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Lambda School is an online, tuition-free school for computer programming. It’s designed to teach students at their own pace and in a way that works best for them. Lambda School has partnered with companies like Google and Facebook to help make this happen! 

Interested? You should be. Read on to learn more in our thorough, in-depth review of Lambda School. 

What is Lambda School?

In today’s fast-paced world where new technologies are being unleashed every single day, it may seem as though there is a new online coding boot camp everywhere you turn. From FreeCodeCamp to Skillshare, you’ll find coding courses in just about every dusty corner of the Internet.

Lambda School is another coding boot camp and while it’s one of the best-known options, it still might not be one that you have heard about. 

It was founded by a man named Austen Allred in 2017. He had just left a previous startup, a fact-checking site that was crowdsourced. Allred began Lambda School as just one brief course in functional programming, with the “Lambda School” name hailing from the concept of lambda functions in functional programming. 

Within just two short years, the curriculum had expanded broadly so that Allred was able to offer a full nine-month course of study that was not only longer but also more thorough than other boot camps. 

Lambda School relies on a unique Income Share Agreement model to set itself apart from its competitors – something we’ll address in more detail later on in our Lambda School review. It has major investors such Google Ventures, Ashton Kutcher, and Y Combinator, with these investments garnering the online learning platform lots of media attention. 

With a headquarters in Silicon Valley, California, Lambda School offers all classes entirely online with local gatherings and meetups held in various cities. 

Who is Lambda School For?

Lambda School is a unique online coding boot camp that offers courses in things like full-stack web development, data science, coding, and soon, backend development. 

It is not an accredited institution, though it is regulated at the state level as a postsecondary education institution in California. Complete a course of study at Lambda School and you will receive a certificate of completion within 60 days. This certificate can be used on your resume to help you get a job.

Programs on Lambda School are meant to be completed on a full-time basis over the course of six months. Anybody can take classes on Lambda School but it’s unique compared to other online learning platforms because you will actually have to apply for admission  – just like if you were taking classes at a college, in fact. 

The admissions team at Lambda School looks for candidates who are dedicated and committed to learning. You’ll be taking classes full time so it’s perhaps not the best option for the student who is already working a full-time job or taking other kinds of courses.

You need to be a strong problem solver in order to take classes with Lambda School and an independent worker. You’ll have to be able to tackle your assignments quickly and to seek help from your instructors when you’re struggling with various course concepts. 

There’s a lot of independent work involved with Lambda School but also teamwork. You’ll work on group projects in your classes so it might not be the best online learning platform if you’d rather go things 100% solo or on your own terms. 

To be eligible to take classes at Lambda School, you’ll need to be able to take classes according to a strict schedule and have access to a quiet workspace and WiFi connection.

How Does Lambda School Work?

Lambda School is a bit different from other online learning platforms in that you can’t, unfortunately, take classes on your own schedule. You will need to meet with small, interactive groups at specific hours.

In order to show that you completed the course, you have to have full attendance for all hours of the class. Lectures are recorded and archived so that you can view them later, but it’s important that you show up in person to these online classes to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of the platform.

Lambda School isn’t meant for professionals who just want to learn a one-time skill. It is for the student who wants to dive headfirst into a new career. You’ll be exposed to all kinds of resources, including professional development and career services to help you become a full-fledged computer science professional. 

To get started with Lambda School, you’ll need to begin by applying. You’ll be paired with an enrollment advisor who can help you through every step of the application. 

You will need to decide whether you want to join the data science or web development program and then choose from one of Lambda School’s four potential course schedules. These are broken down by time zone: Pacific, Mountain, Central, or Eastern. 

Then, you’ll need to choose a tuition option (which we’ll go over in more detail below). You’ll have to supply details like your cell phone number and email address and agree to attend 95% of the classes, missing less than one day per month. 

After completing your application, it will be reviewed by an enrollment advisor. You will need to complete the pre-course work and entrance tests next. These may consist of track challenges or skills challenges, most of which are accompanied by time limits and test your understanding of basic data science concepts. 

In order to move on to the next phase of the application process, you’ll need to score at least 11 out of 15 questions correctly. 

Before beginning your courses, you’ll also have to verify your educational background via a high school diploma, GED, or college transcripts. If you don’t have any of these documents, you can complete the Wonderlic basic skills test instead.

