The Student Handbook is intended to act as a guide as you get started in your graduate program and as a resource throughout your studies. It explains some of the basics of what is expected of you as a graduate student, what your program of studies will be like, how your courses will be delivered, the kinds of tools and resources you will use throughout the study process, and so on. Please read the contents of the handbook carefully, and refer to it whenever you have questions about your courses or program.
Please watch the welcome from Dr. Paul Jerry, our program director.
If you choose to download or to print the handbook, remember that the program will continue to develop over time, meaning that new components will be added to the handbook and some items may be modified or deleted. You are expected to refer to the online version for the most recent updates. The contents of the handbook are not exhaustive. To avoid repetition, the handbook will sometimes refer you to material on the Faculty of Health Disciplines website or to other program and university resources.
Professions of Counselling and Counselling Psychology
1.1 Becoming a Professional Counsellor
1.2 Faculty of Health Disciplines' Conciliation Journey
1.3 Professional Associations and Regulatory Bodies
Program Goals and Expectations
2.1 Disciplinary Competencies and Transdisciplinary Program Outcomes
2.2 Professional Writing Skills
2.3 American Psychological Association Editorial Standards
2.4 Academic, Non-academic, and Clinical Conduct
Reasons for Program Withdrawal
Program Staff and Roles
3.1 Program Team
3.2 Program Advising
3.3 Faculty Mentors
3.4 Course Coordinators
3.5 Course Instructors
Program Information and Student Resources
4.1 Program Information Sources and Resources
Faculty of Health Disciplines
Faculty of Graduate Studies
MyAU (Office of Registrar)
4.2 Required Technical Skills and Software
4.3 Communication and Learning Resources
6.1 GCAP Grade Scale
6.2 Grading Requirements and Process
6.3 Late Submission Policy
6.4 Assignment Extensions
6.5 Regrades and Appeals
6.6 Scaffolded Learning Process
7.1 Planning Your Program
Master of Counselling (MC) Program Plans
Graduate Diploma in Counselling (GDC) Program Plans
Post-Masters Certificate in Counselling (PMCC) Program Plans
7.2 Course Registration and Program Changes
Master of Counselling Practicum
Setting Up a Practicum Placement
7.4 Planning Ahead for Your Culminating Experience
Options for Culminating Experiences
Scholarly Integrity and Use of Previous Coursework
Use of an Editor
7.5 Course-Based Exit Route
GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar: Knowledge Transfer
7.6 Thesis Route
Criteria for Entry
Procedure for Entry
Responsibilities and Expectations
Learning to become a professional counsellor or counselling psychologist extends beyond book knowledge and a set of therapeutic skills. Your training also involves shifting your identity from lay person, to student, and then to professional. The information in this section of the handbook introduces you to features of counselling and psychology practice that help inform and shape your evolving professional identity.
Welcome to the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) Master of Counselling program. While this program is unique in many respects, it does share features and expectations consistent with those generally found in other graduate programs, particularly programs in counselling. Unique to this program is the highly interactive, yet distributed, learning model that increases accessibility and enables students to continue working throughout their graduate program. As a graduate student, you can access all of the services and facilities of Athabasca University (AU), and you will be expected to abide by the typical requirements of graduate students at the university. This handbook is intended to help you find your bearings within the program. By extension, we also ask that you familiarize yourself with the general expectations of all graduate students and with the services available to help you successfully complete your program.
Being a graduate student in a counselling program involves some differences from other forms of graduate study. As a student in a professional program, one focused on helping you develop the skills of competent and reflective counselling practice, you will be asked to participate in ways that take you beyond the usual cognitively focused learning common to other graduate level programs. While a considerable part of your learning will focus on expanding your knowledge base, you will also work closely under the supervision of your instructors, faculty mentor, practicum supervisor, and thesis supervisor (if applicable). These people will assist you in developing your confidence and competence as you practice. As well, they will regularly provide feedback and ask that you reflect on your choices in assignments, skills practice, and research activities. In particular, they will ask you to examine and critically reflect upon the worldview, values, potential biases, and attitudes that inform your choices. Given that you will be asking clients to undertake a similar process with you, and that similarly focused supervision and peer review is a norm of professional practice, you will routinely be asked to share your personal perspectives in the learning activities of this program. It is important for you to become comfortable with this kind of questioning and reflecting as part of your learning. It is not possible to separate the personal and the professional in this type of learning process. Professionals are paid for their informed judgments—and such judgments abound in the dynamic activities of counselling—so count on using new skills and ideas in a reflectively informed style consistent with professional practice expectations. Please review the following documents:
Please familiarize yourself with the basic principles of these codes. You will review them in detail in GCAP 632: Professional Ethics. It is important, however, to know from the outset what core values and principles are associated with the professions you aspire to join.
GCAP fully recognizes and supports the moral obligation to redress the myriad historical and ongoing effects of colonialism on Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Building on The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Faculty of Health Disciplines initiated their own commitment to the conciliation process through striking a committee dedicated to this purpose. The fruits of this committee’s work can be found on the FHD website. As healthcare professionals it is critically important that we adopt a decolonizing approach to the work we do. These are some of the steps that may be helpful in moving toward this commitment:
Promote self-determination among Indigenous peoples.
Recognize and affirming the Indigenous worldview and cultural practices.
Replace Western historical interpretation with Indigenous historical interpretations.
Understand the broad and transgenerational impact of colonization on every facet of Indigenous life.
Ensure that we position ourselves as cultural allies to support the needs of Indigenous students.
Act to remove structural barriers that undermine the rights and ambitions of Indigenous students.
The conciliation journey is further guided by AU Nukskahtowin or meeting place, the strategic theme of reciprocity in AU’s Strategic Plan Imagine: Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities, and the Faculty of Health Discipline’s conciliation working group. We encourage you to visit each of the linked resources to learn about our collective commitment to conciliation.
GCAP provides high-quality education programming for individuals wishing to prepare for a career as a professional counsellor or counselling psychologist. Graduates of the Master of Counselling program who have a strong psychology background may want to become licensed as a Counselling Psychologist. Counselling Psychologists work in a wide range of colleges and universities, mental health, government, and community settings, as well as in private practice. Other students may prefer to move towards the role of Professional Counsellor, Clinical Counsellor, or Counselling Therapist (titles vary across provinces). Such counsellors work in the diverse areas of education, employment and career development, social work, business, industry, mental health, public service agencies, government, and private practice.
To enhance the development of your professional identity, you may want to explore the roles and services of a number of professional associations and regulatory bodies. Most counsellors belong to at least one professional organization. Many of these organizations offer special status and reduced membership fees to graduate students. You are encouraged to become involved in these organizations. They offer resources and services that will be of value to you, including conferences, professional journals, online discussion groups for graduate students, and collegial support. Your participation in these organizations may also have long-term career benefits.
Increasingly, counselling is becoming a regulated profession across Canada. It is therefore important that you familiarize yourself with the credentialing requirements in the province where you intend to practice. This will allow you to choose electives strategically to meet the identified requirements.
The CCPA is the national organization most involved in setting standards and providing direction for the practice of counselling in Canada. At present, the CCPA has approximately 1,900 members across the country. With the regulatory landscape quickly evolving across Canada it is important to keep abreast of changes that may affect your ability to licence where you intend to practice. The CCPA maintains a dedicated web page that summarizes regulatory developments across provinces and territories. The CCPA also offers the designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC). There are limitations, however, associated with the CCC designation because it is voluntary and not regulated at the provincial level. You will learn more about this in GCAP 632: Professional Ethics. You can also consult with your faculty mentor about your options and the associated pros and cons.
