Establishing and Maintaining Program Coherence in a Cohort-Based Graduate Program

Apr. 29, 2009

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 44 Issue 2, p. 126–142, 2009.

One characteristic of master’s programs that has received little attention in the literature is the opportunity that cohorts allow for creating intellectually coherent programs rather than a collection of independent courses. The authors thus describe how the faculty who taught in a cohort for students earning a master of arts degree in K–8 mathematics education created a coherent program by (a) identifying unifying themes that cut across courses, (b) building on ideas from one semester to the next, and (c) linking assignments for courses taught within the same semester. 


23 students earned their master of arts degree in K–8 mathematics education. 20 of the students were full-time K–8 classroom teachers, 2 were substitute teaching, and one was a district mathematics program specialist. They worked predominantly in diverse urban and suburban settings in the southwestern United States. The teachers accepted to the program had previously earned an elementary teaching credential and, in general, had at least 2 years of teaching experience.

The authors share examples of each of these three features of our cohort model, as well as students’ reflections on the program. The reflections support the notion that these features were both transparent and valuable to students.

Updated: May. 13, 2009