For Employers

Fundamentals + Capstone == Software Engineers

Core Curriculum

Mastery of Fundamentals

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Duration: 8 - 16+ months

~ 1200 - 1800+ hours

Mastery-based Learning


Engineering & Excellence

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Duration: 3 - 6 months

~ 700 - 1000 hours


Most "bootcamps" or training programs aim to produce what we call the "minimal viable developer" (MVD), which as the name implies, is someone with the minimum skillset to sneak into a job role with the word "developer" in the title. MVDs know the buzzwords, but not the theory; they understand how to use libraries and frameworks, but not how they're engineered or why; they understand solutions when presented to them, but not the fundamental engineering problems at stake. MVDs are not Software Engineers.

The Launch School Core Curriculum plus Capstone Program aim to produce software engineers who have mastered fundamentals and are ready for professional-grade engineering challenges. The entire curriculum takes 1-2+ years to complete, which immediately sets it apart from bootcamps who measure their curriculum in months.

Mastery of Fundamentals

First, our students must work carefully through a large number of fundamental courses. In these courses, we take a Mastery-based Learning approach, where students must pass a series of rigorous assessments, including essay-oriented written exams, live 1on1 coding interviews, and take-home projects. This process usually takes 8 - 16+ months and ensures that students take their time to truly master the fundamentals. We take a "no compromise" stance here as the topics are core to higher level concepts and we do not allow students to pass if they have sub-par understanding. To learn more about our pedagogy in this phase, read more on our Mastery-based Learning page (if you prefer, there's also a video at the bottom of the page).

Capstone: Professional Software Engineering

After students complete all the fundamental courses in the Core Curriculum, we select the top students to participate in our Capstone Program. The Capstone Program is highly selective and extremely rigorous and goes well beyond any other training program. Capstone is the admissions-based "finishing" experience for Launch School students. It's instructor-led, team-based, and called "the hardest thing I've ever done" by most participants. Most Capstone graduates take between 1 to 2+ years of focused study to complete the entire Launch School curriculum. The results bear out that rigorous journey: the average salary for US-based Capstone graduates is $110,938.

A lot of employers ask us what the difference is between the Capstone Program and any other coding bootcamp. The Launch School Capstone Program is different from even the best coding bootcamps in several important 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 spend more time on engineering-centric discussions. Capstone projects are far and beyond any projects that even the top bootcamps are producing. Launch School gets 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 Core Curriculum to be on par with some final projects from other bootcamps. That is, projects that Launch School students do before entering Capstone are about the same level of complexity as the final projects of some bootcamps.

Second, Capstone is modeled after a university-level Master's program, with intense discussions and research-oriented projects. This 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 allow 30+ students per cohort and operate a cohort almost every month, graduating hundreds of students per year. The Launch School Capstone cohorts number from 9-12 participants and we graduate a few dozen students per year.

Last, the goals are very different. Coding bootcamps aim to place people into any tech-related job, whether it's programming or just programming-related (eg, evangelist, consultant, technical pm, etc). Capstone's goal is to launch careers at the top companies as Software Engineers. 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 differences in the students and in the topics covered and program goals, the salaries coming out of Capstone are significantly higher than even the top bootcamps, and rival that of top universities. That's the Capstone difference.

Read more about the Capstone Program here.

Get in Touch

If you're an employer and would like to hire our graduates, please reach out: