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Athabasca University

An overview of program terminology and regulations : Current Student Non-Program

Each AU program has a set of program requirements that you must meet in order to be awarded the credential associated with that program.

If you are a program student, you will follow the program regulations in effect at the time of your application to the university. This is what we call your admission term. You will follow these same program regulations throughout your program as long as you remain an active student.

For example, if your admission term is January of 2012, you would follow the program regulations that are in effect at that time right to the point of graduation.

If you do become inactive, you can reactivate your program, but you will be subject to degree regulations that are in effect at the time of your reactivation. Because degree regulations and transfer credit policies can change over time, some of your previous course and transfer credit might not fit within the revised regulations. So it is important that you remain active in your program to avoid the potential of having to complete additional credits to complete your program.

It is important for you to be familiar with the regulations of your program. If you’re unsure, an advisor can assist you with understanding any regulations you are governed by as well as any policies that you need to be aware of.

Credit Completion Requirements and Time to Complete

Most programs do not have a time limit for completion. The length of time it will take you to complete your program will vary depending on many factors such as the amount of time you can commit to your studies, your learning style, and your ability.

In some cases, you may be required to follow more rigid time frames for completion. For example, if you are in receipt of student financial assistance or if you are using a withdrawal from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan or a Registered Educational Savings Plan, you will need to complete your courses and/or your program at a more structured pace. Please see Module 6 of this orientation for more information.

Residency Requirements

Residency requirement refers to the total number of AU credits that must be taken within your program. Note that residency, as it applies to your program at AU, does not refer to geographic location. Transfer, PLAR, and challenged credits do not count toward residency. For more information on the residency requirements that apply to your program, visit our program web pages at

Course Level

Degree regulations will have a certain number of credits that you need to complete at specified levels. These may include

  • preparatory-level courses, designated by a number in the 100s.
  • junior-level courses, designated by a number in the 200s.
  • senior level courses, designated with a number in the 300s and 400s.

You will need to ensure that you select courses at the appropriate level according to your program regulations.

Area of Study

Athabasca University divides its courses into groups of related subjects as follows:

The area designation for each course is shown in the course syllabus. Click on the links above to see a list of courses that apply to each area of study.

Course Discipline

The course discipline refers to a specific subject area such as Accounting, English, Criminal Justice, and Geology, for example.

Updated September 22 2016 by Student & Academic Services

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