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Difference between MSc Computer Science & MCA

Information Technology
Blog Date
February 9,

The evolution of computer technology has generated excessive demand for these skills. Every year, the Information Technology (IT) industry creates numerous job opportunities for students completing courses in Computer Science (CS). While those graduating with a Bachelor’s in the discipline also find rewarding career options, the demand for Master’s degree holders is relatively higher. This is why courses like Master of Science (MSc) in Computer Science and Master of Computer Applications (MCA) are in high demand among postgraduate students.

However, the two programs, though similar sounding, are different in their content. This blog throws light on the prime differences between MSc Computer Science and MCA, to help you make an informed choice for your Master’s. The table below summarizes the key difference points explained in detail later in the blog.

Parameters MSc Computer ScienceMCA
Name of the courseMaster of Science in Computer ScienceMaster of Computer Applications
Focus Networking skills and software developmentPractical application skills in advanced programming languages, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and computer applications 
Curriculum Focuses more on the theory of computer science and mathematics Focuses more on practical skill-building in software development 
Top skills learnedMathematical and technical skillsProblem-solving, communication, networking, time management
Top career prospectsResearch, Cybersecurity, Entrepreneurship, AcademiaData Science, IT Architecture, Software Development, Hardware Engineering
Duration 2 years2 years
Annual salary (approx)INR 4-10 lakhsINR 5-10 lakhs
Avg fees INR 2-4 lakhs per annumINR 98,000 (full course fee)

What is an MSc in Computer Science?

MSc is the popular acronym for Master of Science. It is a postgraduate course in the computer science discipline offered for an average duration of 2 years. The program aims to teach students the core essential skills in computer science. Offered at the postgraduate level, students are trained in advanced concepts and programming skills that would help them carve their career paths. MSc in Computer Science is ideally suited for students with a keen interest in problem-solving and technological skills. Additionally, they should have pursued a Bachelor’s in a science discipline to be able to pursue an MSc in Computer Science. 

What is an MCA?

The Master of Computer Applications is popularly called the MCA, a postgraduate degree taught in computers. The course is designed to focus more on the practical applications of computer languages, AI, and other such concepts. The course duration is also 2 years, wherein students are exposed to a fine blend of theories and practical learning in computer science. Sikkim Manipal University offers online MCA courses to students on the Online Manipal portal.  

Now that we know the exact meaning of the two courses, let us begin drawing a comparison between the two programs for further understanding. Given below is the curriculum comparison of MSc CS vs MCA.

MSc Computer Science program curriculum

MSc Computer Science course is a two-year-long program that is covered over 4 semesters. The core subjects covered during this duration are listed in the table below:

Semesters Subjects taught
1Language Structure, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, System Software, File Organization and DBMS
2Advanced Programming Language, Computer Organization and Architecture, Data Structures Using C, Microprocessor and Applications
3Data Networking, Advanced Computer Applications, Computer Graphics, System Analysis and Design
4Introduction to Artificial IntelligenceOperating System 

MCA program curriculum

Now, let us take a quick look at the course curriculum of online MCA programs imparted by Sikkim Manipal University to get a fair understanding of how it differs from that of MSc CS courses. Online MCA at Sikkim Manipal is also a two-year course delivered over 4 semesters, covering up to 15-20 hours per week.

Semesters Subjects taught
1Advanced Java ProgrammingComputational MathematicsFundamental of MathematicsDatabase Management SystemFundamentals of Computers & ITOperating SystemsAdvanced Java Programming LabDatabase Management System
2Computer Organization and Architecture, Python Programming, Python Programming Lab, Latest Trends in Computer Application, Computer Network Lab, Computer Network
3Software Engineering and Unified Modeling Language, Design and Analysis of Algorithms Lab, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Design and Analysis of Algorithms Lab
Elective 1 (choose any 1)Digital Image Processing, Management Information System
Elective 2 (choose any 1)Cloud Computing, Data Warehousing and Data Mining
4.NET Lab.NET Framework, Project 
Elective 3 (choose any 1)Social and Web Media Analytics, Machine Learning (ML)
Elective 4 (choose any 1)Virtualization and Cloud Security, Blockchain Technology 

Top skills you learn after MSc Computer Science

The skill set acquired in MSc CS and MCA courses also helps understand the differences between the two programs. 

MSc Computer Science courses primarily focus on imparting core mathematical and technical skills to students. They learn how to use advanced math concepts for specific task completion. Additionally, students gain technical skills in these courses, such as hardware engineering, programming languages, lifecycle of software development, and the like.

Top skills you learn after MCA    

MCA courses emphasize more on practical applications of computer science. This is why the program blends both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the domain. The course equips students with both technical skills as well as problem-solving and communication skills. Technical skills include knowledge of software development tools, operating systems, and programming languages. In addition, students learn how to analyze problems in depth and identify unique solutions using computer science concepts. They also learn how to communicate effectively to build teamwork and collaboration for the completion of business goals. 

Top career options after MSc in Computer Science

Since the focus and curriculum of both the courses are different, the career paths they lead to are also bound to differ. Discussed in this section are the career paths after MSc CS or MCA to help you make a wise choice for the program basis your future career objectives.

Here are some of the top job roles likely to become available after graduation in MSc in CS, along with the responsibilities in those roles as well as their corresponding annual salaries (approx). 

Expected job roleJob responsibilities Approx annual salary
Web DesignerCoding, software design, website hostingINR 20.9 lakhs per annum
Computer EngineerDebugging, computer hardware design, software developmentINR 700,000 per annum
Computer System AnalystData collection on customer requirements, software performance testing, assessment of technology INR 14,00,000 per annum
Computer Network ArchitectDocumentation, network design, network securityINR 23,00,000 per annum
Software DeveloperUser feedback evaluation, software designing, software documentation INR 5 lakh – INR 13 lakh per annum

Top career options after MCA

The career prospects for online MCA graduates from Sikkim Manipal University are shared in the table below.

Expected job roleJob responsibilities Approx annual salary
Data ScientistData collection, algorithm development, data visualizationINR 7 lakh – INR 20 lakh per annum
IT ArchitectResolution of technical issues, design, and testing of new algorithms, data communicationINR 18 lakh – 33 lakh per annum
Database AdministratorTroubleshooting, database design, creation of database backup planINR 8,13,914 per annum
Hardware EngineerTesting of computer systems, R&D of computer components, installation of complex hardwareINR 5,50,393 per annum
Quality Assurance AnalystSoftware error correction, tracking and reporting of defects, planning software testingINR 4,48,881 per annum

How to choose between an MSc in Computer Science & MCA?

After discussing at length the various parameters that differentiate the two postgraduate programs in the field of computer science, the question arises – how to choose the right course for your needs? 

To help find an answer, it is important to simplify this choice further. Begin by understanding your strengths, academic interests, and your future career goals. This would help you decide better on which course among the two – MSc CS or MCA – would suit you best. 

As detailed in this blog, the key parameters to consider before making this choice for your PG program are the focus of the course, its curriculum design, the core skills learned as part of the course, and the industry demand for MSc CS and MCA graduates. 

Taking a keen look at each of these factors can considerably help you decide which course would best fit your academic journey. Students interested in further studies upon completion of MSc or MCA programs may also like to evaluate the research opportunities in MSc CS and MCA. 


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

  • TAGS
  • online degree
  • Online MCA
  • online MCA degree in India

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