- What is the Recurse Center?
The Recurse Center is a self-directed educational retreat for people who want to get better at programming, whether you’ve been coding for three months or three decades. You attend RC for either six or 12 weeks with a group of other programmers called a “batch.” You can find out more on About RC.
- What’s a retreat?
RC is a retreat for programmers in the same way that a writing residency is a retreat for writers. It’s a chance to step back from the distractions of everyday life and focus deeply on programming, while surrounded by other people doing the same thing.
- What do people do at RC?
At RC, you write software for fun, in collaboration with programmers from all over the world. What you build is entirely up to you. You do this so you can become a dramatically better programmer.
During your batch, you work at the edge of your abilities, choose projects that bring you joy, get inspired by the people around you, and learn generously to inspire them. To learn more, read The self-directives.
- What does “self-directed” mean?
Self-directed means that at RC, you choose what to work on. You learn things because you want to. Because they spark your curiosity and bring you joy. There’s no curriculum, and nobody to force you to do things you’re not interested in.
Self-directed does not mean unstructured. At RC you’ll find lots of structure – study groups, presentations, checkins, social events, and more – most of it organized by other Recursers, and almost all of it optional. You decide how to spend your time.
- What kinds of people go to the Recurse Center?
Recursers come from an extraordinarily diverse range of backgrounds. To find out more, read Who comes to RC.
- Is RC a bootcamp?
No. RC is an educational retreat for people who already know how to program, and for programmers of all experience levels. Our goal is to create the best place for you to grow as a programmer, not to turn you into a professional programmer in three months. See Not a bootcamp for more.
- How much does attending the Recurse Center cost?
RC is free for everyone. You will never receive a bill from RC.
Taking time off from work or away from your family still comes at a cost. To help offset those expenses and make RC more accessible to people from underrepresented groups, we offer living expense grants of up to $5,000. Learn more on Diversity and inclusion.
- How can you afford to make RC free?
RC has a built in recruiting agency. Companies pay to hire RC alumni. This payment never comes out of your salary.
If you want a programming job, either immediately after your batch or many years later, we can help you find one. If you don’t want a job, that’s fine too. There’s no obligation to work with RC to get a job at any point during or after your batch.
To find out more about how RC can help you grow your career, you can read Career services.
If you’re interested in recruiting from RC, you can learn more and get in touch with us here.
- How do I apply?
For more details about applying and to fill out an application, see Applying to RC.
Who should apply
- I don’t know how to program. Can I attend RC?
No, sorry. RC is only for people who already know how to code. Think of it like attending a writers’ workshop: it can help you become a better novelist, but you have to already know English and be comfortable writing fiction.
- How much programming experience do I need to attend an RC retreat?
You need to have programmed enough to know that you enjoy programming and are able to write short programs from scratch. Most of your time here will be spent programming, and if you don’t like programming, you won’t like RC.
This doesn’t mean you need to be single-mindedly obsessed with coding or regularly spend 12 hours a day doing it; it just means the prospect of three months focusing on becoming a better programmer should sound like fun and not a chore.
If you get excited thinking about how programming languages are written, or solve Project Euler problems for fun, or get a burst of joy every time you squash a bug, you’re almost certainly a good fit for RC.
The lower bound for experience for people who have successfully done a batch of RC Retreat seems to be a few months. That is, we’ve had exceptional Recursers who started their batch with as little as two months of programming experience and who have done enormously well.
- Is there a minimum age for attending RC?
- There’s no lower bound on age as long as you meet the admissions criteria and can commit to participating in RC fully for the duration of your batch. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian needs to sign a waiver. The youngest Recurser so far was 13 when they attended.
- I'm not from the United States. Can I attend RC?
Definitely! People from more than 50 countries have attended RC in person and online.
- I’d like to start my own company. Should I attend RC?
- It depends, but if your primary interest is starting a company, you should apply to Y Combinator.
- I’m a contract programmer. Can I do client work at the Recurse Center?
- No, the Recurse Center is not a coworking space.
- What’s the admissions process?
For details about the admissions process and timeline, see Applying to RC.
- I want to apply to the next batch of RC, but it starts soon. Will I get through the admissions process in time?
It's hard to answer this question because it depends on a number of different factors including when you apply, how many other applications we receive during the same period, interviewer availability, and how quickly you're able to schedule your interviews.
In general, if you apply one month before a batch starts, we should be able to get you an answer in time for you to attend, but that's not a guarantee. We can occasionally get you an answer in as little as a week or two if we are able to review your application quickly and you are efficient about scheduling your interviews.
- Should I submit an application for each batch I’m able to attend?
No, just submit one application for the batch you’re most likely to attend. If you’re admitted, you’ll have the option to choose a different one.
- Am I eligible for a grant?
Grants are available to anyone who identifies as a woman (cis or trans), trans, genderqueer, non-binary, Black, Latino/a/x, Native American, and/or Pacific Islander and is unable to attend RC without financial assistance. Learn more on Diversity and inclusion.