Features and Functionality

If you read any Lambda School review, you’re sure to see these top features mentioned at least once or twice. Here’s what you need to know about this online learning platform. 

Fast-Paced Learning

Courses at Lambda School are unique from those offered on other online learning platforms because you will be required to attend at preset times – this isn’t something where you can take classes on your own terms. 

You will take classes 40 hours a week for six months, receiving more than 900 hours of guided instruction. The goal of this intensive, fast-paced instruction is to help you become a data scientist, developer, or other computer science professional as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Course Scheduling

Courses at Lambda School are offered via four different schedules, which match up with relevant time zones. While the Pacific schedule has classes starting at 8:00 am, the Eastern schedule doesn’t have classes that start until 11:00 am (but last until 8:00 pm instead of 5:00 pm, as with the Pacific schedule).

Because of this, you’ll be able to learn alongside students from all over the country. The daily course schedule is as follows:

  • 8:00-9:00 am: Warm-up (a personal time to go over what you’ll learn before the day’s instruction begins)
  • 9:00-11:00 am: Guided project
  • 11:00-12:00 pm: Lunch break
  • 12:00-3:45 pm: Project time (to work independently and get help from teachers and peers in Slack)
  • 3:45-4:15 pm: Project wrap (you’ll have to take a survey about your progress)
    4:15-5:00 pm: Stand up (time to meet with the project manager for additional support)

Classes are offered from Monday through Friday for six months. 

Paid Curriculum Options

You’ll be able to choose from two main online programs – data science and full-stack web development (backend development is coming soon, however, and there’s also a free coding boot camp you might consider).

Both programs last six months and run several times per year. 

In the full-stack web development class, you’ll learn how to build software and web applications, learning a mixture of technologies like Python, React, Javascript, CSS, and HTML. 

If you choose the data science pathway, you’ll also learn many of these major topics along with core methodologies like machine learning, databases, natural language processing, data visualization, statics and modeling.

Free Coding Bootcamp

Lambda School even offers a free coding boot camp. With the free coding boot camp, you will receive guidance from a live Lambda School instructor just like you would in other classes. The difference between the free coding boot camp and the other courses (besides the fact that it’s free, of course), is that the learning modules are self-paced. 

The boot camps are offered on a regular basis throughout the year but if you can’t make one of the scheduled meetings, you can register to have the recordings and additional resources sent to you. The coding boot camp is not nearly as in-depth or immersive as other options, but it’s a great way to figure out if a career in coding might be a good choice for you. 

Lambda School Pricing Model

Lambda School has a truly one-of-a-kind pricing model. There are a variety of tuition options so that you can achieve a quality technical education regardless of your abilities or income level. You can learn coding for free now and pay later with a Retail Installment Contract or Income Share Agreement, you can pay in installments, or you can pay upfront.

The Income Share Agreement is perhaps the most one-of-a-kind option you’ll find. With this, you’ll pay nothing upfront but agree to pay back 17% of your salary for two years for a maximum of $30,000 USD over the total payment.

To be eligible for this payment plan, you must be an American citizen and not from the state of California. You can also qualify if you are a permanent resident or DACA recipient. This deferred tuition plan will only require you to pay for two years and only if you are making more than $50,000 per year. 

If, after completing a Lambda School education, you don’t get hired, then don’t worry! You won’t pay anything. However, as long as your job requires skills that you learned at Lambda School, even if your job title isn’t data scientist or web developer, you’ll still have to pay.

So while you’ll have to pay as a front-end developer, IT specialists, or app developer, you won’t be stuck paying Lambda School back if you are working as a bartender or barista, for example. 

An alternative is to pay Lambda School tuition via the Retail Installment Contract. This program, exclusively offered to residents of California, works in a similar fashion as the RIC.

You can also pay tuition in three installments, with the first monthly payment due by the deadline for enrollment for your cohort. Tuition fees vary depending on your state of residency. You can pay the whole upfront tuition payment too.

Support

You’ll receive some of the best possible support from your Lambda School instructors. On this online learning platform, instructors do their best to make sure students’ concerns and questions are heard and addressed.

