If you are a parent looking to understand more about your child's studies, or if you are a student faced with choices about which courses to take, the nature of some subjects may not be immediately clear. Information technology and computer science are two different subjects, which are often confused or assumed to be the same thing. In fact, there are a number of key differences between these two subjects. Learn more about how to choose between information technology and computer science.
Development versus analysis
Computer science is concerned predominantly with trying to invent and/or develop new types of computer software or hardware. Computer science might, for example, be interested in a software program that allows people to perform entirely new transactions. Computer science is fundamentally an exploratory, investigative approach to using technology.
Information technology, however, is concerned with selecting and using software and hardware that already exists. Students studying information technology do so to get a better understanding of how to use and implement existing computing services.
A good example would be the invention of the spreadsheet.
Different approaches to research
Both subjects entail a significant amount of research, but the approaches taken by the respective students of these subjects would be different. Requirements analysis and design are both crucial, but a computer scientist would question the feasibility of developing something, and whether there would be a real need for it. Information technology students would seek to research the possibilities of existing systems, and how they could be used and deployed. Information technology looks more closely at how users could interact more efficiently with existing systems.
Different ways of understanding how things work
Both computer sciences and information technology are concerned with how computer technology can improve the lives of users. In terms of understanding how this might be the case, they have very different inward approaches.
Neither approach can ignore cost or effectiveness. Similarly, both studies would be concerned with the size, scale and complexity of the systems concerned. It is also worth noting that in many cases, there is a significant cross-over between the two, and some developments are a combination of both IT and computer sciences. As a student, the distinction between the two is very often based on your style of thinking and learning, and how you might choose to implement these studies throughout your career. Computer science, for example, lends itself well to engineering. IT lends itself well to business and or financial management.