Code Bootcamp vs CS Degree

By: The SwitchUp Team
Last Updated: April 10, 2018

Although bootcamps have become more popular, they are still a new form of education. Because of this, people often wonder if a coding bootcamp will be as effective as a formal four-year Computer Science (CS) degree. Ten years ago, a college degree would be absolutely necessary to work in technology, but we're finding this is no longer the case.

Opportunities are out there: A software application developer customizes computer application software. Projected growth for this position from 2016-2026 is 30%, with a median salary of $100,000 a year. According to Stack Overflow, about 76% of Professional Developers globally hold at least a Bachelor's, but that doesn't necessarily mean a B.S. in Computer Science.

Instead of immediately choosing a traditional path, we suggest students compare bootcamps and CS degrees based on: program length + price, curriculum, accessibility, diversity, and career opportunities.

Program Length + Price

Fact: Bootcamps are cheaper and shorter than earning a degree. Bootcamps often cost around $12,800 and last 12 weeks, whereas the average computer science degree currently costs $40,722 per year and takes four years.

Fact: Bootcamps do not usually qualify for financial aid but have found ways to supplement costs. As the bootcamp industry continues to grow, more schools have begun participating in Deferred Tuition and Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as well as offering scholarships based on merit, gender, and diversity. Some bootcamps that offer Deferred Tuition include: Thinkful, App Academy, and Holberton School.

If you are interested in pursuing a bootcamp, but are in search of a scholarship, check out our Bootcamp Scholarship List.


One of the biggest differences between coding bootcamps and CS degrees are their curriculums. Here is a compare and contrast chart to see what each option has to offer:


Bootcamps are designed to help you land an entry-level role through hands-on, mentor-led projects. On the other hand, Computer Science programs tend to be more traditional and include lectures, exams, and other rote features.

The right path for you largely depends on your learning style, and whether a fast-paced, project-based program feels like the right fit.

Diversity & Accessibility

The average percentage of women graduating from computer science programs is currently just 18%, while SwitchUp's research revealed as much as 43% of bootcamps graduates were women in 2018. This diversity in bootcamps can create a more welcoming environment for people across the globe.

Bootcamps are also more accessible for people attempting to switch careers. The flexibility of pricing, course pace and program length casts a wider net for continuing education. The bootcamp industry is currently packed with programs, so be sure to choose an institution that is both selective and well-reviewed. Look for a bootcamp with strong admissions criteria and a robust pre-work curriculum, as this will better prepare you for the competitive industry you'll be joining.

Job Outcomes

Did you know that you can be qualified for a Junior Developer role with or without a CS degree? Entry-level jobs generally consider the skillsets of bootcamp grads and those with a CS degree to be comparable. The hiring resource Triplebyte has had roughly the same success placing both bootcamp grads and CS grads in jobs, and has found bootcamp grads as a group are better at web programming and writing clean, modular code.

Of course just as bootcamps vary, so do job outcomes. When comparing bootcamps, be sure to ask for a third-party verified outcomes report. You'll also want to read through reviews on a site like SwitchUp.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to consider your preferred learning style, ideal classroom environment, and factors like time and cost. Ultimately, this decision comes down to what is best for you. Compare every option carefully: read reviews, learn more about job outcomes, and find alumni to talk to.

Just like any education venture, this career-choice requires drive, focus, and passion. Whichever path feels right is the best path for you. Just follow your gut and keep coding!

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