College Degrees vs. Bootcamps: Weighing the Options

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: June 6th 2024

image showing a split between a college campus and a coding bootcamp

Too Long; Didn't Read:

Choosing between a college degree and a bootcamp is crucial for a tech career. College costs $35,550 annually for 4 years, whereas bootcamps cost $13,580 for a few months. Bootcamps offer job-ready skills with an 80% employment rate and an early bird fee of $2,604.

You're at that crossroads where you gotta make a big call on whether to go for a traditional college degree or hop on that coding bootcamp wave. It's a game-changer for anyone trying to make moves in the tech hustle.

According to the Bureau of Labor Stats, there's gonna be a major spike in software dev gigs, so both coding bootcamps and computer science degrees are gonna be lit.

College gives you that broad foundation over four years, but it'll set you back an average of $35,550 per year in tuition fees. On the flip side, bootcamps like Nucamp offer a specialized curriculum that's usually just a few months long, with an average cost of around $13,580.

Their Full Stack Web + Mobile Development bootcamp, for instance, is 22 weeks long and costs just $2,604 if you grab the early bird special.

Bootcamps are blowing up.

Reports show a steady rise, like the 11% jump in bootcamp grads in 2019, totaling over 23,000 alumni. Major tech companies are hiring bootcamp grads at rates almost as high as college grads – 6.03% from bootcamps vs.

6.60% for college alumni. But let's be real, those fancy pants firms might still prefer candidates with computer science degrees 'cause they got a deeper understanding of the fundamentals.

On the other hand, if you're trying to make that transition into tech, bootcamps are a slick and relevant way to get that industry-specific knowledge on the fly, with a potential high short-term ROI. It's all about your personal goals, how much cash you're packing, and where you see your career headed.

So, you gotta weigh your options and make that call.

Table of Contents

  • Understanding College Degrees
  • Understanding Bootcamps
  • Key Comparisons: Cost and Time Investment
  • Comparisons: Outcomes and Job Market Readiness
  • Making Your Choice: Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Understanding College Degrees


Let's talk about that college degree grind. These days, it's taking full-time students an average of six years to snag that bachelor's, which is a whole two years longer than the traditional four-year plan.

Switching majors, taking it easy with course loads, or juggling life on the side can stretch out that timeline, making that tuition fee hit harder.

Speaking of cash, getting a degree ain't cheap.

According to Education Data, the average yearly cost of college in the U.S., including living expenses, is a whopping $36,436.

By the time you factor in loan interest and missed income from not working, that bachelor's could set you back over $500,000. Yikes!

But what are folks even studying these days? The National Center for Education Statistics says business and health are the top majors for bachelor's degrees.

And according to Pew Research, there's a solid earnings gap between young college grads and their peers without degrees.

We're talking a median annual wage of $52,000 for degree holders versus $30,000 for high school grads of the same age. That's a pretty sweet payoff for that college investment.

Traditionally, a college degree has been associated with some major benefits.

Lower unemployment rates, long-term economic advantages – bachelor's degree holders can expect to make $630,000 to $900,000 more in their lifetime than those with just a high school diploma.

But you gotta weigh that against the longer time and higher cost of college these days, the potential for racking up debt, and the need for some serious financial planning.

College ain't just about hitting the books, though.

There's a whole time commitment for extracurriculars, internships, and networking that can set you up for career success down the line. It's a grind, no doubt, requiring some serious time management skills and perseverance.

But if you can power through, college can be a launchpad for personal growth, expanding your mind, and securing that long-term financial stability.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Understanding Bootcamps


Listen up 'cause bootcamps are the new wave, and they're shaking up how we learn. These intense, fast-track courses are all about getting you job-ready skills in no time, no BS. Teachfloor breaks it down: forget all that theory crap, bootcamps keep it real with hands-on training for the real world.

These bad boys are all about tech, and they've got options for everyone - full-time, part-time, or go at your own pace.

You could be knocking out a Cybersecurity Bootcamp at Florida Atlantic University in just 6 months, or coding your way through a 14-week program.

And the whole thing averages around $13,500 - way cheaper than forking over $40,000 a year for a traditional degree.

But it's not just about the money.

Bootcamps are popping up for web dev, data science, cybersecurity - you name it. Why? 'Cause the job market is thirsty for these skills, and bootcamps deliver.

They say 80% of grads land gigs in their field, so you know these programs are legit. Bootcamps are all about getting you job-ready, like that Teacher Bootcamp Program in Ohio that's helping teachers level up their skills.

Bottom line: bootcamps are the move if you want to get hired in tech without wasting years in school.

They're laser-focused on giving you the practical experience and industry projects that'll make you a hot commodity in the job market. So, if you're trying to get your career poppin' in record time, a bootcamp might just be the way to go.

Key Comparisons: Cost and Time Investment


Let me break it down for you about the real deal between college degrees and coding bootcamps. It all comes down to the cash and time you're willing to invest.

While a bachelor's degree can set you back a whopping $127,000 in the U.S. and take up to four years to complete, coding bootcamps offer a way leaner money game and a faster track to learning.

