Editors' pick: Originally published August 25.
Coding academies--or coding boot camps--that provide classroom instruction on web-based information technology, break the higher ed business model, where students borrow to begin a two- to four-year slog to a degree. Many coding boot camps eschew federal student loans and the awarding of academic credit.
Established colleges and universities have noticed and are entering this space. They've also followed the boot camp lead by emphasizing their vocational value but in some cases, providing academic credit. Do today's boot camps that leverage a trade school model have something to fear from boot camps on campus?
Coding boot camps involve significant investment and risk during the start-up phase. Established universities can bide their time when it comes to rolling them out and aren't their only product. An investment in brick and mortar classrooms will likely be unnecessary on existing campuses, even if they're outside a school's academic mainstream.
"Even though some universities are collaborating with boot camps or even starting their own, you can see that they're still separate from the computer science departments at those universities," said Liz Eggleston of Course Report, a San Francisco-based organization which analyzes coding boot camps.
But she noted that universities are tearing a page of two from the start-up boot camps. "They're generally non-degree granting and run through the Continuing Studies Department," she said. "Also, they're rarely taught by university faculty, although there are some exceptions. For example, Sabio in Los Angeles has a partnership with Antioch University. Their boot camp instructors teach the course, but students actually get college credit."
Still, Eggleston thought coding boot camps have a leg up on their university counterparts. "I think the advantage is that they are not held down by the red tape and bureaucracy that prevents universities from creating outcome-driven computer science courses. The point of a university is to keep a student there for four years, not graduate them in 12 weeks ready to get a job."
The Rutgers course is part-time and runs for 24 weeks, twice as long as most boot camps and doesn't include an appeal to people who may be struggling in their work lives. Its website states, "As the program is part-time, Rutgers Coding Boot Camp is designed for working professionals who are actively pursuing a career change or advancement." According to an academic advisor, tuition for the 24 week web Development course is $10,000 compared, for example, to $13,500 at General Assembly's 11-week Web Development Immersive course.
Whether the boot camp industry is preparing for a shake-out or looking for ways to optimize their businesses, the partnerships between boot camps and universities that have already been formed suggest that there will be more. According to the Course Report, San Francisco-based Galvanize is in a strategic partnership with the University of New Haven dubbed, GalvanizeU leading to a 12-month MA in data science.
Universities forming partnerships with boots camps are a discernible trend identified by Course Report. General Assembly is working with Boca Raton, Fla.-based Lynn University for offer a 16-week "technology design" boot camp at GA's New York or San Francisco locations. The 15 credit course will cost $14,000, including tuition and housing. New York's Flatiron School and Southern New Hampshire University have a partnership involving a three-year academic program for SNHU students plus six months in the Flatiron program followed by an internship at the end.
Course Report cites a second trend—universities that build their own boot camps from scratch. Northeastern University has launched Level, an eight-week data analytics boot camp located in Boston, Charlotte, Seattle and Silicon Valley. Course Report's Eggleston noted that Level does not appear to offer credit.
The U.S. Department of Education's EQUIP program drives yet another tendency, with Flatiron and SUNY's Empire State College being an example, as is Wilmington University's Zip Code Wilmington and Epicodus, Maryhust University's 27-week Web and mobile development program.
EQUIP, the Education Quality through Educational Partnerships program, is designed tp enabled colleges and non-traditional providers of education—like coding boot camps and massive open online courses (MOOCs) to expand their footpring. Along with a Quality Assurance Entity, EQUIP would allow universities and boot camps to collaborate in making higher education more affordable and will test whether federal student aid should be made available to these endeavors. The Quality Assurance entity would develop new ways to assess the programs, including claims made about the value of instruction and job market outcomes.