High School to $100K

If you live in the United States and are about to graduate high school, we have a proposal for you: learn with us for around 1 to 2 years full-time[1], and we can help you launch a career-defining Software Engineer job that pays around $100,000[2]. In return, we just ask for 18% of your first year’s salary after you start collecting paychecks. That’s it and you don’t pay us anything until then.

Who We Are

We’re an online program for learning software engineering and built for those who want to start a career in programming. We’ve spent the past 6 years[3] teaching thousands of students from around the world, and over time have refined our curriculum to be industry-leading.

At the core, we are about Mastery-Based Learning (MBL). We are the only program, online or in-person, who teaches in a MBL pedagogy and it’s the secret to our student success. Our bottom-up, assessment-led MBL curriculum allows our graduates to get jobs that pay around $100,000 on average. In certain cities, it’s much higher: over $110,000 for San Francisco area, and over $120,000 for New York City[2].

No other program comes close to these results.

Our Proposal
for High School Students

We believe that we can take our pedagogy, curriculum, and school and use it to solve one of the most pressing problems today: the exploitation of higher education.

Our proposal is simple: if you’re graduating high school, learn with us instead of immediately going to college, and we’ll help you make around $100,000 in base salary in about a year or two.

For those who demonstrate financial need, we can also issue loans up to $10,000 to purchase new laptops, high-speed internet access, desks, chairs, relocation costs, or anything else one might need to successfully complete our curriculum.

We’re ready to take all the risk upfront because we feel confident in the combination of studious learners and our school. Our business model only works when you're successful, so we're going to do everything we can to help you succeed.

Another Path Besides College

Our proposal doesn't ask that high school graduates skip college entirely; participants can always go to college after they finish Launch School and after they start making a salary. What we want to provide for studious high school students is another path immediately after graduation.

On average, our U.S. based Capstone graduates make over $110k and receive their accepted offer within 10 weeks of graduation. We want to use what we’ve built over the past 6 years to address the higher education crisis.


More and more high school graduates are starting to realize that graduating college doesn’t necessarily result in a good job[5]. Student loan debt continues to accelerate to the point that financial experts are predicting the next recession will be triggered by this burgeoning student debt[6]. College graduates are finding themselves inundated in student loan debt, but can’t land a job to pay back that debt[7]. College loan debt is also the only type of debt that cannot be relieved through bankruptcy; you cannot get rid of student loan debt, ever.

Many universities prey on lower-income families by granting loans now in exchange for a degree later, with the implication that the degree will somehow result in a job. Years later, students and their families end up with a questionable degree and still no job, and the implied path to the middle class never materializes. Meanwhile, the university booked their tuition and the bank has secured an indelible loan that the student-borrower will spend the next several decades of their life paying back, whether they have the resources to do so or not. This pushes the people most at risk into a downward financial spiral from which they can’t escape.

Finally, shifting government funding away from universities has resulted in increased tuition and a focus on student retention. Rising tuition means more student debt, and a focus on retention forces universities to pass students who do very little actual studying. This has resulted in severe grade inflation and a devaluation of the college degree. As a result, many leading companies, like Google and IBM, have updated their hiring policy to no longer require a college degree in many of their new hire roles.

What can be done to alleviate all these issues in today's higher education system? We believe that this proposal is one possible solution.

Our Teaching Pedagogy

We’ll summarize our pedagogy on this page, but we’d like to encourage you to explore the rest of this website to see how our entire program works in detail. We also have a lot of student success, and their stories are scattered throughout the website.

There are two phases to our curriculum: Core Curriculum and Capstone.

Core Curriculum

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. The Core Curriculum usually takes 8 - 16+ months to complete 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).


After completing the Core Curriculum and passing all assessments, students enter Capstone. 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 7+ months of full-time focus, and possibly even longer. Capstone's pedagogy moves away from MBL and goes back to synchronous instructor-led instruction[4]. The first 4 months are classroom instruction Monday-Friday all day; after that, there will be a Career Search process, where we work with each student intimately on procuring the best possible job.


