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Athabasca University


Due to Covid-19, Athabasca University has temporarily changed some student processes. Please refer to the Covid Q&A page for any updates and current steps that may be different from our regular practices.

3.6.7 Challenge for Credit

The challenge for credit process allows you to demonstrate that you are proficient in the subject matter of a specific AU course without having to complete the entire course. Using a predetermined process, this option allows you to challenge courses based on your knowledge of the course content. Not all courses are available for challenge—the course syllabus states whether a course is available for challenge or not and will list the evaluation criteria for the challenge.

Courses are available for challenge unless they are granted non-challenge status. Non challenge status is granted by the Provost and Vice President, Academic (or designate) upon recommendation from the appropriate faculty member and confirmation from the appropriate Dean. The course syllabus indicates whether or not a course is available for challenge.

Not all post-secondary institutions recognize the challenge for credit process. If you are a visiting student, find out first whether your home institution will accept credit obtained by challenge prior to registration.

  1. Determine your subject-matter knowledge and the method of challenge evaluation by reviewing the online syllabus.
  2. You must obtain approval to challenge a course from the faculty or designate who is responsible for the AU course. The decision of the faculty member, which is final, should reflect the fact that the student has sufficient learning to justify the challenge of a particular course. Faculty contact information may be found online.
  3. Fill out the challenge for credit registration form and submit with payment.

Commencing on January 1, 2012 and later (term 201201), any courses taken via the challenge for credit process will not meet AU residency requirements.

Some important facts regarding challenging a course:

  • Any AU student shall be entitled to initiate a challenge for credit request for a challengeable course regardless of their program of study and regardless of whether the course being challenged is applicable to their program of study.
  • There are no provisions to withdraw (cancel) from or extend the challenge for credit process.
  • The Course Coordinator determines the components of evaluation for the challenge for credit process, noted on the challenge evaluation section of the course syllabus.
  • If the challenge involves an examination, you may write only once. (See Challenge for Credit Examinations for more information.) There are no provisions to write a supplemental or multiple examinations.
  • You must complete the challenge for credit process within three months. Challenge for credit course contracts start on the first day of the month and extend for three months.
  • In some challenge for credit processes, you must complete the assignments within six weeks of receiving the material.
  • Prerequisites must be satisfied unless the Course Coordinator waives them. Waiving of a prerequisite does not award credit for the prerequisite. After completing a challenge for credit process successfully, you may not challenge a prerequisite to that challenge.
  • Tutor support is not available during a challenge.
  • Course materials for Challenge for Credit can be purchased from Materials Management or can be purchased separately. (see following section for more information.)
  • You have one opportunity to challenge a course. If you do not complete, or you fail your challenge for credit process, you are not permitted to challenge the material a second time. You must register in the course and complete it successfully in order to receive credit.
  • If you do not complete, or you fail the challenge for credit process, you will be assigned a system grade of F three months after the challenge end date.
  • Funding for courses taken via the challenge for credit process is not available through student financial aid.

Challenge for Credit assessment may include any one or combination of the following:

  • Completion of assignments, projects, reports, etc.;
  • A written examination;
  • An oral or practical assignment; and/or,
  • Any other means considered appropriate by the faculty member and approved by the relevant Chair.

Assessment instructions designed for challenge for credit processes may be, where appropriate:

  • Constructed solely for the purposes of challenge for credit;
  • Appropriately course-wide in content; and,
  • Not normally dependent on a specific set of textbooks, with the exception of primary sources or other classically regarded sources that are deemed irreplaceable by the faculty member. AU Course Materials – Challenge for Credit

Students registering for challenge for credit will have access to hard copy course materials, limited to textbooks and readings, available for purchase at full cost. Challenge students will receive no tutor or faculty member support. Any fees assessed for course materials are not refundable.

Students may purchase the associated print course materials, limited to bound textbooks and print readings as follows:

  • by contacting AU’s Materials Management Unit via email at All materials will be charged at full cost (defined as AU’s full purchase cost, plus shipping, plus a 20 per cent handling fee) or;
  • by accessing the list of materials from the course syllabus and sourcing the materials via a book store, online book retailer, or other means.

Note:  Students will not be provided access to the online individualized course site, the student manual, eTextbooks, or course study guide for a course taken via the challenge for credit process. If an eTextbook is offered for the course and the student wants it, the eText must be purchased from the publisher or a third-party vendor. Courses Unavailable for Challenge

Students may not request to challenge AU courses:

  • for which they have already received transfer credit as a direct AU course designation;
  • for which they have received a “Do Not Register” designation;
  • for which an exemption has been granted;
  • which they have already successfully completed at AU;
  • for which they have received credit through Undergraduate Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR);
  • for which they have received a failing grade; or
  • which are at the preparatory (100) level.

Courses that are closed to registration are also considered closed for challenge for credit. Registration Process – Challenge for Credit

Determine that the course is available for challenge and the method of evaluation by checking the course syllabus. Determine if you will be purchasing the related textbook and readings, and what the cost of these items will be for the course(s) you are interested in challenging by contacting AU’s Materials Management Unit at 1-800-788-9041, extension 6366, or via email at

You must receive permission to challenge the course. Check with the appropriate faculty member or designate to ensure you have completed the prerequisites, discuss your level of skill and knowledge required for the course, and secure their approval in writing, by email or letter. Faculty contact information may be found online.

If you haven’t done so already, complete and submit the Undergraduate General Application Form accompanied by the appropriate fee.

Complete and submit the Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Registration Form accompanied by the appropriate fee. You must register for the challenge and receive permission to challenge before the tenth day of the month in order to start your challenge on the first day of the following month. The Office of the Registrar will process a completed Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Registration Form received by 4:30 p.m. MT on the tenth day of the month. Remember to consider postal, courier, and processing times when a particular start date is desired.

For challenges that require the completion of an exam, students must request the exam within the guidelines for making individualized study course examination requests. No supplemental exams are permitted. Appeals

The decision of the faculty member, or designate, to grant or withhold permission to challenge a course for credit is final.

All appeals to challenge for credit must be made to the Appeals Officer by using the Office of the Registrar Online Appeals Form. If the Student Appeals Officer has received an appeal in error, it will be redirected accordingly. All decisions will be communicated in writing to the Appellant.

The Appeals Officer has final decision making authority on all appeals.


Information effective Sept. 1, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2021.

Updated April 08 2021 by laurab

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