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Supaflyfrank

Computer Science/Software Engineering Degree

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In about a month I am going to be a Senior in High School and time to pick a college to go to. Was wondering which degree do you believe is better? Computer Science or Software Engineering. I cant really tell the difference between the two but what I ultimately want to do is become a Game Programmer. I also plan on getting a Master in which ever degree I choose. For being a game programmer which do you consider better? Also what is the typical starting pay for someone with a Master in either degree? Thanks in advance.

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In my opinion SE is a part of CS. Also, I think a broader education is better because game development is such a wide field. Therefore I'd suggest CS. It will teach you basically how to anyalytically identify problems and design solutions to it, along with a number of default approaches and techniques in your toolbox. SE will teach you how to design well. However, if the CS course is good it will also involve SE and design will come with experience.

Greetz,

Illco

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Generally, Computer Science is more about theory and Software Engineering is more about application, but not always. The only way to really tell the difference is to look at the college's description and curriculum.

In the video game industry, the two degree are equivalent. Programmer salaries in the video game industry are typically lower than average, and getting a Master's degree probably won't have much effect.

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Computer Science is more broad than software engineering. Software engineering is a part of computer science, however, any accredited Computer Science program will also involve a course in Software Engineering. Computer Science is concerned with the theories and methods that underlie computers and software systems, whereas software engineering is concerned with the practical problems of producing software. With Computer Science I feel you can do much more with your degree.

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This question has come up a couple of times Supaflyfrank, could you get a course book from the college your looking at and list the classes that are different between the two programs?

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First of all, like everyone said what a university calls "computer science", "software engineering", and "computer engineering" can differ greatly. I got my bachelors in computer engineering at Purdue University last year, and for the past year I've been a master's student of computer engineering at UT Austin. Generally, I've seen computer engineering to be about computer hardware *and* software and how they are applied, and computer science is just software, a tiny smidgeon of hardware, and a bunch of mathematical theory. Choose your poison. [wink]



But first of all, hear me out. After I graduated high school I wanted to design games too. Sounds like the perfect job, right? Well from what I've read it's not. You have to put in countless hours of work each week (and if you work for EA you get no overtime). You might not even end up designing a part of the game you like (ie, you're writing level creation tools instead of game engines). You're so busy that you have no time for your loved ones, or for anything else you enjoy in life (possibly including playing games). IMHO, that kind of life style sucks. I like games (enough to design them), but I want to design the game that I want to design, and I don't want game design to control my life.


Having said that, I'm currently doing research on computer architectures and performance analysis, but I've been making a game on the side for almost a year now, and it's been a lot of fun with it. I wonder if as many "professional" game developers can enjoy it as much as I can (I'm lead to believe not). I'm not saying "don't become a game programmer", I'm just pointing out that it's possibly not the dream job you want. Study hard in college, but be willing to be flexible and don't ignore other paths in life by constantly telling yourself "I'm going to make games, nothing else!". Good luck [grin]

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I would say computer science but thats just me. I'm not sure what the starting pay would be though, maybe google could help with that.

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I would think that computational mathematics would be what your are looking for. Just a question for everone else what is computational mathematics oposed to computer science.

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Most colleges should have available, either online or as a book, a list of courses offered and the requirements for the different majors they offer. That's probably the best place to check. Like everyone has said, the different majors aren't totally standardized across the country (or world, for that matter). Take a look at the different requirements. Is it a lot of math? Is it a lot of classes that seem to deal with theory? Do you have classes available specifically about game programming, if that's the direction you want to take? See what list of requirements and offerings seems to be what you want to spend the next 4+ years doing. Or even better, talk to one of the professors at the university and see what they say about the program.

As for the starting salaries, I'm sure you can find specific data for game programmers if that's what you're really interested in on Google. It's probably going to be a little on the low side as far as programmers go. I did a quick google check for the Computer Science major in general. With a bachelor's in C.S. the average starting salary in 2005 was 51,042. I had a little more trouble quickly finding statistics for a masters, but Jobweb listed an average starting salary in 2003 of 54,000 - 74,000.

As for the person who replied that there wasn't going to be much effect in getting a Masters over a Bachelor's, I'd disagree. Even if the pay doesn't vary too much (which those two statistics I found seem to refute. Granted though, statistics aren't always accurate), it still makes you a stronger candidate for a job. All else being equal, if you're willing to take the same pay why would they hire a person with a bachelor's over a person with a masters? With a bachelor's you do have an extra year to get some work experience to make yourself desirable, but I'm not sure that one year will outweight the potentially better starting job you could land with a masters.

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Quote:
Original post by Orron
All else being equal, if you're willing to take the same pay why would they hire a person with a bachelor's over a person with a masters? With a bachelor's you do have an extra year to get some work experience to make yourself desirable, but I'm not sure that one year will outweight the potentially better starting job you could land with a masters.


I don't think you want to look at with all else being equal, the person with the masters spent an additional two years in school accumulating debt and learning instead of making money and gaining experience. So with a master's you're not competing against a fresh graduate, you're competing against someone with a BS and 2 years of experience. And two years of experience is widely regarded as more valuable than a master's degree with no work experience. Some CS master's programs even require work experience as a prerequisite. Why take on the extra debt and loss of potential income, if you can get the job with a BS?

Now if we start talking about BS with 5 years of experience vs an MS with 3, things are about equal, and with more experience I think the master starts giving you an edge. Also, many employers will reimburse a significant portion of your education cost if you go to school while working. So for the general case, I think getting the BS, getting some experience, then getting the master’s is the best approach.

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