If licensing as a psychologist is one of your career goals, you will want to explore the CAP information. If you live in another province, consult the website of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) for links to the regulatory organizations for psychologists in each province. GCAP is not responsible for the licensing process. The licensing process for psychologists is managed by the regulatory body in each province. We have designed our programs to enable students with a strong psychology background to meet the academic requirements for licensing in Alberta. It is your responsibility to ensure that the specialization courses you select complete the required academic profile for your goals and intended province of practice. We recommend that you review the details of this process on the CAP website. • The Master of Counselling (Counselling Psychology) program is an approved program with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP). For students whom we evaluate as having appropriate undergraduate coursework at the time of graduation, we will attest to CAP that they possess the academic credentials to become a Registered Psychologist. Please see Criteria for Evaluating Academic Credentials for details of CAP's requirements.
You may also want to look into what these other organizations have to offer:
We recommend that you become familiar with these professional bodies and consider student membership in organizations that are relevant to your career aspirations. This list is not intended to be exhaustive; other professional organizations may be relevant to your specific areas of interest. Your academic advisor, instructors, and fellow students may be able to recommend other important professional connections.
Successful completion of your program requires that you understand and adhere to personal and professional expectations consistent with the professions of counselling and psychology. You also must acquire and demonstrate recognized competency benchmarks that allow entry to practice. This section of the handbook provides you with clearly articulated program goals and expectations that you will return to often throughout your program.
Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) courses adhere to a competency-based framework which is based upon disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes. The disciplinary competencies are specific to the professional practice of counselling psychology (e.g., assess the roles that culture and context, broadly defined, play in giving shape to theories and models of counselling). Graduates from any master’s program in Canada are expected also to demonstrate transdisciplinary program outcomes, such as synthesizing, organizing, creating, and distributing knowledge in a variety of forms (e.g., electronic, written, oral, visual) to make it available to other users. Every course activity is tied to a learning outcome that, in turn, is tied to the broader competencies that a counsellor is expected to attain prior to entering the field. The Master of Counselling Program Outcomes and Disciplinary Competencies provide the big picture of what you will learn through your GCAP courses.
In each course readings, learning activities, learning outcomes, and assessment processes are directly tied to specific disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes. This helps ensure that you have achieved all required competencies and outcomes by the completion of your program. In the video below, GCAP faculty member, Dr. Sandra Collins provides, an overview of GCAP’s disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes framework.
If you have difficulty viewing the video, please review the video transcript provided in MS Word.
A number of the transdisciplinary program outcomes reflect professional writing skills. Written communication is the primary means of interaction in this program. Your success in the program will in part depend on how well you can present your point of view in writing. You are expected to be able to write in a clear, succinct, and scholarly manner. An indispensable resource as you work your way through the program is Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines. We strongly encourage you to maximize your use of this resource by carefully working through each section before you start your GCAP courses.
All members of the faculty share a commitment to foster professional writing in GCAP graduates so that you exit the program with the ability to apply effective, ethical, and purposeful communication skills to a wide variety of contexts and audiences. Please watch the video below in which faculty members talk about the importance of professional writing. Starting from the top left, are Dr. Emily Doyle, Dr. Sandra Collins, Dr. Jeff Chang, Dr. Murray Anderson, Dr. Gina Wong, Dr. Gina Ko, and Dr. Simon Nuttgens (some of us forgot to say our names!).
If you have difficulty viewing the video, please review the video transcript provided in MS Word.
Your professional writing skills are complemented by your ability to communicate effectively based on specific editorial standards. The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed a standardized and very commonly used format for scholarly communication. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is a resource you will turn to frequently to help you communicate in ways consistent with other researchers and practitioners within the discipline of psychology. You are strongly encouraged to obtain a copy of this resource prior to starting your first GCAP course.
Unless otherwise indicated, all written assignments must be completed according to the format described in the APA (2020), Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). We strongly recommend that you purchase a copy of the APA Manual and refer to it when writing papers and compiling reference lists. The specific number of marks allotted to APA format is indicated under the grading criteria for each assignment.
There are many resources to assist you in becoming proficient in APA style. The APA Style website is a good place to start in this regard. The Athabasca University (AU) Write Site also contains Citation Styles resources that help students learn and correctly apply APA style guidelines.
Additional links to APA style resources include the following:
In addition to learning how to format your assignments correctly according to APA guidelines, you must also understand and adhere to guidelines for intellectual honesty. To better understand how to avoid common intellectual honesty missteps, we strongly advise you to review the relevant sections in Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines. A lack of awareness of this material does not constitute a viable excuse should you fail to meet required intellectual honesty standards.
When instructors note that students have engaged in plagiarism, cheating, or other forms of academic misconduct, they are required to consult with the course coordinator who will follow the Faculty of Health Disciplines (FHD) processes. The process involves assessing the severity of the problem, coming up with an appropriate plan of action, and supporting student learning over time and across courses. Our main goal is to ensure that each student graduates from the program with the ability to write at a professional level, having internalized the ethics of scholarly writing. We also have an ethical responsibility to act if it is clear that a student is not upholding the scholarly integrity standards of the university.
The penalties for academic misconduct are very serious. Penalties may take the form of rejection of the submitted work, assignment of a failing grade to the assignment or course, expulsion from the course or the program, or legal action, depending on the specific nature of the infraction. Please review the Athabasca University Student Academic Misconduct Policy for a better understanding of the kinds of activities that constitute breaches of academic honesty. You will be held accountable to the standards outlined in this policy.
Although we anticipate that each of you will contribute to a positive and professional learning community, it is also important that you be aware of what we consider to constitute non-academic misconduct. We hold positive expectations of student conduct, based on your intent to engage in professions within the health disciplines. The university also has clear expectations for student conduct generally. We strongly encourage you to review the policies and procedures in the University Calendar related to Non-Academic Misconduct to ensure you are familiar with what would be considered misconduct.
The program director is responsible for determining whether a student failed to meet the expectations associated with non-academic conduct; however, direct input will be solicited from AU faculty and staff members, practicum supervisors, instructors, and project and thesis supervisors when applicable.
Applied practice activities during your practicum are a key component of developing disciplinary competencies as a professional counsellor. Throughout your practicum experience you are expected to adhere to program regulations, roles, and expectations, along with the ethical standards set forth in the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, or the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, Code of Ethics. Failure to meet these expectations and standards can lead to disciplinary actions, as described within Athabasca University’s Clinical Placement Misconduct Policy.
The student's grade point average falls below 3.0. A grade point average of B (3.00) must be maintained throughout the program, as computed at the end of each year of program.
The student has accumulated two grades of "B-" or lower, regardless of the student's grade point average. All grades below "B-" indicate failure at the graduate level and cannot be counted towards degree requirements.
The student fails certain components in GCAP 671 Responsive Counselling Relationships and Interpersonal Communications, GCAP 635 Responsive Case Conceptualization & Counselling Interventions, GCAP 691 Methods of Inquiry, GCAP 681 Counselling Practicum I, or GCAP 682 Counselling Practicum II.
The student accumulates an unacceptable number of unapproved absences in interactive learning processes (i.e., seminars, videoconferences, labs, class discussions).
The student accumulates an unacceptable number of unapproved absences from a practicum placement. Students are expected to maintain near-perfect attendance during each practicum and are responsible for requesting prior approval for absences from the GCAP course instructor and practicum site supervisor. A student may be required to make up any or all practicum days missed or to re-register to take the practicum again.
