If you are deciding between majoring in computer science or engineering, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.

EngineeringComputer science
Average pay$85,100$85,235
Ease of finding a jobHighHigh
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Software engineer
Mechanical engineer
Civil engineer
Project engineer
Structural engineer
Electrical engineer
Industrial engineer
Chemical engineer
Software Engineer
Software developer
Web developer
App developer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Difficulty of the
Key things to noteCan give good job
prospects with just
a bachelor’s degree.

Many of the more
lucrative engineering
jobs require
a master’s degree.

The jobs you will
qualify for will depend
a lot on the specific
type of engineering
degree you choose.
A very employable
degree with just a
bachelor’s degree.

A well paying degree.

Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right

Gives slightly better job
prospects than an engineering
bachelor’s degree.

Easier than an engineering
major. But, still requires a
lot of work.
Source for CS salary and jobs
Source for engineering salary and jobs

There are many things to consider when choosing between the two degrees and there are also some important things to be aware of when choosing either of them.

Details about an engineering major

Below are details about a degree in engineering.

It can pay well

According to Payscale, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering is $85,100. This puts engineering among the highest paying degrees to obtain.

Engineering is also a major that will give you good job prospects with just a bachelor’s degree.

However, many of the better jobs will require a master’s degree. Getting one will also improve your long-term pay prospects. However, this can be said for most majors.

Something to consider is that the average salary will vary depending on the specific field that you are intending to enter. You can look here to see what the median and average pay is for each of the different types of engineering degrees.

Also, the job progression and working hours will depend a lot on the specific field you want to enter.

Before choosing an engineering degree, it would help a lot to do lots of research on the specific type of engineering degree that you are interested in and to make sure that it has good job prospects. It would also help to make sure that it is something that you would be interested in doing.

Job prospects are projected to improve

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it is expected that there will be a total of 139,300 new jobs by 2026 when compared to 2016. You can look here to see how each of the different types of engineering jobs are projected to improve.

Many people with engineering degrees go down the software engineering route. These jobs tend to pay well and be less demanding than most other engineering roles unless there are deadlines coming up.

With that being the case, picking up a minor in computer science will help to broaden your job prospects significantly. Make sure to take computer science algorithms and data structures since that is what gets tested in software engineering interviews. It would also help to complete software engineering projects that you can use to showcase your skills to help in getting an interview. One option would be to develop an interactive website.

It can be difficult to get a high GPA

Engineering majors are, usually, majors with a high dropout rate. There are many possible reasons for this but one main reason is that an engineering major is more challenging than people would expect.

Engineering will make use of a lot of mathematics. In engineering, you will need to learn, single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, discrete math and differential equations. These can be difficult classes that will require a lot of time spent studying. Many students are not willing to put the necessary amount of time into studying for these classes so they end up not doing very well in them.

When compared with a comuter science major, you can expect an engineering degree to be a lot more math heavy. If you do not like math much, it would likely be better to choose a CS degree. However, be aware that a CS degree can also feature a lot of math.

Another thing to consider is your level of interest in the subject. If you are interested in engineering then you will likely have an easier time motivating yourself to continue studying when you are struggling.

Engineering degrees will often require more credits

Another reason that people have a hard time doing well in engineering is that it will often require more credits to graduate than some of the other majors.

This means that you will likely have to take more classes in each semester as an engineering major and you will have to spend more time studying.

Alternative degrees

There are a number of alternatives if you are thinking of getting an engineering degree.

The alternatives can include:

  • Computer science
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Computer engineering
  • Physics

Things to consider

An engineering degree is applied to specific job roles which should help you a lot in searching for a job. However, it can still be difficult when job searching especially right after graduation so it could help a lot to improve your job opportunities by also taking classes from a discipline such as computer science.

Details about a degree in computer science

Below are some of the key details of the computer science major.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees available right now.

Many of the alternative degrees to computer science will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best paying degrees but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.

Also, many people that get alternative degrees to CS actually end up finding themselves in CS type roles. For example, it is not uncommon for mathematics or statistics majors to find themselves working in programming roles after graduating.

Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for

There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:

  • Software engineer
  • Database administrator
  • Data scientist (often requires a master’s degree)
  • Machine learning engineer (often requires a master’s degree)
  • App developer
  • Web developer
  • Computer systems administrator

Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest-rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures that you’ll learn about during your time in the major. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.

Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.

It would also help to try to get internships during the summer since that will also help you a lot in getting into big tech companies that have very high salaries.

How difficult it is as a major

Generally, computer science is considered as one of the easier STEM majors. With that being said, the major will require a lot of work, at times, especially once you are done with your freshman year.

When compared with most engineering majors, most would agree that computer science is generally the easier major. This is because it is less math-heavy than most engineering majors and there are sometimes fewer required credits to graduate.

Types of classes you will study

Classes that you can expect to take include:

Data structures
Assembly language
Computer architecture
Computer networks

You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:

Linear algebra
Discrete math

If your university does not require that you take those math classes, I would strongly recommend that you take them as electives. This is because they are key classes for machine learning and, if you want to go to grad school, they will be important classes to have on your transcript.

Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include

Machine learning
Artificial intelligence
Computer graphics
Computer networks

Important things to be aware of when taking the degree

Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. By doing so you will be able to optimize your classes to be suited towards what you want to do after graduation.

If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes. It would also be important to make sure to take calculus and linear algebra as a freshman or sophomore if they are not required in your major.

Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.

If you think that you want to go to grad school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student. It would also be important to look at what classes graduate schools want to see when accepting CS master’s applicants.

More details about the computer science major

I have written more about the computer science major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here.

Reasons to choose a computer science major

A computer science bachelor’s degree is currently one of the best bachelor’s degrees to get when it comes to finding a well-paying job. When compared with an engineering major, it is also easier and should require slightly less time studying. This should allow you to have some extra time to focus on applying to jobs, internships, to do research and to complete projects related to the job you are interested in.

Reasons to choose an engineering major

An engineering degree can also give you very good job prospects with just a bachelor’s degree. However, many of the better engineering jobs will require a master’s degree. If you like applied mathematics and you find engineering interesting, an engineering degree could be more appropriate for you than a computer science major.

An alternative to consider would be to major in engineering and to minor in computer science. This would allow you to qualify for the bachelor’s level engineering jobs while also qualifying for most computer science jobs. This should put you in a very good position upon graduation. However, it will require a lot of time spent studying.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.