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Athabasca University

Master of Counselling
Program Regulations

Program Delivery

The 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.

Learners progressing through the Master of Counselling program on the standard program plan sequence generally complete the program in 3.3 years. Learners may take courses at a slower pace to accommodate life circumstances. Thesis learners usually take approximately one extra year to complete the program.

It is strongly recommended that you consider the time commitment involved with online graduate work as you prepare for this program. You should plan to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week in each course. During the semesters when you are completing your practicum, you must be able to devote 200 hours per semester on your practicum placement.

Program Requirements

The MC program involves 36 credits of graduate psychology courses: seven core courses, two 3-credit practicum courses and nine more credits.

MC Core Courses

All learners are required to complete the following core courses.

GCAP 631 Models of Counselling and Client Change (3)
GCAP 632 Professional Ethics (3)
GCAP 633 Sociocultural and Systemic Influences on Counselling (3)
GCAP 634 Assessment Processes (3)
GCAP 635 Responsive Case Conceptualization & Counselling Interventions (3)
GCAP 671 Responsive Counselling Relationships & Interpersonal Communication (3)
GCAP 691 Methods of Inquiry (3)

All learners are also required to complete two Counselling Practicum courses:

GCAP 681 Counselling Practicum I (3)
GCAP 682 Counselling Practicum II (3)

Learners may apply to complete a thesis as part of the Counselling Psychology program. Thesis learners complete the following additional courses:

GCAP 692 Advanced Quantitative Methods (3)
GCAP 693 Advanced Qualitative Research (3)
GCAP 696 Thesis I (3)
GCAP 697 Thesis II (3)

All learners are automatically enrolled in the course-based exit route. In the course-based exit route, learners also complete two elective courses:

GCAP 643 Health Psychology (3)
GCAP 648 Counselling Children and Adolescents from a Developmental Perspective (3)
GCAP 650 Special Topics Course (3)
GCAP 654 Family Therapy: Theory and Practice (3)
GCAP 672 Group Counselling and Process Skills (3)

And the following culminating course

GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar – Knowledge Transfer (3)

Maximum Time in the Program

Under exceptional circumstances, you may be permitted to complete the program over a longer period of time (taking up to a maximum of seven years). However, you must still complete the first year courses as part of your cohort. Be prepared to plan ahead to ensure course availability if you deviate from the standard program plan.

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, will be removed from the program with no option for re-admission to MC graduate programs.


In keeping with Athabasca University's mandate of open access, residency requirements for the MC are satisfied when the learner has successfully completed 24 credits within the MC program. The remaining credits may be transferred from other institutions, if they are applicable to AU's MC program.

Throughout the program, learners must participate in synchronous virtual labs, virtual intensive seminars (VIS). All learners must complete GCAP 671 Responsive Counselling Relationships & Interpersonal Communication, GCAP 681: Counselling Practicum I, and GCAP 682: Counselling Practicum II within the MC program.

Program Withdrawal

Learners may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing to the GCAP program office 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 the regular application procedures outlined above.

Full- and Part-time Status

Normally, the MC program is completed at a pace of four courses per year. 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. Program learners are 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 MC degree requirements within seven 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 Master of Counselling Credential

The MC Program does not have candidacy exams, therefore the use of MC (C) or MC (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, each learner must successfully complete 36 credits of graduate coursework required for the MC degree, including either the thesis or course-based exit.


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

Updated April 13 2021 by laurab

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