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Choosing a Cohort Degree in Distant Learning

written by: Laurie Patsalides•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 9/8/2010

Wondering if distance learning is right for you? While it is undisputed that distance learning is not right for everyone, perhaps a cohort degree in a distance learning program may be the best option... only you can decide.

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    Is it possible to create a cohort learning situation in a distance learning program? Several studies indicate that the answer is yes.

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    Definition of Cohort Learning

    So what is cohort learning?

    Cohort study is when a group of students, 12-25 (this is a general number that may vary by college), start and finish their degree together. They are accepted into the same program, take their classes together, and graduate together, building relationships with one another as they do. To me, this seems like the ideal situation for an online learning student. As one of the disadvantages of distance learning is undoubtedly, "faceless" interaction with professor and peers, cohort learning seems like a possible solution to overcome the feelings of social isolation that can happen to an online learner.

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    Possible Advantages of a Cohort Degree

    What is the advantage of a cohort learning situation to the online learner?

    Cohort study in an online environment, it seems, allows the student to view his or her classmate more like a person and less like a shadow on the screen. In its essence, the cohort program emphasizes collaboration and community building. In this collective environment, students learn from one another, and brainstorm together by way of writing their life experiences and offering them to the group. I would imagine that in this situation a sense of trust is built among it's members. At the Masters Degree level it allows students to reflect and build upon their ideas for research study around the experience of others, thereby, simulating a traditional college environment. So students may not learn about one another in the traditional sense of face to face interaction with the ability to read verbal and nonverbal cues, but by way of writing, reading, and listening, of which all are necessary for good communication and for learning to occur.

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    Finding a Cohort Program in Distance Learning

    So where can you find a cohort learning distance learning program?

    There are many private and state colleges that are offering this program, which may or may not be right for you. Below you will find a short list (and certainly there may be more) for you to explore.

    • National-University Louis- offer several programs at the Master and Doctorate levels
    • Mountain State University- offer many programs at Bachelor and Master levels. A few examples are, Administration of Criminal Justice (BS), Organizational Leadership (BS), Strategic Leadership (MS).
    • John Hopkins University- only offered in School Administration and Supervision Online Certification
    • Grand Canyon University- Christian based, several programs.
    • University of Illinois at Urbana- many degree offerings
    • St. Joseph's College of Maine- many degree offerings
    • University of Memphis- doctorate degree offering

    More than just finding a cohort learning distance learning program, also look closely at the college's degree offerings, accreditation, and cost for the online degree program that suits your needs. Have fun in your online learning adventure!