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Athabasca University

Regulations effective for students admitted to the MEd program starting September 1, 2015 or later. (Previous regulations can be found here.) Students previously admitted to the program may apply to the Program Director for consideration to use these current regulations for their program.

Master of Education in Distance Education
Program Regulations


Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete 6 credits of course or thesis work during each academic year (September 1 to August 31). 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.


To meet the residency requirements:

  1. for the Thesis Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum and complete the thesis through Athabasca University.
  2. for the Course-based Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum, a minimum of four elective courses (12 credits) through Athabasca University, and pass the e-portfolio and oral defense at the conclusion of the course work.

Program Requirements

Thirty-three credits are required to complete the MEd program. These credits can be earned in one of two ways.

  1. Thesis Route: The curriculum requirement for the thesis route consists of five core courses, two elective courses, and 12 credits of thesis work. Normally, students will register in thesis credit after completion of the core courses.

    For those individuals pursuing the thesis route, a thesis (12 credits) provides an opportunity for investigating a novel question or synthesizing/applying what has been learned in the course work. Students must register in MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, and MDDE 704, as they proceed to complete the thesis requirements.

  2. Course-based Route: The curriculum requirement for the course-based route consists of five core courses, five elective courses and MDDE 694 – Capstone e-Portfolio Project.

Students pursuing the course-based route are required to complete a 3-credit capstone e-portfolio project as their final course, providing an opportunity to develop a high quality, comprehensive e-portfolio and to conduct an oral defense of that product. Students must register in MDDE 694 once they have completed all their core and elective courses, or are currently completing their final course.

Students can also choose to pursue focus areas for either the thesis or course-based routes in: Instructional Design, Leadership in Education, Mobile Learning, and K-12 Blended and Online Learning.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum is an integrated arrangement of courses covering the field of distance education and training. The five core courses (15 credits) review current knowledge, theory, and practice in distance education and training. For all program students, MDDE 601 and MDDE 602 must be taken before any other program courses, either concurrently or consecutively. Students must also take MDDE 603, either MDDE 604 or MDDE 605, and either MDDE 610 or MDDE 620 to complete their core course requirements. The courses not chosen to meet the core course requirements can be used to meet the elective requirements.

The core courses provide students with the skills and knowledge that will facilitate their understanding and ability to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, create, and implement distance education and training courses, programs, and systems. Core courses in the MEd are offered three times a year.

Core Courses

Elective Courses

MDDE 610 Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications * (3)
MDDE 611 Foundations of Adult Education (3)
MDDE 612 Experiential Learning (3)
MDDE 613 Adult Education and Lifelong Learning (3)
MDDE 614 International Issues in Open and Distance Learning (3)
MDDE 615 Human Factors in Educational Technology  (3)
MDDE 617 Program Evaluation in Distance Education (3)
MDDE 618 Instructional Project Management (3)
MDDE 619 Trends and Issues in Instructional Design (3)
MDDE 620 Technology in Education and Training * (3)
MDDE 621 Online Teaching in Distance Education and Training  (3)
MDDE 622 Openness in Education (3)
MDDE 623 Introduction to Mobile Learning (3)
MDDE 630 Trends and Issues in K-12 Online and Blended Learning (3)
MDDE 631 Inclusive Leadership and Practice in Education (3)
MDDE 632 Leadership in Education Innovation
MDDE 650 Tutoring and Student Support in Distance Education and Training (3)
MDDE 651 Gender Issues in Distance Education (3)
MDDE 660 Professional Seminar (3)
MDDE 661 Seminar Topics in Educational Conferencing  (3)
MDDE 662 Seminar Topics in Evaluating Conferencing Software  (3)
MDDE 663 Emerging Issues on Distance Education Technology  (3)
MDDE 664 New Perspectives in International Distance Education  (3)
MDDE 665 Collaboration and Mentoring in Educational Environments (3)
MDDE 690-691 Independent Study (3)

* Elective courses listed above with an asterisk may be used to fulfill the technology core course requirement.

