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Ascent Blog

Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree

Nov 01, 2022 | By: Ascent
Categories: Blog, For High School Students, For Bootcamps
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If you have ever explored building a website, computer programming, or software development, you may enjoy a career in computer science (CS). Depending on which path you travel down, according to Glassdoor, a career in computer science can help you earn an average base salary of $106,012 per year, with a range of $88,000 to $192,000.

As you think about attending school to learn the skills of a future computer scientist, you might start to research the differences between coding bootcamp vs. a traditional degree: Is there a real difference? Are coding bootcamps worth it?

Below we’ll dive into the differences between coding bootcamps and obtaining a CS degree to help you decide which is best for you.

Curriculum in Coding Bootcamp Programs vs. Computer Science Degree Programs

The curriculums for coding bootcamps and computer science degrees differ in many ways. 

What You Learn

Attending a traditional 4-year university as a computer science major can help you gain skills beyond coding. Typically you will also learn things like:

  • Programming in C++
  • OS Design
  • Computer Science Theory
  • Advanced Mathematics
  • Algorithms

In addition, you’ll attend other classes unrelated to your degree that you’ll have to complete to graduate, like English, history, or a foreign language. Some colleges and universities may also require a gym class or internship course. 

General education courses you’re required to take as a part of your university promise might feel unneeded. Why do you need to learn computer science theory or OS design? Will learning these programs benefit you in a future job? The benefit of earning a CS degree at a traditional 4-year university is the ability to learn programs outside your intended major and fully understand code. You’ll understand the why and the how of it all and will be able to broaden your job search after graduation. 

Attending a coding bootcamp enables you to learn a new skill or build on your existing skill set, potentially making you a top candidate in a competitive job search. By attending a coding bootcamp, you can learn languages like:

  • JavaScript
  • APIs
  • Ruby
  • Python
  • GitHub

Unlike traditional 4-year degree programs, you won’t be required to take any other classes outside your course track. Most bootcamps are designed to fill your time with coding or the material on hand, so you won’t have to worry about balancing your time with English or a gym class. 


Most computer science undergraduate degrees take about four years to complete. 

Bootcamps take much less time. As a full-time coding bootcamp student, you will experience an intense course load and class schedule. If you have work or family obligations, it might be best to sign up for a coding bootcamp as a half-time student. It will take longer, but it’ll be less intense and can offer the flexibility you need to complete your program on time. 

Job Opportunities for Coding Bootcamps vs. Degrees

Luckily, coding bootcamps or university graduates have strong chances of finding relevant employment once they complete their programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and coding jobs are expected to increase by 25% from 2021-2031.

However, there may be some differences in job opportunities for graduates of a coding bootcamp vs. a computer science degree. 

Job Coaching for Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree

One of the biggest benefits of attending coding bootcamps can be access to career services or job coaches. Some bootcamps even partner with recruiters from companies looking for a fresh pool of candidates. Check with your school if it’s important to you. Another bonus of using a bootcamp’s career services is that they typically know what companies are looking for in candidates.

According to a 2017 Indeed poll, 72% of employers think that “bootcamp graduates are just as prepared and likely to be high performers as candidates with computer science degrees.”

College campuses also have career services, but because the student population is greater, counselors may sometimes be a shared resource for hundreds of other students looking for a job. Their services may not be tailored to your specific job search or background, so it’s important to find a mentor or seek other resources to help you build a resume. 

Although there’s no guarantee you’ll get a job offer by attending a coding bootcamp or earning a degree, staying motivated and committed to the program and job search is the best way to set yourself up for success. 

Expected Salaries

Despite their career advice differences, graduates of either program are expected to earn a decent salary. 

Coding Bootcamp Bloc reported that within 180 days after graduating, 75% had a job with a median base salary of $62,000.

Zip Recruiter reported that the national average base salary for computer science degree graduates is $66,036. 

It should be noted that professions that require specialized knowledge and skillsets generally offer higher base salaries. If you’ve coded on your own before attending university or bootcamp, that can set you up for better pay later. 


Cost of Coding Bootcamps vs. Degrees

The price difference between college degrees and bootcamps is enormous. MIT prices the full cost of their 2022-2023 academic year at $79,850. Of course, a computer science degree from an in-state public college will be less expensive, but it’s still around $20,000 per year. 

Ascent offers undergraduate loans, so if a computer science degree sounds like the path for you, we can help.

Coding bootcamps may be more affordable, with most costing around $13,000-$14,000 for the entire program. The one drawback to this small price tag is that federal loans, grants, or work-study programs aren’t eligible to cover Bootcamp costs. However, there are options out there.

In addition to helping students choose a bootcamp with our Bootcamp Finder, Ascent also offers Bootcamp loans. Check out how Bootcamp loans work to learn more.

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