Aspiring tech professionals have a lot of options to consider, especially in the coding bootcamp space. It’s an industry that’s expected to grow from just under $400M in 2019 to nearly $900M in 2026.
It’s important to conduct the research and weigh all the options when deciding between bootcamp programs. We’re looking at App Academy and Hack Reactor to determine which has the stronger curriculum and better student outcomes.
First, let’s look at the high-level details:
App Academy was founded in 2012. They’ve worked with nearly 5,000 students at their campuses in San Francisco and New York as well as remotely. They have a full-time Campus Software Engineering Program and Online Software Engineering Programs, with both part-time and full-time offerings. In addition, App Academy offers a free, DIY coding course called App Academy Open. App Academy Open takes our 16-week curriculum and makes it available to anyone, anywhere.
Hack Reactor was founded in 2012. They’ve worked with over 7,000 alumni since opening their doors, and have campuses in San Francisco, New York, Austin, and LA (Hack Reactor no longer has a Denver office or Seattle office apparently). However, post-COVID, Hack Reactor is operating all bootcamps fully remotely, whereas App Academy offers both on campus and online software engineering program options to fit every learning style (potentially toning this down to make it a bit more neutral, but bringing home the fact that Hack Reactor is no longer doing in person courses. They also no longer have a Seattle or Denver office based on the research I’ve done).
Both bootcamps offer students a range of payment options, including income share agreements. All of Hack Reactor’s courses, according to CareerKarma, cost $17,980. App Academy’s tuition prices vary by course and payment plan type.
App Academy Curriculum versus Hack Reactor Curriculum
App Academy Student Outcomes versus Hack Reactor Student Outcomes
According to Hack Reactor’s website, 84% of their 7,200+ alumni reported an average compensation increase of $22,000 from their role prior to the bootcamp, amounting to a total compensation rate of $80,000. Candor notes that Hack Reactor has an 80% placement rate within 180 days.
From 2019, the average first-year salary for App Academy grads in our 16-week Campus Hybrid immersive program was $104,000 in San Francisco and $86,900 in New York. The average first-year salary for our 24-week remote online immersive program was just over $80,000.
One Reddit user notes that a six-figure starting salary from App Academy is actually fairly normal, especially from top companies:
The 2019 placement rate of graduates in our 16-week immersive program was 95% in New York and 93% in San Francisco for graduates participating in the job search. For our 24-week program, the placement rate was around 90%.
App Academy Free Coding Courses versus Hack Reactor Free Coding Courses
Few things say more about the strength of a coding bootcamp than the free programs they offer. How good is the curriculum on its own when you don’t have instructors and peers to study around?
In 2018, App Academy released its entire 16-week curriculum online entirely for free. It’s available worldwide, too, so anyone can access it. They noted how important it is to expand access to this type of education and acknowledge that a bootcamp isn’t a feasible option for everyone.
Unlike Hack Reactor’s free prep course, App Academy Open has the same goal as any of our paid bootcamp programs: get people jobs as software engineers in tech. Luckily, we’ve been able to achieve that a number of times over, including with App Academy Open completor Fares Osman:
“I paid zero dollars and zero cents,” said Fares. “I felt like everything in App Academy Open was all I needed to become employable. Based on where I am now, I’d say App Academy Open is definitely a real success for me. It’s by far the best resource out there for learning to code, and it’s entirely free.” [Career Karma]
Both Hack Reactor and App Academy are solid choices for anyone considering a coding bootcamp. For good reason, they’re often put up against one another for similar student outcomes and overall curriculum quality.
App Academy’s higher placement rate and overall higher salary potential make it an overall stronger program, albeit requiring higher tuition for some programs and payment options, though Hack Reactor has the benefit of more campus locations for folks in burgeoning or massive tech hubs.
If you want to test out App Academy’s curriculum and teaching methods prior to applying to one of our bootcamp immersive programs, check out App Academy Open entirely for free.