The strategic implementation of powerful technology revolutionizes how we solve problems. Take the innovative projects that are pursued by students at the Pace University NYC Design Factory: there, interdisciplinary teams collaborate with corporate partners to develop ideas like drones that absorb noise pollution and large-scale cooling systems for food preservation.
To excel at leading projects like these, you need a nuanced understanding of the tools that enable both remarkable advances and everyday business operations. Graduate education can help you prepare for a career change or a managerial role by learning advanced concepts from expert faculty and gaining hands-on experience.

When weighing the decision to earn a master’s degree in either computer science or information technology, it’s important to account for the differences you can expect in admission requirements, curriculum, and job prospects. This article outlines some of the crucial differences between a Master of Science in Computer Science (MS in CompSci) and a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) so you can identify the best educational path toward your objectives.

Master’s in Computer Science vs Information Technology

Computer science and information technology are deeply related but distinct fields. The study of computer science encompasses a vast array of theoretical principles and multidisciplinary skills related to building and optimizing systems for an endless variety of applications. Drawing on engineering and mathematics, computer scientists develop automated solutions to manage information and improve how people interact with software.

IT, on the other hand, is more narrowly focused on the practical, technical knowledge necessary to provide resources for efficient processes, address hardware problems, and overcome data management challenges. Professionals in this field support the implementation of computing technology for their organizations, considering, for example, what types of databases best serve a company’s needs and then how to install, integrate, and secure those systems.
Still, there is significant overlap in subject matter between an MS in CompSci and an MSIT program. Crucial aspects of both fields include writing code, analyzing data, solving problems, and choosing the best hardware and software tools to accomplish a task.

MS in Information Technology Overview

Reliable technology infrastructure is essential to running an enterprise that efficiently meets the needs of customers or clients. An MS in Information Technology program equips professionals with the systems knowledge that’s vital for industry operations. Students become familiar with common tools and best practices for coding, systems development, database design, and project management.

In addition, specialization options give students the opportunity to explore advanced concepts in high-demand areas that are vital to business. For example, a network administration concentration delves into design and maintenance for systems that incorporate cloud solutions and on-site data storage.
A cybersecurity focus, on the other hand, can help students meet a rising need for experts who are capable of identifying vulnerabilities and defending against attacks or data breaches: In April 2022, CyberSeek reported 43% growth in cybersecurity jobs over the previous year, greatly outpacing the 18% increase for all occupations.

IT Skills

  • Cloud infrastructure maintenance
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Data analysis
  • Programming
  • Project management
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Security for networks, data centers, and software
  • Systems and network administration

MS in Information Technology Requirements

Recent graduates and professionals from a broad range of backgrounds may pursue an MSIT degree. A bachelor’s in information technology, information systems, computer science, software engineering, computer engineering, sciences, or mathematics can provide the grounding to succeed in an IT program.
Since IT is essential to organizations of all kinds, a master’s curriculum is beneficial for a variety of tech-oriented career paths. However, those who have not previously taken extensive technical education may need to complete additional elective courses to succeed at the graduate level.

What Can I Do with an MSIT?

  • Some possible jobs include:
  • Computer support specialist
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Database administrator
  • Information security analyst
  • Network administrator

MS in Computer Science Overview

A master’s in computer science builds advanced knowledge of how systems function and the skills to address complex technical challenges. Students harness the deep understanding of math and programming necessary to develop software technologies, learning theoretical concepts, data structures, algorithms, and best practices.

To meet the computing requirements of today’s organizations, professionals need to be comfortable working in the complex environments of enterprise servers. Students in a master’s program can acquire experience by using the virtual machines of a portable lab to complete practical exercises based on real-world problems.

The field of computer science also offers numerous opportunities for specialization. Graduate students may choose to focus on artificial intelligence, exploring how data structures and algorithms enable machines to recognize patterns, react to changing conditions, and even simulate human sensory perception. At hubs for collaboration like the Pace University Computational Intelligence Lab, researchers and students employ powerful systems to investigate the burgeoning possibilities of machine learning and data analysis.

Leaps forward in AI will produce numerous roles for qualified experts who have the skills to drive technological advances in machine learning, automation, and natural language processing. A 2022 Lightcast analysis of job listings found more than 185,000 positions requesting skills in AI and projected that figure would nearly triple in just two years.

Within a computer science graduate program, students can also choose to focus on the software side of the field. For example, a concentration in application development equips professionals to build out their ideas for the mobile web and write the scripting language for games. There’s a high demand for professionals with these skills, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 22% growth in positions between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average of 8% for all occupations.

Computer Science Skills

  • Data analysis
  • Data visualization
  • Debugging
  • Logic
  • Mathematics, including statistics and calculus
  • Problem solving
  • Programming in Java, Python, C++ and other commonly used languages
  • Simulation
  • Software development

MS in Computer Science Requirements

Prospective students for a master’s in computer science program should have previous academic or professional experience in a related field. They should be prepared to offer evidence of their ability to succeed in an advanced program through a detailed resume and letters of recommendation. Admitted students who hold a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of computer science or programming are likely to be required to take bridge courses in addition to the core curriculum.

What Can I Do with an MS in CompSci?

Job opportunities may include:

  • Computer and information research scientist
  • Computer programmer
  • Network architect
  • Quality assurance analyst
  • Software developer
  • Software engineer

Salaries in Computer Science and IT

The BLS reported that computer and information technology professionals earned a median salary of $97,430 as of May 2021. According to data submitted to Paycale, the median master’s of computer science salary is $107,000. The average master’s of information technology salary is $89,000.

The following tables break down the average earnings in several of these occupations that require skills associated with computer science or IT graduate programs. If they have the required knowledge and experience, individuals with varied educational backgrounds may excel in each of these jobs. However, this data can help to weigh the relative benefits of these degrees for reaching your objectives:

Computer Science Job Titles Median Salary
(all educational levels)
Computer and Information Research Scientists $131,490
Computer Network Architects $120,520
Computer Programmers $93,000
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers $110,140

Source: BLS

IT Job Titles Median Salary
(all educational levels)
Computer Support Specialists $57,910
Computer Systems Analysts $99,270
Database Administrators and Architects $98,860
Information Security Analysts $102,600
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $80,600

Source: BLS

Experts in the fields of information technology and computer science are both indispensable to create and maintain the systems that are essential to organizations and industry. A master’s degree program that prioritizes hands-on experience and career preparation can help you accomplish more as a technical problem-solver and leader.

About the Online Master of Science in Computer Science at Pace University

The Pace University online Master of Science in Computer Science provides hands-on training that professionals need to excel in leadership or managerial positions in computer science and systems, or to transition into the field. Our curriculum features a wide variety of electives so you pursue a focus area, choosing from artificial intelligence or application development or creating your own. The program is taught by experienced practitioners and active members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE).

About the Online Master of Science in Information Technology at Pace University

The Pace University online Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on practical experience in exciting lab environments that incorporate the latest technology, tools, and techniques. Choose from two in-demand concentrations: Cybersecurity and Network Administration. Both concentrations offer hands-on experience through virtual tools like Cisco Net Academy as well as options for customization through targeted electives and a capstone project.

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