What Is the Cohort Model?

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  • Written By: Kesha Ward
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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The cohort model is based on collective work and progress in an academic environment. Students in an education program that follows the cohort model move through the course series collectively. This model of education is believed to benefit students by providing mutual academic and logistical support to help students succeed. The model also helps students complete program requirements in a timely fashion by making enrollment in courses automatic or non-competitive.

Students in programs that follow the cohort model have the ability to develop a camaraderie with their peers that students in traditionally formatted courses do not always have. Since students progress together and have the opportunity to work collaboratively, they build bonds and relationships that may not be possible in a sixteen week course. The common goal of starting and completing the program together encourages students to work collectively.

The cohort model also promotes the development of personal ties. The relationships students build while working toward an educational objective often results in a professional network. The network often extends beyond the model group; students exchange information about professional opportunities and share contacts. The professional network that can be built through the cohort model can significantly aid in students’ career development and can prove to be beneficial for professional advancement.


A variety of educational and degree programs that uses the cohort structure. The model is becoming more common in degree completion, bachelor, master and doctoral programs. Institutions that have developed programs to accommodate working adults often offer the model to help students balance education with other responsibilities. The model is particularly beneficial for students re-entering college after some time and the ability to build relationships in cohort courses makes re-entering academia less stressful.

Cohort model programs also often offer convenience and flexibility that students are not able to experience in traditionally structured courses. Courses are often offered at a location that is convenient for cohort members. Classes may also have convenient meeting times. Depending on the program, students may attend class one day a week or on weekends.

The convenient scheduling of classes in the cohort provides students with enhanced focus. Having class one day per week or on weekends eliminates distractions for some students and allows them to produce quality coursework. The class meeting schedule also encourages the elimination of distractions for students and allows them to bring a higher level of concentration to the learning environment.

One misconception about the cohort model is that coursework is less challenging than in a traditional course format. In most cases the workload for students in a cohort are equal to or greater than that of a traditional course. Students may have a week or longer to complete assignments but the workload may be heavier because of the amount of time given to complete assignments.


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