SitePoint Sponsor

User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 49
  1. #1
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Student: Information Technology or Computer Science?

    Hi everyone, and thank you for looking at this thread. I'm a current student (20 years old) at community college, soon to complete my general A.A. by Summer 2011, and then transfer to USF (a larger state college). There is a problem though. I'm trying to decide between doing Information Technology or Computer Science. Speaking with advisors has been a lackluster experience, as I'd be sent from one vague-answer advisor to another at both my community college and (soon-to-be) state college, until finally realizing that none of them knew what they (educated in counseling or business) had no idea what they were talking about. And, well, here I am now hoping that one of you guys can give me a little information on which to pick. Below I've listed some information about both "what I do not know" (which is the key question) and "what I do know" (which is data about my academic, technical, and personality background which will help you tailor an answer to me specifically.)

    What I do not Know
    First, of course, does with the job opportunities associated with my degree. I fear someone with an Information Technology degree may not be as competitive as someone with an Computer Science or Computer Engineering degree. This comes from the confusion of what specific difference there is between a BS-IT degree and BS-CS or BS-CE degree, which I've only gotten vague answers to and not the "you want this degree with this concentration, and based the people I've met and personal experiences you'll want something like these three." Here is a flowchart list between Computer Science and Information Technology:
    http://www.poly.usf....ITflowchart.pdf
    http://www.cse.usf.e...owchart2009.pdf


    What I do Know
    Second, here are the things that I do know. I am hands-on orientated, with skill in building, repairing, and maintaining computer hardware and networks. This is the vague idea of what I want to do in a career, and I say vague because without the knowledge to say for example, "well I know about databases now, and the class was fluid to me, and I like networks and hardware, so I'll do something in databases" there is no way to know whether I'd like databases vs. support vs. network admin. vs programmer and so-on. Also know I am not fluid with mathematics all the time, it takes time for me to learn mathematics and often struggle with rushed teaching (from poor teachers) but when learned it's easier to master. I understand that programming,whille rather programming that isn't geometric heavy (like video game design, which I don't want to do) or pure mathematics (like robotics, which I don't want to do either), deals with very little math beyond College Algebra and (sometimes) Statistics and is more language based learning (which I excel in), which leaves me interested in having programming knowledge. I also know that the information technology field is an area where learning, discarding that learning, and re-learning (because of new languages or techniques) is a common thing, such I am neither afraid of because it's very enjoyable.

    Thank you much, and I know this is a mouthful for one post.. but I feel it's necessary to give you the "round idea" of the situation. I'm very hopeful someone can answer this with either personal or data-based experience, because you guys are literally my last hope on forums like this..

    [I've also posted this elsewhere, but am VERY doubtful of the activity on either of the previously-posted sites, and I often lurk on SitePoint for other things, and I posted here feeling you guys can give a better and quicker answer.]

  2. #2
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Northeastern USA
    Posts
    4,606
    Mentioned
    56 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Your links are broken.

    IT is more general--you would be exposed to networking, system administration, and programming/databases. CS is usually just programming and a lot of math. But--the content of each program does vary from school to school, so it can be hard to generalize. One school may focus on assembly programming, while another school may focus on .NET applications.

    See if you can talk to some professors at the colleges you're looking at who teach the courses/programs you might be taking.
    Visit The Blog | Follow On Twitter
    301tool 1.1.5 - URL redirector & shortener (PHP/MySQL)
    Can be hosted on and utilize your own domain

  3. #3
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hi Force Flow, and thanks for your reply! Your explanation really simplified it for me, and explained the differences in a "this is this, and that is that" format (which I've been DYING to get out of an advisor or faculty.)

    Sorry about the broken links, I should of fixed them earlier. I've put them into TinyURL format, and you can check the legitimacy of them (to see if they're not a script-hijack website) by putting http://preview.tinyurl.com (note the preview insert).
    http://tinyurl.com/23yncuo [Computer Science]
    http://tinyurl.com/25kovuf [Information Technology]

    I'm contemplating on doing a Comptuer Science minor, for some more programming influence which is not offered in Information Technology degree. When looking at the flowcharts, I also notice the classes are very much in-par with one another (minus Engineering Calculus, Physics II, and some electives.)

    Also! I've spoken with a few faculty members, and they gave some very good advice. They pretty much said what you said, so that puts some more confidence in making a decision. I'm going to speak with the department head face-to-face soon, I hope, and he can give me some additional advice.

    Would a Computer Science major be more viable for a job than someone with Information Technology? Er, well that is a bad way to put it because of the type of job. But, in a general sense, what would you think of the hire:major ratio is?

  4. #4
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    From recent experience, I would say that it would be a catastrophic mistake if you took Information Technology. Computer Science is the go-to degree for most development related jobs, and whereas there are those of us who value degrees of a similar title the old rules still apply and some employers will think less of you for not having the degree they want.

    I disagree with what Force Flow has said about Computer Science. Any worthwhile degree in CS will teach the fundamental knowledge of computational theory, and will nurture its students to use programming as an output for their knowledge. More often than not the university teaches the ideas behind CS, and in turn the ideas behind good software; this is why most of the time CS students land the better jobs, because they know the why, in addition to the how.

