Author Topic: College Major Help  (Read 2207 times)

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Offline apcalc

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College Major Help
« on: June 05, 2011, 08:46:56 pm »
Right now, I am in a position where I need to decide what my major will be in college.  I know I want to do something with computers, but I am undecided on what my exact major will be.  Because many people here are quite familiar with computers and such, I though I would ask a few questions here to see if I can get any help.

The college I want to attend offers three undergraduate programs related to computers, Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Computer Engineering.  Unless my point of view changes greatly, I doubt I would move into Computer Engineering; nevertheless, I am left to decide between CS and CIS.

Between CS and CIS, which of the following is a better degree?  Which has better pay?  Which has the best job availability and security?  Likewise, my school offers a 5 year program for both CS and CIS in which one would receive the appropriate BS degree along with a MS in Software Engineering.  Is this a good program to get in to, or is it better to just get the BS and move on?  Many websites on the internet seem to be very torn between CS and CIS, with some saying some are wonderful and the other is terrible, and others being the exact opposite.  Thus, I am quite confused on the differences and advantages of both degrees.

I thank you greatly for any help! :)


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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2011, 09:02:34 pm »
From what I've seen online, it seems as though CIS jobs are a little less in pay and are more technically just "Computer Stuff", and most likely won't have nearly as much programming involved as CS jobs would.  However, it's what you want more: do you want to do programming, or do stuff in programs?

Offline DJ Omnimaga

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2011, 09:51:08 pm »
Something I suggest is choosing a major with good job potential. Make sure to choose something you'll like, though.

Offline jnesselr

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2011, 11:13:26 pm »
I'm pretty sure that it won't fully make a difference.  I would choose CS because I believe that gives you more options.  Because that way, you'll still be good at computers, but you have the added benefit of programming.  That's what I'm doing.  But I'm also probably going to get a masters and then a PhD, so...

Offline willrandship

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2011, 11:15:45 pm »
A Guide:
CS = General Computery Stuff
CIS = Not too sure, probably IT-related
CE = Mostly Hardware design. Like, working for Nvidia or intel.

You should probably start in CS, and transfer to the others if you change your mind, IMHO

Hope that helps.

Offline shmibs

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2011, 11:38:31 pm »
hmm, that's funny
i'm going into computer systems engineering next year, my brother is in college right now working on computer information systems, and my friend is doing computer science.

from what i've seen of the three so far, computer systems engineering is more hardware related (constructing/piecing together hardware and things like that), computer science is more straight programming, and computer information systems focuses more on the big picture (making things work together, networking, marketing, etc.)

i'm doing systems engineering because i really want to transition into robotics stuff (for which i'm most likely going to work on an electrical engineering degree as well) but also wanted to learn some programming, which is incorporated to some extent into all three fields. if i were you, though, i'd probably go for computer science, just because it would probably be easier to find a job, there's more 'hands on' work involved, and you could more easily avoid other people and hide in a basement when working than you could with information systems :P

keep in mind that i'm not actually attending classes for any of these fields yet, so anything i say could potentially be erroneous/not apply to your school.

Offline uberspire

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2011, 03:05:20 am »
I'm currently majoring in computer engineering so I might be biased, but here's my view of these degrees:

Computer Science (CS) - The geek's major. Focuses on the theory and math of computer science. You'll usually take courses that focus on algorithms (sorting, searching, P=NR, etc.), algorithm complexity analysis, algorithm running times/efficiency, data structures (linked lists, stacks, binary trees), object oriented programming and project development/management. If you worship Dijkstra and designing databases, web apps, games and compilers sound cool this is for you.

Computer Engineering/Computer Science & Electrical Engineering/Computer Systems Engineering (CE/CPE/CSEE/CSE) - The nerd's major. It's a blend of electrical engineering (without the analog and power stuff) and computer science (with less emphasize on theory and algorithms). You'll take courses that teach you the fundamentals of circuit design and then progress to digital circuits (multiplexers, arithmetic logic units, flip-flops, etc.) Your computer science courses will be more focused on C and assembly, since you're going to be programming hardware. People who have a degree in computer engineering usually are the ones who develop and build computing hardware such as the iPhone, iPad, PS3, Nintendo Wii or Intel Core i7's where knowledge of both hardware and software is appreciated.

Computer Information Systems (CIS) - From what I've heard, there's roughly two kinds of this major and it depends on what college you're going to. If the college you go to is more technical, CIS focuses on developing software that either needs to analyze information (business data, statistics, etc.) and exchange them. You'll take the usual computer science courses, but with more emphasize on networking, communication protocols, numerical analysis, etc. People with this degree usually go on to work for the government or company that needs someone to write software to analyze data. If the college you go to is more of a trades school, then you probably would take courses that focus on repairing, building and setting up computers. People with this degree go on to do consulting for businesses and help them choose what computers to buy according to their budgets. I recommend that you check with your college and check their curriculum to see which one they offer.

If you're concerned about money, usually computer engineers make the most out of the three since it seems that people want high end computing hardware jammed everywhere (in their phone, in their tablet, in their calculator - all of which are essentially embedded systems) and there are fewer computer engineers than what's in demand. I won't be surprised if in the future, there will be computers in toasters and in our clothes...  ;D Next would be computer science, but the concern for the past couple of years is outsourcing. There are people in other countries such as India or China who will write software for low wages. Then finally computer information systems, but then again, like other government jobs, you don't really get paid that much (unless you're a corrupt politician ;) ).

If you're concerned about which major is more difficult, then it's the reverse. Computer information systems would probably be the easiest. Then between computer science and computer engineering, it's a bit more iffy. I believe that getting a degree in computer science would be easier than computer engineering, but a career in computer science will demand that you keep up with the latest trends in software development. For example, a kind of new trend that's gaining momentum is multi-threaded programming. In a couple of years, the model and techniques used in multi-threaded programming will most likely change, and if you want to keep your job you'll have to learn it and stay up to date so you won't become obsolete or outsourced to younger programmers.

Computer engineering requires more knowledge in different disciplines. You're not trying to just programming a system (like a computer scientist), you're creating the whole system. You'll likely take more mathematics (calculus, differential equations, discrete mathematics and linear algebra) and science courses (mostly physics) than the other two majors. As a computer engineer, you may need physics to build a robot or if you're designing a new Intel processor you need to understand the physics behind semiconductors.

That about wraps up what I have to say. In my opinion, it's best if you check out the curriculum at the college you're going to and see if the courses sound interesting to you. Then you want to check if the jobs that you can get with the degree sound like something you would enjoy doing. Then lastly, you check if you're okay with the salaries.

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 06:12:58 pm »
Interesting. I might use this info for deciding on my career and college when I graduate HS.
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Offline apcalc

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Re: College Major Help
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2011, 10:36:34 pm »
Sorry for the late reply, but thank you all for your help! :)