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Athabasca University

Master of Arts – Integrated Studies Program Structure

Thirty-three credits are required to complete the Master of Arts – Integrated Studies (MA-IS).


To meet the residency requirement, students must complete a minimum of 18 credits (six courses) through Athabasca University, including the two core courses and an integrated project.

Completion Time Limits

Students may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. The degree can be completed in two years or extended over six years, from the program start date. The expected normal completion time is three to four years.

Note: Students admitted to MA-IS prior to September 1, 2011 who have not completed their program by January 1, 2016, will be switched to the new MA-IS with focus areas instead of specializations.

Program Requirements

Students will be asked to design a program that includes the completion of

  • two core courses: a theory course (three credits) and a research methods course (three credits),
  • seven or eight elective courses (21 to 24 credits), and
  • one or two integrated projects (three to six credits).

Upon completion of the two MA-IS core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602), and two elective courses, students are required to submit a study plan to the MA-IS Office for approval by the Program Director. Students transferring in credit from other universities will be required to submit their study plans upon admission to the program.

Refer to MA-IS Courses.

Program Status

Effective September 2005, students must complete six credits of course or project work during a one-year academic period (September 1 to August 31) in order to maintain program status. Failure to meet this requirement may result in an inactivation of a student's program status.

Students may also be asked to successfully complete additional remedial writing work in order to continue in the program. Students will be required to submit official documentation confirming the successful completion of their remedial work to the MA-IS office, in order to remain in the program.

Program Deferral

Students may defer their studies, without prejudice, contingent upon the submission of a written request to the MA-IS office and approval from the Program Director. More information on Program Deferrals is available on the MA-IS Policies website.

Student Finance

It is important to note that simply maintaining program status does not meet the requirements established by the Students Finance Board for full-time funding purposes. Students are responsible to ensure that they follow the financial assistance guidelines outlined by the Students’ Finance Board in the province in which they live.

Non-Program Students

Individuals who are not enrolled in the MA-IS program will be permitted to register as non-program students in up to a maximum of five courses, space permitting; however, no more than two courses per semester will be allowed. No exceptions. 

Courses taken as a non-program student may be applied toward the program degree requirements, if and when the student becomes a program student.

For those students interested in individualized study, a number of graduate courses are available for registration throughout the year. Refer to MA-IS Courses. The University is under no obligation to admit non-program students into the MA-IS program. For more information on non-program status, contact the MA-IS office.

Independent Track

Students may choose to embark on an independent program of study by completing the two core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602), one project course, MAIS 701 or MAIS 700, plus eight elective courses woven across the MA-IS curriculum in a comprehensive plan of study. Depending on their undergraduate preparation, students will identify a strategy for developing their own plan of study. The independent track is designed for highly motivated students who have shown excellence at the undergraduate level. Students should contact the MA-IS office for advice on planning their studies.

Focus Areas

Students who choose to study a focus area will successfully complete a minimum of four courses in a focus area (see below), MAIS 701 or MAIS 700, and four electives from across the curriculum. Students should contact the MA-IS Office for advice on planning their studies.

To qualify as a focus area, students must complete four courses within the focus area, plus fours elective courses or a second focus area, before commencing their integrated project.

Students will be required to declare their focus area upon completion of the two core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602) and two elective courses (i.e., focus area or independent track).

Students wishing to complete two focus areas, may apply to the Director (in their Study Plan) for approval of a second area if they

  1. demonstrate plans to complete four courses in each area; and
  2. provide a rationale as to how they will integrate course work across both areas in the final project.

MA-IS Available Focus Areas

Refer to the MA-IS website and select "Courses" for up-to-date information on course development.



Information effective September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017.

Updated June 20 2016 by laurab

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