    I am also a hands-on kind of guy who likes to plan and implement, and I am terrible with Mathematics, but I studied for a CS degree and rarely struggled with the level of Math needed. The best CS programmes in the top universities (Oxbridge, Ivy League, MIT, etc) will ram Math down your throat, but the main course of any CS degree is Logic. Outside of Probability and Algebra there's little you need from conventional Math.

    So yeah, CS is definitely the way to go if you want the best career outside of it. It's also by far the most diverse and interesting subject. Finally, with a CS degree you're open to whatever career you may want, from Game Developer to Systems Analyst to Database Administrator, maybe even an academic.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the reply, the critique is definitely something that helps put me into perspective. From what some have said, a CS can do everything what an IT does, but an IT can don't do everything a CS does. I don't mean to pry, but what recent experience tells you how IT would be a catastrophic mistake over CS? Any personal experiences would help a lot.

    I'm still contemplating on doing the IT because of another answer on TomsHardware (I won't link to there because I'm unsure of the rules on linking to other technology websites), but choosing IT worries me in terms of finding a job.

    It also turns out the department head is off-campus until the 10th, and other advisors have not responded to my (fourth) calls to each of them.. So I'll spend even more time today writing e-mails for some additional advice on differences between the programs and job opportunities after.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Augusta, Georgia, United States
    Posts
    4,147
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Tagged
    3 Thread(s)
    Computer science is focused on application programming and IT hardware. If you want to build applications go with Computer Science. If you want to be a db admin or system admin go with IT. Both are vital part. Without hardware nothing can work without an application the hardware is useless.
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  7. #7
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Deaner6666 View Post
    Thanks for the reply, the critique is definitely something that helps put me into perspective. From what some have said, a CS can do everything what an IT does, but an IT can don't do everything a CS does. I don't mean to pry, but what recent experience tells you how IT would be a catastrophic mistake over CS? Any personal experiences would help a lot.
    My examples may be less relevant as they come from the UK, but it's practically an unwritten rule that the best graduates are those that studied Computer Science. It's the degree most companies ask for, and CS students have a well-rounded curriculum to go into anything they desire. By the final year most students have a good idea of what they want to do from there and they pick the subjects that suit them.

    The biggest reason to have a CS degree is also a crappy one. There are a lot of elitist managers out there, and whilst many of us would view someone with an IT, Computing or more generalised degree as an equal many of them will discount their application based on that degree, believing that because they didn't choose CS they won't have the background knowledge required. It's the same as managers who hire based on the quality of school. The old school tie rules still apply, and probably always will...

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaner6666 View Post
    I'm still contemplating on doing the IT because of another answer on TomsHardware (I won't link to there because I'm unsure of the rules on linking to other technology websites), but choosing IT worries me in terms of finding a job.
    This is why I chose Computer Science, and because I prefer the curriculum. I graduated with a decent degree and had interned every summer, so when I left I landed a job almost immediately, and even had the luxury of leaving employers empty-handed after a string of successful interviews. I know people who graduated with better degrees in subjects like Forensic Computing, Games Programming and Computing that are still looking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaner6666 View Post
    It also turns out the department head is off-campus until the 10th, and other advisors have not responded to my (fourth) calls to each of them.. So I'll spend even more time today writing e-mails for some additional advice on differences between the programs and job opportunities after.
    Ah, the one thing I don't miss about university is unhelpful staff. If I were you I'd probably go down there and request a face-to-face meeting. If not, see someone above them, and repeat. It's the only way I got anything done at my old university...

    Quote Originally Posted by oddz View Post
    Computer science is focused on application programming and IT hardware. If you want to build applications go with Computer Science. If you want to be a db admin or system admin go with IT. Both are vital part. Without hardware nothing can work without an application the hardware is useless.
    Computer Science is NOT focused on programming, not even one bit. Computer Science focuses on the Science/Logic behind Computation; this is why Data Structures and Algorithms, AI and theoretical aspects of Software Engineering are so strong in the field.

    To quote the famous Computer Scientist Edsger Dijkstra, Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

  8. #8
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Northeastern USA
    Posts
    4,606
    Mentioned
    56 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    My examples may be less relevant as they come from the UK
    It is quite different in the US. It sounds like the names of the degrees in the UK are swapped around.

    In the US, CS is math & programming. There's also the standard theory courses that go along with programming. The specific focus on what language(s) or how extensive the math courses are depends on the specific school you go to. For example, one school near IBM and NXP chip plants primarily focuses on assembly code and Java.

    The IT program is usually more diverse, which includes hardware, software, server management, networking, some programming, web development, databases, and multimedia. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending upon the program. Note that an IT degree does not usually cover any one thing in great depth unless you choose electives to do so.

    CE (Computer Engineering) is usually mostly math, with electrical engineering (mainly focused on computer components). This is a very difficult program to complete, as many students end up dropping out and pursuing other degrees instead.

    Communication / Media Arts is usually loosely tied in with tech, as it does deal with graphic design, digital media, and video editing, but also includes advertising, TV/radio, and journalism.

