Determining course length

How long should your first course be? Here's our recommendation.

Claire Chen avatar
Written by Claire Chen
Updated over a week ago


  • For your first cohort, we recommend four 90-minute sessions over two weeks.

  • Factors to consider when determining length: 1) accessibility, 2) return on investment, 3) reducing risk

How long should my first cohort be?

For your first cohort, four 90-minute sessions over two weeks is a great place to start. The average course length on Maven is two weeks, and many first-time instructors succeed with this format.


For example, Amanda Goetz (Instructor of Startup Marketing Bootcamp) is a full-time CEO and parent. Her students are also busy marketers and operators. So, she wanted her cohort to be efficient with high ROI. Her course is 1 week: three 1.5-hr live workshops on Mon/Wed/Fri with optional events in between.

Laura Tacho (Measuring Development Team Performance) is a coach/consultant for engineering managers. Her clients have limited time, so she wanted her course to be dense and high ROI. In her first cohort, she repurposed her top frameworks into three 1-hr live workshops on Tue/Wed/Thu.

You might be wondering: Will a two week course be too short?

Answer: It depends on your scope. Building a shorter course means you’ll cover fewer topics but go deeper. For example, if you’re teaching a data science course, it would be a mistake to squeeze 6 weeks of content into 3 days and promise that students will become data scientists. Instead, you could trim your content to focus on visualizing datasets with Python over 4 sessions. This narrower scope offers a more concrete and realistic outcome.

One Maven instructor shared how cutting scope helped her get unblocked:

“I started with a big, ambitious idea. I kept putting off creating content because it felt so big. Then, I figured out how to narrow the scope of the course to fit into 4 sessions. It only covers a portion of what I thought it would cover. But it immediately started to snowball in my mind of how it can come to life and the exercises I could give.”

You might ask: “Is two weeks enough to build community?”

Yes, both Amanda and Laura’s courses are highly rated (over 9/10) because of the community and interactivity. They create ample opportunities for their students to discuss and collaborate throughout the week. We recommend using breakout rooms and facilitating discussion in the community to maximize interaction.

Factors to consider when determining course length & time

When determining how long your cohort should be and when to host live sessions, consider the time constraints of your ideal student. When are they available to take your course, and how long can they commit? Professional audiences that work full-time may have a hard time committing to a long course, and they tend to be unavailable during the work day. We recommend asking your students about their time zone in your course interest survey to help you determine what time to run live sessions.

In general, we recommend that you tailor your course length to the outcomes that you want to deliver, and to pick the shortest possible timeframe for students to achieve the promised transformation. Here are some other factors to consider:



Shorter courses

(< 3 weeks)

  • Usually easier for students to commit

  • Less student fatigue and drop-off

  • Less instructor fatigue so you keep your energy high

  • Easier to build & ship

  • Can be more profitable (dollars earned per hour)

  • You can run more cohorts/year

  • Less time to build community (but you can still build meaningful connections in <1 week)

Longer courses

(3+ weeks)

  • More opportunity to build close community & connections

  • Allow for a larger timeline of student transformation

  • Slightly higher price (but not a 1:1 correlation, see pricing strategy)

  • More content to build, so takes longer to launch

  • More drop-off (students get fatigued)

  • Risky to launch a long first cohort. What if the content isn't resonating?

  • Can only run a few cohorts/year

Remember that building a cohort-based course is iterative. If you're in the middle of your cohort and realize your students are interested in a particular niche, you can adjust. Cohort-based courses are adaptable and flexible—you can always supplement with optional sessions, share additional materials, or do Q&A.

Whenever you're ready to set your length, set your start and end dates in your Settings.

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