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Athabasca University

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
Program Regulations


Once enrolled, students will be permitted to register in MA-IS courses on a first-come, first-served basis, space permitting. Program students will have priority with respect to grouped study courses (over non-program students). Reading courses are reserved for senior program students only.

Program Structure

Program Structure
Total credits in the program 33
Residency Requirement: Students must complete a minimum of 18 credits (6 courses) through Athabasca University, including 2 core courses and an interdisciplinary project. 18
Required Courses: 9 – 12 credits
Core Courses:
MAIS 601 Making Sense of Theory in the Arts and Social Sciences (3)
MAIS 602 Researching Society and Culture (3)
Total 6 credits
Project Courses:
MAIS 700 Capstone Course: Integrating your MA-IS Studies and Research (3)
MAIS 701 Interdisciplinary Studies Project 1
MAIS 701 Interdisciplinary Studies Project 1 (3)
MAIS 702 Interdisciplinary Studies Project 2 (optional) (3)
Total 3 – 6 credits
Elective Courses:
Independent Track 24 credits
Focus Area 12 credits
Electives 12 credits
Dual Focus Areas 12 credits per focus
Total 21 – 24 credits
Choose from the following list. Note, not all courses are always available for registration. Please visit the MA-IS website to determine if your chosen course is open for registration. Be sure to select at least four (4) courses from the electives that count towards your focus area. The lists of courses under each focus area can be found on the MA-IS Focus Areas page.
ANTH 591 Ethnobiology: Traditional Knowledge of Plants, Animals, and Land in Contemporary Global Context (3)
ANTH 610 Environment, Traditional Cultures, and Sustainability (3)
BEHV 655 Self-Directed Behavior (3)
EDST 630 Transformative Learning for Social Change (3)
EDST 632 Global Education (3)
EDST 635 Foundations of Education in Canada (3)
EDST 645 Curriculum: Provoking Inquiry (3)
EDST 646 Educational Administration, Policy, Leadership and Change (3)
EDST 647 Critical Multicultural Education in Canada (3)
ENGL 693 Directed Studies in Literature (3)
ENVS 670 The Nature of Nature: Ecology, Non-human Life, and Human Obligations (3)
ENVS 689 The Political Ecology of Global Environmental Change (3)
GLST 611 Social Movements (3)
GLST 650 Sustainability in an Age of Global Change (3)
GLST 651 Critical Approaches to Global Change (3)
GLST 652 Democracy and Justice in the Context of Global Capitalism (3)
GLST 695 Political Economy of Development: People, Processes, and Policies (3)
GOVN 500 Governance and Leadership (3)
GOVN 505 Innovative Public Management (3)
GOVN 540 Global Governance and Law (3)
GOVN 677 Privacy and Transparency in a Networked World (3)
HERM 501 Issues in Heritage Resources Management (3)
HERM 512 Advanced Methods in Heritage Research (3)
HERM 542 Issues in Planning Historic Places (3)
HERM 561 Advanced Issues in Interpretive Programming (3)
HERM 670 Industrial Heritage (3)
HERM 671 Documentation and Condition Assessment (3)
HERM 672 Heritage and Risk Management (3)
HERM 673 Architectural Conservation (3)
HIST 632 Gender, Race, Racism, and the History of Classical Scholarship (3)
LGST 551 Introduction to Legislative Drafting (3)
LGST 553 Legislative Structure, Style, and Limits (3)
LTST 605 Current Issues in Literary Studies (3)
LTST 612 The 19th-Century English Novel: Gothic Transformations (3)
LTST 637 Black Atlantic Literature and Culture (3)
MAIS 514 The Theory and Practice of Trade Unions (3)
MAIS 603 Community Development (3)
MAIS 604 Planning and Action for Community Change (3)
MAIS 606 Academic Writing for Graduate Studies (3)
MAIS 607 Leadership and Insurrection (3)
MAIS 610 Organizational Perspectives: Images, Issues, Practices (3)
MAIS 615 The Business of Emotions (3)
MAIS 616 Writing the Self: The Experience and Potential of Writing for Personal Development (3)
MAIS 617 Creative Non-Fiction (3)
MAIS 620 Digital Storytelling (3)
MAIS 621 Narrative Possibilities: The Transformative Power of Writing, Story, and Poetry in Personal and Professional Development (3)
MAIS 623 Introduction to Trends in New Media: Digital Humanities (3)
MAIS 625 Critical Perspectives in Cultural Studies (3)
MAIS 628 Gender and Sexuality (3)
MAIS 635 Equality in Context (3)
MAIS 638 What I Tell You May Not Be True: Autobiography, Discourse Analysis, and Post-Colonialism (3)
MAIS 640 Grounded Theory, Exploration, and Beyond (3)
MAIS 642 Program Planning, Evaluation, and Instructional Methods in Adult Education (3)
MAIS 644 Adult Education, Community Leadership, and the Crisis of Democracy (3)
MAIS 645 Understanding Work and Learning (3)
MAIS 650 Canadian and International Labour Education (3)
MAIS 658 Doing Disability Differently (3)
MAIS 662 Mourning and Trauma: Theoretical and Historical Debates (3)
MAIS 663 Critical Race Theory in Global Context (3)
MAIS 665 Cultural Studies: Reflections, Demographic Possibilities, and Futures (3)
MAIS 750 Foundational Reading Course (3)
MAIS 751 Foundational Reading Course (3)
MAIS 752 Special Topics Graduate Seminar (3)
MAIS 760 Advanced Reading (3)
POLI 550 Women, Equality, and Representation (3)
PSYC 576 Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs (3)
PSYC 589 Learning Disabilities: Issues and Interventions (3)
PSYC 630 Talking Cues: The Evolution of Psychotherapy (3)
SOCI 537 Deciphering Our Social Worlds (3)
SOCI 539 The Sociology of War and Organized Violence (3)
WGST 522 Violence Against Women – A Global Perspective (3)
WGST 547 Rethinking Science and Technology: Gender, Theory, and Practice (3)
WRNM 605 Creating Life Histories (3)

