9 coding schools higher ed should keep an eye on

Coding schools — programs that teach short courses aimed at professionals in programming and developing online and mobile applications — are growing more popular because of their stripped-down approach to teaching high-demand skills that appeal to employers.

That interest is also translating to merger and acquisition activity, and interest from private equity investors. Bootcamps.in lists 49 programming boot camps and coding schools in the U.S., most of which are only a few years old. Of course, the big profits that coding schools, or hack schools, can generate for entrepreneurs and investors have led to some questionable operators joining the movement. And some students end up failing to get anything for their tuition investment. Critics say some of the bootcamp programs promise high-salary jobs that fail to materialize for their graduates.

Regardless, given the popularity of these programs and the competition they present to traditional continuing education, here are nine of the most popular coding schools higher ed should be aware of.

Hack Reactor

Based in San Francisco, Hack Reactor charges $17,780 in tuition for its 12-week coding program, which requires applicants to take an online coding challenge. In 2014, Hack Reactor graduated 475 students. The company bought the MakerSquare coding school on Jan. 21.


Tuition for the 12-week courses of MakerSquare — with campuses in Austin, TX, and San Francisco — is $13,880. Like Hack Reactor, MakerSquare also requires applicants to complete an online coding challenge. With its sale to Hack Reactor, the program changed its curriculum from Ruby to Javascript, but it will otherwise continue to operate independently. The company launched in 2013 and so far has 195 graduates.

Code School

Code School, based in Orlando, FL, teaches online and mobile-app learn-to-code courses and coding for those with limited experience. Pluralsight announced in January that it had bought Code School for $36 million. Code School launched in 2011 and has more than 40 courses covering JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Ruby, iOS, and Git. The company claims 40,000 users and 1 million sign-ups, and that 15% of its members received a promotion or landed a new job because of its courses.


Like its peers, this Farmington, UT, online technology skills training company is aimed at professionals. It now has nearly 4,000 courses, with the Code School acquisition—its sixth in 18 months. Last year, Pluralsight raised $135 million from investors and bought Smarterer, a platform for creating and taking skills tests, for $75 million. And the company is looking for more acquisitions. Pluralsight charges individuals subscription fees, as low as $29 per month, or a company can pay an annual fee for unlimited access to courses for its employees.


Galvanize is a tech education company founded in 2012 with campuses in San Francisco, Denver, and Boulder, CO. New campuses are due to open this year in Seattle, Denver, and Fort Collins, CO. Galvanize offers a 24-week Web development program covering Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, Javascript, CSS3,  HTML5,  Responsive Design, Database, APIs, Version Control, and test-driven development. It also has a 12-week data science program and a 12-month master’s degree program. The company announced in January the formation of the Galvanize Foundation, a charitable organization to fund scholarships for coding school students.


Codecademy, founded in 2011, is a free online coding instruction company that reaches students through PCs and mobile devices. The company describes its teaching approach as “the first truly net native education,” with an online virtual classroom that allows students to contact each other for feedback and collaboration. The company offers training in web development, Python, CSS, HTML, JavaScript and application programming interfaces. Codecademy has so far raised more than $12 million in venture capital funding, and claims more than 24 million users.

General Assembly

Since launching in New York in 2011, General Assembly has opened campuses worldwide in locations like Atlanta; Austin, TX; Boston; Chicago; Hong Kong; London; Los Angeles; Melbourne; Sydney; and the District of Columbia. The company offers classes, workshops, full-time immersive programs, and online programs, claims 70,000 students, and says 90% of its job-seeking full-time students find new jobs within three months of graduating.

Flatiron School

New York's Flatiron School launched in 2012, and early in 2014, it raised $5.5 million from investors. As of April 2014, the school accepted less than 8% of applicants and charged $12,000 for its four-month programs in Ruby, Javascript, HTML5, and Objective C. The school says it has a 98% graduation rate, with an average tuition cost of $15,000 and an average salary for graduates of $73,771.


Thinkful, which provides online programming and developer courses, was founded in 2012. The company raised $4.25 million from investors in January to expand its offerings. Thinkful charges $1,000 to $2,000 for a three-month program, and touts an educational approach that capitalizes on connecting students online with professional programmers. The company has about 3,000 students and claims a 70% completion rate.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Online Learning
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