This Calendar is effective September 1, 2002 - August 31, 2003
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6. Undergraduate Course Registration, Progress Information

How to Register Individualized-Study Course Start Dates
Grouped-Study Course Start Dates Shipping Course Materials/Communication with AU
Challenge for Credit Option Maximum Course Load
Course Preregistration Changing Delivery Mode
Course Extensions Course Withdrawal
Method of Delivery Regulations Course Reregistration
Delivery Mode Transfer Prerequistites
Auditing a Course Students with Disabilities

After being admitted to the University and enrolled as an unclassified or program student status, students are registered in a course. Refer to Section 5.3. Registration Definitions for more information.

Students who require assistance with their course selection, should contact an advisor.

Remember, students are responsibile for selecting courses that meet program regulations and requirements in effect on the date they enrol in their program of study.

6.1. Registration

There are three primary methods to earn credit in Athabasca University courses:

  1. Individualized-study courses
  2. Grouped-study courses
  3. Challenge for credit option

6.2. Individualized Study

Start Dates

Athabasca University has a year-round admission and enrolment policy for its undergraduate courses and programs. There are no application deadlines for most of the undergraduate individualized-study courses. It is important to consider postal and processing times when a particular starting time is desired.

Athabasca University's individualized-study courses generally begin on the first day of each month throughout the year. The Office of the Registrar will process completed registration forms that are received by 4:30 p.m. MT on the tenth day of the previous month for a subsequent month start date. All students are encouraged to register by the first day of the month before their desired start month to allow for the arrival of course materials. Individualized-study students may preregister for courses up to six months in advance of the intended start date. Course materials will be sent as soon as the preregistration request is processed.

Students living abroad are assigned a course start date two months later than the regularly assigned individualized-study course start dates to compensate for any shipping delays.

Contract Period

Most individualized study students have six months to complete three- or four-credit courses and 12 months to complete six-credit courses. Individualized-study courses may be extended three times for a period of two months each for either three- four- or six-credit courses.

In order to meet the Student Finance Board's requirements, students receiving or seeking funding are assigned four-month contracts for three- or four-credit courses and eight-month contracts for six-credit courses. Refer to Section 8.12.2. Financial Assistance.

Each individualized-study course registration has an official start date, which is the first day of a month, and it concludes at the end of the active registration or contract date. Students are considered actively registered in a course until the course is completed, the contract date expires, or the student withdraws.

Are You Ready?

For new undergraduate students, Athabasca University has prepared a self-assessment questionnaire "Am I Ready for Athabasca University?" to help determine if distance learning is suitable.

Students who need help clarifying their educational goals or career direction with Athabasca University's programs and courses may e-mail Counselling Services or phone 800.788.9041 (ext. 6723).

Maximum Course Load

Full-time students may take from three to six courses at once. To ensure students don't overburden themselves, the University normally limits each student's course load to a maximum of six. Students with full-time jobs or those who are new to distance learning, may find it advisable to start with one course.

Students receiving funding form their local financial aid agency should refer to Section 8.12.2. Financial Assistance for specific course contract date information.

How to Register

And if you're ready to register…
  • Explore your course or program options.

  • Confirm that the course is available (by phoning the Information Centre 800.788.9041 or by viewing the course syllabus online. Another Web site, linked from each course syllabus, will confirm whether the course is currently available. Ensure that you have the course prerequisites before registering.

  • Should you need course or program advice, contact our student information advisors before registering; or phone Edmonton 780.421.8700, Calgary 403.263.6465, all other Canada and US locations 800.788.9041.

  • Complete two forms: the Undergraduate General Application Form (for first-time students) and the Undergraduate Course Registration Form. If you are an inactive student (you have not registered in an Athabasca University course within 12 months of the completion date, the contract date, or the date of withdrawal from your last course) you must "get active" and acquire a LOGIN to access AU's online course registration system. You are also considered inactive if you have not requested a Letter of Permission within the past 12 months.

  • Add up your course and application fee(s) (refer to Section 8 Fees, Financial Assistance, Refunds).

  • Enclose the fee(s) with a cheque or money order payable to Athabasca University. Your payment may also be made online through our secure server using Visa®, MasterCard® or American Express®. We cannot process your Undergraduate General Application Form and/or your Course Registration Form without the correct payment (refer to Section 8 Fees, Financial Assistance, Refunds for method of payment details).

Students will receive confirmation of registration within two weeks. If confirmation is not received, contact the Information Centre.

You can register

  • in person at Athabasca University or at the Edmonton Learning Centre or Calgary Learning Centre.

