The Rise of University Coding Bootcamps

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by Charlotte Cornbrooks

Updated May 6, 2022

Edited by Kelly Thomas
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Certain American universities are globally recognized: Yale, Harvard, MIT, Stanford. All are frequently featured in Hollywood movies and TV. Global retailers even sell Harvard and Yale branded clothing.

And yet, most of us couldn't get into the Ivy League. Acceptance rates at many Ivy League schools ranged from 4%-6% in 2021. However, university coding bootcamps may make the elusive Ivy League names more accessible in the coming years.

A university coding bootcamp is a short, non-degree educational program typically offered by a bootcamp provider in affiliation with a college or university. The level of university involvement and the type of coursework offered may vary, but the program will carry the university's name.

This article will explore the emerging field of university coding bootcamps and why it matters.

Why Is There a Need For University Bootcamps?

University coding bootcamps have risen to meet the needs of bootcamps, universities, and students. Coding bootcamps lack name recognition or "legitimacy" in many industries. This is partly due to the lack of accreditation for most coding bootcamps. There is no universal impartial organization which regulates or oversees coding bootcamps.

Conversely, the majority of colleges and universities go through an accreditation process in order to receive federal financial aid and other classifications. While that accreditation does not usually extend to bootcamps offered through universities, the school may review the bootcamp curriculum to some extent, depending on the partnership. This helps boost the legitimacy of bootcamps for prospective students and their future employers.

We know undergraduate students and their families are thinking about the cost of their education. College tuition has outpaced the average increase in wages by significant amounts. For example, between 2000 and 2019, Harvard's undergraduate tuition more than doubled.

With this disproportionate increase has come crushing student loan debt. According to a report from The Institute for College Access & Success, the average student loan debt for the class of 2018 was approximately $29,000. With the increasing need for tech skills in all industries, a coding bootcamp is a great addition to an undergraduate degree for students concerned about potential earnings after college.

Colleges and universities know that students are concerned about job opportunities after graduating. However, the American university is a highly bureaucratic system and slow to change. Partnering with bootcamps may allow universities to respond to student needs quickly and effectively. Bootcamp partnerships may also be more cost effective for universities looking to rapidly expand their course offerings in specific areas.

Bootcamps and Universities Can Help Each Other

Universities often have name recognition, whether that's globally, nationally, or regionally. Partnering with a recognizable university helps a bootcamp in two ways.

First, it promotes the bootcamp to a new pool of potential students — those enrolled at the university. Secondly, it may make the bootcamp more attractive to students because their resume or LinkedIn will feature the university's name.

Many students start college and fall in love with a major that leads to limited job opportunities, such as anthropology or ancient Greek. They may feel torn between a practical business degree and something else that ignites their intellectual passion. Attending a university coding bootcamp after earning their degree could be the answer.

Students could even take the bootcamp while enrolled at the school, which may earn them a discount on bootcamp tuition. In programs like the Yale University-Flatiron School partnership, students can take a two-credit summer course introduction to full-stack web development. A Yale student could use this to supplement their passion with a practical skill set.

The addition of these bootcamp partnerships may be an important curricular update for schools who struggle to articulate the value of a liberal arts education.

Different Models of the University Bootcamp

Different styles of university coding bootcamps have emerged in recent years. Many universities partner with an outside company to adopt a preset curriculum for their university, like Trilogy Education Services. Alternatively, universities can develop their own bootcamp curriculum, although this is less common at the moment. Finally, some coding bootcamps result from a collaboration between an existing bootcamp and a university.

Trilogy develops and facilitates tech bootcamps for their large network of college and university partners. Trilogy programs are often run through a school's department of continuing education. They may be offered online or on campus. Trilogy has worked with over 45 schools, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, University of North Carolina, and more.

Other schools have found ways to expand their curriculum and grow. Dominican University and the Make School found a mutually beneficial way to partner. The Make School wanted to offer an accredited bachelor's degree and Dominican wanted to offer tech degrees to students. They were able to fill out programs and create something new for both schools. However, in 2021, Dominican University took over the program full-time and discontinued partnership with The Make school.

Finally, there's partnerships like the arrangement between Flatiron School and Yale. This course, developed collaboratively, enhances Yale's educational offerings. Yale can guarantee interest because students will get credits towards their degree. Meanwhile, Flatiron School has a partnership with a world-renowned university, boosting its public profile significantly.

The Future of University Coding Bootcamps

University coding bootcamps are a sector of higher education to watch in the next decade. The demand for tech education will continue to grow as the market demands, and traditional universities need to incorporate more tech education in order to stay relevant with prospective students.

Frequently Asked Questions About University Bootcamps

What are university bootcamps?

A bootcamp is a shorter postsecondary educational program, often focusing on a specific skill or skill set. A university bootcamp is usually offered by a third-party company in partnership with a college or university. These programs are not the equivalent of a university degree.

While university bootcamps usually do not offer any college credit for bootcamp graduates, they do often provide a certificate of completion that features the university's name. You can find university bootcamps in technical disciplines like web development, software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, UX/UI design, and more.

Are university coding bootcamps accredited?

University coding bootcamps are not typically accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary review process where an educational institution demonstrates its credibility, transparency, and educational value. While universities are often accredited, that does not usually extend to their bootcamps.

One of the primary critiques of coding bootcamps is that there is no standardization or external review process. Data on bootcamps is all internally gathered and self-reported, which could be misleading.

Do university coding bootcamps cost less?

Not necessarily. Bootcamp costs vary across the industry. Based on data from about 130 bootcamp providers collected by BestColleges in 2021, the median bootcamp tuition was $13,500. University coding bootcamps often cost between $8,000-$14,000 depending on the technical discipline covered.

Feature Image: alvarez / E+ / Getty Images

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.

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