Computer Science vs. Cyber Security

Fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) continue to evolve, and among them, computer science and cybersecurity offer diverse career prospects. If you're considering pursuing a degree in either computer science or cybersecurity, understanding the differences between these disciplines is crucial in making an informed choice.

Computer science, a broad field, encompasses the study of computers and their functioning. Cybersecurity, a subset of computer science, focuses on safeguarding networks, systems, and software from digital threats. Cybersecurity specialists rely on their deep comprehension of computers and networks to execute their responsibilities.

Continue reading to explore the distinctions between cybersecurity and computer science, including educational prerequisites and potential career pathways.

Comparison of Coursework: Cybersecurity versus Computer Science Degrees

Computer Science Courses

If you're passionate about programming, pursuing a computer science degree might interest you. Here are some courses often found in computer science programs:

  • Introduction to Computer Systems: Teaches principles behind engineering computer hardware and software, covering topics like virtual memory and file systems.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Explores algorithm theory and its practical applications in computing problem-solving.
  • Software Engineering: Provides practical application opportunities to design and test software systems.
  • Data Analysis: Covers probability, statistics, and data modeling.

Cybersecurity Courses

Interested in a career in cybersecurity? Here are some courses you might encounter in a cybersecurity degree program:

  • Cyber Policy, Law, and Privacy Compliance: Explores legal requirements concerning cybersecurity and privacy while devising security structures for organizations.
  • Database Design and Security: Covers database design and its implications for security breaches.
  • Cryptography: Focuses on algorithms, authentication, and secure data transfer.
  • Network Security: Equips students with skills in developing secure networks, including protocols and access control.

Roles and Responsibilities with a Cybersecurity versus Computer Science Degree

Upon completion of a cybersecurity or computer science program, professionals in both fields rely on a blend of technical and soft skills. Here's a closer look at their similarities and differences:


Both computer scientists and cybersecurity professionals pay attention to detail, maintain regular project logs, and employ analytical skills to devise innovative solutions.


The primary distinction lies in their roles. Cybersecurity specialists audit security systems, set up firewalls, and analyze networks for potential data breaches. Conversely, computer science professionals focus on software feature development, database administration, or web development.

Career Options in Cybersecurity and Computer Science

Careers in either field offer various opportunities, and transitioning between cybersecurity and computer science careers can be feasible due to overlapping educational backgrounds. Below are career options based on 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data:

Computer Science Careers:

  • Computer Network Architects (Median annual wage: $116,780)
  • Computer Systems Analysts (Median annual wage: $93,730)
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists (Median annual wage: $126,830)
  • Database Administrators (Median annual wage: $98,860)
  • Software Developers (Median annual wage: $110,140)

Cybersecurity Careers:

  • Information Security Analysts (Median annual wage: $103,590)
  • Network and Computer System Administrators (Median annual wage: $84,810)


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