    It also turns out the department head is off-campus until the 10th, and other advisors have not responded to my (fourth) calls to each of them.. So I'll spend even more time today writing e-mails for some additional advice on differences between the programs and job opportunities after.
    You will find that not many professors will not respond until they have to be back on-campus. January is when most have time off.
    Visit The Blog | Follow On Twitter
    301tool 1.1.5 - URL redirector & shortener (PHP/MySQL)
    Can be hosted on and utilize your own domain

  9. #9
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    It is quite different in the US. It sounds like the names of the degrees in the UK are swapped around.
    I completely disagree. Computer Science is what it is, and a curriculum of good quality over here is the same as over there. Whereas the fundamentals are the same, the only real difference is between the top schools and those looking to churn out workers, but I'll leave that till later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    In the US, CS is math & programming. There's also the standard theory courses that go along with programming. The specific focus on what language(s) or how extensive the math courses are depends on the specific school you go to. For example, one school near IBM and NXP chip plants primarily focuses on assembly code and Java.
    That's the thing, CS isn't just Math and Programming. It's the equivalent of someone calling writing HTML word processing because we type things into a window. There may be mathematical notation required, and a lot of the subjects fall under the Math category, but more often than not you're not dealing with "conventional math". CS is more about logic than Math, although an understanding of algebra and probablity is often assumed and in the case of the latter, taught through theory.

    Programming is nothing more than an output, and that's why CS students do so well when they go into the world of development.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    The IT program is usually more diverse, which includes hardware, software, server management, networking, some programming, web development, databases, and multimedia. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending upon the program. Note that an IT degree does not usually cover any one thing in great depth unless you choose electives to do so.
    This is usually the big issue people have with people with non-CS degrees; people know skills that have no relevance to their work. As I said before, it's a crappy standard because many CS subjects won't be used in most jobs (I'm looking at you, Artificial Intelligence!), although it can be argued that techniques learned in theory do become relevant in real development (i.e. learning the theory of how to write a search engine helped me immensely when I needed to write an email parser for a commercial CMS, and learning probability theory to create a rule-based learning tool to detect spam helped when I needed to analyse Twitter posts for an in-house tool at work).

    The whole CS/IT/Computing thing is poorly run and there are battles in academia as to what each should contain, with the top schools maintaining purity and those below wanting to churn out employable people. This is why I would always recommend CS, simply because in both instances you'll be easier to employ.[/QUOTE]

  10. #10
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Northeastern USA
    Posts
    4,606
    Mentioned
    56 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    That's the thing, CS isn't just Math and Programming. It's the equivalent of someone calling writing HTML word processing because we type things into a window. There may be mathematical notation required, and a lot of the subjects fall under the Math category, but more often than not you're not dealing with "conventional math". CS is more about logic than Math, although an understanding of algebra and probablity is often assumed and in the case of the latter, taught through theory.

    Programming is nothing more than an output, and that's why CS students do so well when they go into the world of development.
    Programming, software development, software engineering--all basically in the same realm. It seems you're you're getting hung up on the word "programming".


    This is usually the big issue people have with people with non-CS degrees; people know skills that have no relevance to their work.
    I have to disagree there. IT and media arts usually provide knowledge and skills which are practical, rather than just theory. CS seems to be half practical/hands-on, half theory.


    As I said before, it's a crappy standard because many CS subjects won't be used in most jobs (I'm looking at you, Artificial Intelligence!), although it can be argued that techniques learned in theory do become relevant in real development (i.e. learning the theory of how to write a search engine helped me immensely when I needed to write an email parser for a commercial CMS, and learning probability theory to create a rule-based learning tool to detect spam helped when I needed to analyse Twitter posts for an in-house tool at work).
    Some theory is good for that exact purpose. A curriculum with *no* practical opportunities is just useless fluff. Basically, having a background only or primarily in theory can allow you to talk a good game, but not actually play one.

    The whole CS/IT/Computing thing is poorly run and there are battles in academia as to what each should contain, with the top schools maintaining purity and those below wanting to churn out employable people. This is why I would always recommend CS, simply because in both instances you'll be easier to employ.
    Yes, some schools don't quite know what to do with CS/IT/CE/MA programs. Then again, some do--and do it quite well.

    CS isn't for everybody--not everyone is interested in software, software development, programming theory, etc. And those who do go for the degree aren't always successful with it.

    I would almost think folks with CS degrees are *less* likely to be employable, as they lack the well-roundedness which is usually required in most tech-related positions.

