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

A review of Launch School as a software engineering bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now software engineering mentor at Pathrise. I work with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream job. Check out my review of Launch School.

What does Launch School do?

Launch School is an online bootcamp that teaches the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. Students begin by learning basic problem solving in JavaScript or Ruby. After becoming proficient in the language of their choice, they study the basics of web development, including HTTP, front-end vs. back-end, SQL, relational databases, and more. They can study other languages as they progress through the program as well. By the end of the course, students should be able to build libraries and frameworks as well as use tools such as Rails, Angular, and React.

There is no set curriculum, lecture, or instruction during the 8-16 months-long self-paced program. Instead, they provide a recommended a list of resources such as blogs, videos, and exercises to prepare students for assignments and projects. To move on to a new topic, students must demonstrate mastery of the previous one. They do this through written exams, 1-on-1 live coding interviews, and take home projects.

If students do not pass an assessment, reviewers offer detailed feedback for how they can improve before they try again. Launch School does not provide tutoring or 1-on-1 mentorship. Instead, they have staff TAs who offer feedback and monitor the course forums. If students get stuck on one of the problems, they can post questions. 


Once students complete the core curriculum, they can enroll in the optional capstone program. Admission is competitive and based on a student’s portfolio. This program takes 4-7 months of full-time work, or 800-1000 hours, to complete.

For the first 16 weeks, students participate in 8 hours of live instruction per day Monday-Friday. Lectures are not recorded so students must attend each class. Following that, they spend 1-3 months in the job search process. Candidates must be willing to find a job in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, or another approved location in order to be approved for the capstone course. 

Who is Launch School for?

Students with some experience in programming who are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer could benefit from the Launch School. The program is not a good fit for those who are new to programming or need a job quickly.

Launch School requires 12-24 months of work, so students should be ready to commit a fair amount of time. Prospective students should also note that they do not provide clear learning goals, 1-on-1 mentorship, or a cohort of peers. 

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

Taking the mastery-based learning core curriculum at Launch School costs $199 per month. Before enrolling, students need to complete the free prep course or prove that they meet the prerequisites. To register, students create an account, complete the prep course, and make their initial payment via credit card.

Those who are interested in the capstone program need to complete an application. Candidates must pass every assessment in the core curriculum. Then, they submit a portfolio of previous work and writing samples (such as blogs and essays). Finally, they participate in a behavioral interview with an instructor.

The current capstone fee is either an income share agreement (ISA) of 18% of a student’s first-year salary or $18,000, whichever is higher. Launch School also issues no-interest loans of up to $15,000 for participants who need it.

Ratings and reviews

Photo of Launch School review

Reviews of Launch School are generally positive. CourseReport grads benefited from the mastery-based curriculum. They felt like the Launch School curriculum adequately prepared them for technical interviews. One student noted, “even today, when I go for technical interviews, concepts from Launch School come to me naturally because they are imbued in my mind after so many exercises.”

On SwitchUp, another reviewer who praised the program’s pedagogical approach said that “the curriculum is quite long and challenging, but it is worth it if you are a serious learner”. Students and grads on a Reddit thread similarly praised the Launch School. One student reported that “I was most drawn to Launch School because of the transparency they give up front. It isn’t quick. It requires a lot of self-discipline.”

But, a grad on a different Reddit thread said Launch School “seems to assume that I signed up because I wanted a job and not to learn and spoke to me in an unfriendly tone via their forums.” The reviewer also felt that Launch School encourages the “slow path” because “they want to stay forever” and “charge you $200 per month”. Nonetheless, the student felt that the content was “well presented.”

Alternatives to Launch School

If you decide not to enroll in Launch School, you might consider one of the alternative bootcamps or online resources available below:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Covalence, Nucamp, Fullstack Academy, Turing, and Galvanize offer full-time and part-time software engineering bootcamps for students looking to learn in less time. 
  • Similarly, people can also consider App Academy and Hack Reactor. Both have in-person and online course offerings for aspiring software engineers.
  • Based in Chicago, Actualize provides a full-time bootcamp that can be taken in-person or online. The online option is live, so remote students can follow along with their Chicago-based peers.
  • Those enrolled at Lambda School, Holberton School, Byte Academy, and Rithm School can also use an ISA to finance the tuition for their software engineering bootcamps.
More alternatives
  • Thinkful, Coding Dojo, Codeworks, and Altcademy are also options for those looking to enroll in a software engineering bootcamp.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • People who are interested in online learning platforms should check out Coursera, Udemy, Treehouse, Ruby Koans, egghead, and Pluralsight, which offer free and low-cost courses on a wide array of topics.
  • You can check out Udacity and Springboard. These online educational platforms can be used to brush up on the basics or advance current tech skills. Read more about Udacity and Springboard in our reviews.
  • SoloLearn, freeCodeCamp, and W3Schools are free alternatives for people looking to learn programming languages.

How does Launch School compare to Pathrise?

Launch School is an online bootcamp, with courses for people who are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. While they do provide some job-seeking assistance to students enrolled in the extra capstone project, they do not offer 1-on-1 mentorship or instruction.

At Pathrise, our mentors have years of experience on both sides of the hiring table and fellows receive 1-on-1 support every step of the way. We provide assistance with every component of the job search process, including resume and LinkedIn optimization, portfolio building, technical and behavioral interview prep, cold emailing and reverse recruiting strategies, and templates for negotiating salary. The Pathrise ISA is just 9% of a fellow’s first-year salary and we never require upfront payments or deposits. 

The Pathrise program is flexible. There are only 4 hours of group sessions per week. Fellows can schedule 1-on-1 sessions with mentors when they need support. All of our lessons are live, as well as recorded, so fellows can review previous material and keep learning. 

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. If you are interested in working with our mentors to optimize your job search, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

Pathrise logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *