Individualized study is the most common method of teaching and learning at Athabasca University.
At AU, courses begin the first day of each month provided you register by the 10th day of the previous month. You will have six months to complete zero-, one-, three-, or four-credit courses and 12 months to complete six-credit courses.
Course fees include all course materials needed for the course. See Course Materials below for more information.
You may be required to purchase additional items such as stationery, binders, calculators, etc. Most courses have required computer components (refer to Computer Requirements in the Glossary).
Students may be actively registered in one to six courses at a time, including: courses with an In-Progress Status, those taken via the Challenge for Credit process, and wait-listed or pre-registered courses that overlap current registrations. To ensure that you do not overburden yourself, AU limits your course load to a maximum of six active registrations. If you have a full-time job or are new to distance learning, we suggest you start with one course.
A course overload (registration in more than six courses) is only allowed when a student is at the maximum course load and has finished all of their coursework and requested exams (if applicable) for one or more course(s). Students must request permission for a course overload by emailing Enrolment Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may pre-register in an individualized study course up to five months before the course start date. Pre-registration guarantees you that tutorial support will be available for a specific start date. When you pre-register, you will be paying the fee that is effective the date your course begins. Should you alter your pre-registration, you will be charged a fee.
You will receive your course materials shortly after your pre-registration. Tutorial support will not begin until your official course start date. Your tutor introductory letter will arrive approximately one week before your course start date.
Once you are admitted to AU and you have received your student ID number, you may register in courses. When you have selected a course, ensure that it is available by viewing the online course syllabus and the Course Availability List. Also ensure that you have the required prerequisites.
Log in to myAU to complete and submit the Undergraduate Course Registration Form along with the appropriate payment. If you are an inactive student, you will still have access to myAU. Follow the instructions to reactive your status. Confirmation of course registration by e-Letter will be available within 48 hours of the course registration in your myAU portal (use your student ID number to log in).
The request for a course materials package will be sent as soon as your course registration is processed. A tutor will also be assigned after you register in a course; however, the tutor’s support will not be in effect until the course contract start date.
AU’s individualized study courses begin the first day of the month, and are offered year-round. You can register online via the online registration system. You must request and pay for courses by the 10th day of the month prior to the requested course start date. For example, if you wish to start your course on November 1, you must register for the course by requesting and paying for it by no later than October 10.
For students without access to the online registration system, the Office of the Registrar will process paper course registration requests and payments that are received by the 10th day of the month before your requested start dates.
Remember to consider postal, courier, and processing times when a particular start date is desired. Students living overseas are generally assigned course start dates one month later that students living in North America.
Course start dates for students living overseas (those living outside Canada and the continental United States) depend on the arrival of the course package. To reduce postal delays, AU will courier your course package but you must provide a street address (not a Post Office box address) and telephone number. Overseas students are required to register for their courses two months prior to the intended course contract start dates.
Each individualized study course has a specific course contract start date and end date. You will have six months to complete a zero-, one-, three-, or four-credit course, and 12 months to complete a six-credit course. Your course contract end date is the last day of your individualized study course. Course contract end dates fall on the last day of a month.
Course extensions are available, if required.
You are considered actively registered in your course until you have completed the course, the course contract date expires, or you withdraw. Your course materials package will be sent as soon as your registration or pre-registration request is processed, however, tutor support, submission of coursework, and the writing of examinations cannot begin until the official course contract start date. See Early Access to Courses below.
Early access to individualized study courses in the Moodle learning management system varies based on individual course design. Prior to the course contract start date, student access may not be provided to some assignments and will not be provided to quizzes or exams. (Note: In some courses, early access is not provided at all.) Students cannot submit assignments and quizzes, nor write exams until their course contract period commences. Tutorial and faculty access will not be provided until the course contract period begins.
All students studying outside of Canada must comply with the regulations governing the normal course contract period. Extensions beyond the normal course contract period in individualized study courses are available to all students. Refer to Course Extensions – Individualized Study below.
The payment of course registration fees entitles you to receive most of your individualized study course materials. Course materials include, but are not limited to, textbooks, student manuals, study guides, tutorial assistance where provided, access to online materials and other instructional materials required to complete the course for the period of active registration. Additional lab fees may be required for some Faculty of Science courses. You may be required to pay for additional small items such as binders, calculators, home lab materials, and so on.
Some AU courses introduce students to a more specialized course in the same field. These courses often reference the same textbook. Please retain the textbook from the previous course as a duplicate textbook will not be distributed.
Your course package will include various course materials that are identified in the online course syllabus. In some courses, the course materials are available entirely online. In others, the resources may be a combination of offline materials such as a hard copy textbook(s), CDs, and/or DVDs, and the balance of course materials is accessed online. And in others, the entire course materials package is print-based and is mailed or couriered.
Your course materials will arrive before your official start date. If for some reason the materials don’t arrive on time, contact Materials Management at AU as soon as possible (1.780.675.6366).
In many courses, the course materials are available either online or in print, or a combination of both formats. If a course has print course materials, they will be sent shortly after your course registration has been processed.
Shipping Within North America
Students living in Canada will receive their print course materials through Canada Post. Students who live in the U.S. or Mexico will receive their print course materials by courier. Please allow two weeks or longer to receive the material.
Various methods are used to ship print course materials overseas. AU’s Materials Management department determines the most efficient and appropriate method. If you live overseas, please allow up to one month to receive your course materials.
After you register in an individualized study course, an e-Letter containing your tutor’s name, address, email address, phone number, and tutor hours will be posted in your student myAU portal approximately ten days before your course contract start date. The default method of student information delivery is e-Letter. (Print letters are still available by filling out the Print Letter Request form and paying the associated fee.) If you have not received your tutor letter one week before your course start date, or if you have misplaced your letter, contact Learning Services Tutorial as soon as possible.