    With the economy the way it is in the US, people who can only do *one thing* are not being initially employed, or are losing out to people who have the skills to do more than one thing. People who can do *several* different things are keeping their jobs, rather than losing them. In the tech world, techs usually wear several hats. Knowing how and being able to connect several different things all together can be useful, since the field is quite diverse.
    Visit The Blog | Follow On Twitter
    301tool 1.1.5 - URL redirector & shortener (PHP/MySQL)
    Can be hosted on and utilize your own domain

  11. #11
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Programming, software development, software engineering--all basically in the same realm. It seems you're you're getting hung up on the word "programming".
    As I said before, either of those is to Computer Science as telescopes are to astronomy. CS doesn't teach programming, it teaches computation and its principles. Students are required to use their knowledge of computation and logic, then apply it to problems using code.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    I have to disagree there. IT and media arts usually provide knowledge and skills which are practical, rather than just theory. CS seems to be half practical/hands-on, half theory.
    There are a number of issues with learning IT in academia:

    1) IT is a very practical subject, and more often than not it's not something you can really cover well in lessons. Through my internships during my summers I learned more about programming and the IT industry throughout 2-3 months than I did in an entire year at university. The reason why is my next point...

    2) More often than not, the people teaching IT at universities have been out of the industry for so long that you'll end up learning skills that aren't as relevant in todays market. For example, a friend of mine graduated with a degree in IT, and a lot of his time was spent learning subjects like introductory programming (an optional unit using Borland C), systems analysis methodologies like SSADM, the SDLC (waterfall, etc) and project management methodologies like PRINCE2. Now, there are jobs for these skills out there, but if you're applying for a Web Developer role and you've done little programming and a lot of stuff that hasn't been strongly used in industry for years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Some theory is good for that exact purpose. A curriculum with *no* practical opportunities is just useless fluff. Basically, having a background only or primarily in theory can allow you to talk a good game, but not actually play one.
    I am of the opinion that university is there to study academic subjects. They are not trade schools, nor are they equipped to be trade schools, no matter how much they want to be.

    The reason CS is such a strong degree is because it is an academic subject that produces arguably the best programmers out of the lot. Look at any top company that produces software and the vast majority of programmers have Computer Science degrees. Game development is around 50% CS and some CS students end up in media.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    CS isn't for everybody--not everyone is interested in software, software development, programming theory, etc. And those who do go for the degree aren't always successful with it.
    Absolutely. If anything, employers regard it as one of the hardest non-professional (Medicine, Law, etc) degrees to earn, definitely on par with the Sciences and Math. Outside of the professional subjects, CS at Imperial College, London has the highest entry requirement of any degree course in the UK.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    I would almost think folks with CS degrees are *less* likely to be employable, as they lack the well-roundedness which is usually required in most tech-related positions.
    CS students have always been the most employable graduates, and it's a trend that probably won't change for the next ten to fifteen years.

    My entire graduating class, albeit smaller than some of the others, found good jobs and/or places at top universities by the time graduation came.

  12. #12
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Northeastern USA
    Posts
    4,606
    Mentioned
    56 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    As I said before, either of those is to Computer Science as telescopes are to astronomy. CS doesn't teach programming, it teaches computation and its principles. Students are required to use their knowledge of computation and logic, then apply it to problems using code.
    That's not the case with many academic programs here in the US. Again--differences in programs between our two countries.

    2) More often than not, the people teaching IT at universities have been out of the industry for so long that you'll end up learning skills that aren't as relevant in todays market.
    That is a problem in several fields--most noticable in tech-related fields as it's progressing so rapidly. When looking at tech-related programs, I usually find younger professors in their 20s, 30s, and 40s much more worthwhile to learn from rather than older professors. Although, there have been a few older professors I've met who have really been on top of things. The main thing is probably their level of interest and their ability to keep up with changing technologies.

    I am of the opinion that university is there to study academic subjects. They are not trade schools, nor are they equipped to be trade schools, no matter how much they want to be.
    Hence graduates are often unprepared for their first "real" job.

    The reason CS is such a strong degree is because it is an academic subject that produces arguably the best programmers out of the lot. Look at any top company that produces software and the vast majority of programmers have Computer Science degrees. Game development is around 50% CS and some CS students end up in media.
    "The best programmers of the lot" because it's a degree geared toward *programming*. IT graduates aren't full-time programmers.

    London has the highest entry requirement of any degree course in the UK.
    Not so much here. If you want to take the degree, you can take it. If you can keep up with the coursework like any other degree, you can stay in it.

    CS students have always been the most employable graduates, and it's a trend that probably won't change for the next ten to fifteen years.
    Again, maybe true for the UK, but nowhere near definitively true for the US.
    Visit The Blog | Follow On Twitter
    301tool 1.1.5 - URL redirector & shortener (PHP/MySQL)
    Can be hosted on and utilize your own domain

  13. #13
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    That's not the case with many academic programs here in the US. Again--differences in programs between our two countries.
    To be honest, I'm going to side with the famous Computer Scientist. Here's a few links stating the difference.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04186/341012.stm
    http://mathoverflow.net/questions/39...sn/25302#25302
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articl...egeAdvice.html
    http://programmers.stackexchange.com...or/11735#11735

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    That is a problem in several fields--most noticable in tech-related fields as it's progressing so rapidly. When looking at tech-related programs, I usually find younger professors in their 20s, 30s, and 40s much more worthwhile to learn from rather than older professors. Although, there have been a few older professors I've met who have really been on top of things. The main thing is probably their level of interest and their ability to keep up with changing technologies.
    Exactly, and because CS is the study of Computation, an inherently theoretical subject, Computer Scientists are typically at the forefront of their research subjects. Yes, they're usually rubbish Software Developers, but they're also often rubbish Mathematicians (Algorithmic Analysis) or rubbish Physicists (Graphics) or rubbish Biologists (Bioinformatics).

