Why Aren’t Bootcamps Accredited?

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Technical careers continue to flourish in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the U.S. will add 531,000 new technology jobs from 2019-2029. Coding bootcamps offer an alternative pathway into many of these positions, including data engineer, information security analyst, and mobile app developer. Since bootcamps are a relatively new education model, there are currently no accreditation processes for these programs.

Coding bootcamps provide a practical, intensive experience to equip participants with marketable skills. These programs last from a few weeks to several months and often cost a fraction of a college degree. Some bootcamps require full-time, in-person attendance, while others offer online, part-time, or hybrid options.

Since bootcamps are a relatively new education model, there are currently no accreditation processes for these programs.

Many bootcamp participants already hold bachelor’s degrees and several years of work experience with little, if any background in computer science. A bootcamp’s short-form, career-focused approach appeals to these learners.

This page covers why bootcamps aren’t accredited, the regulations they must meet, and how to assess your options for coding bootcamps.

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What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a voluntary process through which an educational institution demonstrates its credibility, transparency, and organizational strength. In the U.S, legitimate accrediting agencies receive approval from the Department of Education and/or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Schools and programs receive regional, national, or programmatic accreditation. Regional accreditors confer regional accreditation to most private and public universities and colleges. National accrediting agencies review and approve institutions that focus on career, technical, or religious education.

Programmatic accreditors approve departments or programs within schools. For example, ABET approves science, computing, and engineering programs at colleges and universities.

Students attending accredited schools can pursue federal financial aid, transfer credits between institutions, and qualify for admission to advanced degrees. Often, those same benefits do not apply at unaccredited schools.

Despite lacking accreditation, bootcamps can still deliver flexible, practical career training programs. Prospective students can also access private scholarships and grants for bootcamps.

Why Bootcamp Accreditation Is Not Offered

Bootcamps operate outside of traditional educational systems. Accrediting agencies could find it difficult to assess their programs since no processes are in place. Some accredited universities, however, have partnered with coding bootcamps, offering college credit for work completed in the bootcamp.

Some bootcamps are part of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), which assesses members to ensure honesty and integrity in information.

In 2016, the federal government invested $17 million into bootcamps to improve their quality and accountability. Coding bootcamps also receive public support through workforce development grants, which can help foster regulatory oversight.

The demands and processes associated with accreditation may conflict with a bootcamp’s short-term, high-energy training style. Though accreditation would help open up federal funds for bootcamps.

Existing Regulation for Coding Bootcamps

While coding bootcamps do not hold accreditation, they should maintain licensure with their states’ regulatory agencies. A prospective student can also check with their state to learn more about a bootcamp’s legal status. University-affiliated bootcamps are run by the school.

The level of oversight varies among states. Just because a bootcamp has completed the appropriate paperwork in its state does not mean it offers a valuable service.

Some bootcamps are part of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), which assesses members to ensure honesty and integrity in information. Prospective credential-seekers can contact CIRR or consumer protection agencies such as the Better Business Bureau to discover more about a specific bootcamp’s transparency grade.

Is a Coding Bootcamp Right for You?

Coding bootcamps take students through short, intense training sessions that can lead to full-time jobs in the computer science industry. A bootcamp, however, does not provide the same experience or qualification as a college degree.

Aspiring tech company executives should probably pursue traditional college degrees. However, students who aim to work for startups or supplement their experience may benefit from a bootcamp’s entrepreneurial approach and practical skills.

The average bootcamp trainee already holds a bachelor’s degree and has several years of professional experience. Job-seekers who already hold computer science degrees may benefit from the up-to-date, practical experience often delivered by bootcamps.

Prospective students who have not earned degrees may want to consider attending college instead of a bootcamp. While most educational institutions do not offer transferable college credit for bootcamps, they may allow learners to transfer their bootcamp experience into academic programs at their schools.

How to Assess Your Bootcamp Options

Without bootcamp accreditation to guide enrollees, how can prospective students assess their educational options? Consider the following actions:

Research student outcomes.
CIRR provides a standardized system for measuring student outcomes at coding bootcamps. Prospective students can use CIRR’s information to assess salary data for recent bootcamp grads, along with how many bootcamp graduates secured jobs within six months of graduation, plus what percentage of those jobs were in the coding field.
Ask bootcamp alumni.
Learners can find alumni from their prospective bootcamps through LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. These alumni may provide a first-hand perspective on their experience and advice on making the best decision for your needs.
Reach out to industry professionals.
Aspiring students should also talk to current coders and other tech professionals. Questions to ask include: Does this bootcamp have a good reputation? Will this bootcamp enhance my resume? What are my bootcamp options?
Investigate the camp’s career services offerings.
Before enrolling in any coding bootcamps, prospective students should find out if the program offers career counseling, interview preparation assistance, help with compiling a professional portfolio, or other job placement assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there any accredited bootcamps?

    Bootcamps do not undergo an accreditation process. Therefore, they do not hold regional or national accreditation unless affiliated with a college or university. Some bootcamps, however, undergo an audit with CIRR.

  • Are bootcamps worth it?

    A coding bootcamp’s curriculum does not cover the scope or depth of a college degree in computer science. Bootcamps may be worth it, though, for students who want to learn specific, marketable skills such as coding or cybersecurity.

  • Is a coding bootcamp considered an educational institution?

    Some educational institutions provide bootcamps as part of their program offerings. However, federal financial aid does not pay for a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps do not issue degrees or hold accreditation.

  • Are bootcamps better than colleges and universities?

    Coding bootcamps require much less time than college degrees. However, unlike college grads, bootcamp graduates do not receive a credential. While some bootcamps charge high tuition fees, the overall cost of a bootcamp typically runs lower than a bachelor’s degree.


Featured Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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