The 7 Best Online Coding Schools (and How to Choose One)

Maybe you’ve just started learning your first programming language and are looking to get more involved. Or maybe you’ve been dabbling in it for a while and want to kick things up a gear. Wherever you’re coming from, choosing from the range of online coding schools out there can be dizzying.

Do you go for a university degree in computer science, or would a certification be enough? Does it matter if the certification is from an accredited institution, or would an employer care about that? Should the school focus on technical skills—such as frontend developer skills or full-stack development—or more on the soft skills you’ll need to work as a professional programmer? Fear not—we’re here to help you out.

We’ve rounded up seven of the best online coding schools on the market. The programs these schools offer vary in title from Web Development to Software Engineering, differ in focus from technical to soft skills, can be fully accredited degrees or non-accredited certificates.

Because different schools approach teaching programming in different ways, we’ll discuss that first. By covering some of the factors and questions you might still be wrestling with as you try to decide, you’ll be well set to examine our top seven picks for online coding schools.

So, let’s get into it! If you’d prefer to skip ahead to a certain section, just use the clickable menu:

What kind of online coding school are you really looking for?

    1. Accredited vs non-accredited online coding schools
    2. Technical focus: Frontend vs. full-stack online coding schools
    3. Mentorship
    4. Curriculum design

Our top 7 picks for online coding schools:

    1. CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Program
    2. App Academy Online Software Engineering Immersive
    3. MIT xPRO Professional Certificate in Coding
    4. Flatiron School Software Engineering Bootcamp
    5. Thinkful Software Engineering Bootcamp
    6. Cornell Web Design and Development Certification Program
    7. BrainStation Web Development Bootcamp

Key takeaways

Before we start, if you’re coming in fresh to the world of web development, why not try your hand at coding to see how you like it? Hosted by one of our in-house developers Abhi, this video is a great starting point:

If you found that useful, then signing up to our free five-day short course will really help. In it, you can try coding different frontend design features, build your very first website from scratch, and get a handle on the building blocks of programming.

What kind of online coding school are you really looking for?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the top online coding schools we’ve found and the course and programs they offer, let’s ask the question: What kind of web development program do you really need? 

We’ll keep it pretty simple. If you’ve already had a think about whether you’re a good fit for programming, you’ll have an idea about what your needs and goals for a training program are.

In terms of how these apply to schools, you’ll want to take into account the following categories: accredited vs. non-accredited, technical focus, instruction and mentorship, and curriculum design. Ultimately the program you choose needs to meet your needs in each of these aspects.

1. Accredited vs. non-accredited online coding schools

Are you looking for a big, recognizable name on your resume? One which jumps out at hiring managers and reassures them of the quality of your education and skills? If so, then it’s worth your while focusing on a coding school connected to an accredited university.

At the same time, if you’re looking to become a developer in an industry that requires an official accredited certification, then this is the right path to go down. However, often this international recognition and prestige comes at a hefty price.

The world of tech education is quite different to that of conventional education, and there are many ways of verifying the quality of a coding school. Non-accredited institutions typically cost a lot less, and have shorter programs than their counterparts. They also allow the school to design a course which is more flexible and focused on the needs of the industry itself.

Essentially, if your career goals are more concentrated on getting started and becoming a job-ready developer quickly, as well as focusing on one particular area of programming itself, then non-accredited schools may be more up your street.

2. Technical focus: Frontend vs. full-stack online coding schools

Anyone who’s taken even a cursory glance at the world of web development knows that there are a vast number of coding languages, frameworks, and tools out there. Programmers are building systems and websites for every possible industry! Finding out which direction you’ll want to go will help you pick your program.

Because it’s one of the most popular and accessible ways to get into web development, a large number of online coding schools offer courses in frontend development. What better way to ease yourself into the world of programming than through building the part of websites you interact with every day? Choosing an educational provider that offers frontend development is also an excellent choice for those who want to get more into web and UX design.

Faced with the growing demand of companies and industries for programmers who have knowledge of the complete tech stack, many online coding schools offer full-stack development programs. If you’re not sure what this means, we have a guide to what a full-stack developer actually does.

While typically longer in duration than a frontend development course, the fact that the full spectrum of programming is covered means that you have increased opportunities to find your own direction or niche.

3. Mentorship

An issue that’s absolutely crucial if you’re comparing online coding schools is how much mentorship, guidance, and support they provide. Because you’re studying remotely, this is a much bigger factor for you than if you were learning to code in person.

