College degrees are an immense investment. Students dedicate 2-4 years of their lives and pay tens of thousands of dollars to earn a degree that will help them pursue a meaningful career.

However, student loan debt is a significant challenge for many students. About 62% of 2019 college graduates who earned their degree from a nonprofit institution graduated with student debt, according to data compiled by The Institute for College Access & Success. The average debt among these graduates was nearly $29,000. With such steep costs for traditional degree programs, many students are turning to alternative educational options to prepare for their desired careers.

Coding bootcamps are one such alternative to traditional college degrees. Bootcamps teach students in-demand skills within the information technology industry, and they usually cost less than a college degree. These accelerated programs typically last less than a year, getting students into the job market much more quickly than a four-year degree program. For high school graduates who want to start their careers quickly and professionals who want to switch their careers entirely, bootcamps are often worth the investment.

Universities have noticed the increasing popularity of bootcamps, and many are now offering coding bootcamps in addition to degree programs. These generally last three months for full-time students and six months for part-time learners. Many schools offer online programs and have flexible evening and weekend schedules.

We've included a guide to the best university coding bootcamps below. Use this guide to learn how university coding bootcamps work and how to choose the option that is right for you.

The Best University Bootcamps

COVID Disclaimer: The bootcamp provider information below lists default locations and learning formats for each program. COVID-19 may have impacted the location and learning format of many bootcamps, with in-person programs moving online. Please contact the bootcamp provider or visit their website for more information on current program availability and future program formats once health and safety precautions are no longer in effect.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • Locations: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $11,910
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Web Development
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Cal Poly partners with the Fullstack Academy to offer this 26-week program. Students log on to live online class sessions three times a week, which last 3-4 hours on evenings and weekends. The web development concentration teaches full-stack JavaScript, while the cybersecurity specialization involves security analyst training using various frameworks. Cal Poly offers a $500 scholarship to Cal Poly students, alumni, and employees, as well as a $1,000 scholarship to military personnel and veterans.

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Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $13,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Columbia offers bootcamps in partnership with Trilogy Education Services, which has thousands of alumni working at over 3,000 companies. Students can enroll without any technology, coding, or engineering experience. The part-time option lasts 24 weeks, while the full-time program lasts 12 weeks with students attending classes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. Learners can either pay tuition upfront or through interest-free monthly installments.

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Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Location: Atlanta, GA; Peachtree Corners, GA; Savannah, GA
  • Programs Starting At: $10,000
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Georgia Tech offers two versions of its web development bootcamp: a three-month, full-time program and a six-month, part-time program. The curriculum covers several programming languages and frameworks, such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. The school also offers extensive career services, including resume support, interview preparation assistance, job matching, and portfolio reviews. Students can begin the program without any background or knowledge in the field.

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Harvard University
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Programs Starting At: $12,995
  • Technical Disciplines: Data Science, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Harvard's Extension School prioritizes hands-on learning with their 24-month bootcamps in partnership with Trilogy Education Services. Students master various programming languages through assignments and projects, and they learn from industry experts and professionals during the program's Tech Talk panels. Harvard offers networking activities and other job placement services. Students may also apply for scholarships and payment plans.

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Northwestern University
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Programs Starting At: $11,995
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Student Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Learners can enroll in 12 or 24-week bootcamps at Northwestern. The university offers evening and weekend courses and centers its curriculum on experiential learning. Students participate in several projects, creating portfolios they can use in their job search. Northwestern also offers career services, like mock interviews and one-on-one coaching. The university runs its bootcamps in partnership with Trilogy Education Services.

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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Location: Somerset, NJ; Jersey City, NJ
  • Programs Starting At: $11,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Data Science, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

At Rutgers, students can enroll in three or six-month bootcamps that start by teaching basic coding skills before moving on to cover advanced programming and data analysis. Rutgers typically offers its bootcamps on campus with ample hands-on activities; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sessions have now switched to live distance learning. Career planning services are available to help students put together portfolios, practice sitting for interviews, and hone their soft skills.

