The Capstone Program is an optional, admissions-based, and final phase for students who have completed the Core Curriculum, which is our Mastery-Based Learning courses. The goal of the Capstone Program is to give students an intense finishing experience that results in a career-launching job. Because the end goal of Capstone is very ambitious, it requires in total 4 to 6 months of full-time focus. The first 3 months will be classroom instruction Monday-Friday all day; after that, there will be a 1-3 month Career Search process. All participants are selected among our top students from the Mastery-Based courses. It's not uncommon for Capstone participants to call it the hardest thing they've ever done. The projects, graduates and salaries coming out of Capstone are outstanding and rival those at top tier universities.
The Capstone Program is a transition away from Mastery-Based Learning with the goal of applying already-mastered fundamentals to higher level concepts. Participants will be exposed to rigorous algorithmic thinking and problem solving that top employers demand. This is the next step in your learning journey after mastering fundamentals. As a part of the process, we will also guide you through a significant capstone project that will highlight your engineering competency and help you stand out. To give a rough example of the type of projects we're aiming for here: previous participants have given talks at major conferences about their projects. You may or may not give a talk about your capstone project, but it won't be another Rails/Angular/React application -- it'll be far more sophisticated and will showcase your ability as an engineer.
At this point, most of you have been with us for a very long time, and we've spent enough time with you to be confident in your ability. We will invest in you first, and pour all our resources in you and align ourselves to your success. We'll collect a percentage of your first year's salary as a fee when you accept your job offer. You don't pay us anything until then. We have even issued no-interest loans to participants who need it while going through Capstone.
To participate in this program, you should understand that:
Capstone cohorts start a handful of times throughout the year, and the application deadline is typically about 1 month prior to the cohort start date. The Capstone application is at the end of course 239. For further inquires regarding Capstone, please email email@example.com (but please read the FAQ below first).
In general, we're looking for the following attributes:
Along with the above, we're also looking for people who:
No, you should be job ready just by completing our courses, without Capstone. However, the goal of the Capstone program is to leverage our instructors to maximize your time and energy, so that you'll get the best job possible, and land not just any job. The goal is to get a great position for the start of your software engineering career.
The scheduled Capstone coursework is 13 weeks. We also would like for people to expect a 1-3 month career search process after the coursework. The total Capstone duration is 4 to 6+ months.
The Capstone Program is drastically different from even the best coding bootcamps in several dramatic ways.
First, most coding bootcamps spend instructor and lecture time covering fundamental topics that we cover in our Mastery-based courses; that is, coding bootcamps teach topics we treat as pre-requisites to Capstone. That means Capstone is able to cover much more advanced concepts and are able to have much more engineering-centric discussions. Capstone projects are far and beyond any projects that even the top bootcamps are producing. We get these results because we force people to learn the fundamentals first before entering Capstone. In fact, it's not uncommon to see projects that we cover in the courses before Capstone to be on par with some final projects from other bootcamps. That is, projects that Launch School students do before entering Capstone is about the same level of complexity as the final projects of some bootcamps. Now imagine how the final Capstone project compares.
Second, Capstone is modeled after a university-level Master's program, with intense discussions and research-oriented projects. This also means the cohorts are very small and intimate. On the other hand, coding bootcamps are modeled after traditional factory-style education and are built to mass produce high quantities of graduates. For example, a typical coding bootcamp will have 30+ students per cohort and graduate hundreds students per year. The Launch School Capstone cohorts number from 9-12 participants and we graduate around 30 students per year.
Last, the goals are very different. Coding bootcamps aim to get people into their first programming job. Capstone's goal is to launch careers at the top companies. We do this by only admitting students who have mastered fundamentals and we then put them into an intense, intimate, and focused environment that pushes the boundaries of their capability. This type of program only makes sense for the most studious of students who have long-term ambitions of building a long-lasting career as Software Engineers.
Because of the dramatic difference in the students and in the topics covered and program goals, the salaries coming out of Capstone are significantly higher than the top bootcamps, and rival that of top universities. That's the Capstone difference.
We will cover a lot of topics and skills, but the major ones are:
We may do open source projects, work on real production apps, ask you to read books and research papers, or take other courses, attend conferences and community events, etc.
In most other one on one mentoring programs, you're assigned a mentor who will work with you one on one through fundamentals. This is great, but we believe that walking you through the fundamentals is not the best use of a mentor's time - this is a lengthy, circular and oftentimes repetitive phase that's best spread out in months. If money is no object, then hiring a mentor may be a valid choice, but for most people, there's a much better way. While learning fundamentals, effort and practice are more important than high-level guidance. Most other programs tend to either skip the fundamentals and have mentors work with you on projects too early, in which case your knowledge will stay on the surface and tied to a language / framework. Or, they don't go deep enough and don't quite take you far enough, because an experienced developer's time is very expensive. Our courses are staffed and supported by TAs, who help you get unstuck when you need it. We save instructor time until Capstone, because that's where we believe the most impact can be made.
In our Mastery-Based Learning courses + Capstone model, you'll be working on a much higher level on much more interesting and challenging projects. And finally, our no-upfront payment model ensures that our incentives are aligned with yours to force us to fully focus on your results.
To learn more about our Mastery-Based Learning courses, read the faq.
No. It's really really important to have solid fundamentals before you start the Capstone program. We've been teaching beginners for a while now, and the number 1 mistake that beginners make is attempting to learn more advanced topics without solid understanding of the basics. Our curriculum is designed so that you'll have well rounded skills when you finish, then if you want to take the Capstone program, you'll really fly. If you've been self learning and feel you are ready, you may be able to go through our courses fast, and all you have to do to qualify for Capstone is excel in the assessments.
Yes, we're happy to work with you on a payment plan once you get your job.
We'll ask you to do your own job search before entering this program. Once you start, we want to be able to fully invest in you to help you succeed, knowing that our goals are the same. Otherwise it'll be difficult to say precisely how much we have contributed in the process. Please only enter the program if you agree to the terms.
To participate in Capstone, you'll sign an Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) that is legally binding. But besides the legal consequences, it's our hope that after spending so much time with us and seeing the investment that we make in you, you'll treat us fairly. If you're accepted into Capstone, that means we believe in you and put our trust in you.