  • in writing by mail, fax 780.675.6174, or online. Course materials for students who register online will normally be forwarded within 24 hours of the registration being processed.

  • through the Challenge for Credit option. This option allows you to review course materials and to demonstrate that you are proficient in the subject matter of a specific university-level course without having to complete the course.

6.3. Grouped Study

Start Dates

Year-round registration is not offered in all grouped-study courses because of scheduling restrictions. Refer online or contact Learning Services Outreach at 780.497.3401.

Contract Period

Grouped-study courses follow the timelines associated with a traditional university semester; for example, students who begin courses in September will finish in December. Grouped-study courses generally last 13 weeks (three credits) or 26 weeks (six credits) and are delivered in classroom situations at Athabasca University's Learning Centres (located in Edmonton and Calgary) or at one of the many collaborating institutions across Canada. The official start date and end dates match these time frames as closely as possible. Students in grouped-study courses are not eligible for course extensions.

e-Class® courses, courses taken for credit towards a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Administration and other programs at Athabasca University, use a grouped-study electronic environment. Print material, including textbooks and a study guide, are augmented by online group discussion and asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. e-Class® semesters run for 15 weeks. Delivery of each e-Class® course is dependent upon a minimum number of registrations.


Grouped-study courses are generally offered at selected sites and times. Grouped-study students, both new and continuing, usually register in person at an Athabasca University Learning Centre (in Edmonton or Calgary) or at the cooperating institution offering the course. Course materials are distributed to the student at the first group session. Refer to the following Web sites for details.

6.4. Challenge for Credit Option

Athabasca University offers a challenge for credit process. This process allows students to review course materials and to demonstrate, by a written exam, project, assignments, etc., that they are proficient in the subject matter of a specific university-level course without having to complete the course. The challenge for credit option is available for existing Athabasca University course offerings only.

Some courses are not available for challenge. The online course syllabus has a link to the Course Availability Report and the Office of the Registrar maintains a non-challengeable list.

Athabasca University does not grant transfer credit for field placements, professional seminars, work experience or elementary skills. Other courses that cannot be challenged are:

  • courses for which students have received transfer credit.

  • courses for which students have received a "precluded" designation.

  • courses for which students have received an exemption; that are unavailable at the time of registering; or courses in a category that is unavailable for challenge for credit.

  • all graduate-level courses.

  • reading courses.

  • some project-based courses (review the list of courses that are not available for challenge).

  • 100-level courses.

  • laboratory or practium.

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing program can challenge all nursing courses with the exception of NURS 440.

Students cannot withdraw (cancel) from a challenge course once the Challenge for Credit Application Form has been submitted.

Students who have failed a course (or an equivalent course) may not challenge it without the written permission of the course professor. This permission will be given only if students can document significant learning after the unsuccessful attempt at completing the course.


Prerequisites must be satisfied unless waived by the course professor. After successfully completing a course, students may not challenge a prerequisite to that course. Cancellation or failure to complete all components of the challenge evaluation will result in a failing grade.

Challenge Procedure

Before challenging a course, please

  1. determine the course is available for challenge by checking the non-challengeable course list or by phoning the Office of the Registrar, 800.788.9041.

  2. consult with the course professor to discuss the knowledge and skills required in the course. The course professors will ask you where and how you learned the material being challenged. The professor will also determine the appropriate method of evaluation, for example, you may be required to submit an assignment or a report, or take an oral, written, or practical exam.

  3. complete and submit the Challenge for Credit Application Form and non-refundable fee to Examinations Services. Please allow at least one month from the date the application is acknowledged by Examination Services to receive a confirmation letter/package explaining the evaluation method and course materials, if required.

Students who register in a course and discover they are familiar enough with the material to challenge it must first withdraw from the course and then request to challenge it. Students will be required to pay an additional challenge for credit fee. If they withdraw from the course before the start date (or no later than 30 days after the start date) students may be entitled to a refund. If they withdraw more than 30 days after the course start date, they are not entitled to a refund.

Challenge Exams

Students must undergo the Challenge for Credit evaluation/exam within six weeks to three months of receiving their confirmation letter/package. The time period is predetermined by the course professor and is stipulated when the student receives the exam and/or project. Students are allowed one attempt at the Challenge for Credit evaluation/exam. If it is failed, the evaluation/exam cannot be written again. Students who want to write the exam without the course materials should consult their invigilator and inform Examination Services of the date they wish to write when they submit their Exam Request Form.