Elective courses are designed to complement the core curriculum and expand basic knowledge, theory, and practice into areas and issues of individual interest or concern. These courses allow students to specialize in particular topics or learn new sets of skills necessary for research and practice in distance education and training. Some elective courses may not be available every year and a growing list of electives will emerge as student and faculty interests change and develop.

Normally, elective courses may be taken concurrently with core courses. Students may obtain advanced credit for an elective course and may be encouraged to take an elective course from other institutions. Permission of the program director is required before courses are taken for MEd program credit outside Athabasca University. Students may also be encouraged to work on subject-matter areas or skills with individual faculty members as a way to fulfill elective requirements. To facilitate this involvement with faculty, students may register in MDDE 690 Independent Study in three-credit blocks (equivalent to a three-credit course). Normally, no more than six credits may be earned as individualized study.

Focus Areas

Students are strongly advised to contact the CDE office for assistance and for advice on planning their studies. To qualify for a focus area, students must complete all core and prescribed electives for either the course-based or thesis routes, as well as declare their selection with the MEd Program Administrator.

To pursue the course-based route in a focus area, students are required to complete the five core courses, in addition to five 3-credit electives and the final MDDE 694 E-Portfolio Capstone Project.

To pursue the thesis route in a focus area, students are required to complete the five core courses, in addition to two 3-credit electives and the four thesis courses (MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, MDDE 704).

MEd Focus Areas

Thesis Credits

Students who pursue the thesis program route are required to complete four, 3-credit courses: MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, and MDDE 704. The first three courses (MDDE 701, MDDE 702, and MDDE 703) are conventional Centre for Distance Education courses. MDDE 704 is not a conventional course but serves as a placeholder for administrative purposes.

MDDE 701 Quantitative Research Methods (3)
MDDE 702 Qualitative Research Methods (3)
MDDE 703 Research Proposal Writing (3)
MDDE 704 Thesis Completion and Oral Defence (3)


All thesis courses must be registered manually through the CDE office. Prior to registration in a thesis course, it is important for students to ensure that they have spoken with the thesis advisor about their program and thesis plan. Students that have successfully completed MDDE 701, MDDE 702 and/or 703 but decide to opt out of the thesis route, can choose to pursue the course-based route by contacting the CDE office. All successfully completed thesis courses can be transferred for elective credit into the course-based route.

MEd Thesis Requirements

Students choosing this route must complete a thesis. Once the student has successfully completed MDDE 702, a supervisor will be assigned and a committee arranged.

The thesis in the MEd program is the equivalent of 12 credits. Students register in the thesis in four blocks of three credits each. Normally, students will register in a thesis after completion of all core course work and electives. Students who have completed all of the course requirements and have paid the full tuition fee for the thesis, but who have yet to "complete" the thesis, may be required to pay a continuation fee.

Students choosing the thesis route should familiarize themselves with the Master's level thesis regulations outlined in the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Transfer Credit

Students enrolled in the MEd program may take courses from other post-secondary institutions in fulfilment of the program requirements, provided such courses are applicable to Athabasca University's MEd program. Students wishing to take courses from other institutions must submit a Letter of Permission Request Form and applicable fee, a rationale for how the course will fill an MEd requirement (e.g., as an elective course, or in lieu of a specific course), and detailed course outlines to the MEd program director for review.

If approved, the Centre for Distance Education 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 Centre for Distance Education in order to obtain credit for the course.

Program Delivery

The program is offered during three semesters each year. Each semester is 13 weeks in length. The fall semester begins the second Monday in September. The winter semester begins the second Monday in January. The spring/summer semester begins the last Monday in April.

All course work should be completed during the semester periods. Extensions to these timelines may be granted, if circumstances warrant (refer to Course Regulations and Procedures).

Completion Time Limits

Students have a maximum of six years from their first registration as a program student to complete the MEd degree program.

Program Withdrawal

Students may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing to the program director. Students who withdraw may be re-enrolled in the program by following the application procedures. Students requesting re-admission to the program will be competing against all other applicants and will not receive special consideration.


Information effective Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.

Updated September 06 2017 by laurab

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