Some institutions allow students to study and work on projects independently, checking in when they want, or with occasional instructor or mentor-led Q&A sessions.

Instructor-led courses mean that how much and how often you get feedback on your own work depends on the person in charge.

Programs which pair you up individually with a web development mentor allow you to reach out to them when needed if you need guidance and support.

If you’re learning programming without any kind of recognizable mentor elsewhere in your life, choosing a course that will give you a seasoned professional’s input and industry knowledge will give you the confidence you need to thrive.

4. Curriculum design

Online coding schools can completely vary in how they approach teaching development.

The form of this instruction could be pre-recorded lecture videos with structured assignments attached to them, or it could be live classes for students to attend, with set term times. Some programs might consist of a collection of pre-existing open-source materials structured into a lesson plan, while others will have bespoke learning materials.

Which of these will suit you best? The answer to that is the program which has gathered the materials in such a manner as to suit your own particular learning style.

To figure this out, the best thing to do is to ask the different institutions for a course outline so that you can get a better look at what they cover. On top of that, find out if teaching will be through videos (live or recorded), whether learning will be active or reading materials, and whether those are provided. If you’re a visual learner, your needs will be different from a reading/writing learner.

All in all, as you’ve seen over the past few sections, the online coding school and, indeed, the web development program you choose will all depend on your knowledge of yourself. This is not just where you want to go in your coding career, but also the support you’ll need, and how you want to learn that’s important to consider before committing to an enrollment.

Our top 7 picks for online coding schools:

Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s get into the juicy stuff! In no particular order, here are our seven picks. You’ll find different parts of the four factors discussed earlier in each of them.

Please note that in choosing our selection, we’ve concentrated on programs which can be finished in under two years.

1. CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Program

Duration: 4 months full-time, 7 months part-time

Price: $7,505-$7,900 USD

Who’s it for?

The CareerFoundry program is designed for beginners and anyone who wants to kickstart their software engineering career. It’s especially appealing to those who need flexibility to fit a course around the rest of the obligations in their life, as well as those who are looking for proper, individualized mentorship from an expert.

You’ll experience a complete immersion in all things programming: from the frontend basics to specialized insights into key areas, all while being able to work at your own pace. CareerFoundry emphasizes guidance and support, with a particular focus on breaking into a new career (and the support of a job guarantee, if you’re eligible). Among other things, this takes the form of 1:1 mentorship throughout and a job preparation course to cap the program off.

If you want a flexibly-priced, job-focused, fully-mentored program and you don’t need university accreditation, this could be just the program you’re looking for.

How does it work?

Learning kicks off with an introduction to web development course, where you’ll get to grips with two of the pillars of the web, HTML and CSS. Following that is the full-stack immersion course, which takes you through JavaScript and technologies such as Node.js (which allows you to run JavaScript on the backend) and native app development with the React library and the Angular framework. Lectures take place completely asynchronously, with reading and audio materials to support varied types of learning.

How long does it take to complete?

The course takes four months studying full-time, whereas part-time and flexible learning can take three to seven months to complete.

How much does it cost?

CareerFoundry offers different payment options, which affect the overall price. If you have the cash to pay for the Full-Stack Development Program upfront, the cost is $7,505. If you’d prefer to pay monthly (with $1,400 upfront), the total is $7,900. This includes all of the learning materials you’ll need, and the tools you will use are either free-to-use, or free for when and how you’ll use them during the program.

A neat benefit is the two-week trial period where if you enroll and pay, but then begin the course and realize it’s not for you, you’ll get refunded anything you’ve already paid.

On top of that, there’s a job guarantee that entitles you to a full refund if you meet the eligibility criteria and don’t land a developer job within six months of graduating from the program.

Resources

2. App Academy Online Software Engineering Immersive

Duration: 16 or 24 weeks full-time, 48 weeks part-time

Price: $20,000 USD

Who’s it for?

This school is well-designed for those who are truly starting web development (or software engineering, as you’ll find a lot of these courses labeled) from scratch. The course is designed to give you an excellent grounding in two of the most important full-stack coding languages, JavaScript and Python.

Students studying online will benefit from the wide range of support staff, with a Course Mentor, Teaching Assistant, and Module Instructor involved in your classes. Especially useful are the three weeks built into the course itself for preparing yourself and your final portfolio project for the job search.

How does it work?

