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College Cohort Program: What It Is and How It Benefits Students

What is a cohort program in college and what are the benefits of this format for a degree program? Saint Leo University explains.

A photo of a man and woman sitting at a table looking at books as they are studying together in their cohort program in college

When researching graduate degree programs, you may have found that some schools offer cohort programs. Since this isn’t necessarily a mainstream term, you may be wondering what cohort means or how it could potentially benefit you as a student. Let’s start by defining what a cohort program is.

What Is a Cohort Program?

A cohort program is one in which the students within that program all start and finish at the same time. This is different than other types of degree programs in that, in those, you may have classes that include students in their first year of the program and students in their third year, for instance. In a cohort program, all students progress through the program together, at the same pace.

Perhaps the best example of an educational cohort program is high school. When you start high school as a freshman, you’re going to graduate with the same group of students four years later. (That is, minus the students who move or, for whatever reason, do not earn their high school diploma, of course.) This is similar to a college-level cohort program.

Cohort Program Benefits

Choosing a university or college that offers a cohort degree program presents many benefits. They include:

  • More of a team or community feel. When enrolled in a non-cohort program, it can feel like every student is for themselves. Because you’re sharing classes with students in varying years of study, you’re all working at a different pace. Since a cohort program involves everyone being at the same stage in their educational pursuit, it feels more like you’re all on the same team or in the same community. You know that you’re not alone because there are other students in the exact same spot as you.
  • Higher level of comfortability. Attending classes with different people all of the time can cause feelings of uncertainty. You aren’t quite sure what to expect and, because you’re all at different stages in your education, you may not know whether you’ll have anyone in your class that you either know or have seen in other classes. In a cohort program, you have the comfort of knowing upfront that you will recognize the faces in your classes. This provides a greater level of ease if you’re the type of person who likes familiarity or wants to have some idea of what to expect.
  • Smaller program size. In a traditional college program at a large university, hundreds (if not thousands) of students can be transitioning in and out of a degree program at any given time. Yet, in a cohort program, the average class size is typically under 50. This smaller size can feel less overwhelming. It creates more of a family feel rather than feeling like just another student at a larger educational institution.
  • Stronger professional bonds. It stands to reason that if you’re progressing through a college program with the same group of students at the same time, you’re likely to form some pretty strong bonds with a few of them. And since you’re in the same field, those bonds can extend well past your graduation date as you have similar interests or are working in similar roles. This gives you access to a ready-made professional network that you can call on as you begin (and continue) your career.

Saint Leo University Offers Many Cohort Program Options

When you pursue your graduate degree at Saint Leo University, you have access to a variety of cohort program options. Among them are a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), a Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ), and a Doctorate in Education (EdD) Leadership – School Leadership Concentration.

Saint Leo’s Master of Social Work program is also a cohort degree program. What sets this particular program apart from others is that it offers multiple cohort tracks. You get to choose whether you follow a part-time or full-time track, for example, as well as having access to advanced standing tracks for both of these options. This enables you to join the cohort that is most suitable for you based on your specific situation and needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about your cohort program options at Saint Leo, or if you have questions about whether this type of program is right for you, contact our Admissions office today. Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff is here to answer your questions and help guide you when trying to decide the best way to achieve your career-related goals.

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