Frequently asked questions

Why should I study with Bradfield?

If you are a strong programmer but strive to do more challenging and rewarding work, then Bradfield is here to serve you. We feel that it’s relatively easy to teach yourself a new language or technology, so we focus on the challenging computer science concepts that will make you a significantly better engineer, but that are hard to learn without some instruction and a supportive environment. As far as we know, we are the only institution that does this outside of a university environment.

What does a typical class look like?

We conduct highly interactive tutorial style classes of 8-12 students, combining question-and-answer style teaching with hands on problem solving. Before the class, your instructor will ask you to watch a video lecture or read a textbook section or paper. Instead of repeating the lecture in class, we will probe your understanding and consolidate your knowledge.

Many of our courses will involve a major project (like writing an interpreter or database system) or a series of minor projects (like adding features to an operating system, writing a load balancer or re-deriving TCP) and your instructor will help you extend your understanding to these and other applications.

How are courses structured?

Classes run twice per week for 4-6 weeks, for a total of 18-20 contact hours. We also suggest an hour of preparation per hour of class, and are able to provide more prework and homework for those who have the capacity.

Where are you located?

576 Natoma St, which is between 6th and 7th streets in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. This is close to a number of transportation options.

How does Bradfield compare to a university?

The top computer science departments in the US have done an excellent job of identifying the lasting ideas in computer science that every practitioner should learn. Unfortunately, the conventional university format—lectures and exams, spread over four years—does not suit everybody. Relative to a university, our own offering covers many of the same big ideas and foundational topics, but in a radically different format.

By using online courseware to provide the equivalent of lectures, the in-person portion can be dedicated to deepening understanding. By limiting courses to strong programmers, keeping classes small, and eliminating excessively theoretical content as well as exams and graded assignments, we are able to cover a comparable amount of content in an expedited manner.

How does Bradfield compare to a bootcamp?

Bradfield exists to give you deep, valuable capabilities rather than your first programming job. We assume that you already are or could be a professional software engineer, but that you are striving to a higher standard. Many of our students did attend a bootcamp at some point, and valued the intensity and direct path to employability, but recognized that they would need to invest more time in their education in order to achieve their ultimate goals.

Are all of your classes in person?

We are currently trialing a small number of live online courses, to replicate our in-person experience as best we can for those unable to attend in person in San Francisco.

It is also common for interstate or international students to travel to San Francisco to attend our courses. Often they will continue working remotely while they take a single class, or dedicate the time to studying with us full time. If you would like to explore this option, we will do our best to help you with planning.

How practical are your courses?

Before we started teaching, we were senior software engineers and engineering managers, not researchers. All of our courses are practical, although they will push you toward a deeper understanding of the practice of software engineering. For instance, all of our courses involve either a major course project, or a series of smaller projects or exercises. These are all practical problems, but problems that would be impossible to solve without the depth of computer science understanding for which we strive.

As an example, students in our Databases course implement a simple relational database management system from scratch. This is practical insofar as it requires a significant amount of software engineering, and provides invaluable insight that any practicing software engineer ought to have about the database technologies with which they likely work. However, it requires a firm understanding of the theoretical concepts covered in the course.

Can I take all of your courses in lieu of a conventional computer science program?

Yes! We love when students do this, and have had some great success with recent high school graduates, dropouts from conventional college programs as well as more experienced engineers who would have otherwise pursued a masters degree. For these students, we provide some additional support and mentorship, and a discount on tuition, as part of our Core CS program.

How many classes can I take in parallel?

If you plan to study full time, you may be able to take three courses in parallel. Our courses are always scheduled such that this is possible. If you will continue to work or have other commitments, we generally suggesting taking only one.

When will you next run course X?

We schedule courses based on demand. Our most popular courses such as Algorithms and Data Structures or Computer Architecture tend to run every couple of months, whereas our more advanced courses such as Operating Systems or Distributed Systems run every 4-5 months.

Do you offer a degree, or transferable credits?

At this stage, we are unable to provide a degree or credit that would be recognized by a regionally accredited university. Doing so would require us to structure our courses much more similarly to theirs, and to administer exams, which we would prefer to avoid. We can however provide a certificate of completion or letter of accomplishment as desired.