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Athabasca University

Frequently Asked Questions


Admission and Credit Transfer

Courses and Learning Environment

Cost, Financial Aid and Other Questions

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What is Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)?

PLAR refers to several methods of evaluating learning from experience, training, workshops, self-directed study, as well as other sources for which university credit may be gained. For more information and applications, please contact:

Learning Accreditation, Office of the Vice President Academic
Telephone: (780) 675-6481


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How many credits must be taken from AU for a degree (Residency)?

Of your entire degree, only 30 credits must be taken directly from Athabasca University. These are commonly called “residency credits.” Residency is defined as the minimum number of Athabasca University credits that must be completed to fulfill a program's requirements. In some cases, specific Athabasca University courses are prescribed as part of the overall residency requirement for a given program. For accurate information on AU policy, always check AU's Calendar.

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I have a transcript. Can I send in my copy?

No. The transcript must be “official,” and must travel from Registrar to Registrar. Contact the Registrar(s) at your previous institutions and have them send the transcript directly to Athabasca University. Most institutions charge a small fee for the service.

Office of the Registrar:

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How long will it take to assess my transcripts?

It depends on how long it takes the originating institution to send them to Athabasca University. Normally you should plan for the process to take between 4-6 weeks.

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How long do I have to finish a degree?

There is no specified time line; as a student, you have the freedom to choose how many courses you take at one time. However, lease note that if you are inactive for 12 months, that is, if you do not take a course from AU for a year or longer, you will have to re-apply to the program and your credits would have to be re-evaluated.

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How many courses should I take at one time?

This will vary from one student to another. AU offers maximum flexibility. If working full-time, try one or two courses and see how your schedule works out. People working full-time normally do not take more than two courses at one time. As well, you can stagger start dates. You can register to start at the beginning of any month (you have to have registered by the 10th of the month previous to your desired start date.) You have up to 6 months to complete a 3-credit course, and you can also complete any time before that.

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Which courses should I start with?

You can start with any course that you like. Many students find it really helpful to begin with the core courses, others start right in on their areas of interest. If you have never taken a course by distance education or you are not sure about individualized study, you may want to begin with an area that you are familiar with. If you have any questions, just ask us!

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Can I take courses even if I am not in a program?

Yes, you are free to enrol in any course you want. If you are not in the program then you are considered an “unclassified student.” You should check “How do I become an AU student?” at:

For additional information, please see: or you can phone AU toll free from anywhere in Canada or the United States at 1-800-788-9041. If you are in the Calgary area please dial (403) 263-6465. In the Edmonton area you may dial (780) 421-8700.

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Can I challenge a course if I have completed the work elsewhere?

Yes. It is called challenge for credit. This allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the subject matter, knowledge, and intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course. If you are interested in this option, you must contact our Office of the Registrar.

Challenge for Credit:

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How much will an AU course and a degree cost?

AU offers some of the most reasonable tuition fees in Alberta and Canada. For the current fee schedule, please contact the Office of the Registrar or consult Athabasca University's summary of undergraduate fees and financial assistance online at:

Summary of Fees:

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Is there student financial assistance?

Yes there is. If you reside in Alberta you can apply through the Student Finance Board. If you live outside of Alberta, you apply through your provincial student financial assistance agency.

AU Financial Assistance Information is available at:

AU Student Financial Aid Links:

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Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get answers to other questions you may have:

Disclaimer: If there are any inconsistencies between the information contained in these Web Pages and the University Calendar, the information in the University Calendar prevails.

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Updated January 18 2016 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.