The average bootcamp cost, ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, is a serious bargain compared to traditional college tuition, and you can typically knock it out in 10 to 14 weeks.

But heads up, the price tag can vary, with more intense programs like data science or software engineering reaching around $15,000 (

When you're eyeing that return on investment, coding bootcamps give you the real-world, job-ready skills in a snap, which can land you a sweet gig in the tech game pretty quickly.

In fact, many students score employment within 180 days after finishing up, with some bootcamps boasting serious job placement rates (Course Report).

On the flip side, college degrees offer a broader education experience, with opportunities to specialize and potentially higher lifetime earnings.

It's no wonder bootcamps are stepping up their financing game too.

While college typically offers financial aid and scholarships, bootcamps are bringing innovative payment models to the table, like deferred tuition or income share agreements, so you can start paying after you've landed that job.

At the end of the day, it's all about what works best for your career goals, budget, and how you like to learn.

As the job market keeps evolving, more and more peeps are considering coding bootcamps as a legit, cost-effective alternative to traditional degrees for breaking into the tech field.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Comparisons: Outcomes and Job Market Readiness


When it comes to deciding whether to go for a college degree or a bootcamp, there are some major differences to keep in mind. Bootcamps like those offered by Stony Brook University and Rutgers are killing it when it comes to getting you job-ready skills, especially in the tech world that's blowing up right now.

Their curriculums are designed by industry pros to give you the real-world experience and practical skills that'll help you slay in your career.

A whopping 89% of bootcamp grads landed jobs in their field within six months of finishing up.

That's a smooth transition into the workforce! On the flip side, while college grads have a broader range of employment rates depending on their major (from 58% for the humanities to 95% for health-related fields), they do tend to score slightly higher starting salaries on average, around $50,000 compared to $47,000 for bootcamp grads.

But you gotta keep in mind that a college education is a way bigger investment in terms of time and money.

In the tech world, employers are recognizing the value of bootcamp grads more and more.

A solid 80% of them see bootcamp grads as just as prepared and with the same potential to crush it as their college-educated counterparts. And the kicker - bootcamp alumni reported an average 51% increase in their earnings after completing the program, while college grads see a more gradual salary progression.

Programs like Maven Analytics' Data Analyst Bootcamp are all about getting you career-ready, with coaching and a focus on outcomes to help you slay the job market.

Here's a breakdown of the strengths of each path:

  • Job Readiness: Bootcamps – High with their industry-tailored, immersive curriculum; College – Varies by field
  • Hiring Rates: Bootcamps – 89% within six months; College – 58% to 95% by field
  • Starting Salary: Bootcamps – ~$47,000; College – ~$50,000
  • Industry Recognition: Bootcamps - Increasingly valued by tech employers; College – Traditional benchmark of education
  • Salary Growth: Bootcamps – 51% post-completion increase; College – Gradual progression over time

Making Your Choice: Factors to Consider


Listen up 'cause this is important stuff. You're at that age where you gotta start thinking about your future career, right? Well, you got two main options when it comes to breaking into the tech world: a college degree or a coding bootcamp.

Here's the deal:

If you're looking to get into fields like medicine or law, then a college degree is pretty much mandatory. But for tech jobs, employers are often more interested in your practical skills than a fancy piece of paper.

Sure, big dogs like Google might still prefer those with a solid Computer Science background, but the tech industry is becoming more open-minded.

Fans will tell you that these intensive programs can get you entry-level tech jobs at local or non-tech companies pretty quickly.

In fact, around 6% of bootcamp grads land roles that are similar to what college grads get.

On the flip side, a college education can give you a solid theoretical foundation and potentially lead to higher lifetime earnings.

But that comes at a hefty price tag of over $100K, while bootcamps typically cost around $13.5K. Bootcamps like Nucamp offer skill-focused programs with career support, helping you transition into tech roles within a year or so.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your learning style and career goals.

Do you want an intense, practical approach or a broader theoretical education? College offers a multi-year curriculum, while bootcamps are more condensed and focused.

The most important thing is to invest in yourself and choose the path that'll give you the skills you need to crush it in your dream tech job.

Just make sure you weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your decision.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the average cost of a college degree vs. a coding bootcamp?

A traditional college degree averages $35,550 annually for 4 years, while coding bootcamps cost around $13,580 for a few months.

What is the employment rate for coding bootcamp graduates?

On average, 80% of coding bootcamp graduates find employment in their chosen field.

What is the starting salary comparison between college and coding bootcamp graduates?

While the average starting salary for college graduates is about $50,000, coding bootcamp graduates start at around $47,000.

How do employers view coding bootcamp graduates compared to college alumni?

80% of employers regard coding bootcamp graduates as equally prepared and potential high achievers as their college-educated counterparts.

What factors should I consider when choosing between a college degree and a coding bootcamp?

Consider your career objectives, financial considerations, personal learning preferences, and the industry's demand for practical skills vs. theoretical knowledge.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.