The Differences between Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Networking, and Information Technology (IT)

I have always been asked about my vocation and academic background. When I said to them that I am a graduate in computer engineering, they were like, “Huh? Is it computer science?” or sometimes they will go like, “Oh, you’re an IT person”… Then, I would go like, “Err.. No. Not quite.” Sometimes people would just responded to my answer like, “Oh, you’re a computer programmer.”

Still, it didn’t give the closest clue on what I have studied, the weightage of difficulties in my degree and the macro views to my expertise.

So today I have searched the terms and keywords for the differences in the following 4 areas of study. The listings are suggesting on each field’s domain and environment. In addition, I have sketched sets diagram to illustrate on the differences between the four disciplines.

Computer Engineering

  • Marriage of computer science and electrical engineering 
  • Microprocessors 
  • Embedded computing devices
  • Electronic components computation 
  • Desktop, laptop, super computers
  • Software writing
  • Software compilation and optimization
  • Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI)
  • Operating System (OS) design
  • Integrated circuits 
  • Motors, radio, sensors
  • Chipsets
  • Numerical methods
  • Process instructions and operations 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Computer security 
  • Expert Systems
  • Database Management System (DBMS)
  • Computer architecture 
  • Data communications 
  • Computer networking 
  • Information Technology (IT)

Computer Science 

  • Data processing 
  • Algorithms 
  • Applied Mathematics 
  • Instruction language design
  • Human Intelligence 
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Theoretical and practical approach to computation
  • Sofware writing and coding 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Computer security 
  • Expert Systems
  • Database Management System (DBMS)
  • Computer Architecture 
  • Data communications 
  • Computer networking 
  • Information Technology (IT)

Computer Networking 

  • Data networks 
  • Data exchange 
  • Network topology 
  • Personal computer + Phones + Server + Router + Modem
  • Information Technology (IT)

Information Technology 

  • Internet protocols
  • Telecommunication protocols
  • World Wide Web
  • Markup languages 

So you see, the IT is just a subset of computer networking and the networks are just a subset for both computer science and engineering study. There are a number of areas that computer science overlaps computer engineering including the networking and the IT. On other note, computer engineering has a bigger domain than the computer science because this discipline is a marriage of computer science and electrical engineering.

It also means that usually a computer engineer is able to do the tasks of a computer scientist but not the other way around.

For other auxiliary studies such as knowledge representations, semantic web, Information Retrieval (IR), data mining, cognitive computing and programming languages are just the extension to the above listing of domains.

Credits to the following websites:





20 thoughts on “The Differences between Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Networking, and Information Technology (IT)”

  1. Computer networks works on the aspect of transferring these data out of the computer. Be it wired or wireless. The heart is the mainframe and its databases. Maybe you can say that computer networking is the peripherals to mainframe as printers to a computer.


  2. Personally, the diagram is a gross generalization. The reality in Malaysia is every course depends on what youre focusing in. CE,IE,CS,IT,IS students learns magnitude of things that you considered as out of their boundary. A simple example is, an IT student with hons in computer security learns about algorithms, artificial intelligence, networing and networking security, OS, processor achitecture and so on.. as long as it is needed to apply and understand security in computers.The same goes to other courses as well. Instead of having the feeling of superiority of being in an elite camp why not mingle with everyone on the family. At the end of the day, we all learn about computers and we can all learn something new and broaden our views. And of course a person’s worth does not necessarily tied to what their major is, but what they can bring to their table. Knowledge belongs to whomever seek them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. IMO- HCI can be classified into CS or Comp Engineering as it may involve designing interface in software, or input device/hardware. Software writing and Expert System are computer science, and modern software development is heavily studied in Software Engineering – which is not really computer science or computer engineering (more on project management and industrial process). And don’t forget under computer related field we also have Information Science (theoretical study of information) which some are applied into computing. But why Human Intelligence is put under CS?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to say that still there are many shortcomings in the article and article does not include any deep thorough study. It is better suited as author’s opinion based on his knowledge .
    I remember I read a research conducted in USA among top ranked universities to resolve this issue for employers but unfortunately it is difficult to draw boundaries ( or Venn diagram) among these fields. The major issue is the creation of these courses and expertise of faculty in the universities.
    Still the problem exists and unresolved

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post
    reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!


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