The student demonstrates an inability to carry out the expectations and responsibilities established for students in GCAP courses or applied practice contexts.
This section is intended to provide you with some basic tips for respectful and effective online textual communication, which is often referred to as netiquette.
Feel free to use first names in your discussion forums and email messages; this makes the message seem more personal. Faculty and instructors in the program prefer that you address them on a first-name basis.
Always respond promptly to any messages received. Not only is this courteous, but also it's the only way for the sender to know you received the message. If you don't have time to write a full reply, consider sending a brief note (i.e., Thanks for your message; I'll get to it as soon as I can). Notify others if you will be away from the computer for more than a few days due to work, travel, vacation, or so on. This is particularly important if you're working on a group assignment. We expect to provide you with a two-day turn around on messages sent to instructors or staff; please respond in a similar time frame.
Be gentle with criticism. This is more important in online communication than in face-to-face discussion, because of the lack of visual cues. Don't criticize classmates; rather, provide critical reflection on their ideas, conceptualizations, rationalee, their evidence for particular statements or points of view, and so on. CAPITAL LETTERS can "sound" AS THOUGH YOU ARE SHOUTING! Try to use underlining, bolding, italics, or different font colour for things you don't want readers to miss in your message. If you are responding to a controversial or sensitive topic, or if you are experiencing a strong emotional reaction to something, do not send the first draft of your comments. Take some time to reflect, rewrite, and reconsider what you have written. Before you hit send THINK:
Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
Remember that you can never retract what has been typed and sent through email, and you will have only limited opportunity to do so in a discussion forum. Be careful to avoid gossip and unconstructive criticism. It is inappropriate to copy others on a message or post you are writing to an individual, particularly if you are doing so primarily to make that person look badly or to try to influence them to respond in a particular way. For example, it is inappropriate to cc your entire discussion group on an email to your instructor complaining that your final grade has not been received. Similarly, it is inappropriate to send the same message out to multiple people in hopes of getting a quicker response. This wastes everyone's time and has the counter-effect of slowing down overall response times.
Be extremely cautious when using sarcasm, because you don't know how it will be interpreted or who will see it in or out of context. You'll need to learn to avoid these types of double message communications, to be an effective and professional communicator so use this opportunity to begin to hone your skills.
Be sure to direct your online correspondence to the correct person. If you have a grievance with someone, you should first discuss it with the individual privately. If you are not satisfied with their response, then take the matter to the instructor or your faculty mentor. If you cannot resolve an issue online, often a simple solution is to pick up the phone, and discuss the matter voice-to-voice.
It is important that you can relax and enjoy communicating online and that, with only a little effort, your readers can understand what you're saying. While there is considerably more freedom in online discussion forums to stray from strict academic writing style, we ask you to remain mindful of the following questions:
Have I adequately proofread my contributions?
Am I staying on topic?
Have I adhered to word count limits?
Am I adding to the discussion in constructively critical and original ways?
Have I supported my contributions with sound evidence and compelling reasoning?
Would I welcome this contribution from another member of the discussion?
Will my contribution move the discussion forward or bog it down?
We are fortunate to have a great team of faculty, professional, technical, and support staff who devote time and energy to ensure the quality of our graduate programs. Please carefully review the information below about the roles and responsibilities of various team members. Please be careful to address any inquiries to the right person.
The functioning of the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) depends on our excellent team of administrative and technical staff. In addition, faculty members take on various administrative roles to support the functioning of our counselling programs. The following chart is intended to keep you informed about who to contact about issues or questions that arise as you move through the program. Individual emails are not provided, because our teams collaborate to ensure that someone is always available to respond to any inquiry. Please review the other links in this section for more details about the roles and responsibilities of various team members.
When submitting an inquiry to any of these emails, please be sure to include the following information (as applicable):
your full name;
the course and instructor;
the purpose of your inquiry; and
the URL, detailed location, or screen shot of the problem or the information about which you are inquiring.
You may want to get to know the counselling faculty members and to explore areas of shared interest. Check out their biographies to find out more information about their research, practice, teaching, and passions.
The first, and often most frequent, contact for the program is the team of graduate program advisors (email@example.com). If you are a current GCAP student, this is your link to assistance with your program advising questions. The advisors act as the information relay between program students, faculty and instructors, the program director, and the various service units within Athabasca University (AU). Our advisors work to ensure that your requests and questions are dealt with in a responsive manner. Advisors receive, field, relay, track, and respond to information requests that include, but are not limited to, the following:
general program information,
transfer credit evaluation,
course selection and registration,
program policies and procedures,
leaves of absence,
deferrals of term work, and
To obtain information or to discuss any of your program concerns contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not contact advisors through their individual emails as this can result in delaying our response to your questions.
Every student is paired with a faculty mentor. Success in your program will be facilitated through your connection with your faculty mentor. Do not contact your faculty mentor for issues related to course registration, course and program changes, or other graduate program regulations. This is the role of the graduate program advisors. Think of your faculty mentor as more of a professional and academic coach, someone you can turn to for advice, strategic planning, or just to brainstorm ideas in the following areas:
tailoring your program according to your educational, personal, and professional goals;
building connections to the professions of counselling and counselling psychology;
selecting an appropriate practicum placement and field supervisor, or finding a thesis supervisor;
narrowing your topic areas for your thesis or GCAP 695 paper;
identifying ways to publish your work or to present your work at appropriate professional conferences; and
advocating for you regarding problems you may encounter while participating in the program.
Faculty mentors are assigned based on the first letter of your last name. Faculty mentors are assigned each year, based on the numbers of new students and faculty availability.
For each of your GCAP courses, there will an assigned course coordinator. The course coordinator is responsible for all aspects of the curriculum, course materials, and learning processes for that course, including:
completing an audit of the course prior to the beginning of each semester to ensure all links are working;
ensuring set up of course sections in Moodle with appropriate resources, assignment drop boxes, and forums;
ensuring that all course content is up-to-date, including learning processes and assignments;
meditating instructor–student conflict and related concerns;
facilitating requests for regrades;
reviewing course evaluations at the end of each semester.
If you have questions or issues with the content of a particular course, please discuss these with the course instructor. If that individual is not able to address your concerns, please contact the course coordinator for that course. The coordinators may change without notice, because of GCAP faculty Research and Study leaves.
The academic staff who teach in this program is made up of both faculty from AU and instructors from other academic institutions or professional practice contexts. The instructors are often engaged in professional practice in areas of specialization targeted by the program and offer their teaching expertise on a part-time basis. We are very lucky to have an excellent team of faculty and instructors who will work with you throughout your program.
In this program, we see the academic staff as coaches, mentors, and guides. Rather than merely offering instruction, your instructors will encourage your learning, provide support and information in response to your queries, and monitor and stimulate dialogue. They will also review, provide detailed feedback on, and grade your assignments. Mature students typically learn through connecting theories and concepts to their experience. Our experienced instructors encourage you to reflect, share, and debate these connections and ideas so you can integrate them into your theoretical or applied practice; these practices are central to their academic role. Each instructor is expected to do the perform the following activities:
Provide clear understanding regarding all course requirements and evaluation expectations.
Respond to messages posted or emailed to them on the same or next day (weekdays).
Read all posts in all class discussions or open discussion forums, and intervene to encourage meaningful discussions whenever it is helpful to do so.
Contribute actively to conversations to illuminate key points, add helpful information, and extend key topics.