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Hence graduates are often unprepared for their first "real" job.
    In the same way that once an IT graduate faces a problem they weren't taught at school they freeze.

    There's a reason why CS students dominate careers at most companies, and why selective companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and co use CS questions in their interviews. Like with anything, knowing the why makes the how so much easier.

    Finally, as with anything, internships are worth their weight in gold. I'd go as far as to say that any student that hasn't worked outside of university will be ill-equipped to face the real world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    "The best programmers of the lot" because it's a degree geared toward *programming*. IT graduates aren't full-time programmers.
    I've stated numerous times, and with many different fields, that CS isn't programming. If you won't listen, then go and find a good CS degree that is primarily geared towards programming, in the top 50.

    The reason you won't be able to is because any worthwhile degrees are accredited, and to teach CS the degree needs a valid CS curriculum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Not so much here. If you want to take the degree, you can take it. If you can keep up with the coursework like any other degree, you can stay in it.
    Maybe at community college, but you can't just walk into CS at a top university, although America is different in that you apply to the university, rather than for the course itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Again, maybe true for the UK, but nowhere near definitively true for the US.
    Afraid not. It'll be hard to prove it as IT is typically taught in the Computer Science faculty, but as CS degrees are more plentiful than IT degrees, and as CS is the dominant degree in CS departments at the top schools there's very little chance of IT being more popular.

    Once again, if you can prove it I'll believe it, but if you think that CS is a programming degree then it greatly devalues the credibility of your posts. Should you come up with a convincing argument I'll comment back, but as of now you've yet to convince me of anything.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thank you, both of you guys have given tons of information that would otherwise be unanswered for a long time (if at all.) Somethings I've learned are:

    In the US:
    Computer Science is (sort of) half theory and half practical programming, and it varies on what type of programming (be it web or software based) from university to university. Computer Science is very rigorous, and though not as practical, it does explain not only the "how" programs work, but also the "why" programs work in a specific fashion.

    I've learned that Computer Science is not necessarily "better" than an Information Systems (IS)/Information Technology (IT) major, but a different flavor of major for different people. Also that an IS/IT does not necessarily focus on one area, but focuses on a broad sense of things, and that electives can be used to focus that degree into another subsection (networks, management, support, etc.).

    In the UK:
    Computer Science (CS) is highly regarded, and focuses on the academia and theory (I'm just guessing here) than the practical business outcomes. That both degrees have their own flaws, for example, as one manager may prefer a CS degree over an IT one, the quality of school and grades received have more influence than simply the degree itself.

    Notes:
    USF's Computer of Science and Engineering (CSE) is supposed to have the "#1 ranked program in the state" (according to their website) and the Polytechnic is also highly regarded. Problem is, the IT major is in the Polytechnic while IS major(which is being closed down because of low enrollment) is in the CSE. I'm not sure if/when they will be moving the IT degree (from Polytechnic) to their CSE school. Would the division of the school heavily impact my job prospects?

    Also, supposedly they are expanding the IT program in return, and starting a Masters program there. Would it be wise to go directly for my Masters after I graduate, or get an IT job for real-world experience and wait for the program to mature with betters teachers/formats and then go for a Masters?

    And, finally, I've heard about DeVry // Kaplan University and they actually have a Networks and Communications AA + BS + MS degree program. I actually met with one of their advisors in-person for about three hours, and we talked over it a lot. Few problems are:

    1) It's a privately-funded university with no government subsidies, causing total costs to be $63,000 for me (even with all the credits I've completed!)
    2) Their accreditation is for the Northeast, and not the Southeast (where I live). This comes off very sketchy, as I've heard this accreditation agency (though accrediting research 1 schools like Iowa state) is partly owned by DeVry // Kaplan Universities.
    3) The campus I toured only had two routing/switching/etc. specific rooms. Though, I did not see the other (and much larger) building, it is very sketchy.
    4) Former students (both Alumni and transfers) have said it's a scam and that many of the teachers have no clue what they are doing. In fact, the advisor said some of the classes (even lower level ones like Composition or Physics) would not transfer over.

    What have you guys heard/experienced with this University, or think about it so far?

    Conclusion so far:
    I will pursue my BS-IT degree, and contemplate/confirm the MS-IT and Intern during my summers at a local hospital IT department (I've volunteered in their laboratory for about two years which will give some reinforcement or lee-way) for experience. Later I will get my CCNA > CCNP via the local Cisco Academy, and be one step closer to a CCIE and being Network Engineer.

    I've set-up a face-to-face meeting with a co-chair at Polytechnic just to "set in stone" these hypothesis so far. A bonus point because (as helpful the advisors were) he has practical experience and interest in the field, just like you guys are.

    Thank you everyone, your input has put my mind and future at some ease. If you have any more suggestions, notes, or etc. that would be great. Happy travels!

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,582
    Mentioned
    29 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    To be honest, I just skimmed most of Ultimate and Force Flow's little debate.

