Athabasca University Masters Of Education

Last Updated on February 4, 2023 by

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Athabasca University graduate programs ▷

Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education

Program overview

Build strong distance-education skills, knowledge and values with Athabasca University’s online program.

As you learn how to design, implement, evaluate and manage distance education and training programs, you will gain skills in:

  • institutional and organizational design
  • management and administration
  • budgeting and finance
  • curriculum and program development
  • course development
  • delivery and support
  • program evaluation and revision

You will work with and learn from fellow students in a broad range of distance education and training settings, such as:

  • business firms
  • government agencies
  • voluntary and professional associations
  • hospitals and other health-care organizations
  • schools, colleges and universities

Why take the Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education?

Distance education is constantly evolving. Staying on top of this increasingly sophisticated field means that continuous upgrading is essential. At AU, we’re always researching and developing new ways to engage our students wherever they are – and we love to share what we know.

With more than 40 years of experience in delivering distance learning and one of the oldest graduate programs in distance education (established in 1994), AU is a strong choice for your distance education graduate degree.

Program details

The Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education is a 33-credit online graduate program. You may transfer up to four courses (12 credits) from another graduate program.

There are 3 intakes each year, in September, January, and April.

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Program summary

Completion times

You can take up to 6 years to complete all requirements.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements include a baccalaureate degree or equivalent education and experience.

Applicants to the Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education (MEd) program must hold a baccalaureate degree (three or four years) from a recognized post-secondary education institution.

If the potential applicant does not have a degree, but believes their education and experience is equivalent to an undergraduate degree, then it is the responsibility of the applicant to put forward this position in writing as part of the application process.

Advance standing or transfer credit

Some students may have completed graduate level course work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the MEd program.

After being admitted to the MEd program, students may request a review of such course work. A faculty committee will review the work to determine whether the student should be awarded advance standing or transfer credit in the MEd program.

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.

Application deadline

There are three Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education (MEd) program intakes per year. The Distance Education office must receive all program application materials by:

  • February 15 for a course start date in April of the same year
  • June 15 for a course start date in September of the same year
  • October 15 for a course start date in January of the following year

Application procedures

  1. Complete and submit the online MEd Application form along with the electronic application fee. Please use the form MEd Application to complete and submit your application.

    For applicants who have previously received an Athabasca University (AU) student ID number, please note: you will need to “Login” using your AU student ID number before completing the form.
  2. Complete and submit the Questionnaire. This form and the accompanying forms (see below) can be downloaded.
  3. Submit an up-to-date résumé.
  4. Complete and submit the Record Card.
  5. Submit official transcripts* directly from an accredited institution showing the granting of a baccalaureate degree.

Completion time limits

Students have a maximum of six years from their first registration as a program student to complete the Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education (MEd) degree program.

Program delivery

The program is offered during three semesters each year. Each semester is 13 weeks in length. The fall semester begins the first Tuesday in September. The winter semester begins the second Monday in January. The spring/summer semester begins the last Monday in April.


Students may transfer a maximum of four courses (12 credits) into the MEd program.

To meet the residency requirements:

  1. for the Thesis Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum and complete the thesis through Athabasca University.
  2. for the Course-based Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum, a minimum of three elective courses (9 credits) through Athabasca University, and successfully complete MDDE 694: Capstone e-Portfolio Project.

Program requirements

Thirty-three credits are required to complete the MEd program. These credits can be earned in one of two ways.

  1. Thesis Route: The curriculum requirement for the thesis route consists of five core courses, two elective courses, and 12 credits of thesis work. Normally, students will register in thesis credit after completion of the core courses.

    For those individuals pursuing the thesis route, a thesis (12 credits) provides an opportunity for investigating a novel question or synthesizing/applying what has been learned in the course work. Students must register in MDDE 700, MDDE 701 or 702, MDDE 703, and MDDE 704, as they proceed to complete the thesis requirements.
  2. Course-based Route: The curriculum requirement for the course-based route consists of five core courses, five elective courses and MDDE 694 – Capstone e-Portfolio Project.

Students pursuing the course-based route are required to complete a 3-credit capstone e-portfolio project as their final course, providing an opportunity to develop a high quality, comprehensive e-portfolio and to conduct an oral defense of that product. Students must register in MDDE 694 once they have completed all their core and elective courses, or are currently completing their final course.

Students can also choose to pursue focus areas for either the thesis or course-based routes in: Instructional Design, Leadership in Education, Mobile Learning, and K-12 Blended and Online Learning.