Encourage connections between key concepts and ideas and students' experiences.
Discuss queries and ideas about assignments or issues related to your engagement in various interactive activities.
Provide detailed feedback on assignments, as well as thoughtful grading.
These functions are all intended to encourage and enable your own learning. As an adult learner, however, you are responsible for the quality of your learning to a significant degree.
In addition to being an accessible and flexible distance university, Athabasca University (AU) has all of the resources and student services found within any university. Because we are a distance university, exceptional services and support are provided in the area of technology and computing. We work hard to ensure that your online experience is engaging, rewarding, and problem free.
The following web pages allow you easy access to all the information you need to complete your graduate program. Once you know where to find things, you will be amazed at how easy it is to navigate directly to what you need in the moment. There are several different resources that you will access throughout your program.
There are many resources available to you as an AU student. However, each graduate program at AU draws on these resources differently and tailors them to best meet the needs of their particular students. We encourage you to explore the university website at https://www.athabascau.ca/ to get a sense of the range of programs and services provided by AU.
Faculty of Health Disciplines Website
The Faculty of Health Disciplines (FHD) website is located at https://www.athabascau.ca/health-disciplines/. This page is a centralized hub for information about our programs and courses. It is also a great place to get a sense of broader faculty initiatives and opportunities. You will refer to these pages often throughout your program to access the following elements:
Please explore other sections of the FHD website for resources and opportunities at the faculty level.
AU Graduate Calendar
The Graduate Calendar houses the regulations that apply to all graduate programs at AU, as well as specific program information. Check out the section that applies to your program. This information is also contained on the FHD website above.
Faculty of Graduate Studies
The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is an umbrella faculty whose role is to provide policies and support to all AU graduate programs and students. The FGS manages and administers items such as graduate funding, thesis requirements, and learning resources (e.g., workshops). Take time to explore the FGS website, paying particular attention to the FGS Graduate Handbook.
MyAU (Office of the Registrar)
As an AU student, you will also be required to use the central services at the university for course registration, fee payment, application to graduate, and so on. MyAU is a web portal system that provides Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) students with individualized web services and information. You will log into to MyAU, and then this web page will act as a gateway to all the resources you will need as a GCAP student. Check out the information on the MyAU website. To access MyAU, you will need your AU student ID number and password.
At this time the following features are available to students through this system:
Register in GCAP courses (ensure that you are following proposed program plans, where possible, and have completed all prerequisites indicated in syllabus).
Pay your fees.
Change your password.
Request your transcripts.
Access a statement of your official grades.
Obtain your tax receipt information.
Verify your course registration.
Review your progress in the program through DegreeWorks portal.
Perform other functions normally associated with the Office of the Registrar.
The Office of the Registrar will also provide you with a student ID card if you submit an application, guarantee of identity, and picture. You are wise to make use of this opportunity, because the card will be useful if you want to use local library resources, access student discounts at various business and services, and access other student benefits. Please check out the Student ID Card information through the Office of the Registrar.
As with any Canadian university, AU learners have access to a full-service library. In addition to providing hundreds of online periodicals and electronic books, the AU library’s printed collection also allows you to order books that are delivered directly to your home. When accessing AU Library resources, you will need to sign in using your Library User ID (your full name) and your password (your AU student ID number).
Please spend some time orienting yourselves to the Library Services so that you can maximize the effectiveness of your searches for appropriate information. We encourage you to attend one of the regularly offered orientations, and view the many recorded sessions available on the Library Orientation page.
If you have difficulty viewing the video, please review the video transcript provided in MS Word.
The basic computing hardware and software required for your online learning can be found on the FHD website. Increasingly, learners complete all, or some of, their online studies using their phone or a tablet. Whatever device you choose or prefer to use, you should be able to do the following things with it:
Access the Internet using one of several browsers. The preferred AU browsers are Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Create and work on documents using Microsoft Word (or an open source equivalent that saves in Word’s .doc or .docx format), and view files in PDF format.
Create and work on presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint (or an open source equivalent that saves in PowerPoint’s format).
Manage PDF files.
Upload and download files (mainly Word, PowerPoint, and PDF).
Store files (either on your device or in your own cloud account).
Navigate between multiple browser windows while working in the learning environment.
Participate in videoconferencing. If you are on a laptop or desktop, you will need a webcam with both video and audio capabilities (i.e., speakers).
Create, share, and upload videos.
For those of you who plan to use tablets or mobile devices to navigate through the course materials and activities, it is important to know that due to the variety of electronic platforms and operating systems, we cannot guarantee that these materials will work properly on your device.
In addition to these requirements, we have certain expectations about your level of computer literacy. Technical help is available throughout the program if you run into difficulty with our specific course resources; however, you are responsible to ensure that you have the technological skills and supports to use your own system effectively.
You are advised to purchase a headset that has noise cancellation features to support privacy and confidentiality when engaged in synchronous video meetings and to amplify sound on videos.
There are number of important communication and learning resources and tools that you will use throughout your graduate program.
Your AU email account is the primary source for individual communication within the program. We highly recommend that you activate your account at the start of the program and continue accessing it for important communications, such as announcements, specific inquiries related to your program, reminders of fee deadlines, and so on. You can easily access your Office 365 for Students from MyAU (a link to MyAU is provided at the top of the FHD website and other program pages.) You might want to bookmark this and other important links in your browser.
AU provides you with a Microsoft 365 account. You are expected to use it for all program correspondence and student work. The Microsoft 365 package includes Email, Calendar, OneDrive, Teams and other tools to enrich your learning experience. You have been sent the activation information to your email on file. If you misplaced the original email, please follow instructions on how to activate your account here: http://office365.athabascau.ca/welcome
Please read through the “Getting Started Pages” to understand the support, functionality, and limitations of the AU Office 365 Email.
Moodle is a learning management system (LMS) that provides online discussion forums, assignment drop boxes, wikis, and other forms of online communication that you will use in each of your courses. The look and feel of each course will be similar, so once you get started, you will find it easy to access course information and to use all of the tools that are available to you. You will also find some program-wide resources in Moodle (e.g., program announcements, Q&A forums on various topics) that you will want to access regularly. These resources will be located in a separate course entitled GCAP Student Resources. You should have access to this course automatically at the start of your program, or you can self-enrol yourself.
Since Moodle is a university-wide system, we have not created a specific orientation for GCAP students. Instead, we invite you to take advantage of the information that is provided by the university. Please take time to review the content on the following link: Moodle Orientation for Students.
As part of your Microsoft Office 365 account, you have access to Teams. Teams offers an interactive platform for engaging in synchronous (real time) and asynchronous communications within your graduate courses. Teams are used in particular for virtual labs, small or large group videoconferences, and sometimes for open information sessions for all graduate students.
Team is also a university-wide system, and you may want to access the Office 365 Support Links provided by the university. However, we have also developed a FHD Orientation to Microsoft Teams, which is more specific to the way in which Teams will be used in GCAP courses. You are strongly encouraged to work your way through our orientation videos, so you develop proficiency with teams prior to the start of your courses.
The Accessibility Services (AS) centre provides support services to learners with physical, sensory, learning, emotional, and other disabilities. AS is responsible for the assessment and coordination of academic accommodations, although not necessarily for the provision of all the required services. If you have a disability or are struggling with an illness and are likely to require academic accommodation, you are strongly encouraged to contact AS to request a formal assessment. Registering with AS is a good idea even if you do not plan to request services or accommodations, so that its services will be readily available if your circumstances change at a later date.