    As a recent graduate (just graduated last May), I graduated with a BS in Computer Science with a focus on Interactive Multimedia; basically, website and simulation/game design.

    The descriptions you gave Deaner seem to be dead-on with what they are currently (in the US... I don't know about the UK). Just a note, it's been my experience that IT/IS/CIS/etc. are all used fairly inter-changeable, while CS's definition is more common (though the actual content does vary).

    Based on what you said you'd like to do, I think your plan sounds like a good idea and you seem to have done your homework. If you went with a Computer Science major, as I did, you would be more prepared to create stuff to make the computer work (mostly software, though there is electrical engineering and the like for hardware as well).

    It sounds like what you want to do is not so much make one computer do a specific thing, but make many computers work together, which is definitely IT/IS, with focuses in Networking as you've planned.

    As for the Devry/Kaplan degree... that's tricky. The thing with those guys is the have a lot of degrees that nobody else does. The problem is they have a lot of degrees that nobody else does.

    What the means is, when you tell an employer you have a BS in Computer Science or Information Tech/Systems, they more or less know what that means and how it'd fit the role they're trying to fill. You tell them you have a degree in something else, they could guess from the name what it entails, but they don't really know for sure.

    For some employers they'll like that you have a "Networking" degree for a Networking position, while others will worry since they don't know what it means exactly.

    Also, in the real world there is always a lot of scope creep in your position, so having a more general knowledge allows you to be more flexible then one with a laser focused knowledge. For example, if you're working for a medium-scale business that has ten servers, 2 routers, and 2 firewalls, you don't necessary need specialized training in how to set up a 10,000 server farm with High-Availability.

    However, it'd be handy if they were having trouble getting their Microsoft Outlook to run on the CEO's computer and you were able to lend them a quick hand.

    I'd always go with the "traditional" degrees, at least for your BS, over "new" ones.

    Hope that helps.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,398
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I guess if you want to be Network Engineer... IT is a good choice. I honestly feel that you'll get a lot more value by taking CS degree. In my opinion, IT is a watered down version of CS. You can still pursue being Network Engineer and you'll have a broader depth. Also, I'm 100% sure that CS degree will get your more interviews as well. Just my 2 cents.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,582
    Mentioned
    29 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    IT isn't a watered-down version of CS.

    IT and CS are different things. There is some overlap, but there are quite a few things in IT that you don't cover in CS.

    To kind of simplify the difference between the two, think of them like this:
    CS will let you pass an AP Java test with use, but you'd probably fail a Comp TIA+ test.
    IT will let you pass a Comp TIA+ test with ease, but you'd probably fail an AP Java test.

    Oversimplified, but that's kind of their relation.

    You can also think of it like the difference between an electrician and an architect. There is a lot of information that they both have to know to do there job which is overlap, but then they both have their specialties which gives them unique information that the other doesn't know. For example, I know work for a medium-sized company as a Developer. I know how to do a lot of the stuff, and I'm the only one that really knows how to create complex programs and websites. However, I know little about the advanced configuration of networks and severs, but our Network Administrator knows all about it, so the two of us work in close cooperation a lot of times to accomplish our jobs. His education is much closer to what you'd get from an IT degree than you would from a CS degree.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,398
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Maybe time has changed. Back 10 years ago, IT reqs were 70% similar to CS w/o programming courses... Also, many converted from CS -> IT because it was too difficult. I don't remember IT having network courses, so you could be right. Most likely, the program for IT is very much different among Universities.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by sg707 View Post
    I guess if you want to be Network Engineer... IT is a good choice. I honestly feel that you'll get a lot more value by taking CS degree. In my opinion, IT is a watered down version of CS. You can still pursue being Network Engineer and you'll have a broader depth. Also, I'm 100% sure that CS degree will get your more interviews as well. Just my 2 cents.
    Hello sg707, and thanks for the response! That is something still in the back of my mind, for example the differences outlined in the course catalogs:
    http://tinyurl.com/23yncuo [Computer Science]
    http://tinyurl.com/25kovuf [Information Technology]

    The IT degree is a 2+2 designed program, which lets someone transfer from community college or another university to USF, while the CS degree is a 4-year program. Another problem is that they aren't apart of the same subdivision of school (Polytechnic vs College of Science and Engineering), and they said:
    Please note that Information Technology (IT) courses (e.g., as offered in Lakeland and Sarasota) cannot be counted for credit in any of our three programs (Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Information Systems) @ http://tinyurl.com/6fkk8z9

    This is discouraging. This is a big problem, because once IT is started, I can't do CS; and visa-versa.

    Maybe time has changed. Back 10 years ago, IT reqs were 70% similar to CS w/o programming courses... Also, many converted from CS -> IT because it was too difficult. I don't remember IT having network courses, so you could be right. Most likely, the program for IT is very much different among Universities.
    Oh yes, that is 100% right. IT program serves maybe two networking specific classes, while the CS program has two networking classes also (as electives.)
    I'm not sure if this is correct, though, but I'll be sure to ask this tomorrow when I meet with the co-chair.

