As Coding Boot Camps Close

In the last five years, dozens of schools have popped up offering an unusual promise: Even humanities graduates can learn how to code in a few months and join the high-paying digital economy. Students and their hopeful parents shelled out as much as $26,000 seeking to jump-start a career.

But the coding boot-camp field now faces a sobering moment, as two large schools have announced plans to shut down this year — despite backing by major for-profit education companies, Kaplan and the Apollo Education Group, the parent of the University of Phoenix.

The closings are a sign that years of heady growth led to a boot-camp glut, and that the field could be in the early stages of a shakeout.

“You can imagine this becoming a big industry, but not for 90 companies,” said Michael Horn, a principal consultant at Entangled Solutions, an education research and consulting firm.

The demand from employers is shifting and the schools must adapt. Many boot camps have not evolved beyond courses in basic web development, but companies are now often looking for more advanced coding skills.

courses, bought Dev Bootcamp and pledged bold expansion.

It is now closing at the end of the year.

Also closing is The Iron Yard, a boot camp that was founded in Greenville, S.C., in 2013 and swiftly spread to 15 campuses, from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. Its main financial backer is the Apollo Education Group.

Since 2013, the number of boot camp schools in the United States has tripled to more than 90, and the number of graduates will reach nearly 23,000 in 2017, a tenfold jump from 2013, according to Course Report, which tracks the industry.

Tarlin Ray, who became president of Dev Bootcamp in April, said in an email that the school offered “a high-quality program” that helped thousands of people join the high-tech economy. “But we were simply unable to find a sustainable business model,” he wrote.

Iron Yard echoed that theme. In an email, Lelia King, a spokeswoman, said that while students benefited, the company was “ultimately unable to sustain our current business model.”

Boot camp courses, aimed at adults, vary in length and cost. Some can take 26 weeks or more, and tuition can reach $26,000. The average course length is just over 14 weeks, and the average cost is $11,400, according to Course Report.

The successful schools, analysts say, will increasingly be ones that expand their programs to suit the changing needs of employers. Some have already added courses like data science, artificial intelligence, digital marketing and project management. Other steps include tailoring courses for corporations, which need to update the skills of their workers, or develop online courses.

Ryan Craig, a managing director at University Ventures, which invests in education start-ups, including Galvanize, a large boot camp, predicted that the overall market would still grow. But students, he said, would become more concentrated in the schools with the best reputations and job placement rates.

The promise of boot camps is that they are on-ramps to good jobs. But rapid expansion into new cities can leave little time to forge ties with nearby companies, the hiring market for boot camp graduates, said Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report.

That message was underlined by Mr. Ray of Dev Bootcamp. While he would not discuss specifics about what happened to his school, he wrote: “We do think that as the boot camp industry continues on, it will be important to create stronger alignment with employers.”

Some boot camps cater directly to corporate customers. General Assembly, which operates 20 coding campuses and has raised $119 million in venture financing, now works with more than 100 large companies on programs to equip their employees with digital skills.