Notification of the need for academic accommodation must normally be provided to the GCAP program office (email@example.com) no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of class. It is the learner's responsibility to register with the AS Centre to request academic accommodation if required and to notify the course coordinator that such accommodation has been requested. Please plan ahead to allow time for the assessment to be processed and to reach our office.
Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual learner needs. However, because GCAP courses are paced, all learners are required to participate weekly in the online discussion forums. There are also several courses where online exams and other interactive components are required. See Section 5.5 Accommodations for more information specific to GCAP courses.
provide supports for learning, educational and career planning, and the balancing of academic and other life demands; and
act in an advisory capacity to address problems related to student services, with the goal of ensuring that all program participants are treated fairly and equitably.
You can contact Counselling Services at any time for information, support, or referral.
To further support the well-being of all learners, AU has partnered with TalkCampus, a global mental health support network offering peer-to-peer communication in a supportive environment where students can share their struggles anonymously. TalkCampus utilizes student peer supporters who are trained and managed by TalkCampus.
To participate, download the TalkCampus app and set up a free account using your @athabasca.edu email address. Tech support is available through TalkCampus
Graduate Students’ Association
The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) provides advocacy, resources, and support to all AU graduate students. Please check out the details on the GSA website. The GSA is a place where you can connect with your peers, access information and resources, and have a voice in university affairs. The GSA offers lots of opportunities for you to become involved.
The Financial Aid Unit at AU can provide you with detailed information about various forms of financial aid, including student loans.
To request a letter of confirmation for student loan related purposes, contact the AU Student Finance Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, and copy the message to the FHD graduate program advisor, email@example.com, so we can confirm your program status with the Finance Office.
Please recognize that due to the timing of our registration deadlines, funded students will be required to pay the full course tuition fee at the time of registration as government loan money will not usually arrive until the course start date. For a list of all GCAP registration and fee deadlines, please see the Graduate Counselling Academic Schedule prior to applying.
Scholarships, Grants, and Awards
GCAP students are eligible for both internal and external scholarships and grants. For information on what is available and how to apply, please see the Student Awards website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) courses incorporate diverse learning processes and activities that are intended to foster your interest, creativity, critical reflection, and your attainment of disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes. There are certain processes and expectations common to all courses. Be sure to review this section of the handbook to become familiar with these important components of your program.
All GCAP courses are set up in the same format. Review this screencast to learn more about the basic structure and associated features of GCAP courses.
If you have difficulty viewing the video, please review the video transcript provided in MS Word.
Next watch this screencast to gain a sense of what a typical week looks as you move through the GCAP learning processes. In all GCAP courses, the week starts on a Wednesday and runs until the next Tuesday. Each course typically has 13 weeks.
If you have difficulty viewing the video, please review the video transcript provided in MS Word.
Each GCAP course has a set of readings associated with the learning processes. You will find these readings located within each unit or week. Some courses also include e-texts. Access to these e-texts is most often provided within your course. Please check your @athabasca.edu email regularly, because you may receive course e-text information there.
The required readings are clearly indicated. In many cases, downloadable electronic versions of articles will also be listed. You will be asked to identify yourself by entering your Library User ID (your full name) and your PIN (your AU Student ID number). Be sure to download to your hard drive the articles found in this format, so they are readily accessible next time you want to refer to them. In some cases, you will be referred to materials contained in an electronic course text. Information on accessing the course text will either be emailed to your @athabascau.edu account or provided directly in Moodle.
You are expected to read all of the required course materials prior to starting each week. You are not required to review the supplementary resources. The intent of supplementary resources is to provide you with a starting place for your assignments in this course or for continued learning in areas of particular interest to you.
If you experience any difficulty in accessing the course materials, please report any invalid or broken links to the course coordinator.
Although we have attempted to maximize the flexibility and accessibility of the program, enabling you to complete your studies in conjunction with other life roles, there are some foundational minimum requirements for attendance and participation:
You must fully participate in all class discussions, virtual labs, videoconferences, and other interactive activities unless otherwise specified in the course. The number and type of required interactive activities varies across courses (i.e., in some cases, you may have one or more weeks without discussion forums or you may have no synchronous videoconferences). Failure to log into the course and participate in the class discussions or other interactive activities in Week 1 of the course or failure to meet the minimal requirements for overall participation may result in your immediate withdrawal from the course. You may need register in the course the next time it is offered and to pay the course withdrawal fee.
You must participate in all virtual seminars in their entirety. As part of our role as gatekeepers of the profession, we are responsible to ensure your readiness to practice upon graduation. You must participate actively in all seminar activities to pass the practicum course. Failure to participate in any portion of the seminar will result in your immediate withdrawal from the course. You will be required to reregister for the course in the following year, obtain a new practicum placement, and pay the course withdrawal fee.
Class discussions in GCAP can take many forms that include: one-to-one instructor coaching, synchronous group work, and videoconferencing. To varying degrees, all GCAP courses will involve participation in online discussion forums. Once you enter a discussion forum, you will see all of the messages that have been posted by students and the instructor. You can then add a new post or reply to an existing post. Typically, you add a new post when you want to pose a new question or introduce a new discussion topic. Otherwise, you should reply to the original question, topic, or subsequent comment.
In most courses, participation marks are awarded to students who contribute substantial and regular comments to the online discussions. You will therefore be evaluated on the basis of both the frequency of your posts to the forums and the quality of your online comments. The specific grading criteria for these two components may vary across courses. Minimum standards for participation will be clearly outlined in the discussion of course assignments. Marks are awarded for a pattern of responses; individual responses are not graded. While APA style is typically not required for forum discussions, attention to spelling and grammar is expected, as well as appropriate referencing of the sources you draw on in your comments.
Making Substantive Contributions
The specific grading criteria for class discussions may differ across courses, so please review carefully the assignments page in your course. The following is intended as general guidance for making substantive contributions to class discussions, whether these occur in online discussion forums, videoconferences, or face-to-face conversations.
To be an active and effective participant, you must read the required materials and give considerable thought to the concepts and issues presented. Like other scholarly work, engaging in a learning conversation draws on your ability to critically analyze and synthesize information and to make connections between such information and your own values and beliefs, favoured theoretical models, practice experiences, and other contextual factors.
Quality contributions will include some or all of the following components:
consistent evidence of accurate analysis of concepts;
integration of material from previous units to formulate ideas and generate dialogue;
contribution of new or original thoughts, arguments, insights, or ideasin response to readings or other comments;
openness to divergent points of view;
links to individual or collective experiences;
challenges or questions regarding prevailing ideas or assumptions;
synthesis, analysis, and comparison of concepts across different perspectives;
connection to the contributions of other participants in a meaningful manner;
examples raised to illustrate principles;
readings and research cited to support key points.
Please see these as examples of the types of evidence your instructor will look for when judging the quality of your contributions. You can be quite certain your comments require improvement, however, when you find yourself making statements that
are irrelevant or difficult to interpret or understand;
contain no new observations;
fail to question, challenge, or contribute new thought to the conversation;
repeat the contributions of others without adding anything new; or
regurgitate materials found in the text or other course materials.
Students with a disability who require academic accommodation must register with Accessibility Services (AS). More information about AS is provided under Section 4.4. Please plan well in advance as there is often a substantial waitlist for an appointment with staff at the AS office. Please ensure you have documentation of your disability from a regulated health professional on hand for this appointment. This documentation is required before AS can provide accommodations. Staff in the AS centre will assess your needs and write a letter requesting the appropriate accommodation.
