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, 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 and at the student’s own pace.
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.
- Not ready to pick a bootcamp just yet? Head over to our bootcamp criteria guide.
- Want to find out how Springboard stacks up against other bootcamps? Check out our bootcamp comparison guide.
What Is Thinkful?
Thinkful is a Santa Clara-based learning platform owned by edtech company Chegg. It operates both offline communities and online bootcamps in most major US metropolitan areas that cover subjects such as software engineering, data science, data analytics, UI/UX design, marketing, and technical project management.
The platform offers full-time (3-5 months) and part-time (5-6 months) learning options, with its full-time classes taught synchronously online with a cohort, while its part-time courses are asynchronous and self-paced.
Thinkful’s main selling point is its variety of financing options. It offers upfront financing, month-to-month payments, deferred payments, and income share agreements (ISAs).The ISAs include a monthly stipend for students enrolled in a Thinkful bootcamp.
What Is General Assembly?
General Assembly is a New York-based private learning institution best known for hosting in-person courses across more than 30 physical campuses around the world on subjects such as data science, software engineering, UX design, and digital marketing. Around 20% of General Assembly’s students come via its corporate clients.
In addition to its in-person courses, which are offered on a full-time (12-weeks), part-time (10-weeks during evenings), and event-focused (a few hours) basis, General Assembly also offers remote learning for those who cannot attend one of its campuses. Its remote courses are conducted in real-time, with class meetings over Zoom, Miro, and Slack. There are also a limited number of “on-demand” courses where students can go at their own pace.
The real-time nature of most of General Assembly’s courses allows students to interact and collaborate with peers, have a traditional classroom experience with instructors and teaching assistants, and benefit from a sense of community.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: What Are the Main Differences?
There are a few fundamental differences between Thinkful and General Assembly.
|Offers students a job guarantee||No job guarantee|
|Courses are offered 100% online with in-person community events held in certain major cities across the country. Most full-time courses are synchronous, with part-time asynchronous options.||Courses are offered in-person with remote options available in certain markets. Most remote courses are synchronous and require participation over Zoom and Slack.|
|Courses in software engineering, data science, data analytics, UI/UX design, digital marketing, and technical project management||Courses in software engineering, data analytics, UI/UX design, digital marketing, data science, product management, front-end programming, Python programming, React development, and Visual design|
|Individualized mentorship, help from tutors, and career counseling||Support from peers and instructors in a traditional classroom environment|
If you’re interested in a bootcamp that comes with a job guarantee and individualized mentorship, but also want more course options, Springboard offers comprehensive, mentor-supported bootcamps in data science, UI/UX design, software engineering, cybersecurity, machine learning engineering, and tech sales.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: Learning Format
- Thinkful is 100% online with synchronous and asynchronous options. Students who choose to take a Thinkful course full-time are expected to do 50-60 hours of coursework each week and attend synchronous classes with their cohort Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Full-time courses can take 3-5 months to complete, depending on the course. Thinkful’s part-time options, which can take up to six months to complete, are asynchronous and deliver educational materials through video lectures, exercises, assignments, and readings. In both full- and part-time enrollment, students are matched with an industry mentor who offers project, coursework, and career guidance throughout the program. Dedicated career counselors also work with students to prepare them for the workforce.
- General Assembly offers a range of in-person, remote, and fully asynchronous courses. Specific course offerings are limited by market. Its in-person courses resemble a traditional school in which classes begin and end at specific times and attendance is expected at one of its campuses. Its remote courses mirror this, with the same curriculum and student engagement expected over Zoom and Slack. The average full-time immersive course takes three months to complete. The average asynchronous, on-demand course requires around 30-60 hours of work, although students have access to course content for up to 12 months.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: What’s on the Curriculum?
Both Thinkful and General Assembly offer courses that prepare students for tech industry careers. Thinkful focuses on UI/UX design, data analytics, software engineering, and digital marketing, while General Assembly offers a greater range of courses.
|UI/UX design||UI/UX design|
|Data analytics||Data analytics|
|Data science||Data science|
|Software engineering||Digital marketing|
|Digital marketing||Software engineering|
|Technical project management||Front-end web development|
Interested in a tech career that isn’t offered by Thinkful or General Assembly? In addition to data analytics, UI/UX design, and software engineering, Springboard’s comprehensive bootcamps include cybersecurity, machine learning engineering, data science, data engineering, and tech sales.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: 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.
- Thinkful’s full-time courses cost around $9,000-16,000 upfront, with a higher cost for deferred tuition and ISAs.
- General Assembly’s full-time immersive courses are around $15,950, with part-time courses costing around $3,950, and asynchronous courses around $950.
Looking for a more affordable but still rigorous introductory course to dip your toes into a subject before committing to a bootcamp? Springboard’s introductory courses start from $349 and come with both mentor and career coach support. Most introductory courses can be completed in four weeks, and the cost of an introductory course can be applied toward a full bootcamp at a later time.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: Job Outcomes
One of the indicators of an effective bootcamp or online course is whether students land an industry job upon graduation.
- Thinkful offers a job guarantee—if graduates do not land a job in a related field within six months of graduation, their tuition is refunded.
- General Assembly reports that of the students who completed its full-time immersive courses in 2019, 90.5% of graduates received a job in a relevant field within six months of graduation.
Thinkful vs. General Assembly: Pros and Cons
In the saturated e-learning market, both Thinkful and General Assembly have emerged as significant players because their courses offer many benefits. But what works for one student may not work for another.
- Pros: Thinkful’s range of financing options offers flexibility to students, allowing people to enroll in courses even if they can’t afford an upfront payment. Mentors, tutors, and careers coaches also support students through course projects, classwork, and job searches to best prepare graduates for job interviews and the workforce. Thinkful’s comprehensive programs and support network are similar to that of Springboard, although Springboard offers more courses and specializes in more career tracks. Springboard also offers scholarships to those facing financial hardships or from historically underrepresented groups.
- Cons: Thinkful’s full-time courses are synchronous with rigid start and end times and the expectation that students engage with coursework and classes 50-60 hours a week. In comparison, other mentor-led bootcamps such as Springboard help students meet similar outcomes (skills training, career support, job guarantee) while offering greater flexibility and programs optimized for self-paced learning.
- Pros: For students who prefer an in-person learning experience or need the additional accountability of face-to-face instruction, General Assembly is one of the few bootcamps with a physical campus. When it comes to remote learning, GA’s real-time virtual classes can be useful for students who want to replicate the classroom environment at home and collaborate with peers. GA’s part-time courses and weekend workshops are also suited to those who work during the day and want to continue upskilling in their spare time.
- Cons: General Assembly’s strength can also be its weakness because the real-time nature of its courses means it lacks flexibility. Students who want to learn asynchronously, on their own time and at their own pace, can only choose from a limited range of courses. Most courses require time spent on Zoom, Slack, and real-time participation.
Ready to Learn More?
Browse the Springboard Career Tracks to find the perfect fit for you.
Not ready to enroll just yet? Read more about the factors you should consider while picking a program in our bootcamp criteria guide.
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