Normally, the standard cost of the Core Curriculum is $199/month and Capstone is 18% of first year salary. We have these two different pricing models to reflect the different pedagogies[4] at each stage of the learning journey. We call this "pedagogy-led pricing", which means the pricing has to fit the pedagogy.

For this program for high school graduates, we are giving all participants a full scholarship to the Core Curriculum and only charging 18% of first year salary. The minimum fee is $18k (we're targeting jobs that pay $100k).

You don't have to start paying anything until you start collecting paychecks, and we'll work with you on a reasonable and no interest payment plan. For example, paying back $15,000 over 2 years would result in a $625 monthly payment.


You’ll be assigned working software engineers as mentors while you’re going through Launch School. These mentors work at industry-leading companies and will meet with you periodically to help answer questions and stay on track. They'll also share how what you're currently learning applies in their daily work and give context for why you're learning what you're learning. Below are some of our mentors (shown in random order).

Josh Nelson Josh Nelson
Software Engineer
Grant Reed Grant Reed
Software Engineer
Michael Mentele Michael Mentele
Software Engineer
Myriad Genomics
Elise Olivares Elise Olivares
Software Engineer
Jessica Battle Jessica Battle
Software Engineer
Tannr Allard Tannr Allard
Software Engineer
Florence Liang Florence Liang
Software Engineer
Julius Zerwick Julius Zerwick
Software Engineer II
Nitin Savant Nitin Savant
Software Engineer
Branch Messenger
Sunny Beatteay Sunny Beatteay
Software Engineer II
Jocie Moore Jocie Moore
Software Engineer
Minerva Project
Jason Overby Jason Overby
Software Engineer III
Walmart Labs

Not A Charity

We’re not starting a new charity, but building a business model that aligns our school strictly with the most measurable and undeniable student outcomes — salaries. We’re not beholden to any donors, investors, or anyone else. This is our business model, and we’re only beholden to the students who will be paying us. Our proposal doesn’t have any government mandates or corporate leanings; we are aligning ourselves with you — when you’re successful, we make money.

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System Requirements

Since our program is 100% online, all you need is a computer and high speed internet. If accepted and you don’t have a computer or high speed internet, we can help with financial assistance. Please don’t allow these limitations to stop you from applying if you meet the other requirements. If accepted, we will help you finish the program.

Who We’re Looking For

This proposal is only for US Citizens or US Permanent Residents (Green Card holder). We’re currently looking for high school students with the following characteristics.

Mandatory Attributes:

  • Juniors or Seniors in high school expecting to graduate this or next year
  • Around top 20% of class or higher
  • Superior writing ability
  • Superior speaking ability
  • Demonstrated persistence and
    follow-through in their work
  • Interested in pursuing a career as a software engineer
  • Friendly and eager to help others
  • Willingness to relocate to San Francisco/Bay Area or New York City (or another tech hub)

We’d like to especially encourage students from traditionally under-represented groups to apply:

  • Students from low-income households
  • Students of high schools with low graduation or low college attendance rates
  • Female or identifies as non-binary/transgender
  • Members of ethnic or racial groups under-represented in tech

More Information

If this program sounds interesting, enter your email below and someone will get in touch. You can also email us directly at hello@launchschool.com

How to Apply

In order to be admitted in this program, applicants should complete the following:

  • Fill out and submit the initial interest form[?]
  • Complete the free Preparatory Courses[?]
  • Complete the final application form[?], which will require:
    • Official high school transcripts
    • Proof of US citizenship or US permanent residence status
    • Three (3) letters of recommendation[?]
    • Letters of agreement from parents / legal guardian


It differs in several ways:

  • we’re giving a full scholarship to high school graduates through the Core Curriculum. The courses and curriculum, however, is the same; participants still have to take the same courses, pass the same assessments, and complete the same assignments.
  • we’re also pre-accepting participants into Capstone. In our normal program, Capstone admissions is determined towards the end of the Core Curriculum and contingent upon how the student performs in the Core Curriculum. In this program for high school graduates, we’re pre-accepting participants into Capstone.
  • we’re assigning you mentors.
  • we’re assigning you into groups. Since all participants will be working on Launch School full-time, you’ll meet periodically with your mentor and group to make sure you’re continuing to make progress and help address any issues.
  • because of the pre-acceptance into Capstone, we’re also able to offer loan assistance for those in need upfront, even prior to completing the Core Curriculum.

