csToday’s technology field is booming and constantly changing and many individuals are interested in pursuing a career in computer science or information technology. A common question students contemplating these areas may ask is which is better, a master’s in information technology or master’s in computer science. The answer of course depends on academic and career goals. While these fields share many similarities, they are also distinct disciplines.

Master’s in Information Technology

A master’s degree in information technology typically focuses on the practical characteristics of computers and user needs of devices and networks. Degree programs commonly provide instruction in business and technology to provide students with a well-rounded education for meeting the needs of business with information technology concepts. Students commonly develop problem-solving and project management skills through course instruction. The coursework commonly educates about theory and practice of information technology systems and related concepts, such as design, analysis, and management. Examples of core courses include management of information systems, information security management, and database system management. The business classes may include corporate finance and financial accounting.

Master’s in Computer Science

Computer science is defined as the study of computing. A master’s degree in computer science generally concentrates on computers and related components, computing, and software applications. Programs have a foundation in physics, mathematics, and engineering. Instruction often includes the life cycle of the development of computer applications, such as architecture, programming languages, software development methods, modeling, and development of algorithms. The core courses generally include primary concepts in theory and systems. Examples of courses may include numerical analysis, computation theory, operating systems, software engineering, computer networks, artificial intelligence, algorithm theories, and evaluations of performance.

Career Paths

Professionals in information technology commonly specialize in the practical application of computers and related applications and they solve problems using up-to-date technology. They focus on how to make information systems work effectively. A master’s degree in information technology prepares students for jobs in many different areas, like IT architecture, networking, data processing, systems and software design, and development of hardware and software. On the other hand, computer science professionals study computers to understand their function and then work to create new technology for devices to reach their maximum potential. These individuals also study the fundamental principles of computing. A master’s degree in computer science program prepares students for careers in an array of fields, such as software development, computer programming, computer science research, systems development, web development, and software engineering.

Job Outlook

As stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer and information research scientists is projected to rise as fast as the average for all jobs nationwide, increasing 19 percent by the year 2020. The need for development of new software and security systems will drive career growth. The employment growth for computer and information systems managers is also anticipated to grow as fast as the average, increasing 18 percent. Organizations upgrading their information technology systems and networks will drive career growth. The increased need for security in the field will also generate job opportunities.

Individuals who understand the distinct differences between these two degrees can make an executive decision on which program best suits their interests and goals. Both programs will provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to lead successful and lucrative careers in the technology fields.