Athabasca University Profile | Maclean's

Athabasca University

Athabasca University | Athabasca, Alta. | Founded 1970


Athabasca University Campus

At Athabasca University, Canada’s premier distance educator, the key word is flexibility. “We’re not concerned with a student’s educational background but with his or her desire to learn,” says president Neil Fassina. “We must continue to listen to the voices, the stories and the needs of our learners and their communities to further our mission through both teaching and research.” One of North America’s first online universities, Athabasca offers continuous enrolment; most courses start the first of every month. Textbooks, e-texts and internet-based courseware are provided, along with phone support. 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. Athabasca’s reputation for online education goes beyond Canada’s borders: professor Rory McGreal holds the UNESCO chair in open educational resources. On average, undergrads are 29 years old, 83 per cent of students work and nearly a third of graduates have dependents. Studying online does require discipline, but it’s perfect for those who are juggling school, work and family. The university is facing financial pressures and underwent a third-party review in 2017 to examine options for long-term sustainability. The report found that the means to viability exist but will require some significant changes and support from the government of Alberta, including investment appropriate to Athabasca’s technology requirements as a major online educator.

READ: An insider’s perspective on life at Athabasca U

Standout Programs
Science (Architecture): The first program of its kind in Canada, it’s offered in partnership with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, offering a new pathway for students to become professional architects.
• M.B.A. in Hockey Management: Offered in partnership with the Business of Hockey Institute, the program is designed for executives to develop management skills unique to the business side of hockey.
• Post-LPN Bachelor of Nursing: Designed to provide licensed practical nurses with the opportunity to continue an education with flexible modes of course delivery and opportunities to develop a clinical focus.

Cool Courses
• Writing Speculative Fiction: Study and practise the art of writing speculative fiction with acclaimed Canadian writer Angie Abdou.
• Conceptual Physics: Designed for students in liberal arts programs, this course focuses on understanding central concepts in physics, such as mechanics, properties of matter and heat.

Minimum entering grades Tuition Number of students Residence spaces
No grade specification; undergraduate students are not required to have a high school diploma $6,670 ($7,940 out-of-province) Undergraduate: 39,573
Graduate: 4,439
Not offered

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


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