Databases in Coding Schools, Yay or Nay?

Databases in Coding Schools, Yay or Nay?

Over the last several months, I’ve been doing qualitative research into the coding school / developer education space. Specifically investigating if, how, and why coding programs incorporate databases into their curriculum.

Over the last several months, I’ve been doing qualitative research into the coding school / developer education space. Specifically investigating if, how, and why coding programs incorporate databases into their curriculum. While there were of course some differences based on location, size, and emphasis, there were also a few interesting commonalities. I thought I’d share my findings, see if the community has additional insight, and highlight where HarperDB might fit into the mix. (Note: this is related to frontend and full stack programs since backend programs focus almost entirely on databases.)


To conduct this research I reached out to numerous coding instructors, educators, and students across the U.S. and Canada. While many people were respectively too busy, several folks were generous enough to share a bit of insight via email or hop on a call to have a more in depth discussion (if those folks are reading this — thanks again for your help!). I learned the following insights:

  • In general, most coding bootcamps, programs, or classes do touch on databases.

The extent or time spent on databases as well as the variety of databases included depends on the length of the program as well as size — no surprise here. While the larger programs might have more time to touch on databases, they may not have the flexibility to deviate from or influence the course catalog. Whereas smaller programs tend to have more flexibility to switch up the curriculum instead of having to “cut through red tape” to make a change.

  • Generally the same few databases were included in coding curriculums across the board, depending on the focus of the program and location: MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and SQLite.

Smaller / shorter programs that don’t require modeling tend to use MongoDB, while larger / longer programs tend to use PostgreSQL because you can do more with it.

  • Main requirements or road blocks of incorporating databases or making changes to the curriculum? What influences which databases are included?

One of my favorite quotes was, “If something is pretty hot out in the wild, it will find its way into a classroom pretty quickly.” However, some of the larger or more established schools have more restrictions when it comes to making changes. One lead educator at an established school mentioned that these programs are licensed by the state they’re in, and changing them can be expensive and exhausting. Instructors can teach certain things “off the books,” but if they don’t teach what’s in the course catalog they risk being fined or sued.

Also not surprising, some of the smaller schools or full-stack focused programs (as opposed to strictly relational for example) have a lot more flexibility with what databases they teach and when they want to switch it up. (But there were some outliers here as well!) One major commonality in how schools choose which database to teach is the local job market, as well as whichever tool will enable instructors to get from point A to point B in the smoothest way possible (i.e. no old-school clunky systems that take forever to install and learn!).

database coding-schools learning-to-code database-design

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