Athabasca University

Athabasca University | Athabasca, Alta. | Founded 1970

Athabasca University Campus

At Athabasca University, the key word is flexibility. And 2020 marks an important milestone for one of North America’s first online universities, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. “For 50 years, we’ve innovated distance learning and set the stage for the next evolution of open universities globally,” says president Neil Fassina. More than 43,000 students worldwide log in to classes at Athabasca. The school offers continuous enrolment; most of the nearly 1,000 courses offered start the first of every month. Textbooks, e-texts and internet-based courseware are provided. Although most students never set foot in tiny Athabasca, Alta., some science courses require students to complete labs in Athabasca, Edmonton or Calgary. A $30-million Academic and Research Centre opened in 2011, doubling the size of the campus, where many staff do research. AU is also home to Canada’s only UNESCO Chair in Open Educational Resources. Following a 2017 third-party review that looked into financial pressures and long-term sustainability at the university, the government of Alberta gave AU a $4.9-million grant to upgrade its IT infrastructure and execute a new learning plan across the university. In 2019, PowerED, an entrepreneurial unit within AU, launched a program to deliver non-credit, in-demand, on-demand professional development courses to help working professionals continue to build their skills. On average, undergrads are 30 years old, 73 per cent of students work while they study, and 83 per cent of graduates have dependents. Studying online does require discipline, but it’s perfect for those who are juggling school, work and family.

READ: An insider’s guide to life on a virtual campus

Standout Programs
• Post-Masters Diploma Nurse Practitioner: This program prepares nurses to assume a broader role in the delivery of health services to clients of all ages as family nurse practitioners within a community setting.
• Architecture: This bachelor of science program, offered in partnership with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, features six areas of study and a focus on environmental and community sustainability.
Commerce: This bachelor program offers online learners a virtual co-op experience powered by artificial intelligence and hones skills through simulated projects.

Cool Courses
Sex Work and Sex Workers: Explores how regulation affects those working in the sex industry; in addition to scholarly texts, students will hear from sex workers themselves about their jobs, experiences and policy recommendations.
Nutrition in Health and Disease: What impact does diet have on health? Students will examine nutrition research and dietary causes of chronic diseases.

$6,692; $8,473 out-of-province students (includes compulsory ancillary fees)
Minimum Entering Grades
No grade specification; undergraduate students are not required to have a high school diploma
Student Body
Undergraduates: Full-time and part-time: 38,495
Graduates: Full-time and part-time: 4,527
Male-Female Ratio: 34 to 66
Not offered

More Schools: MacEwan UniversityMount Royal UniversityThompson Rivers UniversityUniversity of AlbertaNorthern Alberta Institute of Technology