Considering a coding bootcamp vs. a computer science degree

If you’re considering a career in software engineering, you may have wondered: Should I go to a coding bootcamp or get a computer science degree? Which choice is better for me, and which will better situate me to land a job in an evolving market?

We don’t see the choice between a coding bootcamp and a computer science degree as mutually exclusive. Some of our graduates have done both! These are two fundamentally different educational options that can both provide students with a lot of value.

However, factors like time and cost often mean that people need to choose just one path forward. In this post, we’ll highlight reasons why a coding bootcamp is a beneficial choice for anyone considering a new career in software engineering – especially those who are seeking tailored career services and who want to learn job-ready skills on a faster and more focused timeline.

Program speed & learning new skills fast

For many students, time is limited, perhaps especially for career changers who might be mid-career and who don’t have years to spare on a degree as they shift into a new industry. Coding bootcamps provide opportunities for people at various stages of their lives to enroll, learn, and graduate within a relatively short period of time. Hack Reactor programs train you to become a full-stack software engineer in 12 weeks or 19 weeks – so no matter which program you choose, you’ll be ready for the job market in well under a year.

Coding bootcamps like ours offer an education built around rapid skills development through project-based learning. These skills – including learning in-demand programming languages, AI-productivity tools, and more – reflect what employers are looking for right now, which means our graduates are ready to meet the moment once hired.

“Individuals who select a bootcamp, either instead of or alongside a computer science degree, make this choice because they want more hands-on experience in application development and collaborative programming with other developers. In our bootcamps, students code for hundreds of hours, managing projects and building apps with teammates. This simulates a professional work environment,” said Lena Johnson, Galvanize Associate Director of Career Services.

This type of professional simulation appeals to many aspiring software engineers who want immersive training. For graduate Bryana Valdivia, who dropped out of a computer science master’s program to enroll in the bootcamp, a faster-paced program better matched her vision of what it means to be a software engineer.

“I felt stuck and slow [in the master’s program] and still didn’t have an idea of what being a software engineer really looked or felt like,” she said. “The bootcamp allowed me to build applicable skills quickly and gain confidence backed by a powerful network.”

Career services during and after the bootcamp

Part of that powerful network includes our Career Services team. All Hack Reactor Coding Bootcamps provide workshops and lectures on resume-building, networking, salary negotiations, preparing for interviews, and more. While career coaching also exists at universities, it’s often less tailored to the software engineering industry itself.

Our team is trained for the tech industry and software engineering specifically, so students are getting area expertise along with strong advocacy, according to Lena.

“Our Career Services Managers help graduates understand and articulate their unique value so they can be authentic, confident, and perform well in the job market,” she said.

During the final week of the coding bootcamp, Hack Reactor students start to meet 1:1 with their Career Services Manager (CSM), whom they’ll work with closely throughout their job search process. All coding bootcamp graduates have access to career support for up to 180 days after graduation.

“Our coaching goes well beyond material development and strategy,” added Lena. “We spend time getting to know graduates and help get them to the point where they can effectively present themselves and feel good about what they can offer employers. We coach them to persist through challenging times and support them throughout the process.”

Read about everything you can expect from our Career Services team, including what’s included in those 180 days of post-graduation support.

Built-in support + diverse alumni network

Our coding bootcamps are built around the idea that robust in-class support and a strong community are invaluable resources for navigating an intense learning experience and launching a new career.

“When students feel safe, welcome, and supported by their [instructors, program staff, and] peers, they’re more likely to take risks in their technical decisions and try new strategies,” said Annah Patterson, a Galvanize Cohort Lead. “By nurturing a strong sense of community, we’re not only helping our students learn the technical skills they need but also preparing them to be well-rounded professionals in the tech industry.”

While you can certainly build community in a university setting, a degree spread across multiple years and multiple classes makes it harder to hold community together. In our bootcamps, in addition to Cohort Leads like Annah, you’ll have a team of instructors, teaching assistants, and the aforementioned Career Services Managers to guide you and encourage both individual and team growth focused on the software engineering career space.

Once you graduate, you’ll have access to our alumni network of more than 14,000 graduates who stay in touch through events and active Slack channels, and who help each other by sharing job openings, tackling on-the-job challenges, and more.

“I found it really helpful to connect with other [Hack Reactor] alumni during the job search process. We were able to share tips and advice with each other and offer support when things got tough,” said coding bootcamp graduate Cise Babatasi, now a Software Developer at Thryv.

In a recent video on his YouTube channel, LofiCode, bootcamp graduate Davis Jkwon pointed out something he considers to be a differentiator between a coding bootcamp alumni community and a university alumni community: coding bootcamps are largely made up of career changers. This means that students and graduates are often coming from different professional backgrounds, entering the bootcamp community with different and diverse perspectives, a variety of experiences, and wide connections to share across industries.

Cost and opportunities for financial support

More often than not, coding bootcamps offer more affordable paths into tech than traditional degree programs due to their relatively lower costs. Galvanize’s goal is to make tech education accessible to all motivated learners, so we offer a wide range of financing options and financial support for our students.

These include Income-Contingent Financing, split payments, loans, full-tuition scholarships, Veteran education benefits, and more. Learn more about all of our financial options so you can begin charting your own path.

For those who want both…

It’s not always an either/or choice between a coding bootcamp and a computer science degree. Some of our graduates have earned both. We’ve seen computer science graduates enroll in a coding bootcamp in order to hone their technical skills in preparation for a new role, and we’ve seen bootcamp graduates go on to pursue a degree in computer science because they realized how much they loved theory and wanted to spend extended time digging into it.

There’s not just one path for all, but if you’re ready to become a software engineer right now and want to do so in a focused, timely manner, a coding bootcamp is a great fit.


Ready to start your coding bootcamp journey? Learn about our Hack Reactor Coding Bootcamps, including programs for beginners and those with intermediate coding experience. 

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