What to Expect at AU

How programs work

Want to earn a degree, diploma or certificate? We have 55 undergraduate and graduate programs to choose from, in a range of arts, science, and professional disciplines.

AU has developed program plans to help you keep track of the courses you’ve completed and those still to come. Our academic advisors are also available to help you choose your courses.

"Now I'm in a position where I can help my country, where I can contribute to its development, because of my education." Abraham Nhail Wei, studying in South SudanBachelor of Professional Arts in Communication Studies Read Abraham's story

How courses work

We offer university online and distance education courses in a wide range of subjects and you don’t need to be enrolled in an AU program to take an AU course.

We’ll provide you with everything you need, and you set your own schedule to complete the course. You will have access to a course website, tutorial support, and will receive a learning resources package. Each course syllabus will identify what you will receive and need prior to beginning, so be sure to check the course syllabus page under “course materials” for more details.

Study at your own pace or with a group

Most AU courses are delivered online as individualized study, but if you prefer the structure of learning in a classroom or online with a group of students, we also offer a selection of grouped study courses on-site at many institutions across Alberta and beyond. Unlike the individualized study format, students taking grouped study courses are required to complete their work on a pre-set schedule with a group of fellow students

Browse our sample courses to see what your distance learning experience with AU might look like:

What is the workload like?

Distance education gives you the flexibility to study at your own pace and set your own schedule – but it also requires motivation, commitment and perseverance. You will have to make time in your schedule for 10-15 hours of study a week, per undergraduate course. You may want to increase this time if

  • you want to complete the course in less time
  • it’s a particularly difficult course
  • you wish to excel

Did you know?

You will have to make time in your schedule for 10-15 hours of study a week, per undergraduate course.

Are you thinking about registering as a full-time student? Consider going through the Online Full-Time Studies Readiness Assessment

Technology requirements

Students should have access to a Mac or PC with an Internet connection and have an email address. Most courses require that students use Microsoft Office, although specific courses might allow or require use of different hardware and software as noted in the online syllabus. AU courses that use eTextbooks may have specific technical requirements. See the eText Initiative website for updated information. Have a look at our IT department’s minimum requirements or more information on technology requirements.

What does it cost to study at Athabasca University?

One of the biggest financial benefits to studying at AU is the open format. There’s no formal timeline to complete most credentials, and you only pay for courses as you register for them. If time isn’t a concern, you can take your classes as you can afford them, and you may be able to complete your education with little student debt.

How much is tuition?

Tuition is charged by the course, and will vary depending on where you live and whether you’re taking an undergraduate or a graduate course. Additional academic fees will vary, depending on your courses and circumstances. Make sure to review your program’s fee descriptions carefully to make sure you’re getting the information that applies to you.

How do I pay my tuition?

You pay for each course only when you register for it, and our course fees include all study materials and support. All course fees must be paid in full when you register.

The first time you take an AU course or apply to an AU program, you’ll also pay a one-time, non-refundable application fee. You won’t have to pay this fee again, no matter how many courses you take, or how long you wait between courses.

There is also a separate fee if you opt in for a credit transfer evaluation.

Graduate program fees

Graduate program fees vary, depending on the credential and program chosen. However, all programs have an application fee, and most require an admission fee after you’re accepted into the program.

Learn more about tuition & fees

Are you ready for online education?

Unsure if you are ready to make the commitment to distance education? We recommend that you complete our self-assessment test to assess your readiness.

Athabasca University’s self assessment test

Self-assessment tools and resources


Want to know more about studying online with Athabasca University?

Download our Online Learning Checklist to make sure you have everything you need to be successful with online post-secondary.

Download the Checklist

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