Days are divided between morning live lectures, followed by peer programming and project work, a group review, and then homework. This strong structure helps students ease into the routine of the daily life of a web developer. Unsurprisingly for a course with a $20,000 price-tag that lets you start for free, there is a five-step application process to enrol.

How long does it take to complete?

Full-time students have the option of 16 or 24 weeks to complete the course. The part-time option (27.5 hours per week) takes 48 weeks to finish.

How much does it cost?

As mentioned earlier, the up-front cost of the program is an intimidating $20,000. However, one of the major selling points of App Academy is that they offer a deferred tuition model or income share agreement (ISA). This is where the school promises that you don’t have to pay for the program, not even a deposit, until you begin a job in the field paying at least $50,000.

Resources

3. MIT xPRO Professional Certificate in Coding

Duration: 16 weeks

Price: $6,950 USD for part-time MERN Certificate, $9,500 USD for full-time Professional Certificate

Who’s it for?

People looking for a web development certificate from not just an accredited institution, but one of the best-known ones in the world. On top of that, with this course you’ll have a professional coding certificate from MIT without exactly breaking the bank, considering that prices for similar programs can easily shoot past the $10,000 mark.

How does it work?

This online coding school is hosted by Emeritus, who provide this service for a number of the world’s top academic institutions. It’s important to note that while it gives you access to lectures from MIT faculty themselves, the career preparation part of the program comes from Emeritus.

How long does it take to complete?

Both courses at this coding school take 16 weeks to complete.

How much does it cost?

Prices start at $6,950 for the Full-Stack Development with MERN certificate, which is 15-20 hours per week over four months, which is for those both looking to start out or to up-skill their programming career.

The full-time Professional Certificate in Coding program also takes place over four months but at 35-45 hours per week and costs $9,500. There are a range of financing options, particularly for those based in the U.S.. 

Resources

4. Flatiron School Software Engineering Bootcamp

Duration: 15 weeks full-time, 20, 40, or 60 weeks part-time

Price: $16,900 USD

Who’s it for?

This online coding school offers a full-time software engineering course designed for those who want maximum accountability and investment, with live lectures keeping them on their toes and on track to graduate in just over three months. On top of that though, they also offer a flexible part-time version, where students work asynchronously, picking their own 1:1 meetings with their instructor.

How does it work?

The course offered is full-stack, meaning that you’ll first study frontend development before learning the backend, with JavaScript and Ruby as notable languages helping you work on both sides. Focus on APIs and applications, as well as the database language SQL will give you excellent backend development skills. 

In terms of the job search, they promise a weekly 1:1 meeting with your own Career Coach as you approach the end of the course, as well as access to an employer network.

How long does it take to complete?

The full-time course takes up nine hours per day including breaks, from Monday to Friday, having you completing it in 15 weeks. The part-time course is less defined and more flexible, allowing you to finish the course over 20, 40, or 60 weeks.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the course is $16,900, which can be paid in instalments with an Ascent or Climb loan (with interest accruing on top of that), or upfront if you have the cash lying around. Flatiron School also offers 35-50 Access Scholarships per month, with values of up to $3,000.

Resources

5. Thinkful Software Engineering Bootcamp 

Duration: 5-6 months

Price: $9,500 USD for part-time Flex program, $16,000-$19,909 USD for full-time Bootcamp

Who’s it for?

Similar to Flatiron, this online coding school promises to get you smoothly from a complete novice into your new career in software development. Simply put, if you’re looking for a complete bootcamp to teach you everything you need to know to be able to work in the job, this school promises it—at a price. For those about to enter the job market, their job preparation materials include unlimited technical tests, which is an important part of the web developer interview.

How does it work?

Thinkful’s curriculum is impressively full-stack. After starting with the typical frontend languages of HTML/CSS and JavaScript, it then moves to the server side with the database PostgreSQL and tools such as Knex.js. An important amount of emphasis is given to teaching students to work in the Agile methodology key to tech teams, as well as to personal branding for your job search.

Lectures and the video consultations with your mentor are conducted live, with other educational support provided through a live chat feature. While the educational support from the teaching assistants is particularly praised by graduates, the learning itself is more research and reading-intensive and not so hands-on, so may not suit all learning styles.

How long does it take to complete?

The bootcamp takes five to six months to complete, depending on whether you take it with a cohort and study full-time at 50 hours a week, or the Flex program where you learn part-time at 20-30 hours a week.

How much does it cost?

Total costs for the Software Engineering Bootcamp vary on your payment. If you like you can pay for the program with $16,000 upfront, or in monthly instalments of $3,250 at a total cost of $17,600.

