Athabasca University; Ranking and Accreditation Information with Courses’ Overview

Athabasca ( change of name 1913) was originally called Athabasca Landing ( 1887-1912); it is a town in Northern Alberta, Canada. Athabasca is located 145km north of Edmonton at intersection of highway 2 and highway 55, on the banks of the Athabasca River.

Athabasca Location


The town holds about 2,965 people since 2016 census on a land mass of 17.65 km square. It is the home of Athabasca University.


Athabasca experiences a humid continental climate; highest temperature ever recorded was 38.3 degree Celsius on July 18, 1941 and lowest was -54.4 degree Celsius on January 11, 1911.

Map of Alberta with the location of Athabasca

Athabasca Map


Athabasca University

Athabasca University (AU) is a Canadian university specializing in online distance education and one of four comprehensive academic and research universities in Alberta. Founded in 1970, it was the first Canadian university to specialize in distance education.

Athabasca University was created by the Alberta government in 1970. It was part of the expansion of the higher education system in Alberta at that time to cope with rising enrolment.


The university is accredited with the United States by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States.

Athabasca University Ranking @ 2018

Ranking in Canada – 44, World Ranking – 1396.

Education Delivery Models 

The majority of Athabasca University’s courses are taught through online distance education, but some courses or components of courses are taught in-person, face to face. The major education delivery models at AU are as follows;

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Individual Study

Students are provided with the textbooks, computer software, and video material required. A preset recommended schedule comes with each course. Each course has a professor, as with any university course.

This person publishes creates a series of learning activities, readings and assessments. That publication becomes additional reading and activity for the student. Assignments are submitted to the professor via email or more commonly via the Moodle assignment drop box.

The final exam is administered at Athabasca’s learning centres or a partner university, college or accredited individual. Students have up to six months to finish their course, unless they have received a student loan, in which case, they have up to four months.

Courses start at the beginning of each month. Most courses are now augmented with additional resources and activities using the Moodle LMS

Collaborative, Online

Courses in the graduate programs are paced, usually beginning three times a year. The primary delivery platform is the Moodle Learning Management System, that is augmented by web conferencing using Adobe Connect and social networking using elgg-based Athabasca Landing

Grouped Study

Offered primarily to students physically in Alberta, this method allows students to get together with other students in the same course, and study in a manner similar to that of a regular university. Students studying in this method have up to four months to complete their course. Courses start in September and January.

Centre for Distance Education 

In addition to delivering courses and programs primarily through online distance education, Athabasca University has a Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

The CDE, led by a core faculty and supported by additional sessional instructors, offers graduate-level courses and programs that teach other educators how to develop, design and deliver online education.

The CDE is home to North America’s first online Doctor of Education in Distance Education, and it also offers a Master of Education in Distance Education and post-baccalaureate certificates and diplomas in distance education technology, instructional design, and technology-based learning.

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Scholarships and Bursaries 

Athabasca University bursaries for Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis students include;

  • Alberta Historical Resources Foundation; Syncrude Canada Ltd.
  • Athabasca University Aboriginal Scholarship
  • Frank and Agnes Cardinal Neheyiwak Bursary
  • Harold Cardinal Essay Prize for Aboriginal Students
  • Canative Scholarship for Métis Students
  • AU President’s Scholarship for a Blue Quills Student
  • First Peoples Technology Bursary.

Student Representation

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduates Athabasca University

Undergraduate students at Athabasca University are represented by the Athabasca University Students’ Union. The AUSU head office is in AU Edmonton, though the students’ council may have elected members from any area where AU students reside.

AUSU was officially incorporated as of 16 July 1992, and was formalized as a registered Alberta society until students’ unions in Alberta were granted recognition under the Post-Secondary Learning Act.

On 13 September 2004 the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta approved an order in council establishing “The Students’ Association of Athabasca University”.

Graduate Students 

Postgraduate Students Athabasca University

Visiting and program students at the graduate level are represented by the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association. The organization was founded in 2010, and approved by the Alberta Advanced Education.


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