    In the back of my mind, I want to do CS to be marketable (and just might!) but I'd still have to take Calculus I, II, III, Linear Systems, and Engineering Statistics to join the program at all. Currently I'm doing pre-calculus, so that puts me far behind. I'd have to spend 2 years doing the pre-requisite math classes to join the program, while on the other hand pursue a (possibly, so far) a better degree and job opportunities.

    I
    T isn't a watered-down version of CS.

    IT and CS are different things. There is some overlap, but there are quite a few things in IT that you don't cover in CS.

    To kind of simplify the difference between the two, think of them like this:
    CS will let you pass an AP Java test with use, but you'd probably fail a Comp TIA+ test.
    IT will let you pass a Comp TIA+ test with ease, but you'd probably fail an AP Java test.

    Oversimplified, but that's kind of their relation.

    You can also think of it like the difference between an electrician and an architect. There is a lot of information that they both have to know to do there job which is overlap, but then they both have their specialties which gives them unique information that the other doesn't know. For example, I know work for a medium-sized company as a Developer. I know how to do a lot of the stuff, and I'm the only one that really knows how to create complex programs and websites. However, I know little about the advanced configuration of networks and severs, but our Network Administrator knows all about it, so the two of us work in close cooperation a lot of times to accomplish our jobs. His education is much closer to what you'd get from an IT degree than you would from a CS degree.
    Thanks for the responses Samanie, personal and real-world experiences really put things into perspective. I'm still contemplating on changing to the Computer Science in the back of my mind, and still have some time to decide, and I'm wondering if I can ask you a few questions about the CS degree?

    As I noted above to Sg, I'd be spending additional time doing all these Calculus classes. I've been in school about a two years now, one year full time doing "core" classes and half-year doing part-time from being burnt out, and then one semester off to get my life straight (I regret not going full time during the year, but I feel it was necessary to learn about myself and what I want in life.) If I go for CS, I'll have to spend a long time doing Calculus classes just to enter the program (I started college with Elementrary Algebra > Intermediate > College Algebra > [now] Precalculus) and will probably just be working full-time until I do. By time I do finish my CS degree i'll be 24-25 (I'm 20 turning 21), rather than 23 with IT. Do you think it's worth going for CS, even though it will take the extra time, but may/will offer better opportunities than the IT one?

    Also, I've heard the CS degree is very rigorous and that many students drop-out and do something like an MIS. I'd hate to spend doing 2 years of math classes just to enter the program, and then drop-out and go back to IT (since IS is being closed down, but that was more business and non-technical orientated anyways.) What are your personal experiences with this?

    As a side note for all, here is an excerpt description of the IT program at USF:
    Information Technology is designed to bridge the gap between computer science and management information systems, providing students with knowledge of rapidly changing technology. USF Polytechnic's bachelor of science in information technology (BSIT) program emphasizes knowledge-based computer and information technology, traditional computer science concepts, as well as more practical topics including programming, applications, networking, systems administration and the management of a variety of computing environments.

    This program features the required core of computing discipline courses necessary to give the future IT professionals a long-term handle on their careers. At the same time, the degree program is unique in its flexibility-because it has to be. IT is an extremely wide-ranging, rapidly evolving field of work, and no "cookie-cutter" degree program will work for such a breadth of career options. Therefore, the BSIT includes five IT-related electives-courses selected by the student as appropriate to the IT specialty or industry sector they wish to enter. These can be courses offered by the department, or even by other departments. A person aiming for an IT career in hospitals, for example, may elect to take some courses in health care or public health. A person who wishes to specialize in security can take several of the information security courses offered by the IT department.
    @ http://tinyurl.com/4vdyhhd


    The phrase "bridge the gap between computer science and management information systems" really errks me. Makes me wonder "If i'm not developing something, or managing over it, what else do I do?"

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,398
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Deaner6666 View Post
    Also, I've heard the CS degree is very rigorous and that many students drop-out and do something like an MIS. I'd hate to spend doing 2 years of math classes just to enter the program, and then drop-out and go back to IT (since IS is being closed down, but that was more business and non-technical orientated anyways.) What are your personal experiences with this?
    This is very true... I remember a friend who only had 1 class to graduate for CS degree but gave up.... This was her 3rd time taking over a class called "Algorithm" Just about every degree has BS class that likes to splat student's confidence. I remember having an average of of 37/100 and received a B in that course... yup... Still, having a CS stamp on your resume definitely will open more opportunities. I can't say you'll learn a lot though... yeah.. Math courses... jeez.. what a waste of time but oh well.. CS degree is needed for $$$$ job.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,582
    Mentioned
    29 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    To be honest, if you don't want to get in to computer science (i.e. the science of developing computers and software for computers), I still think an IT degree may be the way to go.

    I will be the first to admit that the CS major is quite rigorous. At my university we had a decent sized computer science department, yet my graduating class was only about 8 people. My last few classes had class sizes in the single digits, (whereas our early and mid level classes usually hit their max) because we do have a lot of people switching majors.

