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Not sure whether to guide your child toward a major in computer science or data science?

You’re not alone in this dilemma, as these two fields are becoming increasingly popular because of their extensive usefulness in our digital age, promising a wide range of job opportunities and potential for innovation.

Let’s delve into the four main differences between these majors, so you can better guide your student in making the right choice.

1. Core Focus

At the heart of Computer Science (CS) is the study of algorithms, computation, and information theory. The CS major focuses on creating computer systems that can perform tasks efficiently and effectively, from mobile apps and operating systems, to designing complex networks and databases.

Data Science (DS), on the other hand, focuses on extracting insights from vast amounts of data. It combines disciplines like statistics, data analysis, and machine learning to interpret, predict, and leverage data to inform decision-making.

2. Skillset

While there’s some overlap, the core skills required in each field are distinct. In Computer Science, students dive deep into programming, system design, and algorithmic thinking. They must understand how to optimize system performance and solve complex computational problems.

In contrast, a Data Science student spends more time exploring statistical models, predictive algorithms, and data visualization tools. Their work revolves around turning raw data into meaningful insights, which requires both statistical acuity and a knack for storytelling.

3. Application

Both fields have broad applications, but they tend to focus on different areas. Computer Science graduates often work on designing and developing software applications, operating systems, and computing technology.

Data Scientists, however, are more likely to find themselves in roles that involve analyzing and interpreting complex digital data to help businesses make strategic decisions. They work across fields as diverse as healthcare, finance, retail, and government, uncovering trends and guiding policy or business strategy.

4. Career Prospects

Computer Science graduates have a vast range of potential job titles, from Software Developer, Systems Analyst, Network Architect, to IT Project Manager. Their skills are fundamental to virtually every industry in our digital world.

Data Science, being a relatively new and fast-growing field, has its own set of promising career prospects. These range from Data Analyst, Data Scientist, to Business Intelligence Analyst. With businesses increasingly driven by data, the demand for professionals who can make sense of this information is skyrocketing.


While both Computer Science and Data Science offer vibrant career paths, they each require a unique blend of skills and interests. If your high schooler enjoys problem-solving, programming, and system design, a major in Computer Science could be a great fit. If they are more interested in numbers, statistical patterns, and using data to tell a story, Data Science could be the perfect pathway.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the right major. Each student is unique, with their own talents, interests, and aspirations.

The journey towards college and career readiness can seem daunting, but it’s also a time of exciting possibilities. With understanding and encouragement, you can help your student unlock their potential and prepare for a future full of opportunity.

Need Expert Guidance?

Deciding on a college major is a crucial step in your child’s academic journey. If you’re unsure about the best path forward between Computer Science and Data Science, our seasoned staff of experts are here to help! Benefit from personalized guidance, tailored advice, and in-depth insights to steer your high schooler towards a promising future.

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About the Author: Amy Morgenstern

Dr. Amy Morgenstern, affectionately known as Dr. M, is the founder and CEO of Blue Stars Admissions Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and an MFA in contemporary art. A former professor of philosophy, honors program associate director, and assistant to the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Dr. M brings a wealth of academic and multicultural experience to her practice.

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