My friend said to me "IT is a specialization of Computer Science". I said it isn't. Is he correct?

Can someone clarify the difference between IT and CS? I know they are related but according to me calling IT a specialization of CS doesn't make sense.

  • Computer Science and IT (along with Software Engineering) comparisons usually draw parallels with other science disciplines - e.g Physics or Chemistry vs Engineering School. IT comes from engineering school, Comp Sci from Science faculty. Nether is a specialisation of the other. (The IT guy will not write academic papers on theoretical uses of computers, the Comp Sci guy to build and run a data centre? -although clearly some people work in both domains) – mattnz Jul 28 '14 at 0:41


  1. Computer science deals with creating computer programs while IT deals with the usage of those programs in business.
  2. Computer science is at the ‘lower level’ while Information technology is at high level, in computing terms.
  3. Information technology integrates computer science into the business world for automated solutions.
  4. Computer scientists should have low level workings of computers whereas in IT that’s not necessary.

Quoted from: http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-it-and-computer-science/

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  • And therefore (for Prasoon who asked the question) your friend is correct. – quickly_now Dec 28 '10 at 6:01
  • Computer science is not necessarily about creating computer programs. Software engineering is about creating computer systems, and that currently is a subset of CS (although it should eventually evolve into a different discipline, like say mechanical engineering and physics). – David Thornley Dec 28 '10 at 16:07
  • I do not believe the linked website can be used an authoritative reference on the subject. A read of the Wikipedia pages on IT and Computer Engineering (along with the discussions pages) would provide a vastly superior answer. – mattnz Jul 28 '14 at 0:36
  • In fact - that site has it completely wrong. You cannot talk about IT vs Comp Sci without also understanding the the roles of SW Engineer and Programmer. – mattnz Jul 28 '14 at 0:45

Without consulting the web and garnering from what I've seen on job ads, people in the field, etc... I think IT is a very very broad term describing the computer industry geared towards business.

People in IT don't necessarily even need to know how to program. You could be doing basic sys admin stuff or even tech support and still be under the IT department. You could be doing serious load balancing for your whole company infrastructure, and still be the IT guy. So in my opinion, it's more general in the perspective of an outsider.

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    +1 My personal opinion based on experience is that IT and CS are almost orthogonal. Any overlap in practice is due to the problem domain requiring some CS concepts to get a workable solution. – Larry Coleman Dec 28 '10 at 14:07

Personal opinion on the difference:

Some of an IT department is an application of various Computer Science ideas. Someone making the strategic decisions of running a project isn't likely to appear in a Computer Science curriculum while numerical analysis and symbolic computation maybe CS topics that I'm not sure would be discussed in an IT department. While there is some overlap between the two concepts, there are some parts of each that aren't covered in the other. System capacity planning would be another point that I doubt you'd see that in a Computer Science curriculum yet it may exist within an IT department to understand how robust are the systems and when will some need replacing versus supplementing.

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Well I say IT is a subset of CSE. So basically an IT guy studies in details a part of CSE domain. So dont you all think that IT guy is specializing in a parrticular field of CSE?

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In my understanding, IT is the practical application, while CS is the theoretical background. For that practical application, IT needs to consider topics outside the range of CS, e.g. many hardware topics. On the other hand, as a science, CS is concerned with some topics that have no application in IT, e.g. everything that CS proves impossible.

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IT typically deals with computer based infrastructure solutions.

Sys Admin Network Engineer Database management Making sure everyone has the proper image on there computer can access all necessary resource such programs or networked drive...ect. Setting up company wide email or some other system ...

You could sum it up as the study of commercial computer systems and their deployment.

Computer Science is just that, a science involving the study of computer based algorithms. For example, operating system design, compiler design, programing language design, or some more typical algorithmic transformations such as sorting algorithms, image transformation. and audio processing.

For completeness, CS is not Software Engineering. Although many CS majors end up as software engineers, the disciplines are very different yet often complimentary. For example, a CS professional might developed an echo cancellation algorithm. Then a software engineer figures out how to integrate that algorithm to a telephone system with multiple TDM buses and channels. I believe the main difference between science and engineering in general is the difference between theory and practical application.

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