Photons need specific energy levels, equal to the difference between two energy levels to excite an electron in an atom. Is this the same case with electrons that collide with atoms?
Energy and momentum has to be conserved. That the electron / photon has to have enough energy for the excitation is obvious. What is interesting is what happens when they have too much energy.
For radiative transitions between bound states the orbital anuglar momentum has to change by 1. This means that the photon has to be absorbed which in turns means that the photon has to have exactly the right energy (otherwise the extra energy has nowhere to go). For transitions to unbound states (so atom is oxidized) this is no longer true. A photon with 9 eV energy could very well give rise to an oxidised atom and an 1 eV photon.
Electrons can take away (and give) momentum easier so they only need enough energy for the transition. Since the electron is not absorbed it can take away any extra energy if it has too much.