A Guide to the Best Coding Bootcamp Prep Programs

Not sure if coding is the right career for you? Learn more about how a bootcamp prep program can help you decide.
12 min read

Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.


  • Many bootcamp providers offer free or paid coding bootcamp prep programs.
  • Some coding bootcamps require enrollees to have foundational skills.
  • Bootcamp prep programs can help you build your coding knowledge.

An unprecedented shortage in tech talent continues to affect companies both globally and nationally. According to a 2021 survey by Gartner, Inc., IT executives said that talent shortages pose the greatest barrier to adopting 64% of emerging technology.

As this shortage intensifies, the presence of coding bootcamps continues to increase. Bootcamps offer students a quicker and often lower-cost option to enter this growing field compared to a four-year college degree.

Many of the best coding bootcamps require some coding experience. A coding prep program can help you gain the knowledge to increase your chances of admission and successfully completing a coding bootcamp.

What Is a Prep Program?

A bootcamp prep program prepares you for the rigors of an intensive coding bootcamp. Many of the best coding bootcamps require basic knowledge of JavaScript and other programming languages. Many prep programs are designed to help beginners get up to speed on these languages and other foundational skills.

You may also experience intense competition to get into the top bootcamps. Most prep programs help you gain admission by teaching programming fundamentals, preparing you for technical tests, and offering bootcamp interview tips.

Some programs offer guaranteed admission for those who complete their prep program. Others discount the cost of a prep program from the bootcamp tuition. A prep program's costs vary but often range from free to about $1,000.

Coding bootcamp prep programs come in different learning formats. You can complete online, self-paced bootcamps at any time. Other programs offer live, scheduled online sessions with peers and instructors. Intensive full-time prep programs may take one week to complete, while many part-time programs require 2-4 weeks.

Keep in mind that these prep programs differ from the pre-work many bootcamps assign after you have gained acceptance into their bootcamp.

Do I Need a Prep Program?

A prep program can help you see what a coding bootcamp is like. It prepares you for the fast-paced, intensive workload found in most coding bootcamps. It can also offer an accurate gauge to help you determine if you are ready for the challenging schedule.

Completing a prep program can also help you get into a coding bootcamp. These programs ensure you cover the correct material and give you a heads-up on what will be expected in your coding bootcamp interview.

People enroll in a coding bootcamp prep program for several reasons. A prep program may be right for you if:

  • You were not accepted into a coding bootcamp program after applying.
  • You want to test-run a rigorous coding bootcamp schedule.
  • You consider yourself to be a novice in the programming languages or technical disciplines involved in the coding bootcamp.
  • You want to have a better understanding of the bootcamp admissions process.
  • You are determined to get accepted into a coding bootcamp program on the first try.

We have listed some of the best prep programs to help you find one that works for you. Many of these programs cover the basics of JavaScript and HTML. Some offer practice bootcamp admission interviews, and others guarantee entry into their coding bootcamp.

Methodology

Bootcamp Ranking Guidelines

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.

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.
  • Must offer at least one bootcamp that is a minimum of 4 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.

Pricing disclosure: The prices listed were collected from product websites in 2022. However, given the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the tech space, prices are subject to change throughout the year. To get the most up-to-date information about pricing, contact providers directly.

Methodology for Recommending Cheap Bootcamps:

  • The bootcamp must meet all of the general criteria listed above.
  • The bootcamp must cost less than $8,000 if it is offered full time, and less than $5,000 if it is offered part time. These numbers were chosen based on data collected by BestColleges in 2020 that determined the average cost of a coding bootcamp is $13,580.

The Best Coding Bootcamp Prep Programs

App Academy

  • Location: Remote, New York, San Francisco
  • Programs Starting At: $995 for self-paced program; the regular in-person rate is $2,999
  • Admission Guarantee: If you're not accepted into at least one bootcamp after finishing App Academy's prep program, you get your money back. In addition to App Academy's bootcamp, the other guarantee-eligible bootcamps include Hack Reactor, Fullstack Academy, Flatiron School, Bloom Institute of Technology, and Rithm School. The guarantee's full conditions are listed online.
  • Curriculum: Intro to Web Development, JavaScript, HTML, Interview Prep
  • Learning Format: Online, Live
  • Time Commitment: Part Time, Self-Paced

App Academy says its program is a good choice for anyone who wants a structured way to prepare for a coding bootcamp. The four-week prep program meets in person in New York and San Francisco weeknights from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

You can also follow an online self-paced curriculum. App Academy says the self-paced option should take about 70 hours to complete. The in-person and self-paced curricula are the same. The program focuses on mastering coding fundamentals.

