Cyber Security vs Computer Science: What’s the Difference?

Comparing Cyber security vs Computer Science are more crucial than ever. That’s because computers are basic to almost every organization. Some use the terms “Information Security” and “Cybersecurity” for each other. But while Cybersecurity covers only information in cyberspace. Computer Science reaches wider.

Computer Science may be less specific but it’s technical like Cybersecurity. It covers much more, though. In fact, even subset specializations, like software development, survey lots of territory. This means a Computer Science degree can lead to a greater variety of careers. 

At the same time, Cybersecurity has its own perks. Their careers generally have a higher earning potential and more job opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranked the position of information security analyst at No. 8 in its “100 Best Jobs” report of 2015. By contrast, it ranked IT manager at No. 21. IT departments employ many Computer Science Graduates.

Computer programming is fundamental to Cybersecurity. So, the two fields have an inextricable link. There’s no way to learn Cybersecurity without Computer Science. But it doesn’t go both ways. You can function on a high level in Computer Science without using Cybersecurity at all. This is especially evident when you explore their degree programs.

Possible Bachelor’s Computer Science and Cybersecurity Curriculum Comparison

Computer Science may help set a foundation Cybersecurity branches from. Students may need Comp Sci fundamentals before they can tackle the specifics of Cybersecurity. Thus, they have many similarities. The differences arise when students specialize. If they choose Cybersecurity, the classes veer into that arena’s specifics. Other Computer Science specializations may not touch upon Cybersecurity matters at all.

Similarities

Both Computer Science and Cybersecurity may start with Communications, Math and Logic classes. These form the base understanding necessary for these fields. 

In the next phase both fields take more technical courses with  classes like Programming, Languages, and Algorithm Analysis. These programs also have requirements. Basics like Science, Engineering, and Humanities are standard along with some electives. 

Differences

A Computer Science degree has a broad focus compared to Cyber security. Actually, a bachelor’s degree specific to Cyber security is a Comp Sci concentration. Computer science programs sometimes don’t even have cyber security courses. This has led to what experts call an “IT security skills gap.” In turn, the growing number of cyber security degree programs seek to fill this gap.

Still, graduates of Comp Sci programs have a vast spectrum of opportunities. They may design computer programs. Or they can solve computing challenges. Some even invent new ways to use computers. 

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  • Cyber Security Programs Include:
    BS in Cyber Security
    MS in Cyber Security Management
    Graduate Certificate in Information Security

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  • Cyber Programs Include:
    BS in Cybersecurity – General Track, Data Analytics or Project Management Track
    MS Cybersecurity – General Track or IT Management

Contrasting Cyber Security & Computer Science Master’s Level Curriculum

Graduate programs in both fields may take on both technical and policy views. That’s because rapid advancements in information technology and security change daily. As they become more complex these areas may also get more critical to businesses. 

Similarities

Cyber security and Comp Sci Masters students both continue technical classes. This includes network programming as well as wireless, cloud, and mobile. Both programs often include corporate areas too. That means business and cyber law classes. To protect and secure a business, you need to know its workings. There are also theoretical courses in digital forensics and ethical hacking. That’s because as a core component of a business, this work brings responsibility.

Differences

Information security becomes more crucial every day. When the news announces a hack, that victim company can lose face. From employee mistakes to inadequate firewalls or external attacks; danger lurks in cyberspace. Cyber security at the master’s level enjoins with organizational security.

Comp Sci, though, remains only in a company’s IT arena. Computer Science Masters students can study a range of concentrations. Not so much for Cyber security. That specialization locks in security-focused classes. So, for example, classes for Cyber security at the graduate level include systems security. That also means courses on attack protection and prevention.

Cyber Security Vs Computer Science: Career Paths

Some use the terms “Information Security” and “Cybersecurity” for each other. But Cybersecurity covers only information in cyberspace. Still, those in Cybersecurity develop and apply many security measures. These protect computer networks and systems for organizations. So, it’s intrinsic to their business security.

This field expands as critical, sensitive information online or within networks increases. That means opportunities may increase as well. Cybersecurity program graduates can often work for computer companies. Organizations also hire them in IT departments, meaning, there are a variety of potential careers. 

Careers with a CyberSecurity Degree:

  • Information security analyst 
  • Information technology auditor 
  • Network architect 
  • Information security manager
  • IT security consultant
  • Computer Science Careers

Computer Science is less specific than Cybersecurity. But Comp Sci is also quite technical. In fact, people often interchange the term “Computer Science” with “Information Technology”. This is where we get the prevalent term “IT”.

Careers with a Computer Science Degree:

  • Software developer
  • Systems analyst
  • Web designer
  • Data Scientist
  • Database administrator
  • Network systems administrator

Many of these tech jobs are at solid organizations. After all, Computer Science and IT careers are not only for startups these days. IT skills are core necessities to most companies with any clout. For instance, O*net found that about a third of Computer Science jobs were in the federal government in 2016. Another perk for this field is a BLS predicts median annual salary of about $112K.

Both are fast growing fields. For instance, Cybersecurity job growth is project by the BLS to be  28 percent between 2016 and 2026. That’s exceptional. Also the predicted demand for computer scientists sits at 19 percent in that time frame. Both of these projections reveal much faster growth than average.