App Academy vs. Lambda School: Which Should You Choose?

The choice is pretty clear

App Academy and Lambda School are both coding bootcamps that offer full-stack web development programs online. Both programs offer deferred tuition options, have live lecture, pair programming, career support, and more. However, although both programs have elements in common, there are a lot of important differences you should consider when making a decision on which to attend.

So which school is best? Here is a full breakdown of the important differences between App Academy* and Lambda School’s Full-Stack Web Developer tracks:

This matters because: According to the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS), the regulatory body that approves schools to operate in New York, licensing is needed to “ensure the overall educational quality of the programs offered will provide students with the necessary skills to secure meaningful employment and to protect students’ financial interests.” App Academy has been approved and licensed by both BPSS and BPPE, the regulatory bodies for the states of New York and California. This means that App Academy has met the requirements stated above to provide students with the skills necessary to secure meaningful employment. Lambda School on the other hand is not currently licensed to operate by the these regulatory bodies. This is important because it means that Lambda School has not proven it has met these requirements and is therefore operating illegally in both California and New York.

This matters because: This is a very important difference to take note of. App Academy considers a student placed only if they’re hired as a full-time employee. If a student gets an internship or a contract job, it is not considered a job placement and is not counted. Lambda School, on the other hand, does not appear to focus on full-time outcomes and all placement data published counts part-time, contract, or internships as placements. This means that instead of focusing on getting you a full-time salaried job, they are satisfied with you accepting any type of employment (part-time, contract, internship work). Accepting part-time, contract, and internship work may seem enticing to start earning right away, but it only extends time out from landing a full-time job that is much more likely to lead to stronger future earnings and career growth.

This matters because: Your job prospects are often only as strong as your network. Attending App Academy not only immediately increases the volume of your network, but the quality of it as well. Since 2016, more App Academy grads have been hired as software engineers at Google than UC Berkeley (ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the #1 graduate Computer Science program). A large alumni network means more job referrals, giving you priority in the application process. It also means companies will be more familiar with the caliber of education from that program, so there’s less of a requirement to sell what you’ve learned. Attending a newer program, without a strong alumni network will significantly increase time to job, salary, and the tier of company willing to hire you. Lambda School no longer publicizes their number of students placed.

This matters because: The best bootcamp graduates command the highest salaries, and App Academy alums have been verified to make the highest starting salaries of any program. This data point speaks to the quality of the curriculum at App Academy, which has been crafted over six years and influenced by the biggest names in tech. It’s important to note that the majority of App Academy students seek jobs in San Francisco and New York, where salaries are higher than national averages. That being said, although Lambda School has students nationwide, the majority appear to reside in major metropolitan areas and therefore the salary gap is still quite large. Another important factor is that figures for Lambda School come from small sample sizes compared to App Academy, therefore the likelihood you actually earn the promoted median starting salaries is significantly higher at App Academy.

This matters because: A large network of hiring partners is important not only because it means you’re more likely to get hired out of the bootcamp, but it also means you have a lot more options to choose from. Whether you’re interested in joining a 1,000+ person company with clear structure, or a new startup with a smaller team, you have that choice available to you. The same goes for the industry the company is in as well. With over 1,000 hiring partners, you immediately gain an advantage with over 10 times the opportunities of getting hired out of App Academy as opposed to Lambda School. Alumni working at these partner companies are also a huge asset to new grads as they can offer advice and guidance to help you throughout your job search process.

This matters because: App Academy has been a leader amongst coding bootcamps since it started in 2012. A major reason for this is its focus on outcomes first. Programs that didn’t take this approach struggled over time, with two of the longest-standing bootcamps, Dev Bootcamp and Iron Yard, closing down this past year. What’s important to note is that success in year one, does not mean success in the following years. There is a lot App Academy has learned over the past 8 years and the curriculum and course structure continue to adapt over time to meet market demands. As a student thinking about what bootcamp to attend, it’s important to think about the longevity of the program you’re joining and to focus on those that have already figured out the formula. Attending a bootcamp that hasn’t had the experience of seeing a wide array of challenges is a risky choice as they’ll be learning while you go through the program.

This matters because: When you sign a contract with Lambda School, your Income Share Agreement (ISA) will be sold to a third party. This is important because it removes the significance of the ISA, which is to have a mutual incentive that holds the bootcamp equally accountable to your success. When an ISA is sold to a third party, the school gets paid immediately and therefore has little incentive to help you succeed after the program. App Academy on the other hand, doesn’t sell your contract to a 3rd party, holding itself 100% accountable to you and your success after the program.

This matters because: Getting a job can be a grueling process. There are ups and downs, and to start, you’ll typically hear many more no’s than yes’. The important piece is that you keep going and find the job that’s right for you. App Academy continually helps students find jobs for 12 months from graduating. When looking at the bigger picture, App Academy not only places more students in jobs overall, but the more important piece is that 100% of those jobs are full-time positions. Lambda School counts part-time, internship, and contract work as a job placement, while App Academy does not.

This matters because: Lambda school’s completion percentage ranges between 52% and 80% from cohort-to-cohort. They no longer publicize this information, but according to their CIRR report from 2018, only 52% graduated on time and 78.5% at 150% of the reported program length. What this means is that anywhere from 20%-48% of students who enroll in the program don’t actually finish it. There are a lot of important factors that lead to high student completion rates, and it usually stems from instruction quality, admissions selectivity, and the quality of the course structure overall. When considering a program to attend, it’s important that you consider completion rate because you don’t want to waste time in a program that isn’t guiding you on a path to success.

This matters because: Every week you’re in a full-time course like App Academy or Lambda School, it means it’s a week you can’t be working. So time is of the essence. That’s why App Academy has spent years developing a curriculum that delivers exactly what you need to know to get hired in as short a period as possible. App Academy, whose 12 week in-person program has a placement rate of 96%, has expanded its online curriculum to 24 weeks to ensure high placement in an online environment. While the difference between 24 weeks and 9 months may not seem like a lot, but those additional months of class means that much longer out of a job. Given App Academy’s average salary numbers, that means you’d lose over $13,000 due to the additional time it takes to complete the Lambda School program.


Now that we’ve discussed differences, here are some of the similarities between the programs, which are mainly logistical.


In terms of the logistics of the program including tuition, schedule, location, etc., both App Academy and Lambda School appear similar, except for Lambda’s whopping $30K upfront price tag. When taking a deeper look at outcomes and your likelihood of landing a high-paying, full-time job, the data is clearly in favor of App Academy. At the end of the day, it’s important to make the decision that you believe is right for you. The goal of this article is simply to bring awareness to important factors that you should consider when deciding which bootcamp to attend.

Interested in applying to App Academy? Apply here

Article based on Lambda School’s reported data as of 12/13/2018.

*The data listed is based on App Academy’s in-person Software Engineer track.

**The data for this metric is based on App Academy’s online Software Engineer track.

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