Your tutor will assist you throughout your course either by phone or email. Tutors offer subject-matter assistance, engage in scholarly discussion, mark assignments, provide feedback, and help prepare you for your examinations. Never feel reluctant to contact your tutor. He or she is your main link with AU.
You may contact your tutor on the course start date, but not before. You may phone your tutor toll-free from anywhere in Canada or the US during established tutor hours, or you can leave a voicemail or email message at any time.
Most of the AU Faculty of Business and Faculty of Science and Technology courses provide access to a Student Success Centre and academic experts. Before your course starts, you will receive a letter with the centre’s toll-free telephone number.
Because of vacation time, normally during the summer months, your tutor may not be available for up to ten business days. In case of absences of longer than 10 business days, other arrangements will be made for you.
If you are unable to complete your individualized study course during the course contract period, you may apply for and purchase up to three, two-month extensions at Athabasca University. Course extensions apply to individualized study courses only. See exceptions and omissions below.
A course extension must be requested and purchased online (via your myAU portal using your student ID number to log in) a minimum of one month before your course contract end date. Requests for second and third extensions must be received a minimum of one month before the expiry of the previous extension. (e.g. Course contract end date: December 31, 2020. Course extension request and purchase deadline: November 30, 2020, 23:59:59 MST.) Course Extension Fees are non-refundable.
The extension begins on the first day of the month following your course contract end date. Course extensions do not extend full- or part-time status past the original course contract period. For example, if a student initially took four courses starting in the same month and applied for extensions for all four courses, the full-time status would still only be for the original four-month (or six-month for non-funded students) course contract period.
If you fail to complete your course and you do not apply for an extension by the required deadline, you will receive a grade of F (Failure) for the course. If you wish to obtain credit for the course, you may re-register and pay a fee. Both the original registration and the re-registration will appear on your transcript.
Students receiving financial assistance may be restricted by shorter time limits. These students should contact the Student Awards and Financial Aid Unit in the Office of the Registrar to discuss implications of their funding and full-time status. Extensions to full-time SFA funded students' courses will affect the student's full-time eligibility for funding for current and future funding terms. If they are granted an extension, their full-time status will not be extended and their current or future funding eligibility will not be guaranteed.
Students who are registered in grouped study courses or the Challenge for Credit process are not eligible to extend their original course contract period.
Students registered in a pilot course must refer to the course syllabus to determine whether course extensions are available for that course.
Nursing Practicums: Course extensions are not allowed.
Psychology Practicums: Course extensions are allowed in Psychology practicums, but must be negotiated with the Course Coordinator and the practicum site.
Heritage Resources Management Practicums: Course extensions are allowed and follow the same process as any other six-credit course extension.
You may withdraw from an individualized study course at any time within the course contract period. In order to meet specific academic record and refund criteria, you must adhere to the following timelines. You cannot withdraw from a course:
Withdrawal procedures do not apply to courses being challenged for credit.
Withdrawal timeframes have an impact on your academic record. If you withdraw:
Impact of Course Withdrawal on Nursing Students
Students in a nursing practicum course are allowed to withdraw during the theory component of their professional practice course provided they have not started their clinical placement. Normally, no refunds will be given after students have registered in a nursing practicum course. Withdrawal requests during the clinical placement are not allowed unless approved by the Faculty of Health Disciplines, Program Director, Undergraduate Programs. If students in a nursing practicum course withdraw:
Impact of Course Withdrawal on Health Administration Students
Students in University Diploma in Health Administration or Bachelor of Health Administration practicum courses are allowed to withdraw during the placement proposal component of their course provided they have not started their field placement. Normally, no refunds will be given after students have registered in a health administration practicum course. Withdrawal requests during the field placement are not allowed unless approved by the Program Director, Health Administration. If students in a health administration practicum course withdraw:
Withdrawal requests should be submitted online via the myAU portal, except for withdrawals from nursing practicum courses and health administration practicum courses.
Nursing Practicum Course Withdrawal Procedures: Students must submit the Course Withdrawal Request Form to the Faculty of Health Disciplines Program Director, Undergraduate Programs, and discuss the reasons for requesting the withdrawal. The Program Director will notify the student in writing of the registration status and grade to be assigned.
Health Administration Practicum Course Withdrawal Procedures: Students must submit the Course Withdrawal Request Form to the Program Director, Health Administration, and discuss the reason for requesting the withdrawal. The Program Director will notify the student in writing of the registration status and grade to be assigned.
In instances of disciplinary proceedings, withdrawal requests will only be accepted and processed as allowed under the Student Academic Misconduct Policy and the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.
Students are responsible for the cost of returning any course materials to Athabasca University. See Refunds for further information.
At Athabasca University, students are permitted one registration and one re-registration in each course. You may re-register in an undergraduate course provided you are eligible to register in the current revision of the course and that you have not previously re-registered in the course. You cannot re-register in a course that has been temporarily or permanently closed.
In order to carry forward any completed coursework and examination results in an individualized study course, you must first obtain written approval from the course professor/course coordinator.
All appeals related to undergraduate individualized study courses must be made using the Office of the Registrar Online Appeals Form. The Appeals Officer, designated by the Registrar, has the final decision-making authority on all appeals.
If the Appeals Officer has received an appeal in error, it will be redirected accordingly. All decisions will be communicated in writing to the Appellant.
Information effective Sept. 1, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2021.
Updated January 19 2021 by laurab