Photo of a review of Holberton School as a software engineering bootcamp

A review of Holberton School as a software engineering bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have worked with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my review of Holberton School.

What does Holberton School do?

Holberton School is a bootcamp that helps students develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. Students can take classes on their campuses in San Francisco, New Haven, and Tulsa. They also have options abroad in Tunis (Tunisia), Beirut (Lebanon) and 4 Colombian cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Calí, and Barranquilla.

A 2-year, full-time program, Holberton School is quite a time commitment. In fact, working and traveling is discouraged while enrolled in the program. There are no typical days in the program. The bootcamp has mandatory sessions that consist of peer learning and practice interviews, as well as less structured days. They also host guest lectures, meetups, fireside chats, hackathons, and other special events. 

The curriculum is based on projects and emphasizes hands-on learning. In the first 9 months, students study onsite and focus on graphic programming, data structures and algorithms. In addition, they learn about reverse engineering and security, C, Python, front-end, object orientated programming, databases, Linux, and infrastructure design & management.

There is no formal instruction. So, students learn through a series of individual and group projects with the assistance of peers, mentors, and teaching assistants. For the remaining 15 months, students study remotely or onsite and choose from 2 tracks: the career track or a specialization. Students who specialize have 4 options: C low level and algorithms, AR/VR, machine learning, and full-stack web development.

Who is Holberton School for?

People who have no experience in coding and are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as software engineer could benefit from the Holberton School bootcamp. There is no online option for the program.

What does Holberton School cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition for the Holberton School is $45,000 for the first year and $40,000 for the second. Students can pay for the bootcamp upfront or make payments by trimester or month.

Students can also defer their tuition payment by participating in Holberton’s income share agreement (ISA). Once employed in any position or role, graduates in the ISA plan owe 17% of their monthly income. This is the case if their gross income is at or above $3,333 per month or $40,000 per year. Students make monthly payments until they pay off their tuition. If a graduate cannot pay the full tuition after 42 months, the rest is forgiven. Students who are unemployed or earning below the $3,333 per month threshold can defer payments for up to 2 years.

To apply to Holberton School, students fill out a short application and complete a few small projects and tests. Typically, this takes about 2 hours. Applicants then spend about 2 weeks creating their first website, from configuring a server to writing HTML, CSS, and Javascript. After building a website, candidates participate in an onsite or remote Q&A and tech challenge. 

Ratings and reviews

Photo of Holberton School review

The online reviews of Holberton School are mixed, but mainly positive. Students on CourseReport greatly benefited from the project and peer-learning based curriculum. One student called his peers the “biggest resource at Holberton”. But, the program definitely requires “self-motivation”. He said it is not “for those who seek individual attention or need more of a direct interaction with an instructor.” 

One grad reports that many of his classmates received jobs and internships immediately after finishing the program. He noted “that the curriculum at Holberton will definitely get you ready for interviewing and getting a job.” Another reviewer said that Holberton could be a good alternative to a college degree and that the program prepared him “to learn infrastructure, learn languages, and get acclimated with the code base a lot faster.”

But, some students on SwitchUp and Career Karma felt that Holberton was too expensive and not worth the price of tuition. One grad said that she “didn’t get the value I needed from the school”. Another Holberton grad reports that due to the bootcamp’s rigor and length, “not everyone can do it” and that “a lot of people drop out.”

Alternatives to Holberton School

If you decide not to enroll in Holberton School, there are a number of alternative bootcamps and online resources that can help aspiring software engineers. 

  • Students can also consider Kenzie Academy. A full-time tech bootcamp, Kenzie offers in-person and online courses in 2 tracks: software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Likewise, Prime Digital Academy has full-time and part-time courses in UX design and software engineering.
  • App Academy, Nucamp, Hack Reactor, Fullstack Academy, Code Fellows, Launch Academy, and The Software Guild also offer online and in-person courses for their software engineering bootcamps.
  • One of the most well known bootcamps is General Assembly. They offer full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on a variety of topics like software engineering, data science, UX design, digital marketing, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • Thinkful, Byte Academy, Zip Code Wilmington, and Altcademy are bootcamps with tracks in software engineering and data science.
  • For students looking to do a part-time or full-time bootcamp, Galvanize, Covalence, Turing, devCodeCamp, and Coding Dojo offer both choices.
  • Like Holberton School, Lambda School and Rithm School offer income share agreements to defer payments for their bootcamps.
  • Codesmith is a software engineering bootcamp with online prep and intro courses and on-campus immersive programs in New York City and Los Angeles.
  • Aspiring software engineers and web developers can also consider CodeX Academy, a self-paced coding bootcamp with mentorship opportunities. Learn more about CodeX Academy in our review.
  • Codecademy is one of the most popular coding programs online. They provide free courses on many different programming languages. They also offer membership options ranging from $20 to $40. Learn more about Codecademy in our review.
More alternatives
  • You can check out Udacity and Springboard. These are online educational platforms that students can use to brush up on the basics or advance their current tech skills. Read more about Udacity and Springboard in our reviews.
  • edX is one of the largest online learning platforms. They have courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT as well as big tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.
  • Students can also check out Coursera, Treehouse, egghead, and Pluralsight, which provide courses on a variety of topics.
  • Another option is Grand Circus, which teaches courses on Java, front-end, and C# .NET. Their campuses are in Michigan, but they also offer online options.
  • Likewise, Tech Elevator, Epicodus, and Redwood Code Academy are software engineering bootcamps with online and on-campus options.
  • Or, consider Kal Academy, which works with women and underrepresented groups on software engineering, web dev, and data.
  • An online learning platform with over 100,000 video courses in a wide variety of topics, Udemy allows students to pick & choose classes, often paying around $10 per class.
  • GrowthX Academy is an online bootcamp with courses in growth marketing, UX design, and sales and business development.
  • Offering online and in-person courses, Flatiron School has tracks in software engineering, as well as UX design, data science, and cybersecurity analytics.  
  • SoloLearn, freeCodeCamp, and W3Schools are free alternatives for people looking to learn programming languages.
  • You can also check out Bubble no-code bootcamps to learn how to make products without coding. Learn more about Bubble in our review.

How does Holberton School compare to Pathrise?

Holberton School is a bootcamp for people who are interested in learning how to become a software engineer. At Pathrise, job-seekers in our program should already have a background in their field of interest so that they can participate fully in our workshops, which prepare students for the questions they will see in their technical interviews.  

All of our workshops and sessions are live, as well as recorded, so fellows can review them afterwards and continue learning. Our program is flexible. There are only 4 hours of group sessions per week and fellows can schedu;e 1-on-1 sessions as needed. We personalize our curriculum to target each fellow’s specific needs. The Pathrise income share agreement is just 9% of their first year’s salary and we never require upfront payments or deposits.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps people land their dream job in tech through 1-on-1 mentorship. If you are interested in working with any of our mentors to get help with your technical and behavioral interviews or any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise. 

Apply today.

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