Springboard vs. Khan Academy: Which Is a Better Online Learning Platform?

Sakshi GuptaSakshi Gupta | 8 minute read | May 26, 2020
Springboard vs. Khan Academy: Which Is a Better Online Learning Platform?

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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 a low cost.

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, 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 Khan Academy?

Khan Academy is a Mountain View-based edtech nonprofit that offers dozens of courses geared toward K-12 students in subjects such as math, science, computing, arts and humanities, and life skills, as well as preparation courses for the SAT, LSAT, and Praxis Core exams. Unlike many online courses and bootcamps that teach skills related to computer science, data science, math, and engineering professions, Khan Academy’s courses do not prepare graduates for the workforce; rather, they prepare students for different levels of grade school and college entry exams. This is an important distinction because, where many bootcamps and MOOCs focus on equipping students with the skills necessary to perform a job (and measure their success by their graduates’ job outcomes), Khan Academy focuses on improving student performance at school. In other words, Khan academy is more akin to a grade school tuition service than an upskilling/retraining bootcamp.

All of Khan Academy’s courses are 100% online and, like most MOOCs, take a hands-off approach to instruction, with courses consisting of video lectures and practice exercises. The platform offers versions for both individual students and teachers—in the former, students can choose a course and go at their own pace; in the latter, school districts can sign students up for Khan Academy and give teachers access to dashboards that show student progress.

Khan Academy’s most junior courses teach early grade schoolers to count, add, and subtract, while its more advanced courses tackle AP college statistics, linear algebra, and differential equations.

Springboard vs. Khan Academy: What Are the Main Differences?

Springboard vs Khan Academy Main Differences

There are a few fundamental differences between Springboard and Khan Academy.

  • Khan Academy is intended for K-12 students and focuses on skills and knowledge taught in most classrooms. While there’s nothing stopping adults from enrolling, the bulk of its courses span math, science, reading and language arts, history and humanities, and economics at the grade school level. Some of its more advanced courses touch on college-level subjects, such as cryptography, algorithms, and information theory, but these are taught as standalone subjects instead of organized as part of a career track.
  • Springboard is a careers-focused edtech platform where skills are taught as part of a roadmap to a profession. For example, cryptography is taught alongside other security fundamentals so that by the time students graduate, they’re equipped with both the skills and hands-on experience to land jobs as cybersecurity professionals.Springboard follows a bootcamp model, which means classes are capped to ensure a manageable instructor to student ratio and follow a structure that ensures that students understand the fundamentals of each profession before they advance to more challenging skills. Springboard’s bootcamps—which span the most in-demand tech professions such as software engineering, data science, machine learning engineering, cybersecurity, and UX design—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. Khan Academy: Learning Format

Both Springboard and Khan Academy are 100% online and deliver most of their educational materials through video lectures, readings, and practice exercises.

Students go at their own pace, with the average Springboard bootcamp taking anywhere from six to nine months and requiring a time commitment of 15-25 hours a week to successfully complete the coursework. It is harder to determine time commitment for Khan Academy’s courses because not all students enroll in every module—for example, a ninth grade student might choose to only take the geometry course within the broader math program, or an adult might selectively take courses to brush up on specific skills. Based on videos alone, Khan Academy’s Chemistry course contains more than 66 hours of video, while its Physics course contains more than 56 hours of video.

Springboard vs. Khan Academy: How Much Does It Cost?

While there is some limited crossover in course content between Khan Academy’s more advanced offerings (such as data analysis, programming, and algorithms) and Springboard’s courses, the two platforms are intended for different audiences, with Khan Academy’s courses optimized for K-12 learners, and Springboard optimized for those looking to upskill or change careers. This is reflected in the cost of the courses.

  • Khan Academy is free for all students.
  • 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. Khan Academy: Job Outcomes

Springboard vs Khan Academy Job Outcomes

One of the indicators of an effective bootcamp or online course is whether students land an industry job upon graduation.

  • This is difficult to measure in Khan Academy because the platform is not intended to prepare students for the workforce. When measured against its stated goals of helping students achieve better grade schooling and pre-college exam outcomes, though, Khan Academy has a strong track record.
  • Springboard offers a first-of-its-kind job guarantee for all graduates, with all-encompassing courses that prepare students for the workforce. 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. Khan Academy: Pros and Cons

In the saturated e-learning market, both Springboard and Khan Academy have emerged as significant players because their courses offer many benefits. But what works for one student may not work for another.

Khan Academy

  • Pros: Khan Academy’s courses are free and accessible to everyone. Given that its target audience is K-12 students, its lessons are easy to follow, with each new skill reinforced with practice exercises and quizzes. The platform is also considerate of learners of all levels, with courses categorized by school grade and subject, and on-ramp courses to prepare students who are in between levels.
  • Cons: Prospective students looking to retrain for a new career or to upskill in a highly technical profession might not find Khan Academy useful. While the platform does a good job of teaching mathematical and scientific concepts, the courses are not designed to teach students everything they need to know to prepare for a specific career. As with most MOOCs, Khan Academy’s courses also 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 your work, it can be hard to get the help you need.


  • Pros: Springboard’s courses are 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. This approach is applied to all of Springboard’s courses, which extend beyond data science and machine learning engineering to include software engineering, cybersecurity, and UI/UX design.
  • 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 hello@springboard.com and we’ll correct it right away.

Since you’re here…
Curious about a career in data science? Experiment with our free data science learning path, or join our Data Science Bootcamp, where you’ll only pay tuition after getting a job in the field. We’re confident because our courses work – check out our student success stories to get inspired.

Sakshi Gupta

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Senior Associate Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer and has experience working in the Indian and US markets.