Core curriculum

The core curriculum is an integrated arrangement of courses covering the field of distance education and training. The five core courses (15 credits) review current knowledge, theory, and practice in distance education and training.

For all MEd program students, MDDE 601 and MDDE 602 must be taken before any other program courses, either concurrently or consecutively.

Students must also take MDDE 603, either MDDE 604 or MDDE 605, and either MDDE 610 or MDDE 620 to complete their core course requirements. The courses not chosen to meet the core course requirements can be used to meet the elective requirements.

The core courses provide students with the skills and knowledge that will facilitate their understanding and ability to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, create, and implement distance education and training courses, programs, and systems. Core courses in the MEd are normally offered three times a year.

Core courses

MDDE 601Introduction to Distance Education and Training(3)
MDDE 602Research Methods in Distance Education(3)
MDDE 603Foundations of Instructional Design: Systems Analysis and Learning Theory (3)
MDDE 604Instructional Design in Distance Education(3)
MDDE 605Planning and Management in Distance Education and Training
MDDE 610Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications(3)
MDDE 620Technology in Education and Training

Elective curriculum

Elective courses are designed to complement the core curriculum and expand basic knowledge, theory, and practice into areas and issues of individual interest or concern. These courses allow students to specialize in particular topics or learn new sets of skills necessary for research and practice in distance education and training. Normally, elective courses may be taken concurrently with core courses.

Some elective courses may not be available every year and a growing list of electives will emerge as student and faculty interests change and develop.

Elective courses

MDDE 610Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications *(3)
MDDE 611Foundations of Adult Education(3)
MDDE 612Experiential Learning(3)
MDDE 613Adult Education and Lifelong Learning (3)
MDDE 614International Issues in Open and Distance Learning(3)
MDDE 615Human Factors in Educational Technology(3)
MDDE 617Program Evaluation in Distance Education(3)
MDDE 618Instructional Project Management(3)
MDDE 619Trends and Issues in Instructional Design(3)
MDDE 620Technology in Education and Training *(3)
MDDE 621Online Teaching in Distance Education and Training(3)
MDDE 622Openness in Education(3)
MDDE 623Introduction to Mobile Learning(3)
MDDE 630Trends and Issues in K-12 Online and Blended Learning(3)
MDDE 631Inclusive Leadership and Practice in Education(3)
MDDE 632Leadership in Education Innovation(3)
MDDE 650Tutoring and Student Support in Distance Education and Training(3)
MDDE 651Gender Issues in Distance Education(3)
MDDE 660Professional Seminar(3)
MDDE 661Seminar Topics in Educational Conferencing (3)
MDDE 662Seminar Topics in Evaluating Conferencing Software (3)
MDDE 663Emerging Issues on Distance Education Technology (3)
MDDE 664New Perspectives in International Distance Education (3)
MDDE 665Collaboration and Mentoring in Educational Environments(3)
MDDE 690-691Independent Study(3)

* Elective courses listed above with an asterisk may be used to fulfill the technology core course requirement.

Thesis courses

Students who pursue the thesis program route are required to complete four, 3-credit thesis courses:

MDDE 700Introduction to Thesis Research(3)
MDDE 701Quantitative Research Methods(3)
MDDE 702Qualitative Research Methods
MDDE 703Research Proposal Writing(3)
MDDE 704Thesis Completion and Oral Defence(3)

Prior to registration in a thesis course, it is important for students to ensure that they have spoken with the MEd thesis advisor about their program and thesis plan. The MDDE 704 thesis course must be registered for manually through the Distance Education office. Normally, students will register in a thesis course after completion of all core course work and electives.

Students who have successfully completed MDDE 700, MDDE 701 or 702, and/or MDDE 703, but decide to opt out of the thesis route, can choose to pursue the course-based route by contacting the Distance Education office.

Students choosing the thesis route should familiarize themselves with the Master’s level thesis regulations outlined in the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

MEd focus areas

Students are strongly advised to contact the Distance Education office for assistance and for advice on planning their studies. To qualify for a focus area, students must declare their selection with the MEd Program Administrator. Students must also complete all core and prescribed electives for either the course-based or thesis route of the focus area they are pursuing.

Leadership in Education

Instructional Design

Mobile Learning

K-12 Blended and Online Learning

Program withdrawal

Students may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing to the program director. Students who withdraw may be re-enrolled in the program by following the application procedures. Students requesting re-admission to the program will be competing against all other applicants and will not receive special consideration.

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