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University of California, Berkeley
  • Location: Belmont, CA; San Francisco, CA
  • Programs Starting At: $12,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Berkeley offers coding bootcamps through its extension school, which aims its programs at professional learners. Bootcamps last 12 or 24 weeks, with students engaging in live virtual classes. When students enter a program, they can access comprehensive support from instructors, a tutor network, and career services. Individuals who graduate earn a certificate of completion.

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University of California, Los Angeles
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Programs Starting At: $11,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

UCLA's web development bootcamp focuses on full-stack programming, exploring technologies and coding languages like JavaScript, jQuery, and Bootstrap. The full-time program lasts 12 weeks, while students who enroll part time can finish in 24 weeks. The online format allows learners to complete projects on their own time while logging onto virtual classes at scheduled times throughout the week. Incoming students do not need any experience in the field to enroll.

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University of California, Irvine
  • Location: Irvine, CA
  • Programs Starting At: $12,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

UCI's bootcamps begin once a quarter and last three or six months. The shorter, full-time program includes 4.5-hour sessions on weekdays, and takes an immersive approach to teaching web development skills like working with JavaScript, MySQL, and MongoDB databases. The part-time program involves weekend and evening classes. Students can pay tuition upfront or through monthly interest-free payments.

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University of Texas at Austin
  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $11,995
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

UT Austin offers 12 and 24-week bootcamps that focus on hands-on programming training. Students learn from industry expert panels hosted each quarter, and they can connect with professionals in the field during quarterly networking events. The university also sponsors career support services like interview training. This program is a partnership between UT Austin and Trilogy Education Services.

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Vanderbilt University
  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $10,995
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, Web Development
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

The part-time (24-week) bootcamps at Vanderbilt simulate professional work experiences. Learners develop their skills by working on projects and building a portfolio over the course of the bootcamp. Graduates receive a certificate of completion. Students can access one-on-one career planning assistance, and they may continue to take advantage of this resource after they graduate.

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Washington University in St. Louis
  • Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Programs Starting At: $11,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Science, Web Development
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

Evening & Weekend Options

Job Placement Assistance

Offered in partnership with Trilogy Education Services, the bootcamps at Washington University teach graduates coding skills through a virtual classroom format. Students create a portfolio of projects while enrolled in the part-time, six-month program. Learners may take advantage of career services, including portfolio reviews, mock interviews, and soft skills training.

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How University Bootcamps Work

Universities offer bootcamps as a way for students to gain a practical, skills-based education in a shorter amount of time than a traditional degree program. However, since bootcamps remain a relatively new phenomenon within higher education, many institutions partner with established bootcamp providers to create their programs. Read on to explore the two main bootcamp models that you can find at universities.

University Bootcamp Models

Operated by Partner Organizations

Many universities partner with organizations that specialize in bootcamp education. These organizations manage the university's bootcamp, including creating the curriculum and providing career services to bootcamp participants. Since many colleges partner with these program providers, you may find two very similar bootcamps at two completely different universities.


Trilogy Education Services

Trilogy Education is the most popular program partner for university coding bootcamps. Trilogy Education describes itself as a "workforce accelerator," developing programs that focus on practical, in-demand skills such as web development, data analytics and data visualization, user experience design, and cybersecurity. Schools that have partnered with Trilogy Education include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Northwestern University.

Stack Education

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Stack partners with schools like Syracuse University and Emerson College to bring students bootcamps that focus on tech industry career tracks like web development and data science. Stack prioritizes a market-driven curriculum and hands-on projects, while also connecting students with a network of industry practitioners.

QuickStart

QuickStart runs information technology bootcamps covering skills like web development and cloud computing. This organization only offers online bootcamps, and it uses a cognitive learning platform called CLIPP that employs artificial intelligence. QuickStart offers its bootcamps through institutions like James Madison University and Colorado State University. These bootcamps cost anywhere from $5,000-$8,000, making them less expensive than many of their competitors. In addition, students can apply for discounts and scholarships that may cover up to 30% of their tuition.


Bootcamps for College Credit

Most universities do not offer bootcamps for college credit. Instead, students earn a certificate of completion when they finish the bootcamp. However, a few schools do allow students to gain credit for their bootcamp studies, which they can apply to a full degree or transfer to another university. Lynn University -- a private school in Boca Raton, Florida -- does exactly this. Learners who enroll in Lynn's Code Institute can earn 12 credits, six of which can be applied to a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or data analytics.