An unwritten challenge exam will not be reissued. General exam regulations and invigilation guidelines also apply to challenge exams with the exception of supplemental and multi-exam options. All challenge for credit grade appeals are subject to an appeals process described in Athabasca University's Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal Regulations. Challenge courses and their grades appear on transcripts the same as courses taken by individualized or grouped study.

Course Materials

Students who challenge a course but require the course materials package, must register and pay the learning resources fee, and the challenge for credit fee. Allow approximately three weeks or more, depending on your geographic location, for the processing of the request and receipt of materials.

Refunds and Returns

If the course materials package is completely unmarked, able to be issued to another student, and received by Athabasca University within 30 calendar days of writing the challenge exam or completing the challenge project, the student will be entitled to a refund. If the course materials and timeframe criteria are not met, students will not be entitled to a refund.

The refund policy does not apply to course materials provided electronically and downloaded from the World Wide Web.

6.5. Course Extensions

Individualized-study students who cannot complete their course on or before their contract date may apply for an extension by submitting an Extension Request Form and fee to the Office of the Registrar or a Learning Centre. Each three- or six-credit individualized-study course may be extended three times for a period of two months per extension.

Requests to extend the contract must be postmarked no later than the original contract date, or in the case of subsequent extension requests, no later than the previous extension contract date. The extension starts on the first day of the month following the original contract date. Students must complete telephone quizzes during the original course contract period or during the extended course contract period when tutor support is available.

Students receiving financial assistance should review Section 8.12.2.

Students who fail to complete their course, and who do not apply for an extension by the contract date, will be awarded a course failure. Students may reregister and pay the appropriate fees if they wish to obtain credit for the course. Both the original registration and the reregistration will appear on the transcript. Extensions are not available in grouped-study courses.

6.6. Course Withdrawals

Students may withdraw from a course (with the exception of challenge courses) at any time up until three months after the course start date (90 days) without academic penalty, provided they meet the following criteria. (A refund, however, is available only to students who formally withdraw from an undergraduate course either before the course start date or no later than 30 days after the course start date, provided they meet specific criteria. Please review 8.11. Refunds and Returns.) Students may not withdraw from a course once the final exam has been deemed written.

  1. All withdrawal requests must be made in writing to the Office of the Registrar and bear the student's signature.
  2. To formally withdraw from a course, complete and submit a Course Withdrawal Request Form (also included in the Forms Package of your course materials), or fax the completed form to the Office of the Registrar. An e-mailed withdrawal request will not be accepted.
  3. The date of withdrawal will be the postmark on the request, or, if the notice is hand-delivered or faxed, the University date stamp, or the date of the online submission.

Academic Record
Students who withdraw within one month of the course start date, will have the record of registration deleted from their official record. Students who withdraw after one month and within three months after the course start date, will have their official record indicate a "W" (withdrawal) without credit and without academic penalty. Students who withdraw more than three months after the course start date, and before the contract date, will have their official record indicate a "WF" (Withdrawal/Failure), without academic penalty. Students who fail to formally withdraw will be assigned a system failure, and their official record will indicate "0F" (Failure), with academic penalty.

Refunds and Returns
Students are required to pay the postage on any returned course materials. Review Section 8.11. Refunds and Returns to determine the type of refund you may be entitled.

Money paid by a student or sponsor cannot be held indefinitely by Athabasca University. Credit balances on a student's account, except for students who receive financial assistance from the Alberta Student Finance Board (or other provincial program), will be refunded to the student or credited to the sponsor.

6.7. Method of Delivery Regulations

Regulations that govern the process for registering, extensions, withdrawal, examinations, and supplemental exams are based on the course delivery method. Regulations governing individualized-study courses may differ occasionally from those governing grouped-study courses.

Students follow the regulations appropriate to the course delivery method. The following chart explains some of the different regulations governing courses at Athabasca University. Students who require assistance in determining which regulations apply should contact the Office of the Registrar or a student advisor.

Summary of Regulations by Registration Mode

See attached table.

6.8. Course Reregistration

Students are permitted one registration and one reregistration in each individualized-study course. Subsequent course registrations require the course professor’s written approval. In making the decision to grant approval the course professor may, to the extent necessary and feasible, consult with the tutor, Learning Centre personnel, or other staff members. The course professor may also recommend that the student seek advice, counselling, or study-skills assistance.

To reregister, submit a new Undergraduate Course Registration Form and the appropriate fee. If new course materials are required, the full course fee applies. If new course materials are not required, the learning resources fee is deducted from the full course fee. Course Materials Production can replace individual items that have been lost or damaged, and students will be charged the replacement cost on an item-by-item basis.

