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Degree program or bootcamp?

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Hey, all. I was just wondering if I should pursue a degree program or skip that and go straight to a bootcamp. I'd really like to get things started soon, but I don't know the pros/cons of either choice. Would love some guidance on which is more beneficial in the long run. Thank you.

Discussion (16)

natescode profile image
Nathan Hedglin • Edited on

Self Study

Time: 2+ years
Cost: $0+

I started here making games in C++. If you're willing to drop $10k and commit 6+ months to a bootcamp BEFORE learning to code then you're only chasing money and you'll never make it. Zero excuse to not use the numerous free resources: freecodecamp.oeg Khan academy, MDN etc... This would weed out SO many that realize software isn't for them.

A career in software requires the ability to constantly and quickly learn new concepts and technologies by ones self.


Time: 3-6 months
Cost: $13,000

In my experience teaching a bootcamps, only 25-30% of bootcamp students graduate. Factors why include students don't realize not everyone is meant to code. Mostly it's immaturity and lack of time committed to learn. We teach VERY quickly. Those that do full-time with more time in class tend to do better.

Everyone and their grandma has been to a. Bootcamp. You'll need to spend a lot of time building a custom and competitive portfolio to stand out.


AAS / Certificate

Time: 2 years
Cost: $7,000

I got an AAS. I already had my generals done so only did programming classes. I didn't get into huge student loan debt and got a job immediately after. This may be a good middle ground for some. That was a decade ago and the competition was way less than it is now. Tech is having a little bit of a recession.


Time: 4 years

Cost: $40,000

I'd imagine the graduation rate is much higher. You'll have a leg up on bootcampers. Definitely more opportunities to get into FAANG or other specialities.

I was lucky to get in with an AAS and then read all the same books ( just looked up the syllabus for each class and bought those books).


  1. Start now for free. Don't gamble your time and money like so many already have.
  2. Start with an AAS if you can and transfer to save money. Bootcamp may work as well if you have time to self-study.
  3. BS isn't a bad option and helps with certain career opportunities but isn't for everyone.
  4. Work backwards. WHAT do you want to do exactly? Mobile? Web? Which company? Ask people that work there and do those jobs HOW they got there.
mjcoder profile image
Mohammad Javed

Have you tried having a look at FreeCodeCamp?

That'll get you started and it's free. There are loads of online resources you can use to learn without having a degree.

I found when I graduated like over 10 years ago that without the real life experience no-one wanted to take me on, I even offered to work for free to get that IRL experience.

k_penguin_sato profile image

I don't have a CS degree but I always strongly recommend ppl to get a CS/Related degree especially if the person asking me is in high school. If you already have a degree and have some work experience, then going to a bootcamp makes sense.

mistval profile image
Randall • Edited on

I have a BS in computer science, and I currently work at a place where there are a lot of bootcampers.

From my observations, I think that a bootcamp is much more time/cost effective if you want to get into the software field, BUT bootcampers don't do as well when the going gets tough. They often aren't good at algorithmic efficiency, race conditions, and other "details". Of course, they can learn those things, but CS majors understand these things out-of-the-gate.

Plus, the university life is just fun, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

So I'm glad that I got a 4 year CS degree, but I do think that a bootcamp is a very viable option, and ultimately is probably a better use of your money pound-for-pound. But overall, a CS degree gives you higher quality knowledge.

bradtaniguchi profile image

The highest level pros/cons of the two are essentially:


  • pros
    • Will provide the most opportunities now, and in the future
    • Will provide the most resources related to getting jobs
    • job fairs, networking with peers, research, access to facilities, clubs, etc.
    • Will teach you the most relevant long-term concepts
    • Minimal variation in quality (usually pretty high due to credentials)
  • cons
    • Will take longest
    • Will cost the most (cost varies depending on a number of factors)
    • Requires the longest commitment of "focus"
    • Medium level risk
    • non-credential colleges could be scams (!)


  • pros
    • Will be fastest shortest/condensed
    • Learn most recent/relevant technical skills
    • Possible opportunities for job placements
  • cons
    • high risk
    • highest variation in quality
    • possible extreme cost for quality of knowledge

The third option is self-taught, which I wont go into here. Its also worth keeping in mind you can combine these, and no one path is always the best path as it depends on a number of factors.

I've provided advice to this question many times as a contributor to the freeCodeCamp community. (which provides a "self-taught route" that can go with or without the above 2 options)

One of the main things to consider, even if your consider self-taught (with or without freeCodeCamp) is if you can go to college, you should go to college.

College is hands down the highest quality option, and provides the most resources compared the other two choices. Simply put, going to higher education puts you into a place that is built for you to learn. Bootcamps are similar but vary in quality, from near college-level condensed focused courses, to basically scams. Unlike schools, which could use governmental/non-profit resources to help sustain it, bootcamps are usually "for profit" more often.

If you can't afford college, either via your time or costs related to it, then bootcamps might be a viable option. However, keep in mind a bootcamp cannot replace college. Even the best bootcamps will teach you a smaller factor of knowledge simply due to the timespan spent learning. The worse are nothing more than paid-for-classes for things you can learn yourself for free. So do your research on any specific bootcamps your looking into.