    Since CS is more about developing stuff for computers, versus managing networks and what not, I don't know if you can really validate the extra time and headaches it'll take you to get a CS degree over an IT one. I didn't take any networking electives (seeing as I knew I wanted to do software), and I know I couldn't do what our network administrator does (and we have roughly the same amount of education).

    I think with a CS degree, you'd spend a lot of time doing stuff you don't want to do, which could also push you towards not succeeding.

    Yes, CS is more flexible, but it's been my personal experience that for networking/hardware related fields, CS and IT are virtually interchangeable.

    In fact, I think what would serve you better than having a CS degree would be to get those certificates you were talking about (CCNA, etc). A degree means you took the courses and got through. A certification means you've been rigorously tested on this stuff and the issuer is backing your knowledge. I'd say with an IT degree (focusing in networking) and with a few certifications you'd have no problem getting a job in the area you want.

    I would not pursue a computer science degree unless you wanted to go into programming, because if not you'll be pulling your hair out.

    (Just so you know, I've actually talked to many people at various stages who are in the CS department that want to do exactly what you are doing who are looking or have switched to the IS major with great success.)

  22. #22
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks samanime and sg707!

    I think you're right samanime, I should something that I love doing than something that I don't. I'm only 20 years old, and have a whole life ahead of me to make mistakes and learn from them. If I find myself as a Net. Admin. // Net. Eng. // Tech. // DBA, and decide that I don't like it, I can go back to school and do Software Engineering, Computer Science, or something and say to employers "HEY! I have a BS-IT, experience, and now a BS-CS"

    Life is a learning process, and you guys have really upgraded my confidence in it two fold. I'm glad I posted here that day, because otherwise I'd be staying up through early days and late nights worrying about "is this right for me?" rather than doing it and then KNOWING whether it is or isn't right for me.

    And, as a plus, for any others that have the same problem: I googled "information technology vs computer science" and "information systems vs computer science" and this thread floated at pages 3-4. So maybe it will resolve for others in the same situation!

  23. #23
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,160
    Mentioned
    46 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by sg707 View Post
    This is very true... I remember a friend who only had 1 class to graduate for CS degree but gave up.... This was her 3rd time taking over a class called "Algorithm"
    Tell her not to worry, Algorithms were designed to make students and academics feel stupid, and for those who succeed in it to get a one-way ticket to a job at Google.

    In all seriousness, CS has this reputation for a reason, because it's a hard degree to obtain. There were times when I struggled throughout my degree, but the degree itself was definitely worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    In fact, I think what would serve you better than having a CS degree would be to get those certificates you were talking about (CCNA, etc). A degree means you took the courses and got through. A certification means you've been rigorously tested on this stuff and the issuer is backing your knowledge.
    Your logic is very biased towards certification. I would argue that obtaining a degree ensures that a graduate has a level of prerequisite knowledge, and most jobs look for degrees. It's up to you what you think is worth more, a degree or a certificate.

    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    I would not pursue a computer science degree unless you wanted to go into programming, because if not you'll be pulling your hair out.
    As I've said countless, ignored times CS isn't just about programming. However, I will agree that programming is often the way to show your working on a Computer Science degree, and you'll need to do some programming if you want to know that you understand the underlying theory. More often than not, because you're learning theory you'll be lead into other languages too, such as Prolog and Haskell. These languages do have their place in certain areas of industry, primarily finance and economics, but the average person will lose their mind learning them.

    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    I(Just so you know, I've actually talked to many people at various stages who are in the CS department that want to do exactly what you are doing who are looking or have switched to the IS major with great success.)
    Isn't Information Systems and Information Technology degrees entirely different?

  24. #24
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Northeastern USA
    Posts
    4,606
    Mentioned
    56 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Deaner6666 View Post
    Thank you, both of you guys have given tons of information that would otherwise be unanswered for a long time (if at all.) Somethings I've learned are:
    Pretty good summary Deaner


    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Tell her not to worry, Algorithms were designed to make students and academics feel stupid
    Algorithms classes are what they are. They're not "designed" to weed out students from a degree. It's part of the regular course material.


    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Your logic is very biased towards certification. I would argue that obtaining a degree ensures that a graduate has a level of prerequisite knowledge, and most jobs look for degrees. It's up to you what you think is worth more, a degree or a certificate.
    A degree *plus* legitimate certs *will* open doors for IT-related jobs. MS certs and Cisco certs are widely accepted. A+ hardware/network...not nearly as impressive. They might work in place of a tech-related degree, if lacking.


    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Isn't Information Systems and Information Technology degrees entirely different?
    Ehh...debatable. Depends on the school's curriculum. Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. *Generally* Informations Systems is theory, Information Technology is practical.
    Visit The Blog | Follow On Twitter
    301tool 1.1.5 - URL redirector & shortener (PHP/MySQL)
    Can be hosted on and utilize your own domain

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,398
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Algorithms classes are what they are. They're not "designed" to weed out students from a degree. It's part of the regular course material.
    In my case, it was!!! I do agree it should be part of CS curriculum but having the entire class average at 20% (out of 100) is just ridiculous! Just saying there is always at least one teacher who's like this...... Because of these many CS students drop out..it's sad really...


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •