages, and software engineering. CS graduates can work in industries such as software development, financial services, and healthcare.


In Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects latest (2021) & (2022) editions, the top five universities for CE are MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, and Caltech.

In ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (2021) edition, the top five universities for CS are MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and Caltech. In the latest (2022) edition, the top five universities for CS are Stanford, MIT, Harvard, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and UC Berkeley.

Salary Comparison

Field of studyAverage PackageHighest Package
Computer Engineering:$77,000$150,000
Computer science:$73,000$250,000

What career paths are available for both graduates?

Both are broad fields that offer a wide range of career paths. Here are some examples:

Computer engineering graduates can pursue careers in:

  • Hardware design and development
  • Embedded systems development
  • Computer architecture and organization
  • Networking and telecommunications
  • Power and energy systems
  • Control systems engineering
  • Software engineering for hardware systems
  • Technical sales and support for technology products

Computer science graduates can pursue careers in:

  • Software engineering and development
  • Web and mobile application development
  • Database design and management
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Cybersecurity and information security
  • Game development
  • Computer graphics and visualization
  • Human-computer interaction design
  • Technical sales and support for software products

What is the role of mathematics in CE and CS?

Mathematics plays a fundamental role in both computer engineering and computer science. In both courses, math provides the tools and techniques for analyzing and designing complex systems and algorithms. Math is therefore an essential component of the education and training of computer engineers and computer scientists.

How important is practical experience in CE and CS?

Practical experience is extremely important in both. Some examples of practical experience include internships, co-op programs, research projects, hackathons, coding competitions, and personal projects.

By gaining practical experience, students can improve their chances of securing employment after graduation and be better prepared to tackle the challenges of their chosen career paths.

What kind of software and hardware do CE and CS students work with? 

The kind of software and hardware that the students work with depends on the specific program and area of focus. However, students need to have hands-on experience with a variety of tools and technologies to be well-rounded and adaptable in the field.


Database management systems for storing and managing large amounts of data.


Microcontrollers and single-board computers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

What kind of continuing education options are available for both professionals?

Continuing education is essential for both professionals to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology landscape. Pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in computer engineering or CS can deepen your knowledge and expertise in a specific area of the field.

Many universities and industry organizations offer professional development courses that cover topics such as programming languages, software development methodologies, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Platforms such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX offer online courses and certifications in a variety of CE and CS topics.

It’s important to regularly evaluate your skills and knowledge and seek out opportunities to expand them to stay relevant in the field.

What is the role of algorithms in computer science and engineering?

Algorithms play a critical role in CS and engineering because they are the building blocks of computer programs. Every computer program that we use today is based on one or more algorithms. Algorithms help programmers to design and develop software applications that are reliable, and effective.

Jenny Blake
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