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Athabasca University

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
Admission Requirements

The Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MA-IS) Program invites applications from candidates who possess a baccalaureate degree and strong analytical, writing, and critical-thinking skills. Admission is open, in keeping with Athabasca University's mandate to remove barriers that restrict access to, and success in, university-level studies, but additional preparatory work in composition and analysis may be required of some candidates prior to admission.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

As English is the primary language of instruction at Athabasca University, it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they have an adequate level of proficiency. Moreover, since the MA-IS is a graduate-level program, it is to be expected that the materials will be challenging. Although faculty makes every effort to facilitate the learning process, they may have to redirect students to remedial resources.

Non-Canadian students must provide documentation supporting the successful completion of at least one of the following English as a Second Language (ESL) assessments before his or her application will be considered:

  • A grade of 75 per cent or higher in ENGL 255.
  • Successful completion of a degree program at an accredited post-secondary institution where English is the primary language of instruction.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and a score of 560 (or 220 on the computerized version). Canadian Academic English Language Assessment, CAEL, score of 65.
  • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment, CAEL, score of 65.
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) and a score of 85.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS); scores of 6.5 with no part less than 6.0. Equivalencies may be considered upon request.

All students applying for admission into the MA-IS Program students must complete an Academic Writing Assessment as part of the application process.

Success at the graduate level requires reading and writing skills that many MA-IS applicants may not have had an opportunity to develop or practice for a number of years. To help applicants determine their level of proficiency in this area, we have developed an Academic Writing Assessment (AWA) writing diagnostic test. The AWA is designed to help us determine whether applicants are prepared to commence graduate studies, or whether they need to develop or refine their writing and composition skills before beginning, or while they are in the early stages of their studies. We are committed to helping our students succeed, and every effort will be made to ensure that appropriate assistance is provided to those who need to develop or refine their writing and composition skills.

For more information on the Academic Writing Assessment, please go to the AWA website.

Program Application Deadline

There are two program intakes per year. The MA-IS office must receive all application materials by March 1 for consideration to enter the program starting in September of the same year, and by September 1 for consideration to enter the program starting in January of the following year.

Non-Program Application

Non-program applications will be received and reviewed on a continuous admission basis.

Transfer Credit

Some students may have completed work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the MA-IS program. After being admitted to the MA-IS program, students may request a review of such course work. The Program Director will review such work to determine if the student should be awarded transfer credit to apply towards the MA-IS program.

Students seeking transfer credit are required to submit to the MA-IS program office: official transcripts (if these were not submitted in support of their application for admission), detailed course descriptions for the courses, the appropriate Transfer Credit Evaluation fees, and a written statement outlining a study plan and rationale for transfer credit. Failure to supply either the transcript or the detailed course description(s) shall result in no transfer credit being awarded.

Letter of Permission

Students enrolled in the MA-IS program may take up to five graduate-level courses (15 credits) from other post-secondary educational institutions in fulfilment of the program requirements, provided such courses are applicable to the Athabasca University MA-IS program. Students wishing to take courses from other institutions must obtain and submit:

  • a Letter of Permission Request Form,
  • a written statement outlining the reasons for pursuing studies elsewhere and an explanation of the course(s) relevance to the MA-IS program, and
  • detailed course outline(s) and the appropriate Letter of Permission fees,

to the MA-IS program office for review. If approved, the Office of the Registrar 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 MA-IS program administrator in order to obtain credit for the course.


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

Updated May 31 2021 by laurab

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