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September 5, 2021

Pricing and Scholarships - Finding The Right Path Your Cohort Based Course

Figuring out how to price your cohort based course can be incredibly challenging because numerous factor impact the pricing discussion.

Cohort based course prices vary depending on the credibility and profile of the expert, the access being offered, the cohort size, the length and frequency of the class and the scope of the transformation being promised. Ultimately the pricing should align with the intensity of the value proposition (where are you taking learners from and to - and how challenging will it be to this be) and finally, pricing depends on what the target learner is likely to pay based on how urgently they need the solution you are offering. 

But other factors are also important for what they signal to potential learners about the course, the access being offered and the level of transformation being promised.

The Pricing Message

According to Seth Godin, pricing is really about a story. “Pricing a course is about more than revenue. It creates emotional enrollment that tells a story about your course and can be used to drive higher completion rates. For instance when learners pay tuition per course versus a flat fee it leads to greater enrollment and higher completion.”

Seth’s insights come in part from his own experience as the number one instructor on Skillshare. “You had to pay to take a Skillshare workshop and completion was very high," said Seth, "Then they switched to flat rate pricing and a lot more people started and very few people finished. The workshop was exactly the same. What had changed was what did you feel like you had at stake.”

Know What’s Enough

It’s important to have the numbers to be able to shape your pricing framework - but it’s also important to understand how with cohort based courses a sufficiency mindset is incredibly powerful.

The internet tends to be about infinity and for creators on traditional social platforms (Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube or Facebook) an infinity mindset is necessary in order to try and make a profit. The ad click model that these platforms operate with make it very difficult for creators to build sustainable incomes.

But cohort based courses offer a different path, one that is based around sufficiency pricing and sustainability. "Sufficiency is that 100 students would be enough," says Seth Godin. "And I'm going to be really picky about who the 100 students are. And what I'm trying to pitch people on is, sufficiency is the best way, even to get to infinity. Because if you say it's enough, then you'll get there.”

Consider A Scholarship Program

IDEO U offers scholarships for their globally in demand courses. As Suzanne Howard shared with us, this is one of the components of their course design that she is most proud of - understandably since they have given away over 950 scholarships to date and they continue to actively push the boundaries of their program.

Being able to offer a scholarship program requires an alignment of your genuine costs and expenses - to make sure it is sustainable. But it is one of the most effective ways to manage the dual tensions of wanting to create accessibility but also needing to keep a high price point to reflect the value, work and costs of creating the course. Scholarship programs are also a way to be able to increase the global make up of your cohort - since the international rates can make a North American based price unrealistic for people in other parts of the world.

Scholarship programs can also help boost the diversity of cohorts - which in turn, creates a more creative and innovative learning experience for everyone.


Finally, it’s important to remember that price points are iterative and that feedback from your target market will help you understand where and by how much to adjust.