Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree Review - Online Course How

Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree Review

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Ever accept your dream job only to discover that you don’t have a clue what you’re doing? 

Let me tell you, there’s little that’s more stressful. You need a lot of guidance and advice, but you don’t feel confident enough to ask because you’ve given the impression that your 100% confident. 

The solution is to prepare yourself for your ideal job by taking the best possible course to develop both your knowledge and your skills.  

So, your first step is to choose a said course, and that involves doing a bit of homework by reading articles such as this one. That not only describe the course but also report on what the students have to say about it. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss in detail the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree. We’re going to tackle some of the main questions you might have, and at the end, we’re going to focus on whether this is the course for you (feel free to scroll ahead, we don’t mind). 

About Udacity 

Udacity is a non-profit online learning platform dedicated to producing courses of a very high standard in the field of technical and digital skills. 

Their focus is on employable skills, and as such, they offer a lot of project-based active learning. 

They offer a lot of self-paced courses, which is great for those with busy lives, and they also offer access to mentors to answer any questions you might have. 

What is a Full Stack course, and why are they so popular? 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the role of “web developer” is expected to grow 13 percent from 2018–2028. And according to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, “full-stack engineer” is number 4 on their list of top emerging jobs for 2020. 

So, it’s safe to conclude that such a role is definitely on-trend at the moment, and this is set to continue for a number of years at least. 

And have you heard how much a Full-Stack web developer can make? The national average salary for a Full Stack Developer in the US, according to Glassdoor, is a very nice $105,823 per year. 

So, not only is the role very much in demand, but it’s also very lucrative too. No wonder courses in full-stack development are so popular! 

And just to recap, a full-stack course teaches the student how to develop both the front end or client-side portion of a web app, and the back end, the server-side portion. 

About the course 

In short, then, Udacity’s Full Stack Nanodegree is a broad and in-depth course that will teach its students the knowledge and skills required to become a full-stack web developer. 

What is a Nanodegree? 

Udacity’s Nanodegrees are skill-based qualifications that are conducted primarily online.  

And rather than merely being able to download a certificate for watching a few videos online like many other online courses, a Nanodegree from Udacity tests and assess the student against real-world scenarios.  

So, a Nanodegree is a really valuable qualification to have in the real world. 

And it’s certainly worth noting at this point that Udacity’s Nanodegree programs are valued by industry leaders such as Google and Facebook. 

(Please note, elsewhere on our website we also have an article on “Is A Udacity Nanodegree Worth It?” which is available to read on this link.) 

Overview on Udacity’s Full Stack Nanodegree 

The overall aim of the course is to equip students with the unique skills they need to build database-backed APIs and web applications.  

The course is split into 4 main parts and features 5 different projects. It is expected to take the student approximately 160 hours to complete. 

Each project you build will be an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in the lessons and demonstrate to potential employers that you have practical full-stack development skills. 

The course is entirely self-paced. So, if you can manage 6 hours of study one week, and only 2 hours the next, that’s perfectly fine (but not recommended if you can avoid it). 

Meet the instructors 

There are 4 instructors on this course. 

There’s Amy Hua, who has several years of experience as a software professional, building everything from self-driving cars through to data visualisations. She has also been a StartupBus Mentor, and a Girls Who Code Instructor. 

There’s also Caryn McCarthy, who has also worked in software development. Her claim to fame is as a Coach and Experience Manager at Code Next at Google. 

There’s Gabriel Ruttner. He is the Chief Technical Officer at Ursa, and a Tech Advisor for Start-Ups. His expertise lies in natural language processing services and cloud-based machine learning. 

And finally, there’s Kennedy Behrman, a veteran consultant and author, who specializes in architecting and implementing cloud solutions. He is also experienced in data science, data engineering, engineering management, and AWS solutions. 

What are the prerequisites? 

Unfortunately, you can’t just start a full stack developer nanodegree without first having experience in writing and testing software with Python or some other object-oriented programming language. 

The precise pre-requisites are as follows: 

  • Beginner-level experience in Python 
  • Experience building front-end web sites with HTML, CSS, and Javascript 
  • Experience using Git for version control 

And for the Python and Git requirements, if you don’t already have this experience, you can achieve this by taking some of Udacity’s other courses, such as their Intro to Computer Science course, and/or their GitHub course. 

It’s also important to note at this point that there are other requirements besides. This includes:  

  • access to a computer with broadband 
  • ability to communicate in English 
  • willingness to collaborate with other students 
  • Being self-driven and motivated to learn 
  • 10 hours a week to devote to learning 

Course breakdown (modules) 

As I believe we mentioned earlier, the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree is made up of 4 main parts. But rather than refer to these parts as modules in a course, Udacity refers to them as courses in the program. 

These 4 courses include: 

  • SQL and Data Modeling for the Web 
  • API Development and Documentation 
  • Identity Access Management 
  • Server Deployment and Containerization 

Each course consists of 3 to 6 individual lessons, and the course projects are scattered throughout the program, with at least one featured in every course. 

In Course 1, SQL and Data Modeling for the Web, you learn to master relational databases with SQL and use Python to incorporate database logic into your programs. 

In Course 2, API Development and Documentation, you learn how to use APIs to control and manage web applications, including best practices for API testing and documentation. 

In Course 3, Identity Access Management, you learn about implement authentication and authorization in Flask and how to design against key security principles.  

In Course 4, Server Deployment and Containerization, you can develop your understanding of containerized environments, and use Docker to share and store containers, before deploying a Docker container to a Kubernetes cluster using AWS 

The 5 course projects include: 

  • Design of a venue booking database 
  • Trivia API 
  • Identity Access Management 
  • Deploy a Flask app to Kubernetes using EKS 
  • Capstone project 

If you want more details on the syllabus, you can download the whole thing from Udacity’s website. 

