More Questions Answered on Hack University


WHY did we start Hack University?

For the past four years, Hack Oregon has been breaking the mold on what people expect from data and communities.  

For the upcoming project season, as we're standardizing a set of technology tools and strategic approaches to streamline our experience, we have the opportunity to open up our process and teach what we do. The skills we're sharing are not limited to Hack Oregon projects,  although our work provides an incredibly rich atmosphere for learning all kinds of skills that relate to the complex world of data and storytelling. Because Hack Oregon has the flexibility to experiment with large teams at scale, we're able to place juniors from Hack University in positions with more creative control --- and an incubated environment to feel confident exploring and commanding new skills . 

We strongly encouraged our students to volunteer with Hack Oregon during project season to gain experience working with a full stack engineering team and apply the skills they learned in class. Enrolling in Hack University is not contingent on volunteering with Hack Oregon, not all students become volunteers and not all volunteers have been students. 

Nope, We're not a code school

Hack University courses are not meant to be an end-to-end bootcamp, but are more like a challenging "finishing school" with a focus on specializations and applied learning through the Hack Oregon project season. The best way to think of these courses would be like a supercharged job-readiness track to go from feeling like a beginner to being work ready as a professional with real-world, high level project experience.   

At Hack University, it's normal to meet an art director in a coding course, and a CTO in a Level I design course. The diversity in our classrooms is what makes the learning experience fun and innovative! Each student is personally interviewed by Hack Oregon's Founder and Executive Director, Catherine Nikolovski, to ensure their expectations and goals are in line with the course they are applying for. We strive to have each student graduate from their course feeling competent and fulfilled with their experience.

As a Hack University student you'll also be part of the Hack Oregon family. Which means a network of friends, professionals, and companies who are all connected by a commitment to open data and civic innovation.

Why do you have such a big discount for early tuition payment?

Hack Oregon is a non-profit, and it's part of our mission to do our best to keep the cost of training accessible and affordable to a diverse pool of applicants.  Our sticker price for training is highly subsidized by our other programming and resources from the project season, and the amount we charge for each class is the bare-bones minimum it takes for us to cover the cost of each participant.  When we set up individual payment plans, fulfill complex invoicing requirements for employers or government groups, or receive late payments, it drives our operational cost up significantly.  We're happy to offer a steep discount for those who can pay early through our online portal, because it saves us time and resources! 


What's the deal with Level I, Level II, and Level III options? 

As data becomes a part of the fabric of our daily lives, learning about code, design, and systems thinking for technology is relevant for everyone.  We encourage our community to learn about disciplines that are challenging and new to them, and delve deeper into experimental territory in those areas they feel they know well.

Level I

These are foundation courses for those who have less than 50 hours of practice time in the subject matter.

Level II

Students who have a minimum 50-100 hours of practice time in the subject matter and demonstrate foundational competency are a great fit for Level II courses. We typically see students from Level I continue their training through Level II courses to strengthen their domain expertise - making them competitive candidtates in the tech industry. 

Level III 

Level III course designation is typically meant to indicate that students should be prepared to walk into a production environment on day one, with a greater emphasis on "learning and doing" simultaneously.



Each course is 6 instructional hours per week, meeting twice per week on evenings or weekends, and is designed to fit into a busy professional lifestyle.  

You can get a positive experience from the course with minimal outside learning, especially if you come in with some experience on the subject.  Because the class time is all interactive and project based, there wont be time for screen casts during weekly meetings, but students will be provided with a range of suggested material that can fit your availability and ambitions.  



Each course is $1100. As a non-profit, we run our courses at cost and bootstrap each cycle to ensure they are modular and affordable. We also offer payment plans and limited competitive scholarships so that you can take one or multiple depending on your commitment and availability. All proceeds go to support the Hack Oregon project work and ensure the independence and free treatment of our data.  



Hack Oregon project work is staying much the same and it will always be free to volunteer.  We're designing these courses as a supplemental option because we feel like it would be really cool to offer a more guided space to learn, because we know that projects can be highly challenging and move quickly. Sometimes a mentor relationship isn't enough during an intense production environment.

Also, each project can only accept one junior per role, and we're excited that Hack University courses will allow us to sandbox the material and share our "junior" experience with more people.  

If you want to volunteer on a Hack Oregon team project, you will need to apply separately and you can find an application here.