Dornubari Vizor March 28, 2023

Cohort-Based Courses: What Are They and How Do They Work?

What are cohort-based courses?

Cohort-based courses are courses where students learn together in a group that starts and finishes at the same time, often with a structured curriculum and active participation from all learners.

Cohort-based learning is not a new concept, as it has been used in universities and training programs for years. But in the past few years, as an alternative to traditional self-paced courses, cohort-based courses have become more and more popular.

Characteristics of Cohort-Based Courses

Cohort-based courses are characterized by group learning, set start and end dates, a structured curriculum, and active participation and engagement from all learners.

In these courses, students form a community and learn together rather than in isolation. The fixed start and end dates ensure that all students work through the course at the same pace, with the curriculum designed to support a specific learning objective.

Lastly, active participation and engagement are important parts of cohort-based courses. Students are often encouraged to talk to each other and have discussions to improve their learning.

Pros and cons of cohort-based courses


Community Building: Cohort-based courses foster a sense of community among learners, which can help build relationships and connections that extend beyond the course.

Accountability: The fixed start and end dates, structured curriculum, and regular check-ins and feedback provide learners with a higher level of accountability, which can help them stay on track and achieve their learning goals.

Enhanced Engagement: Cohort-based courses often include interactive learning activities, group discussions, and real-time feedback, which can enhance learner engagement and motivation.

Real-time Feedback: Cohort-based courses often provide real-time feedback and support, which can help learners address challenges and make progress more quickly.

Higher Completion Rates: Cohort-based courses often have higher completion rates compared to self-paced courses, as learners are more likely to stay on track and complete the course when they are part of a group.


Limited Flexibility: Cohort-based courses have a fixed start and end date, which can limit flexibility for learners who have other commitments or prefer to learn at their own pace.

Time-Intensive: Cohort-based courses often require a significant time commitment, with regular assignments, group discussions, and feedback sessions. This may be challenging for learners with busy schedules or competing priorities.

Limited Individual Attention: In cohort-based courses, instructors may have limited time to provide individual attention to each learner as they are working with a group of students.

Group Dynamics: The dynamics of the group can affect the learning experience, with some learners potentially dominating discussions or others feeling left out. This can be challenging for instructors to manage and may impact the overall learning experience.

Learning Styles: Cohort-based courses may not be ideal for all learners, as some people may prefer to work independently or at their own pace.

5 Examples of Cohort-based courses

Lambda School: is a coding bootcamp that offers a 9-month immersive online program where students learn to become software engineers or data scientists. Lambda School is a cohort-based school, which means that students start and finish the program at the same time and work on projects and assignments together.

On Deck: is a community-based platform that offers cohort-based courses and programs for entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals.

On Deck has a variety of courses, from startup incubators to training for angel investors. In a cohort-based model, participants learn from and work with each other.

AltMBA: An intensive 4-week program designed to develop leadership and management skills. AltMBA is based on groups of students called cohorts. Students work together in small groups and talk and give feedback to each other in real-time.

Springboard: is an online learning platform that offers cohort-based courses in data science, UX design, and other technology-related fields. Springboard’s programs are designed to be completed in 6-9 months, with students progressing through the material together in a cohort-based model.

Udacity: is an online learning platform that offers a range of courses and programs in technology-related fields, such as programming, data science, and machine learning.

Udacity’s programs are meant to be finished in a set amount of time, usually between a few months and a year. Students learn together in a model called “cohorts.”

Read: Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Cohort-Based Courses.

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