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Athabasca University

Program Structure


Students are required to complete 12 credits (four courses) in the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Security program.

Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete at least 6 credits of course work during each academic year, September 1st to August 31st or January 1st to December 31st depending on the date of admission to the program.

In core courses, the lowest acceptable grade is B-. Students who receive a grade lower than B-, or receive more than one grade of B- or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

In elective courses, the lowest acceptable grade is C+. Students who receive a grade lower than C+, or receive more than one grade of C+ or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

Full- and Part-Time Involvement

Students may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. Part-time students must complete a minimum of six credits (two course equivalents) per calendar year. In order to comply with Alberta Students Finance Board requirements, and to qualify for full-time status at the graduate studies level for funding and T2202A purposes, students must complete a minimum of nine credits (three courses) per calendar year (one course per term).


100% Course Load: 12 credits per 12-month period (1 credit per month)
60% Course Load: 9 credits per 12-month period (0.75 credit per month) This is the minimum that is required to qualify for T2202A, student financial aid, and any other confirmation of full-time status.
Term: A four-month study period.


To be considered for a 60 per cent course load, students are required to register in at least one three-credit course per term to be considered full time.

To be considered for a 100 per cent course load, students are required to submit a full year's study plan (three terms). Students will need to identify at least 12 credits of study covering a full 12-month period.

For example: 3 credits for Term 1
  6 credits for Term 2
  3 credits for Term 3

Students who request certification of a 100 per cent course load must identify their full 12-month study plan at the commencement of their first term of studies. Students are permitted to use any number of combination of credits in their three identified terms, provided the total number of credits is equal to 12.

For example: Scenario #1 Scenario #2 Scenario #3
  3 credits for Term 1 6 credits for Term 1 3 credits for Term 1
  6 credits for Term 2 3 credits for Term 2 3 credits for Term 2
  3 credits for Term 3 3 credits for Term 3 6 credits for Term 3


To meet the residency requirements, students must complete a minimum of two courses (six credits) through Athabasca University.

Relationship to MSc Information Systems (MSc IS) Program

Students, who successfully complete the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Security (PBC InfoSec) program, may apply for admission to the MSc IS program. If admitted, credits completed by the student towards the PBC InfoSec will be accepted for credit towards the MSC IS degree in accordance with the MSc IS program regulations. Please note that students must achieve minimum required grades in various courses as per the MSc IS program regulations to be able to count the credits towards MSc IS program.


PBC InfoSec students take their courses alongside MSC IS students, and are required to complete the same activities and achieve the same standard.
Students will access all course tools and technologies online. In addition, students are expected to use web-based communications for the following purposes:

  • For instructor and student-to-student interactions in computer conferences
  • For email, both within and outside of the course structure
  • For file transfer or file attachment of assignments and feedback between instructor and students and between students on joint projects
  • For accessing electronic databases (for example, Athabasca University’s Library)
  • For using Athabasca University’s Landing (a social network platform for students, instructors and staff)

Curriculum Content

The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Security will be awarded upon completion of 4 courses (12 credits). Students are required to complete the following:

COMP 604 Enterprise Computer Networks (3)
COMP 607 Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in Information Technology (3)
COMP 660 Enterprise Information Security (3)
  And one of:  
COMP 656 Cloud Computing (3)
COMP 689 Advanced Distributed Systems (3)

COMP 604 - designed to teach students some of the advanced technologies for designing, implementing, and managing enterprise-wide computer networks. COMP 604 will also introduce some fundamental concepts and theories to those students with little knowledge of data communication and computer networks. The course will provide the necessary foundation for students to learn information security principles.

COMP 607 aims to equip the student with the intellectual tools to make effective, reasoned and justifiable moral decisions relating to the IT domain within appropriate legal and social frameworks.  This course will educate students that ethical and legal issues are integral to what security professionals do.

COMP 660 - students will study various security issues associated with the development and deployment of information systems, including Internet-based e-commerce, e-business, and e-service systems, as well as the technologies required to develop secure information systems for enterprises. Students will also learn about the policies and regulations essential to the security of enterprise information systems.

COMP 656 –  Cloud Computing is considered one of the top five emerging technologies that will have a major impact on the quality of science and society over next 20 years. It provides a way to centralize the setup, implementation, maintenance, and management of integrated computation services to individual and corporate end users. Cloud computing has attracted great attention in computational research, education, and business communities. It has huge potential to change computing, and provides tremendous research and commercial opportunities as well as great challenges in IT infrastructure and security, computation policy and industry regulation.

This course provides a graduate level comprehensive introduction to cloud computing, with an emphasis on advanced topics such as Cloud Computing architecture, security, key technologies and applications. Students will be able to identify the architecture and infrastructure of cloud computing, explain the core issues of cloud computing such as security, privacy and interoperability, and provide the appropriate cloud computing solutions and recommendations.

COMP 689 deals with the major recent developments in distributed systems technology, explains the principles of distributed systems such as communication, naming, synchronization, replication, fault tolerance and security, using many examples and case studies. It covers architectures in distributed systems, reflecting the progress that has been made on organizing distributed systems, and new topics such as peer-to-peer computing, sensor networks, Web services, Grid computing, virtualization, cloud computing, and its root in essential distributed system mechanism, and self-management of distributed systems.

Permission of the program director is required before courses are taken for PBC InfoSec program credit outside Athabasca University.

Transfer Credit

Some applicants to the program may have completed graduate level course work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the PBC InfoSec program. For details on policy and procedures related to transfer credit, please refer to the Graduate Transfer Credit Policy.

Letter of Permission

Students enrolled in the PBC InfoSec program may take courses from other post-secondary institutions in fulfillment of the program requirements, provided such courses are applicable to Athabasca University’s PBC InfoSec program and residency requirements are met.
Students wishing to take courses from other institutions must submit

to the Graduate Program Director for review. If approved, the School of Computing and Information Systems will issue a Letter of Permission. To allow for mailing time, requests for a Letter of Permission should be made at least one month before the registration deadline at the institution where the student will be taking the course. Upon completion of the course, the student must submit an official transcript to the School of Computing and Information Systems in order to obtain credit for the course.

Admission by Exception

Individuals who do not meet the normal educational requirements of the program, but present other qualifications that indicate their potential for the specific graduate program, may be considered for admission, based on specific criteria.

Program Extension

The changing nature of the subject matter requires that the PBC InfoSec program must be completed within two academic years. If the student is unable to complete the program within the expected maximum number of years for completion, a program extension may be considered.

A program extension (continuation) fee, equivalent to course tuition fee, will normally be paid by the student upon approval of the program extension, unless the approval is given on the basis of extenuating circumstances.

Program Deferrals

While enrolled in the program there may be situations in which students, due to unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, are temporarily unable to meet the program requirements at that time. One alternative for the student is to request a deferral in order to suspend the program requirements for a period of time.

Program Delivery

The program is offered during three semesters each year. The fall semester begins in September. The winter semester begins in January. The spring sessions begins in May. Each semester is 13 weeks in length.


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

Updated June 19 2017 by laurab

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