While programming bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$10,000, which is no small sacrifice. Fortunately, a number of not-for-profit and well-organized programs are able to offer free coding bootcamps. Some of these bootcamps are funded by placement and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers. Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these free coding bootcamps.
FREE Web Development Bootcamps
Why: 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 the 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 peple 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
Why: 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, 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 an 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
Why: Flatiron School's NYC Fellowship is an opportunity for non-college graduates in the NYC area to make a major career change. Applicants must make less than $50,000 per year and have zero professional web development experience. The program covers 22 weeks full time including 12 weeks of apprenticeship. The curriculum is adapted from Flatiron's web development immersive.
Location: New York, NY
Program Length: 22 weeks
Review: "The Flatirion school is intense, but its the best way to learn. Instructors are great. The community is a supportive and engaging one. It's a fantastic environment to grow and learn, as a developer and as a person. I'd highly recommend it." -Suma
Why: With locations in France and Romania, Simplon is a fantastic place for a European 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
Why: 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. Silicon Valley, CA.
Program Length: 3 to 5 years
Deferred Payment Web Development Bootcamps
Location: Seattle, WA
Program Length: 27 weeks (in-class), 5 months (internship)
Why: Okay, so App Academy isn’t free exactly, but its unique payment structure deserves a shout out. App Academy requires a refundable deposit at the beginning of the course, but the deposit is returned for students who show up and do the work. Otherwise, the only tuition required is 18% of your first year salary after you’re hired. It’s an intensive program that prepares you to become an entry level Ruby on Rails developer. Interested applicants should expect to submit an application, complete a coding challenge, potentially complete a second coding challenge, complete an interview, and then receive an admission decision.
Location: San Francisco, CA. New York, NY.
Program Length: 12 weeks
Review: "It was great. You have to understand that you are going to be working your ass off, but if you come to learn every day, you're going to get a lot out of the experience." -Anonymous
Why: Holberton School is a two-year software engineering school based in San Francisco that trains individuals to become fullstack engineers. Named for Betty Holberton who worked on the ENIAC Programmers Project (the first programmable computer), the school's mission is to train the next generation of software developers through 100% hands-on learning. The curriculum adopts a project-based, peer learning approach. In lieu of formal classes, students solve increasingly complicated programming challenges with minimal instruction.
Cost Details: No upfront cost to join Holberton School. Holberton charges 17% of your internship earnings and 17% of your salary over 3 years once you find a job.
Location: San Francisco
Program Length: 2 Years, consisting of a 9-month learning phase, a 6-month internship, and another 9-month learning phase.
The Grace Hopper Program
Why: The Grace Hopper Program is an immersive software engineering program for women with no upfront tuition cost. Named for pioneer computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, the program is driven by three values: education, opportunity, and mentorship. By employing a deferred tuition model (students only pay tuition once they secure a job after graduation), Grace Hopper aims to lower the barrier to entry and accept qualified candidates who cannot afford the upfront cost of a coding bootcamp.
Location: New York City
Cost Details: Once graduates land a job, they pay $19,610 tuition in installments over 9 months.
Program Length: 17 weeks
Why: From the founders of Dev Bootcamp, Learners Guild is a full-time full-stack web development learning collective. The culture, the marketing, and the curriculum at Learners Guild are designed for low-income students, women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community.
Location: Oakland, CA
Cost Details: Students pay nothing upfront, and the Learners Guild community offers a monthly stipend, if needed. When graduates get a well-paying job (more than $50,000 per year), they pay 12.5-20% of their salary for 3 years.
Program Length: 10 weeks
FREE Data Science Bootcamps
Why: 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 PhD.
Location: Silicon Valley, CA. New York, NY.
Program Length: 7 weeks
Why: 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 PhD 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
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17 Coding Bootcamp Housing Options
17 coding bootcamps which offer free or affordable housing for students learning to code.