Some students have expressed frustration in their reviews that the cohorts are so large – because of this, it can sometimes be challenging to get a word in edgewise. However, there are several hours each week dedicated to Q&A-style forums where you can ask questions about the course content or your projects.

When it comes to technical questions related to the Lambda School platform itself (rather than course content), you can get in touch via the email contact form on the website. Unfortunately, there isn’t a customer service phone number you can contact at this time.

The Advantages (Pros) of Lambda School

Lambda School is really a one-of-a-kind online learning platform – here are some of the best reasons to consider it. 

Immersive, High-Quality Education

If you have the time in your schedule to commit to taking classes with Lambda School, you really won’t find a better option.

Unlike many coding boot camps which feature pre-recorded classes in software engineering, Lambda School offers a live, immersive learning experience. You’ll be able to interact with your instructors and classmates via Slack and ask any questions you might have. Your progress will be monitored every single step of the way and you will receive personally tailored instruction from a live person,

You won’t have to worry about teaching yourself how to code or work with various technologies – everything will be fed directly to you. Although you’ll have plenty of time to work independently, Lambda School’s instructors will always be there to help you.

Organized Curriculum

The instructors and career experts at Lambda School really know what they are doing – there’s no guesswork here. This is a major benefit of taking classes on Lambda School versus other online learning platforms.

Not only will you be taking courses from proven experts in coding and data science, but you’ll benefit from a clear course structure so you always know what’s coming next. It’s set up very similarly to a college course, meaning you don’t have to piece together random bits of information from multiple online courses. Everything is all in one place and easy to understand. 

Real-World Projects

You might be hesitant to sign up for Lambda School because it seems so much like an actual college program – how do you know you’ll be getting an education that will be valuable in the real world?

With Lambda School, you’ll be able to tackle projects that hold real-world relevance, the courses are designed by industry experts and you’ll be able to work on real-world collaborative projects and pieces for your portfolio that will be invaluable as you search for a job.

In the web development program, for instance, you’ll enjoy a Build Week every fifth week where you will be able to work with a group of your peers to create a web page or some other kind of project. You can’t beat that kind of hands-on experience.

Professional Development

Lambda School’s unique tuition payment options make it possible for you to earn an education in coding with zero obligation if you don’t find a job after you finish your studies. Because of this, it’s obviously important to the Lambda School that you do find a job – after all, if you don’t find a job, they don’t get paid!

Because of this, you’ll have all kinds of opportunities for professional development while you are studying. You’ll benefit from job placement assistance and career development that covers everything from CV and resume writing to salary negotiations.

Although Lambda School won’t hand you a job as soon as you graduate, they’ll do everything they can to help you find one. 

The Disadvantages (Cons) of

Lambda School

Here are some of the major disadvantages of taking classes with Lambda School.

Lack of Flexibility 

If you’re looking to take a class here or there, studying when you have the spare time to do so, Lambda School is probably not the best option for you.

Before you can even sit in a single moment of a class, you have to sign an agreement saying that you will commit to attending at least 95% of all course sessions – essentially, all of them. If you don’t, you might not be handed your certificate of completion at the end of the course of study.

For the more independent learner who needs a certain degree of flexibility to handle other life commitments (such as a full-time job or family), this is certainly not ideal. 

Large Cohort Sizes

You oughta assume that since one of the biggest advantages of Lambda School is its live course requirements, that you’ll be working with small classes of just a few peers. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The learning experience at Lambda School is far from intimate. Cohorts average around fifty to sixty students. Because of this, it can sometimes be hard to get your questions answered in a timely fashion (or at all) because so many other students are flooding the chat boxes. 

High Tuition Cost

While Lambda School does offer some pretty flexible (and unique!) payment options in terms of the income share agreement, if you choose not to pursue this pathway (or are ineligible), you’re going to be paying some pretty hefty tuition prices. 

Because each student’s specific Lambda School cost varies depending on the state of residency and other factors, it’s difficult to find a ballpark figure for how much you will pay specifically before going through the full admissions process. This can be frustrating for someone who just wants a cut-and-dry number to budget for. 

The programs, if not offset by any tuition payment plans, are pricey, averaging around $30,000 USD. That’s just as much as a college program for some students – so you’ll want to weigh your options carefully here if you don’t qualify for the ISA. 

