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Computer Science V. Computer Engineering

December 4, 2018


Many times when I introduce myself as a Computer Engineering student, I’ll always get the question, “Is that different than Computer Science?” It’s completely understandable, because I myself have asked that same question coming into SCU. Santa Clara offers both Computer Science and Computer Engineering, so deciding between the programs means understanding their similarities and factoring in their differences.


Both programs are similar and share many classes, so either way you will be taking classes alongside other Computer Engineering and Computer Science students. The main difference stems from the colleges and departments that run the programs. The Computer Science department is also part of the Mathematics department in the School of Arts and Sciences, so students are required to take more mathematics classes and their upper division courses lean more towards the theoretical side. On the other hand, the Computer Engineering department works closely with the Electrical Engineering department in the School of Engineering, so engineering students take a more practical approach in their courses. There are a couple more labs in engineering and a few more classes covering logic design and circuits.  


Picking your program ultimately comes down to your preferences and thinking styles. Reviewing the department’s website and course descriptions will help you get an idea of the classes you could be taking in either program, as well as looking over the additional requirements depending on your college (ex. physics for Computer Engineering, a language series for Computer Science). In the end, both departments work together and students are encouraged to take many classes across the two schools. Both programs equip students with the technical skills necessary for industry and prepare you well for success both in and beyond the Silicon Valley.


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