Study Plan

Upon completion of the two MA-IS core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602), and two elective courses, students are required to submit a study plan to the MA-IS Office for approval by the Program Director. Students transferring in credit from other universities will be required to submit their study plans upon admission to the program.

Refer to MA-IS Courses.

Independent Track

Students may choose to embark on an independent program of study by completing the two core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602), one project course, MAIS 701 or MAIS 700, plus eight elective courses woven across the MA-IS curriculum in a comprehensive plan of study.

Depending on their undergraduate preparation, students will identify a strategy for developing their own plan of study. The independent track is designed for highly motivated students who have shown excellence at the undergraduate level. Students should contact the MA-IS office for advice on planning their studies.

Focus Areas

Students who choose to study a focus area will successfully complete a minimum of four courses in a focus area (see below), MAIS 701 or MAIS 700, and four electives from across the curriculum. Students should contact the MA-IS Office for advice on planning their studies.

To qualify as a focus area, students must complete four courses within the focus area, plus four elective courses or a second focus area, before commencing their integrated project.

Students will be required to declare their focus area upon completion of the two core courses (MAIS 601 and MAIS 602) and two elective courses (i.e., focus area or independent track).

Students wishing to complete two focus areas, may apply to the Director (in their Study Plan) for approval of a second area if they:

  1. demonstrate plans to complete four courses in each area; and
  2. provide a rationale as to how they will integrate course work across both areas in the final project.

MA-IS Available Focus Areas

Refer to the MA-IS website and select "Courses" for up-to-date information on course development.

Program Status

Effective September 2005, students must complete six credits of course or project work during a one-year academic period (September 1 to August 31) in order to maintain program status. Failure to meet this requirement may result in an inactivation of a student's program status.

Students may also be asked to successfully complete additional remedial writing work in order to continue in the program. Students will be required to submit official documentation confirming the successful completion of their remedial work to the MA-IS office, in order to remain in the program.

Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

Completion Time Limits

Students may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. The degree can be completed in two years or extended over six years, from the program start date. The expected normal completion time is three to four years.

Program Deferral

Students may defer their studies, without prejudice, contingent upon the submission of Request for Program Deferral form (PDF) to the MA-IS office and approval from the Program Director. More information on Program Deferrals is available on the MA-IS Policies website.

Program Withdrawal/Reactivation

Students may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing to the MA-IS office. Students who withdraw may be reactivated in the program by requesting approval to the Program Director and paying a reactivation fee. Failure in two courses will result in the automatic removal of the student from the program.

Non-Program Students

Individuals who are not enrolled in the MA-IS program will be permitted to register as non-program students in up to a maximum of five courses, space permitting; however, no more than two courses per semester will be allowed. No exceptions.

Courses taken as a non-program student may be applied toward the program degree requirements, if and when the student becomes a program student.

For those students interested in individualized study, a number of graduate courses are available for registration throughout the year. Refer to MA-IS Courses. The University is under no obligation to admit non-program students into the MA-IS program. For more information on non-program status, contact the MA-IS office.


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

Updated May 31 2021 by laurab

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