App Academy Open Versus freeCodeCamp

The Cohort
Written by:
Courtney Grace
Published on:
April 14, 2021
App Academy vs FreeCodeCamp

Explore the differences between App Academy Open and freeCodeCamp, two popular, free online coding platforms. This post will help you decide which free curriculum might be a better fit for your goals and the skills you're looking to learn.

Coding is one of the most in-demand skills in a world that’s growing increasingly tech-forward. It’s also a skill you can learn entirely for free if you’re dedicated to teaching yourself.

There are a number of free coding programs out there that teach you the fundamental languages you’ll need to kickstart a career in software development. One such program is our own version: App Academy Open. The curriculum is identical to that of our 16-week bootcamp which covers Ruby on Rails, Javascript, and HTML & CSS, among other languages.

freeCodeCamp is another program that prospective coders use to teach themselves programming basics.

While there are some similarities between App Academy Open and freeCodeCamp, there are fundamental differences to be aware of as you’re determining the right program for you.

App Academy Open Cost Versus freeCodeCamp Cost

App Academy Open is always free. We have an additional mentorship program for $29.99/month that allows you access to a Slack channel for live guidance and answers to technical questions Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm PT.

“The cost to attend freeCodeCamp ranges from $0 to $4,000 depending on the qualification, with a median cost of under $10. When asked how they paid for their training, most reviewers responded, “This certification program was free for everyone”, according to Indeed, but after further investigation, most of freeCodeCamp’s trainings are actually free. There are about 50 different separate certifications to pick and choose those from.

App Academy Open Time Commitment Versus freeCodeCamp Time Commitment

If you’re studying the curriculum top to bottom, App Academy Open offers over 1,500 hours’ worth of curriculum material. The freeCodeCamp course that most closely resembles ours has 300 hours’ worth of material, though they offer other courses in the software development and data science fields.

While you can jump around and select the parts of App Academy Open you’d like to learn, the curriculum builds on top of itself so you’re learning full-stack coding languages and principles. If you choose to complete App Academy Open on your own, it will take on average about a year.

However,  ”the mentorship plan is competitively priced at $30/month. Students that take this option are estimated to complete the course a full 4-6 months earlier than those without it. They can upgrade from the free plan to the mentorship plan whenever they like,” according to Career Karma.

freeCodeCamp, on the other hand, has a time estimate of around 300 hours to complete each of their trainings. They have a free forum open to users to post questions and answers, which they tout as a tight-knit community. User reviews have varied from the estimated completion time of each training, however, according to one previous student:

reddit freecodecamp app academy
Source: Reddit

Ultimately, you determine exactly how long it takes for you to complete the curriculum you’re most interested in, but bear in mind that it may take longer for beginners.

Open Curriculum Versus freeCodeCamp Curriculum

At the core, each program aims to help even complete beginners build a programming foundation that is the basis to learning core languages and others beyond them.

The curriculum is also designed to help you build a portfolio and ultimately get a job.

freeCodeCamp claims that over 40,000 people have received developer jobs after completing their proprietary curriculum, but it’s not entirely clear whether that was the only training these coders had prior to finding employment. This also includes part-time roles, contract or freelance roles, and internships.

One Redditor described their FCC experience as “great, as long as it’s not the only thing you’re doing” if you really want to learn coding and make a career of it:

freecodecamp app academy reddit user experience review
Source: Reddit

At App Academy, over 5,000 graduates have been prepared to start their career in Software Engineering after using this same curriculum in a free or paid capacity. Some of those grads have gone on to work at the world’s top companies in full-time, salaried positions. $85,000.

app academy open review job
Source: App Academy Open

Similarities in Open and freeCodeCamp Curriculum.

There is some overlap in App Academy Open and freeCodeCamp’s curriculum, predominantly in key languages:


Think of JavaScript as the icing on your cake. It makes your web pages and apps more dynamic, interactive, and fun! Anything that moves, changes, or scrolls is built using JS.

Both freeCodeCamp and App Academy Open teach this important front-end language in conjunction with back-end languages to give you full-stack experience.

Responsive Web Design.

Responsive web design — including HTML & CSS — allow you to develop and design based on whatever device the user is on. If your user switches from an iPad to an iPhone to a desktop, the screen size, resolution, and orientation change to fit that new device without compromising the web or app content.

Where App Academy combines these front-end principles within their larger curriculum, one could presumably only learn front-end design by selecting those courses from freeCodeCamp’s catalogue. Our curriculum is designed to turn you into a software engineer; freeCodeCamp allows you to be more selective with the languages you’re learning.

Differences in Open and freeCodeCamp Curriculum.

The biggest difference between these two free courses are the main back-end languages they focus on:

Ruby on Rails (Open).

App Academy Open is a copy/paste of our 16-week curriculum, which is centered around Ruby on Rails. Given the condensed format of this program, we find that Ruby is a great development framework for new coders to build their foundational capabilities on. Typically, you’re writing less code, and even experienced developers find it enjoyable to work with.

Folks with Ruby experience are also highly sought after in big markets like New York and San Francisco (where we have two physical campuses), so teaching this language has always made sense. Airbnb, Soundcloud, Shopify, and Hulu are all built with Ruby on Rails.

Python (freeCodeCamp).

freeCodeCamp, on the other hand, focuses heavily on Python. Python is also quickly becoming the most popular programming language in the world.

They boast two courses — Scientific Computing with Python and Data Analysis with Python — that each take roughly 300 hours to complete.

Apps we use daily like Instagram, Spotify, Uber, and Netflix were built on Python.

App Academy Open’s Goal: Write Code and Understand It.

A fundamental part of knowing how to code is understanding what the functions are doing and applying that logic to learning additional languages. This is the goal with Open material: We want you to not only understand how to write code, but understand why it does what it does.

“App Academy isn’t satisfied with just teaching you to code,” says Brian Green, Head of Product. “We want our graduates to be best-in-class software engineers. Our programs are built to prepare highly functional, independently capable engineers.”

“With App Academy Open, our curriculum will teach how to write code, why it does what it does, as well as how to analyze and improve existing code, and maybe most importantly, how to solve problems when things aren’t working right. We prepare engineers to launch their careers, and teach them how to learn technical material quickly and thoroughly, setting them up for career-long learning and development.”

freeCodeCamp’s Goal: Write Code.

While everyone’s learning style is different, one freeCodeCamp student stated that, while she can write code after competing FCC courses, she didn’t feel that she understood how or why her code worked:

freecodecamp experience reddit
Source: Reddit

Conclusion: Determine What Your Motivation to Learn Is

People turn to coding for a number of reasons; whether you’re looking for a full-blown career change, a side gig, or a way to level up in another field, consider a few factors:

  • What languages do you want to learn — and why?
  • Do you simply want to be able to write code or do you need to understand why it works the way it does?
  • How long do you have to complete this curriculum?
  • What type of support system do you need, if any?

By asking yourself these questions, you can likely determine which course will be best for you. If App Academy Open seems more up your alley, come join a community of 150,000+ strong.


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