Prospective Program Students

Is Athabasca University accredited?

Athabasca University is recognized by the Government of Alberta and reports to the Government of Alberta through the Ministry of Advanced Education. AU's quality assurance mechanisms and program proposals are reviewed by the Campus Alberta Quality Council.

AU is mandated to operate as a Comprehensive Academic and Research Institution. Through Alberta’s Post-secondary Learning Act, the government authorizes Athabasca University Governing Council to govern the university and to grant degrees. Members of Governing Council are appointed by Orders in Council of the Government of Alberta. AU is also recognized by the Government of British Columbia.

In 2006, AU became the first Canadian public university to receive accreditation in the United States through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), one of six regional organizations in the U.S. that accredits universities. A group of peers from other institutions has closely examined the way Athabasca University does business and found that AU meets rigorous international quality standards for higher education institutions. The peer review was conducted according to a set of criteria established by MSCHE to maintain and strengthen the quality and integrity of higher education. No other public Canadian university holds this level of foreign accreditation.

For more information, visit the Accreditation page of our website.

What are your admission requirements?

Athabasca University's general admissions policy has only one formal entrance requirement for all undergraduate students: They must be 16 years of age or older.

Applicants under 16 years of age may be admitted and enrolled in a program of study by petitioning the Office of the Registrar for special consideration through the Coordinator, Enrollment Services and Academic Records ( The application for admission must be accompanied by a letter of support from the student's high-school principal or designate, and from the parent or guardian. If the applicant is home schooled or in instances where the parent is also the principal, evidence of academic ability must be provided (e.g., provincial achievement scores). In addition, permission to register in a course must be obtained from the course professor or academic coordinator.

Some undergraduate and graduate programs may have additional enrollment requirements or restrictions. Before applying to a specific program, visit our Programs pages to learn about the requirements for the program of study you would like to enter.

When do your courses start?

Course start dates vary depending on the delivery mode. See the course delivery summary.

Individualized Study
Undergraduate individualized study courses generally start on the first day of every month. If you would like to start a course in a specific month, your registration must be received and processed by the tenth day of the previous month. For example, if you would like your course to start on June 1, your registration must be successfully processed by May 10.

When you register for a course, you can provide a preferred start date. Your actual course start date will be confirmed after your course registration has been successfully processed. Whether or not you receive your preferred start date will depend on when your registration is received.

Register as early as possible to make sure that you get the courses and start dates that you want. You can register for a course up to five months in advance. Check the course availability before you register to make sure that your course is open and available for registration (some courses may have restrictions).

Grouped Study
Undergraduate grouped study courses follow study schedules and timelines associated with traditional university semesters; for example, students who begin a course in September will finish it in December. The official start and end dates match regular semesters. Details can be found in the course descriptions.

Graduate Courses
Start dates for graduate courses may be different from those of undergraduate courses. Current academic schedules can be accessed from the Graduate Programs page of our website. If you are enrolled in a graduate program at Athabasca University, please contact your graduate program centre or the Faculty of Graduate Studies for assistance with start dates.

Do you have information for international students?

As an international student, you may enrol in a program of study that leads to a university credential provided you have met the entrance requirements. Simply complete Athabasca University's General Application Form, indicating your program of choice, and submit the one-time non-refundable application fee. You may also apply as an unclassified or non-program student.

Browse Athabasca University’s courses and programs, and register at least one month in advance of your intended start date. View our Fee Schedule for information on applicable fees.

Students studying internationally may have different timelines for processing exam requests, marking, or mail correspondence, as outlined in our service standards.

Transfer Credit for Non-Canadian Students

Students presenting credentials for possible transfer credit from institutions outside of Canada or the United States must obtain an evaluation of post-secondary course work from an international assessment agency, for example, the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS).

IQAS will assess each student’s international educational documents and compare them to educational credentials in Canada. Athabasca University requires a description of course work evaluation from IQAS. Students must also submit copies of all foreign transcripts to Athabasca University.

Athabasca University only accepts detailed course-by-course assessments for assessment purposes.

See more: Non-Canadian Evaluations

More Information

See also: How do I get a student visa?

How long does it take to complete a course?

Students taking individualized study course are given six months to complete three- and four-credit course and twelve months to complete six-credit courses. All assignments, quizzes and exams are required to be completed within the course contract time.

Students taking individualized study courses are eligible for three two-month extensions, as explained in AU's Course Extension Policy.

Generally, group study courses follow a traditional semester system; for example, courses which begin in September will end in December. Grouped-study courses are usually 13 weeks (three-credit courses) or 26 weeks (six-credit courses). Course extensions are not allowed.

If you are a funded student, other timeframes might apply. For more information, email a Financial Aid Advisor in the Financial Aid unit of the Office of the Registrar at or contact the Information Centre.

How do I transfer credit?

Transcripts from other institutions must be submitted for evaluation to determine if the coursework is acceptable for credit transfer. Your transcripts cannot be officially evaluated unless you are enrolled in a program at Athabasca University. However, to find out how your course credits might transfer to an AU degree, use our online transfer credit assessment tool.

In section D of the Undergraduate General Application Form, you can request an evaluation of your previous coursework. You will be required to pay a one-time non-refundable evaluation fee and submit official transcripts; course outlines might also be required.

