Higher Education

Comparing IT Bootcamps and Computer Science Degrees

Programming Bootcamp

Most coding and IT boot camps offer an intensive expedited course with practical assignments where students learn a large variety of computer programming languages, concepts, and technical skills, including HTML, JavaScript, Python, PHP, and Ruby. In contrast to traditional schooling, these tend to be quicker and frequently provide supportive and mentor-based training and support for students.

Computer science (CS) degree programs encompass the mathematical and theoretical foundations of computers and include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science

These degree programs contain foundational courses in logic, computing, data structures, and analytics, as well as the theory of computation and coding. Some might place a strong emphasis on a specific area of focus. For example, focusing on mathematics would mandate calculus, statistics, probability, and integral calculus coursework.

Computer Science Degree vs. IT Bootcamps

Attending college to get a degree in computer science is an excellent way of acquiring knowledge. Attending a bootcamp is widely regarded as a powerful way for people to acquire critical skills in a focused and expedited manner. Here are some pros and challenges for both.

The average salary for Computer Science jobs can vary by state, but ZipRecruiter sets the average salary at $65,972.

CourseReport says bootcamp graduates can earn an average of $69,079 in their first job.

Pros and Challenges in Computer Science Degree Programs


  • Provide good foundational knowledge
  • Provide good theoretical knowledge
  • Learning can be at a slower pace
  • Employers value degrees


  • Lack of comprehensive hands-on experience
  • Some programs can be costly
  • Typically take four years to complete
  • Curriculum doesn’t always change with the times

Many employers still place a high value on college degrees, but there are some trends that suggest there are some shifts in that thinking. This is something that former McKinsey Partner Byron Auguste has been trying to get companies to do for years.

“Companies are missing out on skilled, diverse talent when they arbitrarily ‘require’ a four-year degree. It’s bad for workers and it’s bad for business. It doesn’t have to be this way,” he said.

Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review cited a rise in skills-based hiring, and IT jobs were a key focus in their research. They found examples of companies continuing to put a high value on degrees and some who were beginning to show some flexibility.

For example, they found that Oracle mandated degrees for over 90% of their jobs, and that included network administrator positions. Meanwhile, in 2021, they found that 43% of Accenture’s and 29% of IBM’s IT job postings required a degree.

They believed that companies that continued to put a strong emphasis on degrees felt that students would’ve developed stronger “soft skills” while earning it. This included communication, collaboration and prioritization skills.

Pros and Challenges in Bootcamps


  • Some provide refunds
  • Education completed in less time
  • Opportunities for mentorship and 1-on1 training
  • Students aren’t taking courses of lesser interest
  • Can complete in less than a year
  • Less expensive than many degree programs
  • Variety of skills to learn


  • Intensive & expedited pace isn’t for everyone
  • Employer interest may vary depending on the company/job

Coding Bootcamp

Job Opportunities

Depending on whether you attend a coding bootcamp or degree, your employment options may vary. Employers are used to looking at candidates with degrees, and coding bootcamps have only been around for about 11 years. When compared to degrees, there can be certain challenges associated with determining a student’s ability to put what they learned to use. Bootcamps also might be quicker to keep up with changing times.

Chegg Skills President John Fillmore told Yahoo Finance that degrees are generating a decrease in ROI (return on investment). He said while there is nothing wrong with a college degree, students are dealing with debt, and some companies are evaluating how to evaluate a candidate’s skills.

“And so you’re seeing incredible evolutions in the assessment space of being able to say, do you actually understand cybersecurity? Do you understand data analytics? Do you understand data science, which are some of the most popular jobs that we teach,” he said.

“I think you’ll continue to see pushes on that assessment side, as employers say, wait a minute. This certificate shows that you have the skills. But I do need to, for the old adage, trust but verify.”

Sometimes a deciding factor can be motivation to attend college or a bootcamp. For example, many of Thinkful’s Coding Bootcamp students have used a bootcamp as a means to change a career path, including:

  • An English teacher who became a programmer
  • A ski instructor who became a support engineer
  • A truck driver who became a UX designer

Sometimes hearing from former students at a college or bootcamp can help inspire others to make a decision on their own careers.


Both degree and bootcamp students in coding can expect to make a good living. The fact is that whether you complete a bootcamp or a degree program, it often has less of an impact on your salary than the kind of job you have.

Which is the right option for you?

If you are looking for a traditional way of acquiring knowledge and want time and financial support, then getting into a university is a good decision. On the contrary, if you want to start your career quickly and need more time to invest, then bootcamp is the right decision.

To determine whether attending a coding bootcamp or degree program is appropriate for you, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are you beginning a new profession or making a change?
  • Do you have a degree from a university in a non-technical subject?
  • Do you want to focus on specific skills or foundational concepts?
  • Do you need a degree to pursue your career aspirations?
  • How much time do you plan to commit to studying?
  • Which option works best for your finances?

It’s equally important to do your research, not only on your educational options but what your future employers might require from you to prove your knowledge and skills.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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