Studying in Canada

You can study at Athabasca University from your home country or in Canada. If you’re already in Canada on a work or visitors permit, you should find the information you need below. However, if you plan to come to Canada on a study permit, our offerings are limited to students in specific circumstances.

If you're planning to take one of AU’s online programs from your home country, please see the information on the main International Students page.

Am I eligible to study in Canada?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issues all study permits. You must meet eligibility requirements in order to get a study permit. All questions about applying for study permits should be directed to IRCC. 

Can I stay in Canada while taking an AU program?

Yes. According to IRCC, if you are in Canada on a work or visitors permit, you can take an online course or program – even if your permit says you can’t attend school.

You can’t get a study permit to take an online program in Canada under IRCC regulations. You must enrol in an eligible course or program that is held in a classroom if you plan to live in Canada on a study permit.

What programs qualify for a study permit?

AU does not offer any programs that meet IRCC regulations for long-term study permits.

Short-term study permits will be issued only for the required in-person components of an otherwise online-only degree. This includes graduate students required to be in Canada to complete research under the supervision of AU faculty.

The following undergraduate and graduate programs have practicums, residencies or field placements that require short-term stays in Canada.



Study permits will be issued for the length of time you are required to be in Canada only. For more information on short-term study permits, please contact

How do I apply as an online student?

All non-Canadian students living in Canada must apply using the print application form (pdf).

How do I apply to a graduate program?

Please see Graduate Studies on the main International Students page.

What about health care?

Medical costs can be very expensive. That’s why it’s important to get health care coverage for your trip to Canada, and to make sure you have appropriate coverage while you’re here.

Travelling to Canada

It's important to buy travel insurance for your trip and the first weeks of your stay in Canada. It will be several weeks before you may be eligible for Alberta Health Care coverage. 

Studying in Canada

Basic health care: If you are studying for 12 months or longer on-site in Alberta you qualify for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). You need to apply for AHCIP within 90 days of your arrival in Alberta.

Please note that the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan only covers some expenses. You may want to consider supplementary plans (see below) in case you need prescriptions or dental or eye care.

If you are studying for less than 12 months on-site in Alberta, you need to buy health insurance to cover your journey and stay.

Supplementary plans: Several companies offer private health insurance. Search online for "health insurance plans Alberta."

Graduate students may be eligible for optional dental and prescription coverage through the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association.

Undergraduate students should direct inquiries to the Athabasca University Students’ Union at

Other frequently asked questions

I want to take an online program. Can I get a study permit for entry into Canada? 

No. Distance education (online) does not require you to be in Canada. According to IRCC regulations, a study permit can’t be issued for distance education (online) courses or programs. 

Online programs can be taken from anywhere in the world without ever having to travel to Canada. 

I already have a study permit. Can I change schools to take an online program at Athabasca University? 

No. If you change to an AU online program, you can’t maintain the conditions of your study permit according to IRCC regulations. You will not be able to renew, extend, or apply for a new study permit using an AU online program. To keep your study permit, you must be taking an in-person program. 

Can I take an AU course while studying at another Canadian institution? How do I transfer those courses? 

If you are an international student studying at another institution in Canada you can take AU courses and transfer them into your program. You need to follow the below process.

  1. Get a Letter of Permission from your home institution to ensure the AU course will transfer into your program.
  2. Apply to Athabasca University using the paper application form (pdf).
  3. Register for your courses through your myAU account. You will have access to myAU once your application has been processed. You can also register using the paper course registration form (pdf).
  4. Use the Request Transcripts function in myAU to have your official AU transcript sent to your home university upon grade finalization. 

Where do I find my letter of acceptance to submit with my study permit application? 

We will send your letter of acceptance when you are ready to begin the in-person part of your program. Please send an email to to request your letter. You may want to check IRCC’s application processing times to make sure you meet your course registration deadline.

Letters of acceptance as required by IRCC are not provided to students enrolled in online programs.

What are AU’s English Language Proficiency admission requirements?

Please see the English Language Proficiency Requirements page.

Updated June 23 2016 by Web Strategy, University Relations