Course Management Accommodations

Course management accommodations may be necessary due to the impact of a disability. Someone may have academic difficulties or problems completing courses within the course contract period. These individualised accommodations are designed to provide equitable opportunity to succeed academically by facilitating a student’s educational goals. Examples of course management accommodations may include a reduced course load while maintaining full time status, an extension, or conditional withdrawal. Accessibility Services may request additional medical verification of the impact of a disability on course work to reasonably assess an accommodation of this type for the time frame under review.

Course Load

The information presented below is very generalized and does not address specific details of how credit value and course loads are calculated. General questions on full-time or part-time student status can be asked through the Ask AU link on the Athabasca University home page. Students should also consult the online calendar.

Course Load refers to the number of course credits a student is enrolled in during a specific time. Traditional institutions and Athabasca University typically consider this period as a term, semester, or contract period of four months.

The determination of a full-time or part-time course load is reliant on the individual's academic goals, family, employment, and resources/funding available.
We advise students to review the eligibility requirements and definition of the full-time student within the policies and guidelines prepared by the funding agency or sponsor.

Students receiving funding through student loans or other types of sponsorship must adhere to funding source requirements for course load to remain eligible for that source’s funding.

For further information on requirements for full-time and part-time students, visit the Student Financial Aid website.

What is the difference between full-time and part-time?

The number of course credits one is enrolled in during the contract period determines whether a student is full-time or part-time. The course load is generally represented with a number based on the calculation of the credits assigned to each course that the student is enrolled in within a contract period, or is reflected through a percentage based on a full program load. Please refer to the online calendar definition of a full-time student.

A full program course load is 15 credits during one term or contract period. This figure is based on the number of credits in a program (e.g. 120 for a 4 year degree) divided by the number of years in a program (e.g. 120 ÷ 4 = 30) and, divided by the traditional number of terms a student would complete in a year (e.g. 30 ÷ 2 = 15).

The percentages used to indicate the proportion of the course load a student is enrolled in during a contract period are calculated based on 15 credits per term. Hence, if a student is enrolled in three, 3 credit courses during a contract period they are registered in 9/15 or a 60% course load.

A full-time student is required to be enrolled in a 60 - 100% course load during a contract period.

A student is considered part-time if they are enrolled in anything less than a 60% course load during a contract period.

Reduced Course Load for Students with Disabilities

Students with verified permanent disabilities may be eligible to be granted full-time student status with a reduced course load to 40%. This accommodation will be considered for individuals who provide medical documentation to verify the existence of a permanent disability and that the differences that result from the impact of a disability would indicate that a 40% course load would be equivalent to a 60% load for other students.

Accessibility Services thinks this is a valuable accommodation that helps with managing studies, it is not automatically provided. Not all students want or need a reduced course load. Students must request it. And discuss implications with Program and Student Financial Aid Advisors.

Confirmation of enrollment at a reduced course load can be acquired through Enrollment Services once the accommodation is placed on your student file by Accessibility Services. For Student Aid funded students, your AU SFA can provide confirmation of status once you are a) registered in courses and b) have submitted a Course Registration Plan to your SFA.

Please Note The number of credits required to constitute a full-time course load may vary for individual graduate programs. Please consult with the program advisor.

 Important Facts about Course Load

Course Load affects eligibility for student funding:

  • types of funding that can be applied for upon enrollment
  • on an ongoing basis if a student is unable to meet performance requirements for academic success or withdrawals
  • indebtedness may increase dramatically by increasing the number of course terms needed to complete a program
  • the maximum amount that can be borrowed may be reached before the program is completed.

Additionally, course load has an impact on academic performance or grade point average (e.g. enrollment in too many courses may result in lower grades or unnecessary withdrawals). This may ultimately affect eligibility for further study (e.g. graduate programs). For further information see Cautions on Course Load.

What Should I Consider?

Assess how much time you have available for study in consideration of factors such as family, work, living environment, and so forth. For further information see the Am I Ready for AU application and other resources provided through the AU Counselling and Advising Services.

Students with disabilities/medical conditions should also consider how their functional differences, symptoms, treatment, and other related factors may impact upon the number of hours they have available to study or on how long it may take to complete certain types of academic activities. For example:

  • How long can you work or study before becoming fatigued?
  • Do you need to read assigned materials several times to be able to recall the information?
  • Do you have scheduled activities (e.g. therapy) that require a certain amount of time each week?
  • Do you have any side effects from treatments that interfere with study activities? How often does this occur?