Skip To Content

Athabasca University

Graduate Diploma in Counselling
Program Regulations

Program Delivery

The Graduate Diploma in Counselling (GDC) program is offered during three semesters each year. Learners participate in paced learning activities that require completion of course work on a fixed schedule. All course work should be completed during the semester periods. Extensions to these timelines may be granted, if circumstances warrant.

Program Requirements

Learners are required to complete 18 credits in the Graduate Diploma in Counselling program. Diploma learners are required to complete the following courses:

GCAP 631 Models of Counselling and Client Change (3)
GCAP 632 Professional Ethics (3)
GCAP 633 Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences


GCAP 635 Responsive Case Conceptualization & Counselling Interventions (3)
GCAP 671 Responsive Counselling Relationships & Interpersonal Communication (3)
  In addition:  
1 elective from the following list:  
GCAP 643 Health Psychology (3)
GCAP 648 Counselling Children and Adolescents from a Development Perspective (3)
GCAP 650 Special Topics Course (3)
GCAP 654 Family Therapy: Theory and Practice (3)
GCAP 672 Group Counselling and Process Skills (3)

Learners who successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Counselling may apply to ladder their coursework directly into the Master of Counselling.

Learners normally progress through the diploma program at a fixed pace. The time commitment will depend on whether you desire to ladder into the Master of Counselling Program or exit the Graduate Diploma program with the diploma (Terminal Diploma Program).

It is strongly recommended that you consider the time commitment involved in online graduate work as you prepare for the program. You should plan to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week to each course.

Program Status

To maintain program status, learners must complete six credits during each academic year (September 1 to August 31). Learners are required to receive an overall grade of 70 per cent or B- to pass each GCAP course. In addition, learners are expected to maintain at least a B or 75 per cent in the program. Learners who fail a course, or who receive a grade of B- in two courses, may be removed from the program with no option for re-admission to graduate programs.


In keeping with Athabasca University's mandate of open access, residency requirements for the GDC are satisfied when the learner has successfully completed 12 credits within the GDC program. The remaining credits may be transferred from other institutions, if they are applicable to the university's GDC program. Please see the Transfer Credit section for more information.

Learners must participate in a three-week summer institute. These intensive face-to-face experiences are most often held in Calgary, Alberta. All learners must complete the Developing a Working Alliance course within the GDC program.

Program Withdrawal

Learners may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing and formally withdrawing from any courses in which they are currently registered. Learners who withdraw may apply to re-enrol in the program by following regular application procedures.

Full- and Part-time Status

Learners may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. Part-time learners must complete a minimum of six credits per calendar year. Normally, the GDC program is completed in 1.5 years. Program learners will be considered full time if they complete a minimum of nine credits in a given calendar year. Note however, that other organizations (e.g. provincial student loan programs, First Nations, Canada Revenue Agency) may have other criteria for defining full-time status.

Program Completion Time Limits

Learners must complete the GDC degree requirements within three years of their initial enrolment in the program. Learners who do not do so may be required to repeat courses completed at the beginning of their program.

Use of Graduate Diploma in Counselling Credential

The GDC program does not have candidacy exams, therefore the use of GDC (C) or GDC (Candidate) during your program is not permitted. You may use this credential only after the degree is conferred.

Graduation Requirements

To be eligible for graduation, students must complete 18 credits of graduate coursework required for the GDC degree.

Information effective September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021.

Updated April 13 2021 by laurab

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