Published: April 8, 2020

If you're looking for a data science bootcamp, you might not have considered online options. And while traditional bootcamps can be effective, the truth is that in 2020, you can learn data science very efficiently online, without having to pay $15,000 or more in tuition fees.

In fact, Switchup, a platform that ranks coding bootcamps based on user reviews, has awarded Dataquest Best Online Bootcamp for the second year in a row, and Best Data Science Bootcamp for the third year in a row:

dataquest best online data science bootcamp

These ratings are based on honest student reviews — as of this writing, Dataquest has more than 235 student reviews, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.

So how does Dataquest stack up against traditional, offline data science bootcamps? Let's take a closer look:

It's easy to start online

Traditional bootcamps tend to operate like schools. That means they have an application process that'll require you to fill out and submit forms, wait to find out whether you've been accepted, and then wait some more for the actual program's start date. Depending on the data science program you picked, you may also have to book travel and lodging.

Also, many traditional bootcamps do requre some online pre-work or have skill-based prerequisites you'll need to fulfill before attending.

Some even require or prefer advanced degrees in relevant disciplines! For example, the NYC Data Science Academy says that it prefers "individuals with master’s degrees or Ph.D.s in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics" and that learners with no prior background should apply six weeks early to allow time for pre-work.

Online bootcamps like Dataquest, in contrast, are easy. You can sign up and be on our platform writing your first code in less than five minutes. There's no application process, no waiting, and no prerequisites. 

Speed like a bootcamp, but with flexibility

Offline data science bootcamps borrow their name from military "bootcamps," intensive training camps designed to get new soldiers up to speed over a short period of time. Data science bootcamps train different skills, of course, but the idea is the same. The idea is that if you can commit three months, by the end of the program you’ll have the basic skills you need for data science employment.

Dataquest can work the same way, if that's what you want.

Of course, we offer a flexible, work-at-your-own-pace approach. But if you approach it with the seriousness of a bootcamp and commit at least 15 to 20 hours a week to your studies, you might be surprised by how fast you can progress!

For example, here's the story of one student who went from having zero relevant experience to working as a full-time data engineer in less than six months:

Curriculum that teaches what you'll actually use

Traditional data science bootcamps can achieve their high training speeds because their curriculum is carefully chosen, with a focus on the skills data scientists actually need to find (and keep) jobs in the field. However, the need to condense everything into three months (and the need to sell students on a five-figure investment) sometimes forces bootcamps to cut corners. For example, one relatively common complaint is that traditional bootcamps don't cover enough SQL. And while SQL may not be as "sexy" as machine learning on a brochure, it's a critical skill for real-world data science work.

Because Dataquest's curriculum is online and you can work through it at whatever pace you choose, we're able to offer the best of both worlds: career paths that cover everything you need to learn (including SQL and statistics) to get a job.

Our Python path, for example, includes training in Python programming, data visualization, pandas, NumPy, data cleaning, SQL, statistics, machine learning, natural language processing, Spark, and much more.

And just like an offline bootcamp, our paths include guided real-world data science projects that you'll use to synthesize your new skills as you learn, and to fill out your resume and project portfolio. 

hands on learning bootcamp

Hands-on learning

One of the big advantages of data science bootcamps is that they typically offer hands-on, project-focused classes that aim to get you working with data from day one. For a lot of learners, this approach is more effective than either the traditional university model (a professor lecturing in front of a PowerPoint) or the traditional online model (a teacher lecturing over a video of them coding).

At Dataquest, we take a project-based approach too. We agree that the best way to learn data science is to actually do data science. We want students to get your hands on real-world data and start working with it as early as possible.

That's why, unlike a lot of MOOCs and other online options, we don't teach using videos. We want you to spend most of your time coding, not watching.

Additionally, virtually all of our classes use real data sets to analyze interesting problems, and our guided projects offer additional opportunities for guided hands-on learning.

Learning from peers

Another selling point for real-world bootcamps is that they offer peer interaction. There’s definitely value in being able to ask questions and work on group projects with other aspiring data scientists.

Plus, being able to work constructively with other data scientists is an important skill at many jobs, where you’ll need to work as part of a larger data team.

Here, too, Dataquest can offer a “bootcamp” experience. Since we’re online-only, there’s no physical proximity to your peers, but our data science community makes it easy for students to get quick answers to technical questions, network, and team up for projects.

Career help

This is a big one. After all, it’s probably why you are considering a data science bootcamp in the first place: to get a job.

Real-world bootcamps often sell students on their career counseling services, and it’s tough to overestimate the value of being able to get guidance and advice from real data science professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers.

