Master of Counselling
Admission Requirements

To be admitted to the MC program, applicants must have:

  • an undergraduate (baccalaureate) degree, normally four years.*
  • a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in the last 10 half course equivalents (30 credits).
  • a minimum of three courses** (nine credits) in psychology or educational psychology, including:
    • a course in developmental psychology (3 credits),
    • a course in learning psychology (3 credits),
    • a course in counselling theories or personality theories (3 credits).

* The undergraduate degree must be conferred prior to the application deadline. Official, sealed transcripts including the date of degree conferral must be received by the program office on or before the application deadline. Canadian degrees must be granted by institutions that are members of Universities Canada or are provincially authorized to grant university degrees. U.S. degrees must be granted by institutions that are regionally accredited.

** These courses must be at the second-year undergraduate level or above, and must be completed by the application deadline. An official, sealed transcript stating final course grades must also be date stamped by the application deadline.

To calculate your Graduate Admission GPA (the GPA AU will use for your entry into the program), please visit the Graduate Admission GPA page on the Faculty of Health Disciplines website.

If you are lacking the prerequisite psychology courses, they are available through Athabasca University. The following course options are recommended for completing your prerequisites (Note: A course in abnormal psychology is recommended for applicants applying to the Master of Counselling, Art Therapy specialization. VATI requires an abnormal psychology course be completed before taking any Art Therapy specialization courses.)

Prerequisite Available Courses
Learning Psychology PSYC 387 Learning (3)
  PSYC 355 Cognitive Psychology (3)
Developmental Psychology PSYC 323 Developmental Psychology (3)
  PSYC 381 Psychology of Adult Development (3)
  PSYC 350 Adolescent Development (3)
Counselling Theories PSYC 406 Introduction to Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy (3)
  PSYC 356 Introduction to Personality Theories and Issues (3)
Abnormal Psychology PSYC 435 Abnormal Psychology (3)

These courses are offered in an online learning format. To register in a course, please follow Athabasca University undergraduate course registration process.

If you are submitting alternative prerequisite courses from another post-secondary institution, please submit a course outline or syllabus if available. Courses are not reviewed for equivalency prior to the application deadline. Prerequisites will be evaluated when your application is reviewed.

Preference is given in the admissions process to applicants who have two years or more of full-time experience in counselling or a related field.

Successful applicants are required to participate in a six-week online orientation before the start of the program. Failure to successfully complete the orientation may result in withdrawal of the offer of admission.

Applicants Without a Four-Year Degree

Applicants without a four-year degree will be considered if they have completed a degree equivalent in nature to three-year academic degree programs at Athabasca University. The degree must consist of a minimum of 90 credits (15 full-course equivalents). In addition, applicants must meet one of the following additional criteria:

  1. A minimum of 18 additional credits (3 full-course equivalents) at the senior undergraduate or graduate level. The average grade point of the additional coursework must be at least 3.0 to apply to the Master of Counselling program or 2.5 to apply to the Graduate Diploma in Counselling*.


  2. Evidence of at least three years of full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience. Applicants must demonstrate that the work experience has been completed within the last five years and was in an area related to counselling/human services or equivalent. Applicants must also demonstrate active professional development during that time period in areas related to counselling. Applicants must have an average GPA of 3.3 in psychology and educational psychology courses in their degree program and in any additional program prerequisites if applying to the Master of Counselling (and 2.8 if applying to the Graduate Diploma in Counselling*).

* This program was previously called Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Counselling.

Advanced Standing

Some students may have completed work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the MC program. Only courses taken within six years of the date of application will be considered for advance credit. Students may apply for advance credit for up to 12 credits of graduate study from other universities into the MC program. A maximum of three credits can be applied to the area of specialization. The remaining courses must be applied to the core program courses. Students must demonstrate that previous course work is equivalent to core GCAP courses or appropriate for option or specialization course credit.

Transfer Credit

Students may apply for transfer credit for up to 12 credits of graduate study from other universities into the MC program if courses were not used to fulfill requirements of a completed degree or credential. A maximum of three credits can be applied to the area of specialization. The remaining courses must be applied to the core program courses. Transfer credit maximums are inclusive of any advance credit awarded at the time of admission. Only graduate level course that were successfully completed with a final grade of B- (70 per cent) or higher, will be considered for transfer credit. However, students who receive a grade of B- in two courses may be removed from the program with no option for re-admission to GCAP graduate programs. See Program Status section.

Non-Program Students

Current and Post-Masters students who are not enrolled in the MC program may apply to register in MC courses on a first-come, first-served basis, space permitting. Courses taken as a non-program student may be directly applied toward the program in accordance with the degree requirements, if and when a student becomes a program student. However, the GCAP is under no obligation to admit non-program students into the MC program. To apply to take a course as a non-program student, please contact

English Language Proficiency

There are minimum English Language Proficiency Requirements allowed for admission to a graduate program at Athabasca University. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they meet the minimum requirements.

Information effective September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020.