A deferred tuition system means that you can pay nothing initially, but the total cost over time can stretch to $19,909. However, Thinkful claims that if you’re not hired within six months and qualify for their Tuition Refund Guarantee, the loan will be forgiven and you won’t owe anything. The part-time Thinkful Flex program is priced at $9,500.

Resources

6. Cornell Web Design and Development Certification Program 

Duration: 12 weeks (7-10 hours per week)

Price: $3,600-$3,900 USD

Who’s it for?

Essentially, this course is for those looking for a gentle introduction to frontend web development on their own terms, with a certification from an accredited institution. Like the MIT xPRO course, this online coding school also happens to be a part of one of North America’s most famous universities.

While many of the other options on this list are full-stack courses, the Cornell Program is not just focused on teaching you the frontend development tools you’ll need, but also some UX practices too. This means that the course is excellent for those looking to transition to becoming a frontend developer or a web designer too. However it’s worth noting the lack of a job preparation or career support element to this program.

How does it work?

This “design-first, coding second” program is split into six separate courses, each lasting two weeks. You’ll learn to build and style web pages with HTML and CSS, as well as responsive websites using jQuery. Relatively small (max 35 students), instructor-led classes help with your learning.

How long does it take to complete?

The entire Web Design and Development Certificate takes 12 weeks to complete. Even though the program is broken up into separate two-week courses, the classes are live, with set start dates.

How much does it cost?

Obtaining this certification from the Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science will set you back $3,600. This can be split up into three or six monthly payments, which would increase the total amount to pay to $3,750 or $3,900 respectively.

Resources

7. BrainStation Web Development Bootcamp

Duration: 12 weeks full-time, 10 weeks part-time

Price: $3,250 USD for part-time Certificate, $15,000-$15,936 USD for full-time Bootcamp

Who’s it for?

A “classic” career-change bootcamp, this is definitely one for those looking to swap jobs into working as a web developer. Unlike other coding schools whose emphasis is on solo learning, BrainStation’s web development bootcamp is particularly well-suited to those who work well learning with others, and have a bit of a social side. There is an emphasis on interacting with the community of your fellow classmates throughout the bootcamp.

How does it work?

As well as being an online coding school, BrainStation also offers in-person bootcamps in a number of cities in North America as well as one in London, England. A full-stack development bootcamp, it is broken up into five units. First you’ll learn the three pillars of the web (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), then backend programming with Node.js and mySQL, followed by an introduction to DevOps and professional development.

As well as live classes, there is an emphasis on the kind of collaboration that professional programmers will encounter in their teams: this involves students working on hands-on projects in breakout rooms with their classmates. BrainStation promise a jobs fair atmosphere at the Demo Day at the end of the bootcamp, however it remains to be seen how this works virtually.

How long does it take to complete?

The BrainStation Web Development Bootcamp is an intense program, taking up over 40 hours per week over 12 weeks. Because the lectures are live, the bootcamp has set start dates, with separate ones for the full- and part-time offerings. They also offer a part-time Web Development Certificate Course, which is ten weeks of class at 5 hours per week, mostly covering HTML and CSS.

How much does it cost?

The full-time bootcamp costs $15,000 if you pay up-front, with a 24-month monthly payment option costing at least $15,936 in total. The part-time certificate costs $3,250.

Resources

Key takeaways

  • Decide loosely on what your online coding school budget is, not just money but also time
  • Work out whether you’ll be really needing an accredited certificate or not
  • Think about what kind of teaching and learning will suit you best, and how much support and mentorship you’ll need to succeed

Once you’re clearer on these factors for yourself, examine each online coding school and their offerings. We’d also recommend you to get in touch with their program advisors! They’ll be able to answer any more questions about your particular needs, and give you more details about anything from tuition assistance, teaching methods, and how much of your time the course will take.

Not quite at that point yet and still learning about the world of web development? These articles may interest you:

 

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to web development and build your first website from scratch with our free, self-paced Web Development Short Course.

  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online web development events with industry experts.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and how you can become a qualified web developer in 4-7 months—complete with a job guarantee.

  4. Apply for one of 100 Career Change Scholarships before the end of June and get up to $1,295 off the CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Program.

What is CareerFoundry?

CareerFoundry is an online school for people looking to switch to a rewarding career in tech. Select a program, get paired with an expert mentor and tutor, and become a job-ready designer, developer, or analyst from scratch, or your money back.

Learn more about our programs