Dataquest Premium subscribers get that too in the form of personalized career help in our subscribers-only career forum. There you can ask questions and get help, resume reviews, project feedback, and more from a qualified team of data scientists and career experts.

Our exhaustively-researched guide to data science job applications is also available to everyone for free, even without a subscription!

career counseling bootcamp

Real career outcomes: getting a job in data science

Traditional data science bootcamps promise, and sometimes even guarantee, results. And while we would encourage all students to be skeptical of unaudited claims about the percentage of graduates who find jobs, there’s no denying that many bootcamp students really do go on to find cool jobs at promising companies in the field.

That’s not unique to offline programs, though.

Dataquest students have landed full-time data science jobs at companies like Amazon, SpaceX, and Citibank, as well as trendy startups like 

You can check out some of our recently-featured success stories here; we also share them from time to time on social media. The three most common jobs Dataquest students get are data scientist, data engineer, and data analyst, but we've also placed students in a variety of other analytics-related positions. Check out this article for some more job titles you might be interested in and qualified for after learning with Dataquest.

One of the unique advantages to learning data science online is that it also opens up new career outcomes that bootcamps generally can't offer.

For example, maybe you're not interested in becoming a data scientist, but you'd like to learn some data skills to improve your efficiency at work (and maybe get that next raise). Attending a bootcamp would be expensive overkill, and it would probably be tough to convince your boss to give you three full months off!

With Dataquest, you can learn on your own time, and many of our students study while holding full-time jobs because they want to add some new data skills to their skill set.

For more on your Dataquest can impact student careers, check out the results of our student survey. Or, you can check out user reviews on sites like SwitchUp and Course Report at any time to see how satisfied students are feeling about our course offerings.

High-quality learning, affordable price

Offline data science bootcamps definitely aren’t cheap. In fact, Switchup’s top-ranked offline bootcamps for data science (General Assembly, Metis, and Data Science Academy) all charge in excess of $15,000 for their 12-week data science bootcamp programs!

That’s still affordable compared to the traditional alternative: four years of college study with average costs that range from $40,000 (for in-state public university students living at home) to more than $187,000 (for private college students living on campus).

And that’s not even including the thousands most college students have to spend on books, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs!

This, of course, is where Dataquest beats offline bootcamps at their own game.

Because we don’t have to pay the heavy overhead associated with renting or owning physical spaces, our Premium subscription is far more affordable than the average offline data science bootcamp. At just $399 billed yearly, you could take Dataquest courses for the next 37 years and still pay less than you would for many 12-week bootcamp programs.

Bootcamp Plus: The Dataquest Advantage


Traditional Bootcamp

Time Commitment


3 months full-time


$399 or less for one year

$5,000 to $20,000 for 3 months

Additional expenses


Travel, food, sometimes lodging

Student outcomes

Jobs as data scientists, data engineers, and data analysts (read real learner stories).

Typically, jobs as data scientists or data analysts

Carefully-designed course sequences

Required prerequisites?


Often requires "pre-work"

Career counseling

Yes (personalized online advice, answers, resume and project reviews)

Yes (services vary, some offer job guarantees)

Peer interaction

Yes (active, helpful community forums)

Yes (varies)

Hands-on learning

Subjects Covered

  • Python or R
  • Machine Learning
  • SQL
  • Statistics
  • Command Line
  • Git
  • Python or R
  • Machine Learning
  • SQL (sometimes)
  • Statistics (sometimes)
  • So yes, we have a lot in common with offline data science bootcamps. And yes, we’re currently ranked as the best online bootcamp in data science.

    Why don’t we call Dataquest a bootcamp? Because we offer more than that.

    Our subscription model offers ideal bang-for-your-buck if you want to put yourself through a rigorous three-month bootcamp-style program. But it also offers something more: ongoing access to our community and our ever-expanding library of courses. That’s one major downside of the offline bootcamps: while many provide excellent training, when the next popular package or industry trend comes along, you can’t go back to update your training.

    With a Dataquest subscription you can, because we’re regularly adding new courses and updating old courses to ensure that we’re offering the best possible training for working data scientists.

    So no, we’re not really a data science bootcamp. We’re more flexible than that.

    If you’re serious about learning data science and you’re ready to commit, you can find everything you’d want in a top data science bootcamp right here at Dataquest, at a small fraction of the cost.

    About the author 

    Charlie Custer

    Charlie is a student of data science, and also a content marketer at Dataquest. In his free time, he's learning to mountain bike and making videos about it.


    bootcamps, dataquest

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