Please notify and send the letter to the GCAP office (email@example.com) and the program director (FHD-MC-Program-Director@athabascau.ca) specifying potential accommodations. You are also required to notify the course coordinator for each course fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of class, so they will have sufficient time to plan for your accommodations with your course instructor.
Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual student needs. Because we are a counsellor education program, which trains students in competencies essential to the practice of counselling and psychology, we require students to demonstrate adequate proficiency in both disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes. GCAP students learn many of the professional skills required of counsellors and psychologists through class discussions, virtual seminars, and other online learning activities that require interpersonal interaction, as well as face-to-face components of the program; for this reason, it may not be possible for an instructor to reduce participation requirements for some activities in some courses. There are also several courses that require group work and online exams.
If you encounter any difficulties or have concerns about ensuring that your needs are fully met, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All documentation provided to the AS will be treated as confidential unless you provide a release of information.
All GCAP courses involve some form of electronic communications. It is important to recognize that this type of communication has both benefits and risks. The benefits are many, but some of the risks may be unfamiliar to you. For example, electronic communications are semi-public communications and must be recognized as such. We expect you to treat all forum posts as confidential and not to share specific information posted by other students outside of the course section in which you are participating. With the best of intentions, however, it is impossible to guarantee that information exchanged during an online conversation or email will never become available to outsiders. You are encouraged to freely exchange ideas, but you should also act, write, and “speak” with these cautions in mind.
You are invited to create a personal profile in Moodle; however, be cautious about posting contact information or other highly personal information. Although the discussion forums are restricted to the GCAP community, it is advisable that you share as little personal information as possible. Your personal information (e.g., social insurance number, phone number) can be used to locate you. We encourage you to share only a minimal amount of personal information.
Under the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, your comments made through various forms of electronic communication are considered to be personal information. Since those comments will be used for marking purposes, the data will be retained by the university. Only students and faculty participating in the course and authorized university personnel will have access to the communications. Authorized personnel include the course coordinator, the instructor of the course, and program administrators. From time to time, potential or new instructors will be "shadowing" a course. When this happens, you will be informed and the person will have a name like any other participant.
Please see the Research Consent link for more information about the use of electronic communication content for research purposes.
Under the FOIP Act, your comments made in online discussion forums are considered to be personal information. Researchers studying the online delivery of counsellor education may wish to access copies of discussion forum transcripts. When the forum discussions for each GCAP course are over, they are archived for possible later use in various forms of research.
Before AU grants requests for access to forum discussions in the GCAP program, we ensure all forum posts are cleaned of names and identifying characteristics before providing such data to researchers. Care is taken to ensure that the transcripts are anonymous; that is, all information that might identify any contributor is removed.
You have the option, during the course, to request removal or revision of any of the posts you have made to any discussion forum in the course. These changes will not be made until after the weekly class discussion is closed, and such posts cannot be used later to support your grade. If you wish to change or remove a post, please contact the GCAP at email@example.com.
If you have any questions about your discussion forum entries being used in research in this manner, you should contact FHD-MC-Program-Director@athabascau.ca immediately, prior to participating in course discussion forums.
It is very important that you provide us with feedback, on the quality of the course content, instructional design, course instructor, and on other elements of the learning processes. We use this information in course revisions and in our assignment of instructors, so please take the time to voice your opinion in a way that can impact both the future direction of the program and your own continued learning experiences.
All course evaluations are completely anonymous and confidential. We cannot trace your evaluation back to you unless you include identifying information within the comments boxes on the evaluation. Access to the completed evaluations is carefully controlled. Your instructor will receive an aggregate of all of the ratings and comments from students in your section of the course. Individual evaluations are not provided.
To access the course evaluation, go into your section of the course in Moodle, and click on the Course Evaluation link, which is included in either the other general course forums and announcements, or the final week of the course module. Please note: The evaluation may not appear in your list of links until the end of the semester.
You are also welcome to provide feedback directly to the course coordinator about any aspect of the course at any time.
Most course materials will be posted online for easy access. Each course will include a brief introduction to the course; a series of weekly learning processes, which describe the step-by-step learning process for the course; a description of the course assignments; and a course schedule that outlines the expectations for each week. When the course ends, you will have one month of full access and then five months of limited access to course materials. Therefore, we suggest you download, save, and store all of the course materials so you are able to retrieve them later.
It is also very important that you maintain a record of your own assignment submissions on your computer. Although all GCAP databases are regularly archived, it is not the responsibility of the program to retrieve assignments that you may want to reference after your course has been completed. Some students also want to keep a record of the discussion forums so that they can refer to them later in the program. Please remember that these are considered confidential interactions. So, if you do download this content to your personal computer, be sure to include only your own comments or those of the instructor. You should not download the contributions of other students.
Effective assessment of your disciplinary competencies and transdisciplinary program outcomes is critical to your success as a student. Assessment feedback that is fair, timely, balanced, and informative is necessary for you to recognise what you have done well, and where improvement is required. It is important that you review the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) policies and procedures for grading prior to beginning your coursework.
The following chart provides a summary of the grade conversions used in all GCAP courses. It provides general guidelines for interpreting the final grade you receive in the course. Please note that you are required to receive an overall grade of 70% to pass any course. In some cases, a grade of 70% on a specific assignment may be required to pass the course.
The learner demonstrates an advanced critical orientation. They incorporate extensive knowledge of the professional literature, analyze tacit meanings, evidence highly original and creative thinking and writing, engage in critical analysis and synthesis. They assume leadership in advancing the ethics and values of the profession, model self-awareness and reflexivity, and advance a culturally responsive and systemic analysis of counselling theory and practice.
The learner demonstrates a critical orientation. They incorporate a solid knowledge base, engage in critical and original thinking, and evidence analysis and synthesis of the professional literature. They engage in reflective practice, applying consistently professional values and ethics, and integrate thoughtfully counselling theory and practice.
The learner demonstrates an interpretive orientation. They incorporate a developing knowledge base; identify underlying principles, themes, or examples; evidence some original thinking, critical capacity, and analytic ability; are open to self-examination; and show some ability to integrate theory and practice.
The learner demonstrates a descriptive orientation. They show a satisfactory knowledge base and have some ability to apply counselling concepts, theories, and practices. However, they lack original thinking, critical reflection, and clarity in communication. They struggle to demonstrate the values and ethics of the profession.
C+ C C- F
2.3 2.0 1.7 0
66–69 63–65 60–62 0–59
The learner fails to demonstrate graduate-level work. They fail to take into account, or misrepresent, the professional knowledge base; demonstrate concrete problem-solving without evaluation; and do not apply effectively counselling theory or practice. They do not engage in self-reflection or appropriate ethical decision-making, and they express values that contravene those of the counselling profession.
All GCAP courses are graded using standardized grading templates or rubrics provided in the Assignments section of each course. When you receive your assignment back from the instructor, you can expect to see the following three things:
Detailed comments on writing, conceptualization, critical thinking, and APA standards in the body of the paper.
A standardized grading template or rubric that provides a grade and comment on each of the main sections of the assignment.
A writing feedback sheet that indicates areas where you should invest further attention and links to APA resources and the Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines resource. There are two versions of the feedback sheet: Rubric assessments and Percent of assignment for writing and APA.