- Can you tell me why I wasn’t admitted or give me feedback on my application?
We don’t give individualized admissions feedback. You can read more about why here.
- I applied and wasn’t admitted. Can I reapply?
You’re welcome to reapply, but you must wait at least three months after receiving the decision on your previous application. Getting rejected does not disqualify you from attending RC. In fact, 6% of all Recursers applied at least twice before being admitted. The most valuable thing you can do when you reapply is to show that you've made progress becoming a better programmer.
- In the “program you’ve written from scratch” question, can I submit something that uses a framework?
The RC application includes a code sample so we can get a rough understanding of where you are as a programmer. We ask you to avoid frameworks because frameworks can make it harder for us to find the code you actually wrote. It’s often hard to figure out where the framework ends and your code begins.
You should choose whatever project you think best represents your programming ability, and use your judgement to decide whether it will be hard for us to quickly understand your program or figure out what parts of it you wrote. It’s better if you can submit a program that doesn't use a framework, even if you have to write something small for the application (tic-tac-toe works great). You're welcome to include links to any other projects you’re proud of in the "Links" section of your application.
- I’m not a US citizen. Can I attend the Recurse Center?
- Yes, you can attend all upcoming batches of RC online, no matter where you are in the world! We’ve had people come from over 50 countries to attend the Recurse Center, and people have attended remotely from nearly every time zone and over 100 cities.
- How many Recursers come from outside the US?
- When we were operating in our physical space, about 30% of Recursers came from outside the US. To learn more about who comes to RC, read Who comes to RC.
- Can you sponsor visas?
- No, sorry.
- When does the next batch start?
The next batch starts on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024. You can find a list of upcoming batches on Applying to RC.
- What’s the time commitment?
Attending a retreat at RC is a full-time commitment. You can attend for either a full batch (12 weeks) or a half-batch (six weeks). Batches meet Monday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm ET. We expect you to make RC your primary commitment while you're in batch.
All current Recursers and alums have 24/7 access to Virtual RC, and online attendees meet regularly to socialize, pair program, learn from each other, and share ideas on Zoom, Zulip, and video calls.
- Can I miss X days/weeks of my batch?
It’s okay to miss one or two days of your batch because of prior engagements, however, it’s not okay to miss more than that (e.g., a full week). If you would need to miss more than a couple of days of a batch, you should attend another batch. A large part of the educational value of RC comes from your interactions with your batchmates and alumni, and being around consistently during your batch is an important part of that.
- I only need to miss one day, but it’s the first day or the last day of the batch. Is that okay?
No, unfortunately. The first and last days of each batch are different from the rest, and it’s essential that everyone attend them. The first day begins with a welcome ceremony in the morning and the last day ends with a 'Never graduate!' celebration. If you can’t make it for one or both of those, you should choose another batch that fits your schedule better.
- Where is the Recurse Center?
- Our physical space is located in New York City, near the intersection of Fulton Street and Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn. RC also exists online, on Zulip and in Virtual RC.
- Do I have to be in New York?
- Not right now. You can attend any upcoming batch of RC online, from wherever you are in the world. Read more about what it's like to do a batch remotely here.
- Can I visit the Recurse Center?
No, not unless you're an admitted Recurser who is attending a batch while our hub is open.
- How does anyone learn if there are no teachers or curricula?
While at RC, people work on programming projects, self-study using books or online courses, and teach and learn from each other both informally and in casual workshops and seminars. We believe that people learn best when given the freedom to focus on what interests them, rather than having to follow a fixed curriculum.
We’ve found that everyone learns a lot when a group of smart, curious people get in a room together to write code and help each other grow.
You can read more about our educational philosophy here.
- What is attending RC remotely like?
You can learn more on our Virtual RC page!.
- How many women are at the Recurse Center?
- Recurse Center batches are typically 30-45% women. You can read this blog post, Diversity and inclusion, and Who comes to RC to learn more.
- How old are most Recursers?
- Recursers have ranged in age from early teens to late 70s, though most are in their late 20s or early 30s. To find out more about the kinds of people you'll find at RC, read Who comes to RC.
- Does the Recurse Center grant degrees or certificates?
No. The reasons to attend the Recurse Center are to become a better programmer, to work on projects you’re excited about, to join the world’s best programming community, and to get a free t-shirt. You can learn more about the reasons people attend by reading Why RC.
- Do you have a Code of Conduct?
- Are you funded?
We were part of the Summer 2010 Y Combinator batch and have received additional funding from Founder Collective, SV Angel and a small set of angel investors. We also received a Flash Grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation.
- What’s the correct way to write your name?
When referring to us in a sentence, our name is written as the Recurse Center (note the lowercase “the,” capitalized “Recurse” and “Center,” and space between the two), and can be abbreviated as RC. Written on its own (i.e., not in a sentence), we are simply Recurse Center.
People who are attending or who have attended the Recurse Center are Recursers. Past Recursers are also known as alums, alumni or alumnae.