More information on Evaluations and Transfer Credit can be found in Section 6.8 of the Calendar.

What is the difference between a 3 year and a 4 year degree?

A three-year degree, as a general degree or with a concentration, is a well-respected credential in Canada and the United States. While it is a highly marketable credential, it is not aimed at providing students with direct access to graduate level studies. Often a “make-up” or additional year is required to achieve that academic goal.

The four-year degree provides students with a broad, flexible education that allows them to develop, understand, and disseminate knowledge, to think critically, and to build on these abilities. In addition, the four-year degree fully prepares students for most graduate programs.

Program plans for both three-year and four-year degrees are available through Advising Services.

For information about extending a three-year degree into a four-year degree, view our Degree Conversion Policy. Browse our Programs for more information about specific degrees.

Do you provide advice on course and program planning?

Program Plans

Our program plans can help you in planning your program of study. Make sure to follow the program requirements for the calendar year in which you enrolled in your program.


Students enrolled in an AU program after September 2010 have access to web-based academic advising and degree audit feature through DegreeWorks. Access this service from myAU student portal.

See more: What is DegreeWorks?

Academic Advising

Our Academic Advisors can assist you in clarifying your undergraduate program requirements and help you choose the next course for your program of studies. They also provide information about university regulations and procedures, and assist with the interpretation of your transfer credit evaluation.

Some Faculties and Centres offer program-specific advising to students enrolled or considering enrolling in a program. See more about program-specific advising.

Contact an Advisor

Can I receive credit for Prior Learning?

Athabasca University’s Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process can award you credit for prior and/or experiential learning can be used toward Athabasca University degrees or university certificates. Experiential learning may have been acquired from life experience, job training, workshops, seminars, or other experiences.

PLAR-awarded credit is separate and different from receiving transfer credit for previous recognized formal learning. PLAR is a choice, not a requirement. Doing PLAR may not suit everyone’s learning style.

Visit our Centre for Learning Accreditation for more information about PLAR, including a copy of a sample virtual portfolio.

What is the difference between PLAR and transfer credits?


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is a process designed to award you credit towards your degree or certificate at Athabasca University by recognizing the learning you have acquired from life experience, job training, workshops, seminars or other experience.

See more: What is PLAR?

Transfer Credit

Transfer credits are credits granted for the successful completion of post-secondary course work at another recognized organization.

Use the Transfer Credit Assessment Tool to find out how your previous education could be assessed towards an AU program.

More information on Evaluations and Transfer Credit in the Calendar.

See more: How do I transfer credit?

What is the deadline to apply for admission to a program?

Learners are not restricted to a September or January intake, for Athabasca University has a year-round admission and enrolment policy for its undergraduate courses and programs. Learners can apply to any of our University Certificate, Diploma, or Degree program at any time.

Can AU courses transfer to another post secondary institution?

Athabasca University’s courses are very widely accepted throughout Canada and abroad for credit transfer. We are unable to advise you on which of our courses would transfer into a program at another institution. The decision to accept courses for transferability lies exclusively with the receiving institution. We strongly recommend you get a Letter of Permission stating that credit earned for course taken at AU will fulfill the requirements of your program elsewhere. It is always the receiving institution that approves the transfer credit from the sending institution.

Generally, Athabasca University courses are transferable to other Canadian degree-granting institutions.

Athabasca University is unable to advise you on which of its courses would transfer into a program at another institution. The decision to accept courses for transferability lies exclusively with the home institution.

What courses will satisfy requirements within my degree program? Or how do I choose a course?

Review the program regulations very carefully. It is recommended that you begin with required courses or electives as specified within the requirements. If you do not have any previous post secondary education, you should consider beginning with Junior (200) level courses.

While you wait for your evaluation of previous education to be completed, you may register in a course(s). However, if your course duplicates course work that you completed previously, you will receive credit for one course only. Athabasca University cannot officially approve any courses as being applicable to your program until your evaluation assessment is complete. If you register in a course and are subsequently given transfer credit for a similar course completed previously, you have the option of withdrawing from the course. Refer to Section 5.4.2.

Course selection assistance may be obtained from an Athabasca University student advisor or by completing and submitting an Information Request Form.

Does AU offer an Honours degree?

Athabasca University does not currently offer honours degrees.

I have completed my 3 year Bachelor’s degree at another post secondary institution, can I complete my fourth year with AU?

Students are not permitted to obtain a second undergraduate degree in the same field or related field as their first undergraduate degree. Students who have completed a previous undergraduate degree must enter the second undergraduate Bachelor of Arts four-year degree and follow these regulations. The English writing skills requirement is waived for students enrolling in the second undergraduate degree.

What is an Area of Study?

Area of study: Athabasca University divides its courses into groups of related subjects. Arts is divided into Humanities and Social Sciences; Science includes all Science courses; Applied Studies includes the area of Business and Administrative Studies and Applied Studies. The area designation for each course is shown in each course description. Search for a course by its area of study.

What is a Discipline?

Discipline: Courses in a specific subject area, for example, English is a discipline in the Humanities, Biology in the Sciences, and Accounting in Business and Administrative studies.