Lambda School Alternatives

On your hunt for the perfect online learning platform for learning programming or other skills in various technologies,  there are a few alternatives to Lambda School that you might want to consider. 

Many people choose to take classes in technology, mathematics, and science fundamentals at Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a totally free online education platform that is best for K-12 students. With this platform, you can take classes in all kinds of topics, from software engineering to machine learning to history and biology. 

While this is not the best online learning platform for aspiring professionals who want to gain a leg up in the job search process, it’s a good choice for casual learners who want to figure out whether a career in tech might be right for them. 

Another alternative to a Lambda School career development pathway is to take classes on LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is best for students whose interests lie in fields besides just programming. You can take classes in machine learning here, of course, but it’s not an online learning platform just for developers. There are also classes for prospective students in business, the arts, and many other disciplines, 

Ultimately, choosing the best online learning platform will come down to considering what your career outcome is. If a career in web development is what you’re after and you have the time to commit to a full-time program of study, then Lambda School is the way to go 

Conclusion

Hopefully, our Lambda School review has been helpful when it comes to finding the coding school of your dreams. While there are plenty of alternatives out there, we appreciate the quality of education and the knowledgeable instructors who share their wisdom on Lambda School. 

Of course, Lambda School does have its downsides. There is more than one review of Lambda School that mentions how difficult it is to learn due to large class sizes, while others find that the instruction in certain topics isn’t quite as thorough as it needs to be. 

Therefore, it’s important to consider the pros and cons listed above – and ask as many questions as possible! – before deciding if Lambda School is right for you and enrolling in any course. It can be an expensive option, with some programs costing tens of thousands of dollars, so knowledge is power when it comes to choosing where you will invest both your time and money. 

Nevertheless, Lambda School is a treasure trove of information and valuable courses when it comes to online learning. Whether your interests lie in data science or full-stack web development, Lambda School is a good option for you to consider as you pursue your future online education. Best of luck – and happy learning!

FAQ

Is Lambda School legit?

Absolutely. Lambda School offers a program of study that will teach you everything you need to know about coding and web development. This school has been featured in many different publications such as Forbes for its innovative approach to learning how to code while also guaranteeing jobs post-graduation.

Is Lambda School worth it?

Lambda School is a school that teaches coding. It’s different from most schools because it’s not just theory, but instead, they teach you how to code and build projects in the real world. Is Lambda School worth it? If you’re looking for an intense program that will challenge you every step of the way and give you all the tools necessary to succeed as a developer in today’s landscape, then yes!

However, if you want to take classes on your own terms (or perhaps following a more flexible timeline), then you might want to consider another online learning platform. 

Is Lambda School accredited?

Lambda School is not accredited. However, it’s recognized as an institution of higher learning in the state of California. 

How much does Lambda School cost?

Costs vary for Lambda School. The average student will pay around $30,000 for a coding program here but if you qualify for the income share agreement you won’t have to pay all of this upfront (it will be taken out of your salary once you earn a full-time job after graduation). 

How to Get Accepted Into Lambda School

It can be a bit tricky to get accepted into Lambda School. Although the application process is less rigorous than if you were applying to college, it is more intensive than the average MOOC. 

You’ll need to provide proof of your educational background (like a high school diploma or a set of college transcripts) and be able to commit to attending 95% of all course sessions over the course of six months.

The Lambda School acceptance rate isn’t well-advertised. While the platform claims to put students in tech jobs at rates of 86%, the acceptance rates are a bit hazier to decipher – and many publications have claimed that the 86% job placement rate is actually lower than it seems, too.

Can Lambda School get you a job and help in your career?

Yes. Especially compared to other online learning platforms, Lambda School offers some of the best professional development and career services for prospective students. Although you may have to agree to pay back 17% of your income after getting a job, the income share agreement will allow you to take classes for free (at the time) and enjoy all kinds of career resources, such as interviewing training and networking opportunities. 

Not to mention you’ll also gain a fast-paced, immersive training in web development, coding, and other core technological topics that are in-demand in today’s work environment! 

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Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce is a writer with a B.A. in English from St. Lawrence University and a Master’s in Special Education from SUNY Plattsburgh. She has worked both as a college admissions counselor as well as a high school English teacher and has also written extensively on topics related to educational technology and the college selection process.

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