Assignments must be submitted one minute before midnight (11.59 p.m., Mountain Standard Time) on the assignment due date provided in the course schedule. You will not be granted an extension, either because you have taken on too many activities and can't manage them all effectively, or because you want to schedule a family vacation in the middle of your course. It is your responsibility to meet the deadlines set forth in the course, not only for your own benefit, but also because your co-learners in the course count on your full participation in each activity for them to get the most out of the learning experiences.
Unless you have a preapproved extension for a particular assignment, a late penalty is automatically applied. We have set the following graduated penalties:
first 2 days, including weekends: 2% per day (i.e., 24 hours);
over 2 days (i.e., 48 hours): 4% per day.
Late assignments will not be accepted (and will receive a grade of 0) if received 10 business days after the posted due date of that assignment. Instructors cannot return assignments to other students if your assignment is outstanding, until you also receive a grade, which may be 0. This policy recognizes that, if the instructor has finished grading the submitted assignments and returned them to the rest of the class, you may benefit unfairly from the feedback provided to your peers, which is the rationale for not accepting your assignment after the 10-day limit.
We understand that there are times when life simply gets in the way and makes meeting a deadline impossible. Situations over which you have little or no control, such as illness, unexpected family responsibilities, or other demanding life events may justifiably prevent timely completion of an assignment. In such cases, an extension may be granted, if you can demonstrate that an unforeseen emergency required you to take action and consequently prevented you from completing the assignment on time. In these substantiated cases, the late penalty will not apply.
The course instructor (or the course coordinator) may request formal documentation (e.g., medical note) from students before they grant an extension. Examples of emergencies that may qualify for an extension include:
sickness, injury, or death, which requires a significant amount of the student's attention.
psychological crisis for which the student is seeking professional help.
job loss that is not anticipated or an unexpected and substantial increase in job responsibilities.
To provide additional clarity about the extension policy, the following are examples of what is not considered an emergency and thus would not be eligible for an extension:
attendance at special events such as family reunions and weddings.
computer not working (there are other options to access computers, including Internet cafes, universities, etc.).
confusion about the assignment instructions or expectations.
delays associated with obtaining library and other resource materials.
failure to anticipate the amount of work involved to complete the assignment or the course.
going on vacation or other travel.
guests staying at your home.
lack of proficiency in writing or research skills.
loss of the assignment files on a computer (it is your responsibility to keep files backed up on a regular basis).
scheduling conflicts when working with other students to complete an assignment.
submitting the wrong assignment or document/file to the instructor for marking, including submitting a draft.
two or more assignments due on the same day or during the same week.
How and When to Request an Extension
A request for an extension on an assignment must be sent by email to your course instructor, copying the course coordinator. The course instructor must receive this request at least two days before the assignment deadline. Failure to adhere to this two-day deadline may result in the extension not being granted and the assignment being either subject to the appropriate late penalty or not accepted and give a grade of 0.
An extension is granted, or not, at the sole discretion of either the course instructor or the course coordinator.
Duration of Assignment Extensions
Course instructors are authorized to grant an assignment extension to a maximum of five (5) days. If you require a longer extension on a course assignment, you must speak with the course coordinator. Assignment extensions cannot be granted past the final due date for the last assignment in the course. Students wishing to extend assignment deadlines beyond the end of the course need to follow the protocol outlined in the course extension policy below.
Group assignments and assessments through class discussions, virtual labs, videoconferences, or seminars are not included under this policy. You are expected to meet all expectations for these paced or synchronous activities within in the time periods specified in each course.
Students wishing to extend assignment deadlines beyond the end of the course need to follow the protocol outlined in the course extension policy. See 7.2 Course Registrations and Program Changes in this handbook.
There may be times when you disagree with your instructor’s evaluation of your learning, which can affect your academic progress. All evaluations of your coursework should be based on clearly stated evaluation criteria. Make sure you clearly understand how you will be graded, and ask for clarification, when needed, before you start any assignment or evaluation procedure. If you feel dissatisfied with your grade on an assignment, you must follow each of the following steps.
Step I: Informal Discussion with the Course Instructor
Your first step is to address the issue directly with your course instructor. Be clear about why you feel your grade should be different, and offer a sound rationale and evidence for your perspective. You are expected to discuss the work with the instructor within 10 days of being notified of the grade.
Step II: Request for a Regrade to the Course Coordinator
If the differences are not resolved at that level, your next step is to address your concerns to the course coordinator (unless they are also the course instructor). The course coordinator has administrative responsibility for all sections of the course, and ensures it is taught in a manner consistent with GCAP programs. You must contact the course coordinator within 10 days of your interaction with the course instructor, and provide evidence that you have completed Step I.
You must provide the course coordinator with a rationale for why you believe the assignment should be reevaluated. You must describe the specific reasons, relative to the grading criteria for the assignment, for your disagreement with the course instructor. There are some instances where an assignment regrade may be denied:
You received a grade that is 0.5% below the cut off for the next letter grade. This is not a rationale for a regrade of the assignment without specific evidence that you should have been graded higher in certain areas of the assignment.
You formatted your paper with 3/4 inch margins or used 1.5 line spacing instead of double spacing. The course instructor reformatted and stopped grading after the page limit was reached.
The particular assignment is not subjective in nature, or the instructor or supervisor is the only one who can make a subjective evaluation, because it is based on observed performance (e.g., a practicum evaluation).
If a regrade is granted, the course coordinator will arrange for an anonymous regrade of your paper within the next 10 days. The course coordinator will notify you when the regrade is complete and will provide you with the grading template with grade distribution and comments received from the second marker. No interaction with the second marker will be permitted. There are three possible outcomes in the regrade process:
The grade on the assignment will be increased.
The grade on the assignment will remain the same.
The grade on the assignment will be decreased.
Step III: Formal Appeal
It is our assumption that most matters of academic concern will require no further dialogue beyond the course coordinator level. However, you may also choose to initiate a formal academic appeal. All academic appeals will follow the Athabasca University policy and procedures linked here:
Please contact the GCAP Program Director to initiate a formal appeal.
Please respect the appeal procedure outlined above. Not being satisfied with the grade you receive is not considered substantive grounds for an appeal. Filing an appeal before discussing your grade with your course instructor and the course coordinator will result in unnecessary delays.
We recognize that students will enter the program with a range of skill levels in critical thinking, communication, writing, research, and so on. These general academic skills, or transdisciplinary competencies, are part of what you will further develop and refine throughout the program. For this reason, we are adopting a Scaffolded Learning (SL) process for selected assignments in many of our courses. This may be a very different academic experience for you. Instead of focusing on grades and instructor expectations, SL assumes that there is an overall level of competence you need to achieve in order to consider yourself to have attained proficiency with the material. The emphasis is on your own awareness of learning (both learning that has been attained and learning that still must occur).
The purpose of SL is to reach a certain level of knowledge, skill, and attitudinal competency that is considered foundational to professional practice in counselling and counselling psychology. You will be given detailed feedback on both the content and the structure of your assignments. For written assignments, writing style will account for up to 15% of your grade. You are expected to pay careful attention to the feedback you receive and to incorporate that learning into future assignments. You will also be given an opportunity to resubmit certain course assignments that fall below a certain level of expected minimum performance. This will allow you the opportunity to refine your academic skills as you progress through the program.
You are expected to attain, at the minimum, a B grade in all courses. To help you achieve this goal, we have set in place the following processes:
Certain assignments are eligible for the SL process. These are clearly indicated in the course Assignments page.
If you receive a grade of B- (74%) or less on one of these assignments, you have the option to resubmit the assignment, paying particular attention to the feedback provided by the course instructor.