"in the long run" college will always be the best choice. Bootcamps might get you into a job faster simply due to the smaller time-scales, but that leaves you "learning on the job" vastly more what you could learn in a higher educational learning settings. This approach will always be higher risk, as if you fail within school you'll get bad grades, if you fail on the job you could get sued/fired!

jeremyf profile image
Jeremy Friesen

First some context: I have a liberal arts degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. In years past, I was a mentor for a coding bootcamp.

Som questions I have for you:

  • What is the driver for "wanting to get started soon?"
  • Could you expand on what you view as "more beneficial"?

I ask all of this because my liberal arts degree exposed me to lots of things beyond Computer Science and Applied Mathematics; I loved my philosophy and art classes. And I cannot emphasize enough how much my communication and English classes helped me.

I benefited tremendously as a person because of the conditions around getting my degree. The cost was financial as well as time; I spent 4 years getting a degree.

Digging further, and making an assumption that you're job seeking:

  • What are the jobs you're looking at that really spike your interest? What are their requirements?
  • How would you assess your capacity for self-directed learning? How does that self-assessment compare to what your close truth-speaking friends/family members might say?
  • Were you to pursue a degree or bootcamp, where would it be? More importantly who are some somewhat recent graduates, and even more importantly what are their answers to the following: "What opportunities opened up by you taking this pathway? What would you have done differently regarding this path?"

You're doing good work asking these questions. Both bootcamp and degrees come with financial and opportunity costs. Also, consider that there are lots of self-directed options that can minimize financial costs; but you'll want to find a mentor or two that can help guide you (that's ultimately the key service bootcamps or degree programs offer, is an experienced person for you to bring your questions.)

eljayadobe profile image

I learned to be a programmer by self study.

I eventually got a BS degree in Computer Science (go Gophers!).

I've since learned how to be a software engineer. (Where I'm using the definition of software engineer that Google's Titus Winters and Hyrum Wright use.)

etienneburdet profile image
Etienne Burdet • Edited on

Depends where you are in your career and where you'd like to go.

  • If you want to ship simple web products, because you are launching a company, have another main skill etc. and feel like you're hitting a limit of what you can do by self-learning πŸ‘‰ bootcamp
  • If you want to be generally good at programming, maybe open yourself to lower level coding, stuff like devOps, 3D, game-programming, scientific/industrial programming etc. πŸ‘‰ academic degree
lorenzojkrl profile image
Lorenzo Zarantonello

It depends!
I was in your shoes a few years ago!
There are so many factors to consider!

If money isn't a problem, a bootcamp is the best option.
If you seek general knowledge a degree might be worth it.

However, as Nate said "A career in software requires the ability to constantly and quickly learn". Start with free resources like and see if you like it.

sheikh_ishaan profile image
Ishaan Sheikh

If you get a good University and it is not a remote one go for a degree. And if you are unable to get a good University then I think it will be better to go for a bootcamp. Also you need to consider the cost of both.
This is my opinion based on what I have seen in India.

astorrer profile image
Aaron Storrer

While you will learn more practical skills at a bootcamp, a degree will provide you with more opportunities in the long run. In addition, with a four year degree you can more easily transition to another professional field later on, should you find yourself growing more interested in something specific. (Data Science, Management, etc.)

phlash profile image
Phil Ashby

Not sure where you are in the world, so this may not be useful, but are there opportunities for an apprenticeship available to you? IMO the best way to learn is by doing, especially in software engineering where it's hard to grasp the value of many practices / dogmas / processes until you experience alternatives and see for yourself. The technicalities of specific languages, frameworks, architectures, etc. are often public knowledge, although the day a week at college that an apprenticeship brings will help structure the journey through them.

FYI: I took an engineering degree (electronics with computing), which really didn't prepare me for real work in the late 80s/90s, however I did learn the value of humility: accepting new ideas and trying to change myself for the better (both in my career and personally). Plus of course the joys of adult living, relationships (34 years happily married now!) and the world outside tech :)

drwrongmo profile image
Jon Wright

Unless the boot camp is free, or close to free, I'd suggest a degree.

With a boot camp you will likely learn trending technologies, but don't believe them when they say you will be job ready in 16 weeks. That's just not realistic. You will continue to feel overwhelmed.

I took a 16 week boot camp. It took me much longer to get to a point that I felt ready to actively search for a job.

Maybe I over prepared, but I know I wasn't ready at 16 weeks. I didn't understand the flow of data in the project I had built. It just mimicked another project, so it did work.

Fortunately, my boot camp was free. I will say, it did set me on the road to know how to learn for myself, and that is valuable. But it didn't deliver on making me employable when I completed the course.

bellatrix profile image
Sakshi Jain

I think degree program is better than bootcamp. Like idk what is the curriculum of degree program in your region, but in India, there are many subjects taught in one degree program, if its computer science we have everything from c++ to blockchain. While Bootcamp teaches one particular stack or tech in short time. But you can network better, learn more, learn things other than what is in books, visit campus, and can have fun with friends if you are enrolled in degree program.

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

I have no degree, and no formal qualifications to be a developer. I've never attended a bootcamp or training course of any kind.

None of this has been a barrier to a successful career. Self-taught is very definitely an option, if you have curiosity and enthusiasm. Most of the best developers I know taught themselves.

kissu profile image
Konstantin BIFERT

It depends on what you want to focus on (the field), the time you want to spend studying, the money you have, the kind of learning you prefer etc...
More details are welcome overall.