Springboard vs. Coursera: Which Is a Better Online Learning Platform?
In this article
Ready to kickstart a new career in tech but not sure which online learning platform is right for you? Learn more about the main differences between MOOCs and mentor-led online bootcamps in this guide.
As the cost of higher education continues to rise, online courses and bootcamps have in recent years become a viable alternative for those who want training in highly technical and well-compensated fields—without the steep price tag or years-long time commitment.
Spurring the e-learning revolution is the growing demand across all industries for software engineers, UX designers, data scientists, and cybersecurity professionals, which has resulted in courses and bootcamps that promise to prepare students for those roles—often from the comfort of their home, at the student’s own pace, for free.
The rise of online bootcamps has been a good thing, with The New York Times reporting that virtual learning has been a “great equalizer” for adults and has made training and upskilling more accessible. During the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, the research found that e-learning has the potential to close a longstanding skills gap and democratize user engagement. Many courses, designed specifically with a bootcamp-to-workforce pipeline in mind, have also optimized their programs to focus on the skills students need in order to land the job they want, thus maximizing efficiency and giving graduates a competitive advantage.
What Is Springboard?
Springboard is a San Francisco-based edtech company that prepares students for some of today’s more competitive and coveted careers, all while offering a first-of-its-kind job guarantee. Every student gets a six-month runway after graduating to secure a role in their industry—if they don’t, students receive a refund on 100% of their tuition.
Springboard offers bootcamps and short courses in UI/UX design, data science, data analytics, software engineering, machine learning, and cybersecurity. All Springboard bootcamps are 100% online, self-paced, and take six-nine months to complete. During each bootcamp, students are matched with an industry mentor who guides them throughout the program through regular one-on-one video calls. A Student Success Manager is also available to handle logistics queries, create study plans, and help students stay accountable to their learning goals.
Before and after graduation, Springboard’s career coaches support students in their job searches and networking, help prepare them for interviews, and facilitate their transition into the workforce.
What Is Coursera?
Coursera is a Mountain View-based edtech company that hosts thousands of massive open online courses (MOOCs) across subjects ranging from computer science to creative writing, brand management, art history, philosophy, and law. Its offerings include certifications, degrees, and free courses, many of which are created by universities and businesses and are open to everyone.
All of Coursera’s courses are 100% online, and some include office hours where students can ask questions of the instructor. However, like most MOOCs, the majority of Coursera courses take a hands-off approach to instruction and consist of video lectures, readings, and optional assignments.
Coursera’s offerings are diverse and students can choose from different courses on the same subject—for example, a search for the term “data science” turns up more than 2,900-course results. Many of its courses are highly specific and focus on a facet of a subject, such as introducing students to the fundamentals of data science or teaching the basics of Python or SQL.
Springboard vs. Coursera: What Are the Main Differences?
There are a few fundamental differences between Springboard and Coursera.
- Coursera offers MOOCs, which are optimized for the highest number of enrollments possible. This means that there’s no limit to the number of students who can enroll in a course and most of the courses take a hands-off approach to instruction because it’s not possible for a single instructor to keep up with every person in the course. Students learn at their own pace, have minimal to no interaction with instructors, and on completion of a program are usually left on their own to determine the next steps.
- Springboard follows a bootcamp model, which means classes are capped to ensure a manageable instructor-to-student ratio. Springboard’s bootcamps also take a more holistic approach to education, combining a comprehensive curriculum with self-paced instruction, video lectures, readings, capstone projects, work sprints that mimic the real-world work experience of a profession, and one-on-one regular calls with an industry mentor.Springboard students are often looking to upskill or change careers, which is why every student is given access to a built-in support network of mentors and career coaches to keep them accountable during the course and to help them move into the workforce upon graduation.
Springboard vs. Coursera: Learning Format
Both Springboard and Coursera are 100% online and deliver most of their educational materials through video lectures and readings. Students go at their own pace, with the average Springboard bootcamp taking anywhere from six to nine months, while the average Coursera course can range from four weeks for a short course on a specific topic, to three years for the Masters of Computer Science program it administers via the University of Illinois.
Springboard vs. Coursera: How Much Does It Cost?
When it comes to online courses and bootcamps, the adage that you get what you pay for often rings true. Free or low-cost courses can be accessible, but often lack personalized support from instructors and mentors. Higher-cost courses can have a higher barrier to entry, but typically come with a comprehensive support system.
- Many of Coursera’s courses are free to access, although its Professional Certificate programs cost $39-99/month, its MasterTrack Certificates cost $2,000-$5,000, and its degree programs such as its MBA can cost upwards of $20,000.
- Springboard’s courses are around $10,000, with discounts and scholarships available if certain criteria are met. Springboard’s introductory courses, which give students a taste of a field at a fraction of the time commitment, start from $349.
Springboard vs. Coursera: Job Outcomes
One of the indicators of an effective bootcamp or online course is whether students land an industry job upon graduation.
- Coursera reports that of the people who have taken its courses, 72% have said they’ve experienced a career benefit, 43% have reported improved candidacy for a new job, and 26% have actually landed a job.
- Springboard, meanwhile, offers a first-of-its-kind job guarantee for all graduates. If a student does not secure a job related to their field of study within six months of graduation, Springboard will offer a full refund on tuition.
Springboard vs. Coursera: Pros and Cons
In the saturated e-learning market, both Springboard and Coursera have emerged as significant players because their courses offer many benefits. But what works for one student may not work for another.
- Pros: Many of Coursera’s courses are free and created by industry experts who teach at some of the world’s most prestigious universities and tech organizations. Students can choose from thousands of courses by subject matter, specialization, instructor, and institution, and have the flexibility to dabble in the course material as much or as little as they choose. Students who already have a background in a certain field but are simply looking to fill a knowledge gap are also likely to be able to find a hyper-specific course that meets their needs.
- Cons: The sheer number of courses available can easily become overwhelming. And, as with most MOOCs, a significant number of Coursera’s courses lack interactivity with an instructor and don’t include mentorship or career guidance, which means if you get stuck during the learning process or want individualized feedback on a project, it can be hard to get the help you need. MOOCs also have an attrition and accountability problem—in a Coursera data science course run by Johns Hopkins University, 1.76 million people signed up but only 71,589 got far enough into the course to receive verified certifications, and 917 students completed all nine courses and signed up for the capstone course. Research has found that many people who start MOOCs often don’t finish them, and even those who do find it hard to be consistent with their studies.
- Pros: Springboard’s courses are also created by industry experts and are designed to meet the end-to-end needs of students, from introducing newcomers to the basics of a profession to offering a project-driven, comprehensive curriculum that teaches the skills students need to land the job they want. Mentors and careers coaches also support students through capstone projects, industry networking, and job searches, ensuring that every graduate is equipped with both the hard and soft skills required to get on a recruiter’s radar and ace the job interview.
- Cons: Springboard’s courses aren’t a silver bullet to a career change. Even with a holistic and mentor-supported approach to online education, it ultimately falls on students to put in anywhere from 15-25 hours a week in study and practice in order to successfully complete a course and build a competitive portfolio that will help them stand out from the crowd.
Not ready to enroll just yet? Read more about the factors you should consider while picking a program in our bootcamp criteria guide.
Disclaimer: We’ve worked hard to ensure the information in this comparison guide is accurate and up-to-date. However, mistakes happen. If you spot an error, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll correct it right away.
Since you’re here…
No one wakes up knowing how to code – they learn how to code. Tens of thousands of students have successfully learned with our courses, like our Software Engineering Bootcamp. If you’re a total newbie, our Software Engineering Career Track Prep Course will be a perfect fit. Let’s do this!