(‘The Right Choice’ is a series by The Indian Express that addresses common questions, misconceptions, and doubts surrounding undergraduate admissions. You can read the stories here.)
— Ruchir Arora
Many students wish to study Information Technology and work with computers after finishing their 10 + 2 examinations, but they find themselves debating if the Bachelor of Science Computer Science (B.Sc. Computer Science) or the Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) would best suit them.
Here is a look at the admission criteria, course pattern, fee structure, and differences between the two courses:
B.Sc. (Computer Science)
B.Sc. Computer Science is a three-year undergraduate degree course that deals with the basic principles, concepts and technological implementation of Computer Science. It is perfect for students who are looking to build a strong foundation in the field.
Students opting for the course should pass the 12th standard from a recognised board with at least 50 to 60 per cent marks and need to have studied the Science stream (Physics, Chemistry and Maths) or Computer Science as one of their subjects.
Both government and aided institutions offer this course with a variation in fee structure, The annual fee ranges from Rs 6,000 to Rs one lakh.
The course is heavy on concepts and focuses on disk operations, control structures and hardware. Students get to gain specific knowledge of core technological modules such as designing compilers.
Some topics in its curriculum include: Programming in C/C++, databases, operating systems and computer organisation and architecture.
Students who pursue this course can do a Masters in Science (M. Sc.) in the same subject, which can provide them a deeper understanding of the concepts as it includes parallel computing, artificial intelligence, soft computing, and information security. They can also pursue a Masters in Computer Application (MCA).
Graduates of the course are often hired by security or surveillance companies, electronic equipment manufacturers, system maintenance consultancies, technical support teams, and banking firms.
They can also be software Engineers, IT project managers, website developers and data analysts, but since the course is more conceptual and not application-oriented, they might need to take up an additional course to learn specific skills that suit the job.
A graduation in the course can fetch salaries between Rs four to 20 lakh per annum, depending on the candidate’s experience level.
Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA)
The BCA is also a three-year computer science degree but is more technical and focused on various programming languages and applications.
Students are eligible for the course if they have passed the 12th standard from a recognised board with 50 per cent marks. They should have studied English and Maths as compulsory subjects.
The course is offered by both private institutions and self-financed wings of aided institutions. Depending on the college, its annual fee can go up to Rs six lakh per annum.
It is an application-oriented course with emphasis on programming languages, database networking, data structures, web development, network security, and software development. The students are taught to utilise technology to innovate and develop new applications, so the syllabus is usually curated based on the needs of the industry.
Few topics in the syllabus include: fundamentals of computer programming, website design and multimedia applications. However, hardware-related concepts are not a part of this course.
BCA students can only choose to do the MCA in their post-graduation.
They can become software developers, programmers, web designers and game designers or testers and are often employed by software giants such as Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, and Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) .
Depending on the experience and qualification, a BCA or MCA student can earn anywhere between Rs four to 20 lakh.
B.Sc Computer Science is more concept-oriented, while BCA is more application-oriented.
So, BCA graduates have an advantage and land a job sooner. It is up to the student to see which curriculum structure they are more inclined towards.
The author is CEO and founder of the Gurgaon-based College Dekho, a student counselling organisation.