Capstone Program

The Capstone Program is an optional, admissions-based, and final phase for students who have completed through course 239 of 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 job hunt 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 frameworks and concepts. On top of that, 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(s), but it won't be another Rails/Angular/React application -- it'll be far more sophisticated and will showcase your ability as an engineer.

No Upfront Cost

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:

  • We're incentivized to help you compete for a top job at the best company possible, and your goal should be the same.
  • You must be able to learn full-time, often during evenings and weekends. Time commitment will be a minimum of 40 to 60+ hours/week.
  • You must be prepared to work really, really hard.

Requirements

  • You must be legally able to work in the United States (US citizen or Permanent Resident).
  • You must reside in the United States.
  • You must be able to conduct the job hunt process in either New York City or San Francisco/Bay Area.
  • You must have completed and mastered all the fundamental materials in the Launch School curriculum.
  • You must be available full-time for the entire duration of Capstone.

Logistics

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 hello@launchschool.com (but please read the FAQ below first).

Student Experiences

Capstone FAQ

In general, we're looking for the following attributes:

  • You have completed all our courses up to 239.
  • You have excelled on all the assessments.
  • You're actively looking for an engineering job.
  • You can make finding a job your top priority.
  • You must have significant time available to study.
  • You must be legally able to work and reside in the US.

Along with the above, we're also looking for people who:

  • ... have demonstrated extremely high work ethic.
  • ... are a pleasure to work with and be around.
  • ... have high character and integrity.
  • ... are professional and courteous.
  • ... know how to study and learn things deeply.
  • ... are well spoken and can communicate professionally.
  • ... have superior writing ability.

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 12 weeks. We also would like for people to expect a 1-3 month job hunt process after the coursework.

Most coding bootcamps cover fundamental topics that we teach in our Mastery-Based courses. We believe that when it comes to fundamentals, one cannot compromise on mastery, and therefore our Mastery-Based courses allow students the necessary time to reach a high level of proficiency. This is the key ingredient to a long-lasting career. After mastery of fundamentals, we invite people to Capstone, which is our take on the "bootcamp" model of teaching. However, Capstone is unlike any other bootcamp simply because we cover much more advanced concepts and are able to have much more engineering-centric discussions. It's almost more of a Master's program than a bootcamp. 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.

That's the Capstone difference.

We will cover a lot of topics and skills, but the major ones are:

  • Refresh and strengthen the fundamentals
  • Software architecture and system design
  • Classic software and engineering literature
  • Technical communication
  • Intermediate and advanced algorithms
  • Design, research and build your capstone project
  • Job research, interview preparation and practice

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. 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 mentoring 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.

We can't. We likely will have invested huge amount of time in you at that point, and we trust you will treat us fairly. If you think you may want to do this, please don't apply.