Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'I Don't Think a Four-Year Degree is Necessary to Be Proficient at Coding'

Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited an Apple Store in Orlando, Florida to meet with 16-year-old Liam Rosenfeld, one of 350 scholarship winners who will be attending Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference next month.

Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌, left, and WWDC 2019 scholar Liam Rosenfeld via TechCrunch

Echoing comments he shared with the Orlando Sentinel, Cook told TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino that it is "pretty impressive" what Rosenfeld is accomplishing with code at such a young age, serving as a perfect example of why he believes coding education should begin in the early grades of school.
"I don't think a four year degree is necessary to be proficient at coding" says Cook. "I think that's an old, traditional view. What we found out is that if we can get coding in in the early grades and have a progression of difficulty over the tenure of somebody's high school years, by the time you graduate kids like Liam, as an example of this, they're already writing apps that could be put on the App Store."
Cook made similar comments during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting at the White House earlier this year.

While in Florida, Cook attended a conference that saw SAP and Apple announce an expanded partnership focused on new enterprise apps taking advantage of technologies like machine learning and augmented reality.

Despite all of the technological advancements in recent years, Cook told Panzarino that many businesses have not "changed a whole lot" and are "still using very old technology." With more solutions like those from SAP and Apple, and tech-savvy employees of the future like Rosenfeld, that could change.
"I think what it is is they haven't embraced mobility. They haven't embraced machine learning. They haven't embraced AR. All of this stuff is a bit foreign in some way. They're still fixing employees to a desk. That's not the modern workplace," Cook says. "People that graduate from high school and get a little experience under their belt can do quite well in this job."
The full interview can be read on TechCrunch with an Extra Crunch subscription or in the Apple News app with an ‌Apple News‌+ subscription.

WWDC 2019 begins June 3 in San Jose.

Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago
You don't get better at coding by going to school. You get better at coding by coding.

Now, if you ever want to be more than a developer, a 4 year degree would likely come in handy.
Rating: 66 Votes
9 months ago
Of course he doesn't. That's because Tim wants a cheaper labor pool. And, if the requirement is changed from a 4 year degree, the employers can eventually pay less.

That 4 years of Computer Science gave me the proper foundation to design / implement software (not just code).
Rating: 54 Votes
9 months ago
In a 4 year degree course, you learn more about software development than just cranking out code.
Rating: 38 Votes
9 months ago

So Tim is saying that I wasted four years of my life going to college?!?


What does Tim Apple know about coding? He's a supply chain expert.
Rating: 36 Votes
9 months ago
One day these programmers will be like factory workers with the same salary. This is exactly what Tim and the rest of the tech industry are trying to do getting into cheap labor to increase profit.
Rating: 36 Votes
9 months ago
'We want coders to work for us just like small children do making overpriced iPhones: as economic slave laborers'

There, I fixed it for him.
Rating: 22 Votes
9 months ago
I for one appreciate his statement. Degrees for most technical, high paying jobs are worthless. I’ll hire experience over education any day, when it comes to IT positions.

I do wish the American society would take more interest into educating trades vs degrees.
Rating: 20 Votes
9 months ago
While a four year degree may not be necessary for coding, or really most jobs for that matter, Apple and most companies insist on making sure to hire those who are burdened by crippling debt, mainly in the form of student loans. It’s a fantastic strategy for hiring people who desperately need to make their payments, allowing companies to exploit and underpay them.

Careful, Tim. If the industry figures out this big secret that everyone already knows, people might have to start getting paid enough to live a prosperous life *and* educational institutions might have less demand for Apple products!
Rating: 14 Votes
9 months ago
Corollary: Being proficient at supply-chain management doesn't qualify you to leader a visionary company.
Rating: 13 Votes
9 months ago
Then why does Apple still require a 4-year degree from all their software engineering jobs?

EDIT: They don't necessarily.
Rating: 12 Votes

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