This prep program also offers interview prep and application assistance.


Codesmith

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $875
  • Admission Guarantee: Codesmith's prep program doesn't guarantee acceptance, but it is the provider's recommended way to prepare for immersive programs.
  • Curriculum: Computer Science Basics, JavaScript, Data Analysis
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

Codesmith's CS prep is a part-time, two-week course. It's a remote program designed to help you prepare for a coding bootcamp. It focuses on JavaScript, technical communication, and engineering best practices. Each day of the program is divided into blocks where you'll focus on specific topics, practice new skills, or get a head start on homework.

You'll spend the final weekend of the course planning and creating an original coding project with a small group. Codesmith said recent examples of student projects included a soccer management simulator and a modern version of the classic Oregon Trail educational game.


Flatiron School

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: Free
  • Admission Guarantee: Flatiron School doesn't guarantee admission.
  • Curriculum: Software Engineering, Data Science, Cybersecurity Engineering, Product Design
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Self-Paced

Founded in 2012, Flatiron School offers a handful of free, online, self-paced bootcamp prep programs. The goal of the introductory courses is to give students a taste of the experience they'd have in a full, intensive Flatiron School bootcamp.

For example, in the data science prep course, you'll learn how and why data manipulation is important and how this skill can help an organization. The software engineering pre-course offers hands-on experience with popular programming and markup languages like HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Git.

If you're interested in a tech career but not sure what path to take, Flatiron School also offers a career prep lite course. It includes a sample of the career coaching Flatiron School offers its students.


Fullstack Academy

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: Free
  • Admission Guarantee: While admission is not guaranteed, students who complete the prep course are 2.5 times more likely to get accepted to FullStack Academy.
  • Curriculum: Web Technologies, HTML, JavaScript, Data Types
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time, Self-Paced

Fullstack Academy offers several bootcamp prep course options. It includes a self-paced intro to coding class. This 15-hour class is designed for beginners to coding. You'll start by learning about web-based technologies and advance to learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript basics.

If you want an enhanced prep experience, Fullstack Academy also offers week-long and month-long bootcamp prep courses for $199. These paid online options move at a quicker pace. They also offer real-time support from instructors and teaching mentors.


Hackbright Academy

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $249
  • Admission Guarantee: There's no admission guarantee, but students who complete the prep course are eligible for a discount if they enroll in Hackbright's software engineering program.
  • Curriculum: Python Basics, Coding Challenges, Developer Tools
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Part Time

This bootcamp prep course is a good choice if you want to experience what it's like to work as a coder before committing to a longer, more challenging program. The prep course gets you ready for the bootcamp application process by teaching you Python coding fundamentals.

Along with completing a personal project and technical assessment, students in this program also have access to instructors during office hours. A typical week in this program includes a lecture, lab exercises, pair programming, and a coding workshop.


Hack Reactor

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: Free
  • Admission Guarantee: Hack Reactor doesn't guarantee admission.
  • Curriculum: JavaScript Basics
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Self-Paced

In Hack Reactor's basic prep course, you work through JavaScript exercises. You also dive into independent research to find answers to your questions along the way. Hack Reactor recommends that applicants take its free, self-paced basic prep course.

To enroll in Hack Reactor's 12- and 36-week programs, you must pass a Technical Admissions Assessment. This assessment evaluates if you have intermediate coding competency. U.S. military veterans can also enroll in Hack Reactor's free online prep course.


Get the Qualities You Want in a Bootcamp

We use icons to make browsing bootcamps easy for you. Use this breakdown to quickly identify program qualities you are looking for.

Accepts GI Bill®

Accepts the GI Bill® as funding for tuition.

Also Available In Person

This online bootcamp also offers in-person options.

Career Services

Offers career services to help you land your dream job after graduation.

CIRR Member

This bootcamp is a current member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. Learn more at cirr.org.

Evening & Weekend Options

Bootcamps are offered during convenient evening and weekend hours.

Job Guarantee

Employment is guaranteed as soon as you finish your bootcamp.

Money-Back Guarantee

Tuition is refunded if you don't land a job within a given time frame after graduation. Visit the bootcamp website for terms and conditions.

Start for Free

No deposit is required to get started. Begin your bootcamp for $0.

Why Do Prep Programs Vary in Cost?

A quick search online reveals that some bootcamp prep programs are free. But others may cost hundreds of dollars. Yet these programs claim to offer the same thing — they'll teach you coding's absolute basics to prepare you for a more rigorous learning environment.

