Athabasca University at a glance

Athabasca University is Canada's Open University. Because we're online, open, and flexible, students can pursue learning regardless of location, life circumstances, academic history, or age.

Leaders in open, online learning

  • Athabasca University (AU) was founded on June 25, 1970 and introduced its first open, distance course in 1973.
  • AU is Canada's Open University, meaning anyone at least 16 years old who wants to pursue a university education can do so.
  • AU is the only public university in Canada that's fully digital by design, meaning all our programs and courses are created specifically for online spaces.
  • As an online university, our students learn from anywhere. We do not operate a traditional bricks-and-mortar campus for students.
  • AU is accredited by the Government of Alberta in Canada. For other accreditations and memberships, please visit the AU Governance page.

AU by the numbers

  • Over 800 courses in 21 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the humanities, sciences, business, and health disciplines.
  • 7 levels of certificates/diplomas in over 30 different specializations.
  • Over 30 professional development programs, courses, and micro-credentials offered through PowerED™ by Athabasca University.
  • Over 1,200 AU team members working in a near-virtual environment.
  • $156-million annual operating budget.
  • Over 350 collaborative agreements with other Canadian and international post-secondary institutions, professional associations, sporting and employer groups, and with First Nations institutions and communities.

Our students

  • 35,592 students (31,043 undergraduate and 4,549 graduate).
  • 41,900 students reside in Canada in all 10 provinces and 3 territories.
  • 1,365 international students from 81 countries.
  • 88% of students in Canada live in urban centres, 12% live in rural areas.
  • 25% of Alberta students are visiting learners from other institutions. They rely on AU courses to help complete their degrees.
  • 28: average age of undergraduate students.
  • 34: average age of graduate students.
  • 81% of undergraduate students and 73% of graduate students work while they study.
  • 66% of undergraduate students and 77% of graduate students are women.
  • 4.7% of students identify themselves as First Nations or Métis.

Our graduates

  • Over 50,000 program and course alumni from over 100 countries.
  • Over 1,500 degrees awarded in 2020-21 (849 undergraduate, 697 graduate).
  • 66% of graduates are the first in their family to earn a university degree.
  • 92.5% of graduates are employed.

Our research

  • AU is one of 4 comprehensive academic and research universities (CARU) in Alberta.
  • We are home to:
    • 4 Canada Research Chairs
    • UNESCO/ICDE Chair in Open Educational Resources
    • Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Emerging Technologies in Open and Distance Learning
  • AU was the first Canadian university to move all its digital infrastructure to the cloud, powered by Amazon Web Services. This paved the way for IDEA Lab, a cloud-based virtual research domain.

Note: this page is reviewed annually

Updated July 17, 2024 by Digital & Web Operations (