Everything else remains the same. We are taking our proven, battle-tested, curriculum and pedagogy and inviting studious high school graduates to participate with no risk upfront.

In summary, the differences between this program for high school graduates and our regular program are:

Yes, we require that all participants dedicate full-time attention to Launch School. We believe in our curriculum and the results it can achieve, and we’d rather loan you money so you can focus on learning instead of you working part-time to pay bills.

If you can focus your attention in the short-term, it will pay off handsomely in the long-run.

Yes, but every participant must be accepted individually. We cannot do group-based admissions. We’ve had a lot of experience working with teams or pairs of students who start Launch School concurrently, including spouses, roommates, colleagues, siblings, and even father-son pairs. Despite a conscious effort to work together in every case, the group members progressed at a different pace from one another. This is the key to Mastery-based Learning: you must progress at a pace that fits you and be ok with that. Artificially aligning one’s pace through the curriculum goes against the key pedagogical feature of Mastery-based Learning.

We’re currently looking for high school juniors or seniors who are about to graduate high school. We are not currently looking for those who have already graduated high school. If you were home schooled or have some other exceptional circumstance, please send us an email: hello@launchschool.com. If you already graduated high school, we invite you to participate in our regular program.

We will grant full scholarship to the Core Curriculum for 2 years. If you’re making good progress and the 2 years run out, we will work with you. If you decide to stop working on the curriculum, we will consider you to have dropped out from the program.

If you decide during the Preparatory courses that this isn’t for you, you don’t owe us anything and can stop anytime. The preparatory courses are the courses to get you familiar with basic programming concepts and serve as the pre-requisite to the Core Curriculum.

If during the Core Curriculum you decide that this program isn’t for you or you want to stop, we just ask that you pay back the duration that you spent in the Core Curriculum. For example, if you spent 2 months with us and decide that it’s not for you, you just owe us $398.

If during Capstone you decide to stop, there will be some fees involved. Exceptions to the fee include documented medical emergencies, bereavement of an immediate family member, etc. In those cases, we will work with you to complete Capstone at a later time.

Yes, absolutely. We will work with you to come up with a payment schedule that works for you. For example, if you received a $100,000 job offer, your fee to us would be $15,000. We could do a payment schedule of $625/month for 24 months (no interest).

Borrowing to attend college is far more expensive. If you attend college even for a few months and quit, you’ll still be on the hook for the full tuition for the entire semester. At Launch School, the cost is very minimal if you find that this isn’t a good fit.

Loans that you take out for college are extremely bank-friendly in that they can never be dealt with through bankruptcy or other means. This makes lenders very willing to lend out lots of money to students who need to pay higher and higher tuition fees. Student loan lenders don’t care at what institutions student-borrowers are spending their tuition dollars and also don’t care for what result. In contrast, our loans are subject to normal bankruptcy regulations and so we must be far more scrupulous about how much we lend and to what end. We are lending you money because we can see that you can easily pay us back, not because there is some government regulation protecting the loan.

The reason we are confident in your ability to pay us back despite not having a long work or credit history is our belief in the opportunities that will result when we combine your work ethic with our curriculum and pedagogy.

Besides NYC and SFBA, we are also optimistic about Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Toronto. We may be able to consider other cities for exceptional candidates or situations.

You can read more about both, and many other interesting facts about our school, on the rest of this website.

Unfortunately, at this time we can only take high school students who are US Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Unfortunately, we can only take high school students in the United States. Exceptions can be made for children of US diplomats, military, and other US ex-pats living abroad who are US Citizens.

We invite you to participate in our regular program if you reside outside of the United States.

We've been teaching people to code for over 6 years and we are one of the oldest "learn to code" training programs. Read more about our story here: From Bootcamp to Mastery: A Five Year Jouney

On top of that, we have had many successful graduate stories and our salaries are the highest in the industry. See our Results & Outcomes page for more information.

Finally, if you have any more doubts or questions, you can always reach out to us at hello@launchschool.com.