Why Aren’t Bootcamps Accredited?

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August 20, 2021

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A coding bootcamp offers students an immersive, hands-on learning experience where participants can gain the skills needed to qualify for jobs in the tech industry. Many cater to learners with little or no prior programming experience. Bootcamps are often short term, part time, and online, making them a great option for working professionals aiming to switch careers or to advance their existing tech career.

Bootcamps are not only convenient, they can also be more affordable than a traditional two- or four-year college degree. This has made pursuing a bootcamp education increasingly popular.

Bootcamps are often short term, part time, and online, making them a great option for working professionals.

But cost and convenience aren't the only important factors to weigh when considering a bootcamp over a traditional computer science program. You must also assess the quality and reputation of the bootcamp, as well as the likelihood it will help you achieve your career goals.

Students pursuing a degree from a college or university can rely on the accreditation process to help ensure that the programs they apply to have met educational standards of quality and rigor. If you're interested in applying to a bootcamp, you may be wondering: Are coding bootcamps accredited? Unfortunately, the answer is no -- bootcamps do not undergo an accreditation process.

Continue reading to learn more about the lack of bootcamp accreditation and to get tips for finding a coding bootcamp you can trust. For more in-depth information on bootcamps, explore our ultimate guide on programming bootcamps.

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What Is Accreditation in Higher Education?

Accreditation in higher education is a process by which a school or program demonstrates that it meets stringent academic quality standards. Accreditation can be regional, national, or programmatic, and is overseen by an accrediting agency. Official accrediting agencies are determined by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and/or the U.S. Department of Education. Once a school achieves accreditation, they must undergo periodic review to maintain their accreditation status.

Schools typically possess regional or national accreditation. Most nonprofit colleges and universities are accredited regionally. Regional accreditation is granted by one of seven regional organizations.

Additionally, schools may receive accreditation for certain programs. Programmatic accreditation typically involves a review process with a professional organization related to the area of study.

A major benefit to attending an accredited institution includes access to federal financial aid, grants, and loan opportunities. Additionally, some state governments only allow students who have graduated from an accredited institution to sit for licensing examinations. In general, accreditation plays a critical role in keeping institutions accountable and aims to ensure that students receive a quality education.

Why Aren't Bootcamps Accredited?

Bootcamps are a relatively new educational model, and fall outside traditional educational degree pathways. The industry has also been rapidly evolving, and it can take time for regulation to catch up with emerging markets.

While there have been calls for increased regulation in the bootcamp industry, it is unclear whether bootcamps will eventually undergo an accreditation process or whether other regulatory processes will gain in popularity. There are both pros and cons to bootcamps' unaccredited status.

Pros of Non-Accreditation

Curriculum Control: Since coding bootcamps do not need to submit their curricula for periodic review, they may possess more freedom to make changes to meet the evolving needs of the tech industry. This can keep programs relevant for students looking to develop in-demand skills. No Outdated Testing: Avoiding the accreditation process also allows bootcamps to avoid potential standardized testing that may become quickly outdated.

Cons of Non-Accreditation

Lack of Financial Aid: Without accreditation, coding bootcamps do not qualify for federal financial aid, including loans and grants. This may deter students from enrolling. No Quality Assurance: Without universal standards for curricular quality and measuring outcomes like graduation and employment rates, it can be difficult to compare coding bootcamps. It can also be hard to judge whether the outcomes self-reported by bootcamps are reliable.

Do Any Other Agencies Assess Bootcamp Quality?

The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) is a nonprofit organization that has created transparent standards for measuring and reporting bootcamp outcomes such as graduation rates, employment rates of bootcamp graduates, and average starting salaries for graduates.

CIRR aims to build trust between prospective students and member bootcamps, and prevent misleading reporting practices. Bootcamp outcomes reported to CIRR by its members go through an independent auditing process. This data can help prospective students feel more comfortable making a decision to enroll in a program.

It is also important to note that some states do require bootcamps to undergo a regulatory process to become a licensed educational provider. This process typically includes examining a program's educational quality and student outcomes.

What Can Students Do?

Without accreditation or universal reporting standards, and with little independent research into the bootcamp industry, it is vital that prospective bootcamp students research programs thoroughly.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you select a quality program:

true Research Student Outcomes Many bootcamps market high graduation and job placement rates to lure prospective students to their programs. However, it is important to find information from outside resources to verify a bootcamp's claims, if possible. Start by ascertaining if the bootcamp is a member of CIRR and verifying if a bootcamp has gone through any state regulatory processes.
Reach Out to Alumni Another way to research bootcamp efficacy includes reaching out to program alumni. One way to find alumni is by using LinkedIn or other professional networking sites. Getting information and advice from actual bootcamp graduates allows prospective students to gain first-hand perspective on program quality.
Ask Industry Professionals Don't be afraid to seek out tech professionals and potential employers and ask which bootcamps possess a good reputation in the industry. Understanding how the tech industry views particular programs helps you narrow down your choices and pick a bootcamp that can enhance your resume.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are university bootcamps accredited?

Some bootcamp providers partner with colleges and universities to offer university-affiliated coding bootcamps, which are often operated through a college's department of continuing education. However, even though many higher education institutions possess accreditation, this does not extend to their bootcamp programs. In many cases, a university categorizes its coding bootcamps as supplemental training opportunities rather than as part of a traditional degree program. This leaves them outside the scope of an institution's accreditation.

Are there any accredited bootcamps?

Currently, no coding bootcamps hold traditional accreditation. Bootcamps must often undergo regulatory processes at the state level in order to become a licensed educational provider, but this is not the same as accreditation.

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