How long does the course take? 

If you can dedicate 5 to 10 hours of study every week, then it should take you an approximate 4 months to complete the course. (Not bad, hey?) 

 full-stack

If you can manage to squeeze in an hour a day, you could potentially be fully qualified in less than 6 months. Pretty cool. 

The reason Udacity recommends spending about 10 hours per week, is so that you can complete the course in one 4-month block, which is the most popular payment option. 

This leads us very nicely onto our next section. 

What is the cost? 

4 months access to the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree costs a one-off payment of $1356. 

This is the most popular payment option. 

There are multiple payment methods you can use, and you can even arrange to start learning now and pay later, through using Affirm. 

If you don’t manage to complete the course within the 4 months, you don’t need to worry. You can switch to paying a monthly rate of $339 until you have completed the course. 

Or you might be lucky and catch a flash sale. Sometimes you can get as much as 75% off a course! 

Value for Money 

And when it comes to costs, the real question is whether you’d get good value for your money. Is it worth it? 

Udacity Nanodegrees are available at a mere fraction of the cost of a regular degree. And they are valued in the industry because of their skill-based teaching and how they prepare the learner for using their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios. 

And that’s before you even consider the other benefits. You can work at your own pace, when it best suits you, fitting it around any other obligations you might have. 

Not to mention the mentor support to keep you motivated and on track. Or the career services, such as resume support and LinkedIn profile optimization. Way to get ahead! 

What have other learners said? 

Amongst the students who have taken the time to review the course, there’s an average student rating of 4.6 stars out of a possible 5 stars, which is pretty good if you ask us. And that comes after about 600 individual student ratings. 

Good Points 

The students particularly enjoy how engaging the course is and how well it pushes them to do more than they imagined they could. 

They like how the tutors get straight to the point and don’t dance around the subject at all. 

They also appreciate the feedback system. Once they have submitted a course project, they typically get their project feedback within as little as 3 hours. How timely is that! So convenient, no needless waiting around for a response. 

Plus, there are unlimited submissions allowed. So, if your first attempt at a project wasn’t quite up to speed, you can keep working on it, and keep getting feedback until you eventually ace it! 

Bad Points 

Some learners have said that the content in the individual lessons doesn’t always tally up with what you need to know to complete the projects and that students will have to do their own reading around to top up their knowledge. 

But we would argue that’s to be expected. It’s a professional course, not a school subject. 

Some learners have said that the course focuses too heavily on the back-end side of full-stack development, rather than providing equal attention to each side. 

This is possibly a fair argument, however, it is quite often the back-end stuff that needs to be more carefully thought out, whereas front-end stuff can be easily tweaked. 

Some learners complained about the price. And we can certainly see where they are coming from that, with more affordable courses readily available on other learning platforms, such as Udemy and Coursera. 

How is the job market? 

We touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating here. 

The statistics 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the role of “web developer” is expected to grow 13 percent from 2018–2028.  

And according to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, “full-stack engineer” is number 4 on their list of top emerging jobs for 2020. 

So, as you can see there is clearly a high demand for people with these kinds of skills, and this is a trend that is expected to continue for some time. 

But what these figures don’t tell us is how competitive it is to get into such jobs. So, let’s address that now. 

The competition 

With so many positions to fill, you’d imagine that landing a job would be a breeze, but sadly, merely having the skills won’t guarantee you a job, and you will be met with competition. 

Those in the industry say that it’s easier find to find work in full stack web app development rather than specializing.  Full-stack knowledge gives you a competitive edge against those who have who are skilled or knowledgeable in front-end or back-end only. 

Being able to keep up to date on both sides of the systems is quite full-on, however, and requires continuous learning, even after you land the job. Especially when you consider how frantic the front-end work can be. 

Getting your foot in the door 

The key to getting your foot in the door seems to be by starting as a junior full stack developer and putting yourself forward for higher positions as the opportunity to do so comes around. 

Either way, having Udacity’s Full Stack Nanodegree behind you will put you in an excellent position for going for such jobs, because of their project-based teaching, which will allow you to put together a digital portfolio of all your work. It demonstrates how you can put your skills and knowledge to practice in real-world scenarios. 

Is this course for me? 

In conclusion, then, this course is an excellent stepping stone to a very much in-demand career in full-stack web development. 

Because of the cost of the course together with the time required to put in the work, do those four parts of the course, and to complete those 5 large projects, we would only recommend this Nanodegree to those who are really serious about becoming a Full Stack Developer. 

In many ways, the course is likely to only attract sufficiently motivated and dedicated students anyway because of the breadth and scope of the pre-requisites. 

Consider the Prerequisites 

Speaking of which, this is one of the key areas that will determine if this course is right for you. (Scroll back up for more details.) 

If you already have the necessary prerequisites and you enjoyed pursuing them, then this Nanodegree should be right up your street. 

That said, if you already have substantive knowledge of the field, then you might find some of it repetitive, as you may have heard and practiced much of it before. If you are concerned about this, then take a scroll back up and read through the course modules and projects, and look for potential overlap. 

If, however, being a Full Stack Developer is a more distant vision for your future, then how about trying out some of the courses that can give you the pre-requisites, and that way you can get a feel for what both the course and the job could be like. 

Consult an enrolment advisor? 

If you’re still unsure if Udacity’s Full Stack Nanodegree is the right course for you, why not take advantage of the opportunity to discuss it with an enrolment advisor? Simply head over to udacity.com/advisor, and put your questions over. 

Final Word 

The Full Stack Web Development Nanodegree by Udacity is an excellent stepping stone to an even more promising career. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it will put you in excellent stead for the future. But no course can guarantee you your dream job and you will have to put the time in to get the best results.

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