BY Sydney LakeMay 25, 2023, 3:43 PM
A student listens to a live lecture on a laptop computer at home during a remote learning class as seen in September 2020. (Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images)
With an eye for the growing demand for artificial intelligence (A.I.), cybersecurity and data science workers, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) announced earlier this month plans to launch several bootcamp programs for adult learners who are looking to break into the tech industry.
The bootcamps will take 12 to 24 weeks to complete, depending on whether students opt to complete on a full- or part-time basis. Programs focused on data science and A.I., along with cybersecurity, will begin in August, followed in September by software engineering. VCU partnered with the Institute of Data, which develops workforce training and bootcamps, to launch the bootcamps.
“The skills training that individuals receive through the tech bootcamps will prepare them for entry into fast-growing occupations as data scientists, information security analysts, software developers, quality assurance analysts, testers, and related titles, while expanding the pipeline of skilled workers for employers in the tech industry,” Judith Kornberg, interim executive director for VCU Online and Continuing and Professional Education, said in a statement.
Previous graduates from other Institute of Data bootcamp programs have gone on to work for companies like Amazon, Nokia, Google, and IBM, Aimée P. Walters, marketing manager at VCU Online and Continuing and Professional Education, tells Fortune. More than 90% of learners who complete Institute of Data bootcamps find a job within 180 days of graduation.
The number of jobs in these fields are expected to grow during the next decade—in fact, the number of data science jobs are projected to increase 36% by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “By offering industry training in these fields, we aim to equip our students with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce and advance in their careers,” Chris Elam, vice president of university partnerships at the Institute of Data, tells Fortune.
Bootcamp program requirements and cost
Bootcamps often attract would-be career changers who are toying with the idea of earning a master’s degree in data science or cybersecurity but want to complete their program at a fraction of the time and cost. However, a bachelor’s degree is still required to apply for the bootcamps, Walters says, “to ensure program graduates are qualified for employment in the data and information technology industry after completing a tech bootcamp.”
Before students start their respective bootcamp, they must complete pre-work exercises, which mimic the “intense learning experience they will have in the bootcamp,” Elam says.
“We know that our bootcamps are challenging, and we want our students to be ready to hit the ground running,” he says. “The pre-work enables students to familiarize themselves with key concepts, tools, and techniques, so that they are well-prepared to start learning in the bootcamp.”
Bootcamp cohorts start every three-to-six months and students can participate either full-time or part-time. The bootcamp fee for each program is $12,500, which includes tuition and other materials. There is also a one-time enrollment fee of $300, which covers the pre-work exercises. Finally, the program fee includes access to a job outcomes program, which pairs students with a career coach who helps learners find post-bootcamp job opportunities.
Emphasis on ‘practical’ training
Rather than a nose-stuck-in-a-book mentality, Institute of Data bootcamps focus on practical training, which include exercises and projects that simulate real-world scenarios faced by data scientists, cybersecurity professionals, software engineers, and people working in AI.
“We teach only the essential skills that students need to start working in their chosen field,”…
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