Students have a maximum of one year from the end of the contract date to reregister if they wish to carry their standing/results for work completed in the previous registration to the reregistration.

To carry credit to the reregistration it is the student's responsibility to obtain permission from the course professor before reregistering. After the one-year duration, students are required to complete all assignments, exams, tests, etc. in the reregistration in order to obtain credit for the course. Both the original registration and the reregistration are recorded on the transcript.

6.9. Changing Delivery Mode

Students who wish to transfer from one delivery mode to another must apply in writing to the Office of the Registrar before the mid-point of the course contract period and before the mid-term exam (if any) has been written. The start date will not change if students transfer from individualized study to grouped study or vice versa, however, the contract date may change.

Regulations governing individualized-study and grouped-study courses occasionally differ. Students are required to follow the regulations relevant to the course method of delivery. If students have difficulties determining which regulations apply to which courses, they may call the Office of the Registrar at 800.788.9041.

6.10.  Prerequisites

Prerequisites ensure that students have the required background to successfully complete their course. Students must have the course prerequisite before registering. Students who feel a prerequisite should be waived for non-academic reasons such as work experience, must contact the course professor who has the authority to waive the prerequisite, before registration takes place. This permission must be forwarded to the Registrations Unit, Office of the Registrar. A Prerequisite Waiver Declaration Form is on the back of the paper Undergraduate Course Registration Form or included in the online Undergraduate Course Registration Form.

Students who are registered in a course that is a prerequisite to a second course can preregister in the second course while the first one is underway. Before registering in courses designated as "reading courses", students must contact the course professor to obtain registration approval before submitting their written request. Some courses require professor approval and other course-related prerequisites. Failure to obtain professor approval will result in registration being delayed or refused.

6.11.  Auditing a Course

Audit students are those who register in a course but do not require credit. Audit students have access to the same materials and support services provided to all Athabasca University students and pay the same fees. They are, however, excluded from writing exams and a final grade will not be provided. Students indicate their intention to audit a course when they register.

Changing Status

Students who are auditing a course and who choose to change to credit status must apply in writing to the Office of the Registrar before the mid-point of the course contract date. Students who are taking a course for credit and have not written any exams may change from credit to audit status using the same method.

6.12.  Course Preregistration

Students may preregister in an individualized-study course up to six months before the start date. Preregistration guarantees students that tutorial support will be available for the specific start date. Course materials will be issued as soon as the preregistration request is processed. Tutorial support is not available until the official course start date. Full fees for the calendar year the course is applicable to will be required to preregister. Students will be charged a processing fee if they alter their preregistration (refer to Section 8 Undergraduate Fees, Financial Assistance, Refunds).

6.13.  Shipping Course Materials

Athabasca University's Course Materials Production department distributes course materials to students living in Canada by Canada Post. Students who live in the US or Mexico have their course materials shipped by airmail. Please allow two weeks or longer to receive your course materials. Various methods are used to ship course materials overseas. Course Materials Production will determine the most efficient and appropriate method. Please allow up to one month to receive your course materials if you are living overseas. All students have the option of requesting other shipping options (see below).

Other Shipping Options

Students have the option of paying for and requesting other methods of delivery (airmail or courier) if they wish to receive their course materials earlier. Contact Course Materials Production, 780.675.6366, fax 780.675-6384 or e-mail to arrange a courier delivery using Visa®, MasterCard® or American Express®. All prepaid courier costs will entitle students to receive the University's special courier rates. These special rates do not apply to collect (C.O.D.) deliveries.

6.14. Communication

Athabasca University's toll-free telephone system (800.788.9041) is available to students living in Canada and the US. Students living outside these areas are responsible for all course-related communication costs.

6.15. Students with Disabilities

Students should indicate whether they have a physical, medical, learning or mental disability, or limitation that may affect their academic progress, in the appropriate area of the Undergraduate General Application Form at the time of admission or when requesting exams.

An affirmative response on the form will result in the mailing of a brochure and letter for people with a disability. Return the Verification of Limitation Form, verified by a medical professional, to be eligible for the special services or privileges the University provides. An affirmative response also authorizes the University to communicate the student's special status to tutors and examination invigilators.

If a physical, medical, learning, or mental disability or limitation impedes your study progress after your admission to the University, inform the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible.

For further information about services and resources available to students with disabilities, e-mail Coordinator, Access to Students with Disabilities at or phone 780.497.3424.

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