While coding bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$13,584, which is no small sacrifice. But did you know that a number of not-for-profit bootcamps and well-organized programs actually offer free coding bootcamps? Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these 7 free coding bootcamps and 4 free data science bootcamps.
A free coding bootcamp is an immersive training program – only it's free to students! Some of these bootcamps are funded by employers and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers; but all of the bootcamps on this list are free to students and intended for career changers.
Of course, there are free intro coding programs and free bootcamp prep programs, but the schools on this list aren't simply free intro classes. These are full-fledged, legitimate bootcamps with comprehensive curricula, instructors, and career services.
Is 42 free? Yes! 42 is an entirely free 3 to 5-year coding education program in the USA and France intended for students aged 18 to 30. The program was started and completely funded by businessman Xavier Niel in Paris, France in 2013, with the aim of improving France's technology sector by developing more qualified technical candidates within France. Admission is determined through a series of rigorous tests. 42 revolves around project-based "peer to peer" learning.
Location: Paris, France and Silicon Valley, CA.
Program Length: 3 to 5 years
Location: Seattle, WA
Program Length: 1 year – 6 months (in-class) + 5 months (internship)
Review: "The process hurts. It hurts a lot. But it was worth it. Eyes open, keep your expectations in check, and it will be amazing. You will be amazing. Apply."- Joanna
Is Founders & Coders free? Yes! Founders & Coders is the only free coding academy in the UK. It is a not-for-profit community interest company that teaches full stack web development and offers a technical working space to pursue projects with the help of mentors. The program is open to anyone over 18 who is motivated, with no experience required. The goal is to build a community of developers and mentors, hence the lack of a fee.
Location: London, UK
Program Length: 16 weeks (8 weeks classwork, 8 weeks projects)
Review: "I took this course in Summer 2015. It was a truly great experience. I had a fantastic time and met some wonderful people and, most importantly, I am now earning a living as a web developer. I highly recommend this course to anyone who is serious about learning to programme. Expect to work very hard." -Izaak
Is Recurse Center free? Yes! Previously known as Hacker School, the Recurse Center is a programmer’s retreat located in New York City that offers 12 weeks of free, self-guided coding education, regardless of experience level. The idea is to bring together, smart, hardworking, flexible people and give them the space and time to work on things that interest them. Open source projects come together in the course of the program, and an extensive alumni network promises to keep the community together long past the 3 months of the program. The application process consists of a written application and two rounds of interviews. The first interview is just for culture fit and to gauge your interests, while the second is a technical interview of pair programming with a Recurse Center facilitator.
Location: New York, NY
Program Length: 12 weeks
Review: "There are no instructors. Rather, everybody can work on whatever they want, which often leads to working with other people, where you both learn an incredible amount from other people, and end up teaching others what you know. There's a wide variety of people in the community, so you can always find people who are excited about the things you are, or people to help you get started learning something new." -Anonymous
Is Simplon free? Yes! With locations in France and Romania, Simplon is a free option for coding education. The bootcamp is an intensive 6 months of Ruby on Rails education and significant career preparation for all the necessary tools to become a skilled programmer and growth hacker.
Location: Bucharest, Romania. Paris, France.
Program Length: 6 months
Is Code Tenderloin free? Yes! For San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, Code Tenderloin offers free tech and job-readiness training to adults and removes barriers to their education by covering transportation and childcare.
Location: San Francisco
Program Length: 4-12 weeks
Is Mississippi Coding Academy free? Yes! Mississippi Coding Academies (MCA) was founded in 2017 as a joint project between the Mississippi governor’s office and Innovate Mississippi. MCA’ mission is to offer a non-traditional path in order to support diverse software professionals and offer economic opportunity for those living in Mississippi, especially those in disadvantaged and underserved communities.
Location: Jackson, Mississippi and Starkville, Mississippi
Program Length: 44 weeks
Is Data Science For All Free? Yes! Correlation One’s Data Science for All (DS4A) programs provide free training and career support to students and professionals who identify as Black, Latinx, female, or LGBTQ+, in partnership with major employers around the world.
Program Length: 13 weeks
Review: "I'm just delighted that I could attend this program. The overall experience was excellent: great training materials, top professors, superb training platform and most importantly, an evident extra effort to make it an enjoyable learning experience." -Andres
Is Insight Data Science Free? Yes! Insight Data Science is a 7-week post-doctoral training fellowship intended to help data scientists transition from academia to a career in data science. The program is project-based under the guidance of industry professionals instead of time spent in the classroom. It also features job preparation and networking opportunities with companies culminating in real interviews at the end of the program. Applicants must have completed or be approaching completion of a Ph.D.
Location: Silicon Valley, CA. New York, NY.
Program Length: 7 weeks
Is The Data Incubator Free? Yes! The Data Incubator is an intensive 7-week fellowship. TDI features short modules covering relevant data science topics, seminars with data scientist mentors, project building, and interviews with employers. Applications are open for anyone who has or within 1 year of receiving their masters or Ph.D. from any math, science, engineering, or social science. Tuition is paid for by employers and the expectation is that fellows will receive jobs within 12 months of the program. There are no technical requirements to apply.
Location: New York, NY. Washington DC. San Francisco, CA. Online.
Program Length: 7 weeks
Is Fullstack Academy free? Yes! Fullstack Academy is a partner in NYC’s Tech Talent Pipeline. Students can attend the immersive data analytics bootcamp at no cost. This training program is designed to prepare unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers with no previous data experience for careers in data analysis at salaries of $55,000 or more.
Location: New York City and Online
Program Length: 18 weeks
Some coding bootcamps offer deferred tuition or income sharing agreements where students pay nothing upfront, then pay the bootcamp a percentage of their salary once they find a job as a software developer. Coding bootcamps like App Academy, The Grace Hopper Program, and Nashville Software School, and tech sales bootcamps like SV Academy all offer Deferred Tuition. BloomTech Institute (formerly Lambda School), Hack Reactor, and Flatiron School all offer Income Sharing Agreements.
See a full list of deferred tuition bootcamps and income sharing agreement (ISA) bootcamps here.
Notice a free bootcamp missing from our list? Tell us in the comments below!
Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!
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