What is cohort-based programming?
Each CSUN off-campus cohort program features a fully planned curriculum with a specified starting and ending date. Courses within the program are offered in a planned sequence, which is announced when the program is marketed and remains unchanged until that cohort is completed. Students are admitted to the program as a group (usually consisting of 20 to 35 students) that moves through the program together, taking courses in the order announced from the start to completion of the program.
What is the academic advantage of cohort programs?
In most degree programs, there are only a few courses that must be taken in a particular order. While this gives students flexibility, it also means that students in any given course will be at different stages in the learning process. Because some students may be taking a particular course as one of the final courses before they graduate while others in the class may be taking it earlier in their studies, the faculty member must plan and teach the course to accommodate a wide range of learners. In a cohort program, faculty members know exactly what courses students in the cohort have taken and in what order. This allows faculty to plan and teach in ways that build on prior courses more directly. Therefore, the curriculum in a cohort program is more cohesive with stronger links between courses.
Are there other advantages to cohort programs?
CSUN cohort programs offered off campus are created for midcareer adults who are studying part-time while working and/or while fulfilling family responsibilities. Sometimes it is difficult for such students to feel they are part of the University's academic community. However, the cohort model provides a sense of belonging and community because of the consistent group of fellow students and team of faculty who come to know each other well. For this reason, the cohort model typically increases student retention rates and may speed time to successful degree completion.
Finally, because the program is fully scheduled from the outset, students find it easier to plan ahead and better manage their schedules of work, home and study.