Does Accrediting Your Bootcamp Matter?
August 16, 2022
In the past decade or so, bootcamps have surged in popularity not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world. Bootcamps are short, intensive courses that aim to impart practical skills in a given area (usually a tech field). Because they are generally industry-focussed and more affordable, bootcamps are likely to continue increasing in demand, particularly if the current shortage of skilled tech workers persists.
According to a study by Course Report, around 24,975 students in the United States graduated from bootcamps in 2020, an increase of 39 percent from the previous year. These students were enrolled in 97 full-time bootcamps that were taught both virtually and in person. Keeping in mind that there were around 93,427 computer science graduates in the same year, it is clear that bootcamps are quickly becoming a hot place to acquire technical skills.
While most degree-granting institutions have accreditation of some kind, only a small number of bootcamps have successfully pursued accreditation. These include the Denver-based Turing School of Software and Design, which was accredited by the Accredited Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET). In 2021, the New York City Data Science Academy received accreditation from the same agency.
Most bootcamps are not accredited partly due to their relative novelty, sometimes shaky finances, temporary instructors, and frequently, the speed with which they need to change their curriculum in order to keep up with industry standards in technology. In addition to these teething problems, the traditional accreditation process is expensive and time-consuming. A 2015 report by Vanderbilt University indicated that expenses related to accreditation and compliance can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars even for small colleges, which already contain a professional academic administrative staff to support the process.
Some bootcamp founders may choose not to give accreditation much thought. After all, if your bootcamp is not accredited, you have the leeway to make your curriculum as flexible as you wish. In addition, you get to focus on creating a curriculum that is relevant for an evolving technology landscape.
However, the benefits of getting your bootcamp accredited are much greater compared to those of not doing so. To begin with, accreditation is one of the surest measures of the quality and depth of learning. Imagine you are an employer seeking to recruit a qualified data scientist for your company. You have two candidates: One with a master’s degree in data science from a higher education institution and another who is self-taught and has attended some unaccredited bootcamps. Who among the two candidates are you going to instinctively feel more confident about?
As an employer, your goal is to identify the candidate with the right skills in the most efficient manner. If, for instance, a candidate has a master’s degree from an institution that is accredited in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), you automatically know that they have spent a certain amount of time acquiring skills in your area of interest. On the other hand, if someone has undergone unaccredited training, he/she will need to explain the level of their skills. If you are a potential employee, having to explain your skill level is already a disadvantage. And as an employer, ascertaining the skill level of such an employee is both time- and resource-intensive.
Accreditation enables bootcamp founders to package the value they offer in ways that employers can seamlessly understand, no matter where they are based. For instance, if your bootcamp offers a program that is accredited in the European system (ECTS), its graduates do not have to worry about explaining their skill sets to future employers. By virtue of having an accredited master’s degree from your bootcamp program, their credits will be exactly the same as those of a student who attended a typical university in Europe.
There is clearly a need for more regulation and accreditation in the bootcamp space, as well as the EdTech space in general. As a matter of fact, a survey by Indeed indicates that 98% of employers would like to see more oversight and accreditation of bootcamps.
Using proprietary software, Woolf is the first global collegiate university to allow qualified bootcamps to join as member colleges and issue accredited programs. For instance, Woolf recently partnered with Scaler, an Indian EdTech startup founded in 2019 that is now valued at $700 million USD, to streamline and launch an MS degree program in computer science that is accredited using the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).
As a member college of Woolf, Scaler is helping to transform higher education by creating timely education programs that align with today’s workforce. Students in this program will be awarded ECTS credits that are transferable to universities in over 60 countries globally and that are widely recognized by international employers.
At present, Scaler is offering specializations in both Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The programs are 18 months long, and their main goal is to equip students with problem-solving skills in the modern workplace. At the end of the program, students will have completed 90 ECTS credits and will receive a Master’s degree, just as if they had attended any other European university. These credentials will open doors for graduates to seek work opportunities across more geographies.
Getting accredited doesn’t have to be a slow or financially ruinous undertaking. At Woolf, we can help you get accredited at a fraction of the cost in weeks, not years.