 

How to Choose a University Bootcamp

With an increasing number of bootcamp options available to students, the process of actually choosing a bootcamp can seem overwhelming. When looking for potential programs, you should consider five main factors: location, learning format, time commitment, tuition, and career goals.

Location

Students' educational options were once limited by location. Now, with distance learning frequently available, students can enroll in programs from anywhere in the country. With the spread of COVID-19, even on-campus programs have adopted a remote format.

Learning Format and Time Commitment

You should also think about how you learn best. Online programs often cater to students with an independent study style who like to work on projects at their own pace. Some online programs allow learners to follow an entirely self-paced schedule, while others require participants to log on at specific times for live classes. If you prefer collaborative learning, you can look for on-campus programs or online programs with live classes that allow for engaging discussions and real-time feedback.

...students who wish to dedicate as much time as possible to their bootcamp studies should enroll in a full-time bootcamp

Many people who enroll in bootcamps remain employed throughout their studies; these learners may favor part-time programs. Although part-time bootcamps last longer -- usually around six months -- they do not require as much time on a daily basis. In contrast, students who wish to dedicate as much time as possible to their bootcamp studies should enroll in a full-time bootcamp, which can often be completed in just three months.

Cost

Even though bootcamps do not usually cost as much as traditional college degrees, cost remains a huge factor in selecting a bootcamp. Coding bootcamps often demand upwards of $10,000 for tuition. Consider whether you are able to pay that much upfront, or if you need to find a bootcamp that offers alternate payment options.

Your Career Goals

Finally, choose a program that fits your ultimate goals. If you are a career switcher with no previous coding experience, you can find several university-affiliated bootcamps designed to turn beginners into skilled practitioners. Other bootcamps might cater to those with tech experience who are looking for professional development, or those who want to brush up on a skill they haven't used in a while.

Paying for University Coding Bootcamps

University coding bootcamps often require a smaller financial investment than traditional college degrees. Still, the price tag for university coding bootcamps can be significant, often reaching over $10,000.

You might be able to get a discount on tuition if you are able to pay the full cost upfront. Additionally, some university bootcamps offer scholarships that may cover part of the tuition costs. If you're not able to pay everything upfront, bootcamps often offer interest-free payment plans.

If these payment options will work for you, look into financial aid opportunities. Although federal student aid is not available for bootcamp participants, some loan providers offer loans specifically for bootcamp students. The interest rates for these loans are usually lower than rates for typical personal loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do university bootcamps offer college credit?

For the most part, no. Even though universities run bootcamps, they do not usually offer college credit. Most schools grant a certificate of completion that graduates can show potential employers. However, you can find a handful of universities that award students college credit for their coding bootcamps.

Are coding bootcamps at universities cheap?

Compared to the cost of an undergraduate degree, a bootcamp may represent a significantly cheaper option. However, university coding bootcamps often cost upwards of $10,000. Bootcamps unaffiliated with universities have a similar price tag, but often offer more payment options such as deferred tuition plans and income share agreements. University coding bootcamps sometimes offer interest-fee payment plans and scholarships for students who need more help covering their payments.

What's the difference between bootcamps and college?

Whereas colleges offer degree programs lasting 2-4 years, bootcamps usually last 3-6 months and do not result in a degree. College programs usually include general education courses, and students enroll in several classes each semester. In contrast, bootcamps teach only skills relevant within a specific field. They tend to be more intensive, immersive, and fast-paced than traditional college degree programs.

Our Methodology

The Bootcamp Team at BestColleges has collected data for over 150 bootcamps to help you find the best bootcamp.

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

At this time, our recommendation round-ups feature only immersive bootcamps designed to prepare students for job placement upon graduation.

To be included on our lists, bootcamps must meet the following criteria:

  • Must offer at least one bootcamp in the United States.
  • Cannot be free.
  • Must offer at least one bootcamp that is a minimum of 8 weeks long.
  • Must require at least 15 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is part time.
  • Must encourage at least 10 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is self-paced.