Graduate Diploma in Counselling*
Admission Requirements

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

To be admitted to the Graduate Diploma in Counselling (GDC) program, applicants must have:

  • an undergraduate (baccalaureate) degree, normally four years*
  • a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 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 the degree conferral must be received by the program office on or before the application deadline.

** 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 received by the Faculty of Health Disciplines and 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 at a distance 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 that 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 distance learning formats. To register in a course, please follow Athabasca University undergraduate course registration processes.

Before the start of the program, successful applicants are required to participate in a six-week online orientation. 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).

Advanced Standing

Some students may have completed work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the GDC program. Only courses taken within the past six years from the date of application to the program will be considered for advance credit. Students may apply for advance credit for up to six credits of graduate study from other universities into the GDC program. 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 throughout the program for up to six credits of graduate study from other universities into the GDC program if courses were not used to fulfill requirements of a completed degree or credential. Transfer credit maximums are inclusive of any advance credit awarded at the time of admission. Only graduate-level courses 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 graduate Counselling programs at AU.

Non-Program Students

Individuals who are not enrolled in the GDC program may apply to register in GDC courses on a first-come, first-served basis, space providing. Courses taken as a non-program student may be directly applied towards the program in accordance with the degree requirements, if and when a student becomes a program student. However, AU is under no obligation to admit non-program students into the GDC 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.