Fundamentals + Capstone == Software Engineers
Mastery of Fundamentals
Duration: 8 - 16+ months
~ 1200 - 1800+ hours
Launch Your Career
Duration: 8 - 16+ months
~ 1200 - 1800+ 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 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 2020 US-based Capstone graduates is $118,408.
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.
As part of the Capstone Program, students organize into teams to work on a Capstone Project. Below are some of the engineering projects that have come out of Capstone.
Fjord is an open-source framework that allows end users to receive Kafka streaming data in real-time.
Retrospect is an observability tool that allows you to record back-end activity in an easily searchable manner replacing the process of pinging servers and searching logs.
Tapestry is an open source orchestration framework for the deployment of user entity data pipelines.
Guardrail is an open source tool that generates regression tests for microservices using captured HTTP traffic.
Pioneer is a self-hosted feature flag management tool which lets users manage the rollout of new features in a deployed application.
Pilot is an open-source multi-cloud framework that provisions an internal PaaS with a workflow-agnostic build deploy and release pipeline.
Gander is an open-source solution for deploying isolated ephemeral apps based on your pull requests.
Tacklebox is an open-source serverless framework that offers webhooks as a service.
Jolt is a lightweight open-source framework that builds and deploys JAMstack applications with serverless functions.
Ekko is an open-source framework allowing developers to easily add realtime infrastructure and in-transit message processing to web applications.
Dendro is an open-source serverless monitoring framework for small distributed applications.
Beekeeper is an open-source Backend as a Service (BaaS) built to handle traffic from one-off events. It is an NPM package that creates a CLI tool to spin up AWS services which make up a virtual waiting room.
Haven is an open-source developer tool for managing your application secrets. Built using Node.js and Amazon Web Services it is easy to set up and integrate with your Node applications. It protects your secrets through encryption access control and injection at runtime.
Stagehand is a drop-in solution that provides review apps for modern frontend applications. Using AWS GitHub Actions and some Stagehand client-side code we set-up deploy manage and teardown review apps for your frontend application.
Campion is a free open-source tool to help protect your site or service from dependency failure. It is an edge-based circuit breaking middleware that utilizes an automatic fail fast mechanism when a dependency is down.
Satellite is an open-source GraphQL backend-as-a-service (BaaS). It lets teams easily deploy and manage GraphQL backends for web applications.
River is a drop-in real-time service for web applications. It provides an easy-to-deploy and ready-to-scale solution for existing applications with real-time needs.
Maestro is an open-source easy-to-use framework for deploying serverless workflows using Node.js and AWS Step Functions. Using Maestro aids development not only in the initial phase of a project but throughout the ongoing maintenance as well.
Jade is a framework that makes it simple to deploy and maintain JAMstack applications. Jade abstracts away the time and complexity of provisioning services and writing backend code related to the underlying infrastructure so developers can focus on building their applications.
A blazing fast serverless video transcoding pipeline that can be easily deployed to Amazon Web Services (AWS)
An open-source Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) that exposes an API for common backend functionality like database persistence and user authentication.
An open-source framework for deploying and managing stream processing pipelines using Kafka for users who want to set up a streaming pipeline with minimal hassle.
An open source Heroku-like and self-hosted platform as a service built with a multi-tenant architecture using Docker and Docker Swarm.
A web-native computational notebook designed for sharing executable code alongside stylized notes. Supports multiple-languages webhooks and API calls.
A centralized logging management framework that allows for easy setup configuration and deployment using Kafka and InfluxDB
A progressive web application (PWA) compliant offline-first database for web-based mobile-first applications
An open source easy-to-use data pipeline orchestration and monitoring framework for small applications that deploys to the GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
A serverless framework for consuming webhooks at scale that deploys on AWS (Amazon Web Services)
A highly scalable query optimized hosted prefix search service for building autocomplete suggestions
An easy-to-deploy event capturing framework built with NodeJS Apache Kafka TimescaleDB and PipelineDB
A serverless framework that makes it quick and easy to get small applications up and running using Node.js and AWS
A decentralized (p2p) cloud storage system built atop Kademlia DHT that enforces data integrity privacy and availability through proofs of retrievability redundancy and encryption with cryptocurrency-based incentive scheme