Although "free" may sound good, you should still be prepared to invest some money. For instance, while access to learning resources might be free, you may need to upgrade if your computer doesn't meet the bootcamp requirements.

And sometimes free isn't ideal. For example, many free coding bootcamps can reduce costs by offering asynchronous and online video tutorials. If you learn better by engaging with your teachers and fellow students, the free option might not work best for you.

In contrast, a paid bootcamp may give you access to enhanced support. In other words, you might be able to talk in real time with instructors, tutors, mentors, and peers. Some paid bootcamp prep programs also feature in-person learning options.

How Do I Prep for a Coding Bootcamp?

Want to have a better experience in a coding bootcamp prep course? Here are a few suggestions:

Set goals

Before you invest time, effort, or money into a coding bootcamp prep program, ask yourself some important questions:

  • Why do I want to learn to code?
  • Do I want to switch careers?
  • How will I use my coding skills in a professional context?
  • What are my long-term career goals?

Choose thoughtfully

When choosing a coding bootcamp, consider your learning style and career goals.

For example, online-only programs allow you to have schedule flexibility. But not everyone performs their best in an online-only setting.

Is the program full time or part time? Some programs only offer night and weekend sessions, so it's worth considering what time of day you learn best. Also, are you highly self-motivated? Or do you prefer more structure when learning a new skill?

Read up and lean in

If you're starting from square one and have absolutely no coding knowledge or experience, find some good resources to help you get grounded. Whether you choose a book, a podcast, Discord, YouTube channels, or an online group, learning the basics can give you an advantage when starting a formal study program.

Pro tip: Make sure to go through any pre-course resources that your bootcamp provider offers.

Set up your environment

In this case, "environment" refers to both the physical space you'll use to study coding and the computer you'll use. Try to set up a distraction-free physical space where you can focus on the coding bootcamp.

You'll also want to verify any computer requirements you'll need for the bootcamp. Many bootcamp providers list the minimum hardware and software requirements on their websites.

Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

Coding bootcamps can offer a fast track to a career in a high-demand industry. Careers coding graduates pursue include web developer, software developer, UX/UI designer, and data analyst.

Software Developer

Projected Job Growth

+25% | 2021-2031

Job Openings

411,400 | 2021-2031

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Coding bootcamps offer the technical skills required to enter the workforce without much of the theory found in four-year computer science programs. They also often cost less than a bachelor's degree, on average.

Average Annual Bachelor's Degree Tuition

$8,760-$37,500 | 2020

Source: College Board

Median Coding Bootcamp Tuition

$13,500 | 2020

Source: BestColleges

Of course, coding bootcamps are not for everyone. Some students appreciate the comprehensive knowledge that a bachelor's in computer science provides. Others find it hard to keep pace with the amount of information delivered in a condensed bootcamp. A bootcamp also offers less versatility and focuses on just one computer science area.

Unlike colleges and universities, coding bootcamps are not typically accredited and do not qualify for federal financial aid. Researching the bootcamp experience is the best way to determine if a coding bootcamp is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamp Prep Programs

Do prep programs fully prepare you for a coding bootcamp?

Yes. A prep program helps you get ready for the best coding bootcamps by teaching you the basics of programming languages like JavaScript. Some prep programs require previous experience, while others are designed for beginners. Programs that require experience may offer extra beginner coding courses to help get interested students up to speed.

Along with teaching coding basics, many prep programs prepare you for the bootcamp admissions process by including mock interviews and covering the information found in technical assessments. A prep program can also give you an idea of what to expect in a coding bootcamp, ensuring you follow the right path for your career goals.

How should I prepare for a coding bootcamp?

To prepare for a coding bootcamp, you'll want to do a few key things. Consider the following:

  • Start learning on your own by reading, listening to podcasts, and practicing coding.
  • What will you do with your coding knowledge after a bootcamp?
  • Where do you want to work? What do you want to do with your new skills and knowledge?

Are coding bootcamps for beginners?

While some coding bootcamps are made for beginners, many require basic knowledge of programming languages. Many bootcamps offer prep programs that teach coding basics and other common tech skills to help you prepare for their more intensive programs.These prep programs may also help you get into competitive bootcamps. Some offer mock interviews and tips on acing the technical assessment.

How can I be successful in a coding bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps require grit and determination. To get the most from these programs, remind yourself of the outcome and what you hope to gain professionally. Many bootcamps offer career services, helping graduates with job applications, internship placement, and networking.

Enrolling in a prep program can also help you succeed in a coding bootcamp. Once in a bootcamp, don't forget to take care of your mental and physical health while completing bootcamp projects and building your portfolio.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/index.asp.