Coding bootcamp vs computer science degree: which is better for a career in tech?

When looking to start a career in the technology industry, many people go the route of obtaining a computer science degree. This tends to put a person in good stead for employment, given the range of skills developed throughout the course, as well as the prestige of having a good degree on your CV.

However, degrees aren’t the only option when it comes to learning the skills needed for a tech job. Coding bootcamps, in which participants sign up for several months focused on learning essential skills in a particular area of ​​computer science, can also be a great way to train for a role in the tech world.

One might assume that the competition is not particularly close, but in addition to taking a much shorter period to complete, the depth of information provided at bootcamps can give their participants a competitive edge over science graduates. computer.

Studies also show that the employment rate for those who complete computer science degrees versus those who complete boot camps is much closer than one might expect.

A recent LinkedIn survey using data from Burning Glass Technologies found that the top four tech bootcamps in the US all had placement rates in related fields of at least 80% within a year. This is higher than computer science departments at famous universities like Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology.

What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is a short course, usually about four months long, that teaches you a specific coding language, skill set, or other such practical information within the field of computing. These can include web development, UX/UI design and data science.

Which learns more?

A bootcamp can also provide more specialized knowledge in an area within computer science, and in a fraction of the time. For example, if someone is looking to learn web development with the goal of applying the skills practically (for example, within a small business) they may not need to branch out into the plethora of areas that a computer science degree also covers. .

Of course, there are many factors that support a full computer science degree and it is impossible to mention all the opportunities that can be given while studying at university. There is certainly a lot to be said for the personal growth and networking opportunities available here, not to mention the subject areas that a degree will offer students that they might not have otherwise considered.

Which one is more suitable?

Bootcamps are definitely able to tailor their content more easily and within shorter time frames than a computer science degree. There is no doubt that given the course structure of any university degree must be determined before starting in September, and rarely changed until the academic year has ended sometime in June or July, boot camps that may only last for a few weeks have a lot more. frequent opportunities to evaluate and change their content.

This gives coding bootcamps more opportunities to take advantage of new IT trends and technologies, taking advantage of their increased agility to provide training in the most modern skills.

On the other hand, universities can be some of the most advanced research institutes in the country and often boast academics who – in addition to their learned seminars – are among the leading experts in their field.

With this in mind, one can see how computer science degrees can provide students with information they are unlikely to be able to access elsewhere. The same applies to access to university libraries, with many institutions having an unparalleled breadth of information available to students through their library portals.

Another advantage of coding bootcamps is that they require less commitment from participants. Once someone starts a degree it is very difficult to leave the program, and if they do, then they have to wait at least until the new student intake in September to start the degree all over again.

In contrast, a 2019 report found that coding bootcamps last an average of just four months, making them far less involved than university courses and also allowing participants who wish to drop out to quickly rejoin the program after a few months away.

Which is cheaper?

For the most part, this is a simple question to answer, although there are some qualifying factors that change things dramatically for students depending on where they live.

The average cost of a coding bootcamp in the US is $13,584, which is far less than the $46,497 per year that US computer science students can expect to pay. At more prestigious universities, costs can be even higher, with MIT charging $77,020 per academic year.

However, in the United Kingdom the calculations go a little differently. Coding bootcamps can cost between £5,000-£9,000, less than the £9,250 a year for a full-time degree course that current computer science students can expect to pay.

However, with the UK student loan program, none of the tuition fees are necessarily presented as an upfront cost for university students. Instead, students take out loans from the Student Loans Company and repay them as a percentage of their earnings once their salary rises above a certain pre-tax threshold.

With this in mind, prospective UK students are faced with a choice between lower start-up costs and higher university debt, leaving the choice to personal preference and weighing the aforementioned pros and cons.


There are a number of reasons why someone might take either a computer science degree or a coding bootcamp. For price and convenience, bootcamps generally have the edge. There is also a strong case for bootcamps as a factor in boosting employability, with employment statistics painting a good picture of the quality of skills that can be learned in a coding boot camp.

On the other hand, the benefits of an undergraduate degree in computer science are difficult to quantify, but far-reaching, from the networking and research opportunities offered, to the potential for personal growth and discovery of a particular area of ​​interest. For American students, the main issue is cost, which is obviously attractive at some of the top institutions.

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