4 Ways a Cohort Model Can Benefit Graduate Students

4 Ways Cohort Models Benefit Graduate Students


Definition: The cohort model is based on the collective work of higher education students that progress through an academic program together. Cohorts are believed to benefit students by providing academic and logistical support in order to complete program requirements in a timely fashion — making enrollment in courses automatic or non-competitive.

As opposed to a traditional graduate program where students are expected to change courses every semester, a cohort engages a tight knit learning community of students, usually 10-12, throughout their entire academic program. Each member of the cohort is encouraged to listen, think deeply and actively participate in discussions as they work towards their degree.

While staying with the same group of people throughout your entire graduate program may seem odd, studies have shown cohorts in higher education have become popular over the last several years because of the benefits the model can provide to students, faculty and administrators.

If you’re considering applying to a graduate program based on the cohort model, here are some positive outcomes you may be interested in knowing about:

1. Student-Centered
Cohorts are inherently designed to focus on the needs of the graduate student because the environment is a shared learning experience. In other words, each member of the cohort is seen as the teacher and learner, actively participates in discussions and learning activities, and encouraged to support everyone’s contributions to the group.

2. Builds Strong Bonds
Over the course of a one-three year graduate program, cohorts spend a considerable amount of time together in small participatory group discussions. Given this, students can develop deep friendships and family-like bonds with other members of the group because of the intense and in-depth conversations the cohort has shared with each other.

3. Professional Network
The professional relationships cohorts build can result in a network, which extends beyond the classroom, and can significantly help students’ career development and professional advancement.

4. Efficient Administration
Since cohorts enroll the same students every semester, they are predictable. Students benefit because they can enroll in courses non-competitively and complete their program requirements in a timely manner. It also helps administrators stabilize revenue sources and expenditures.