Your instructor will regrade your assignment and adjust your mark accordingly. In fairness to students who received a higher grade initially, however, you will only be able to raise your grade to a maximum grade of B (79%). Your grade will not be lowered.
Assignments must be resubmitted within 10 days of receiving the original grade from the course instructor. You must also inform the instructor of your intent to resubmit within 2 days of receiving your grade.
You must use track changes in the second submission, or provide a list of changes indicating page and paragraph number for each change, so that the instructor is able to identify easily any updates to the paper. However, you should remove the previous instructor comments and feedback from the paper. You will not receive detailed feedback on the resubmission.
There are several restrictions on using the SL process:
You cannot submit an assignment if the original assignment was submitted after the assignment due date.
You cannot use the SL process to change a penalty applied to a paper for an infringement of scholarly integrity, such as plagiarism. If the original grade on the paper qualifies you for SL (i.e., the grade received before the scholarly integrity penalty has been applied), you may still resubmit that paper; however, the penalty will still be applied to the final grade you obtain through this process. For example, if you initially received a grade of 60% plus a 15% penalty, and the improved paper is regraded to 75% through Mastery Learning, the original 15% penalty will still be applied, resulting in a final grade of 60%.
If you submit an assignment that is clearly incomplete for the SL process, this will be viewed as a misuse of this learning opportunity, and such behaviour will be reviewed by the program director as potential academic misconduct. The purpose of SL is not to have the course instructor provide feedback to enable you to complete your paper. Rather, it is intended to enable you to build on your own learning, and apply that learning to enhance your work.
You will be able to make only one resubmission per assignment.
If final grades for the course have already been submitted at the time that a resubmission is requested, a Change of Grade Form will be completed by the instructor once the revised assignment has been graded.
Regrades Following SL Submission
Students who submit a paper for the SL process retain the option of requesting a regrade of the paper if they are unsatisfied with the mark obtained and have a clear rationale for the regrade. You must follow the procedures above; however, you now have two options as to the work you submit for this process:
Submit the original paper, which does not incorporate any of the feedback from the course instructor. In this case, there will be no cap on the grade.
Submit the second version of the paper, which incorporated your instructor's feedback through the SL process. In this case, the regrade will be capped at a B (79%), as it was during that process.
Most students follow one of the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) program plans, which are designed to ensure timely completion of your program. There are, however, decisions you can make regarding which courses you take and when. Take time to review suggested GCAP program plans, practicum information, exit-route options, and general processes for program planning.
You are responsible for planning your program to ensure that you meet all course prerequisites and are prepared for your practicum placement. Please carefully review the information on the Faculty of Health Disciplines (FHD) website links below related to your program, checking regularly for any program updates.
We strongly recommend you follow a standard program plan. The advantage of following a standard plan is that we have already ensured that, by using this route, you meet the prerequisites for each course as you move through the program. We have also set the course schedule so that we can, systematically and incrementally, build your competency in critical thinking, professional writing, information literacy, and digital literacy, particularly across courses suggested for the first year.
You may choose to deviate from your program plan, or life circumstances may throw you off schedule; however, you must pay careful attention to course offerings, and ensure that you can complete your program in a timely manner. To help you get back “on course” if you have strayed from the standard, please take the time to consult with a graduate program advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org) to negotiate a new plan. Specific courses are only offered in certain semesters, so you may need to wait until the next course offering to pick up any courses you’ve missed. GCAP 631 and GCAP 633 are prerequisites for most other courses in the program, so please do your best to complete these two courses on schedule.
If you miss a registration deadline, you will not be able to take that course. Remember to check the Graduate Counselling Academic Schedule regularly for the exact dates for registration, course withdrawal, and other deadlines for each semester.
The normal program plan is four courses per year; one in the fall, one in winter, and two in the spring-summer semester. All learners are required to complete the first year of the program as a cohort, completing the first four courses in a standard sequence. The courses have been designed to build sequentially the foundational competencies required for your success in the rest of the program. Accordingly, learners must pass GCAP 631 to proceed to GCAP 633; and must pass GCAP 633 in order to take GCAP 671 or GCAP 632. Learners not passing GCAP 633 will be given an alternative program plan, requiring them to retake GCAP 633 the following year and defer GCAP 671 and GCAP 632.
For most learners, four courses per year is the ideal pace to complete their program as it ensures core courses are available and you have maximum flexibility in selecting elective courses. The program normally takes 3.3 years to complete. The program plans below show learners starting their practicum in the fall semester of Year 3. However, GCAP 681 is also offered in the winter, and GCAP 682 follows in the spring/summer. If you prefer to start your practicum in the winter semester, please choose an elective for the fall.
Students in the MC program should also carefully review the information about the required practicum (Section 7.3 of this handbook). Pay particular attention to the courses that you must complete before you are permitted to start your practicum (GCAP 631, 632, 633, 634, 635, and 671). You must plan to complete these courses before the intended start date of your practicum. Failure to do so could delay your practicum by an entire year.
Please pay careful attention to your MC specialization in choosing a program plan.
MC Counselling Psychology Program Plans
Program Plan for MC Students Admitted September 2020 or Later
Most students will complete the program through the course-based exit route. Students enter the thesis by application in their second year, following GCAP 691. Admission is based on:
Availability of research supervisors
Alignment with faculty research interests.
You must plan to add in 200 hours per semester of on-site placement during GCAP 681: Counselling Practicum I and GCAP 682: Counselling Practicum II (400 hours total across the fall and winter semesters).
If you are in the course-based exit route, you may opt to take GCAP 695 in the spring-summer semester of Year 3 along with your final elective, if you have completed the 400 required practicum hours.
The courses above marked with an asterisk * indicate differences in course requirements for each of the program plans—thesis or course-based exit.
MC Art Therapy Program Plan
Since there is a relatively small cohorts of learners in this stream, you must adhere to the following course schedule. The thesis route is not available, because it does not allow room for the Art Therapy specialization courses.
In order to meet all the requirements for the Registered Canadian Art Therapist designation and the AU Master of Counselling Program (MC:AT), students are required to complete an additional 300 hours of supervised practicum for a total of 700 hours. VATI 617 fulfills this purpose. This practicum will include a number of instructional modules included in the VATI Summer Institutes and some additional assignments.
Two courses will be recognized for transfer credit into the AU Master of Counselling to complete your degree requirements: VATI 601 and VATI 603, which are both offered in two parts; one at each of the VATI Summer Institutes that occur in Years 2 and 3 of your program.
You are required to attend the GCAP Summer Institute in Calgary in Year 1 and two VATI Summer Institutes in Years 2 and 3. No exceptions will be permitted. The VATI Summer Institutes will be held in Vancouver at VATI.
To meet all the requirements for the Registered Canadian Art Therapist designation, MC:AT students require one additional elective, which will result in one extra-to-program course registration.
All MC:AT students are required to complete two self-study modules housed on the GCAP Moodle site before attending the VATI Summer Institute in Year 2: Child Art Therapy Module and Adolescent Art Therapy Module.
Learners normally progress through the diploma program at a fixed pace. The time commitment will depend on whether you desire to ladder into the Master of Counselling (MC) Program or exit the Graduate Diploma program with the diploma (Terminal Diploma Program).
The normal program plan is four courses per year; one in the fall, one in winter, and two in the spring/summer semester. All learners are required to complete the first year of the program as a cohort, completing the first four courses in a standard sequence as these courses have been designed to build sequentially the foundational competencies required for your success in the rest of the program. For most learners, four courses per year is the ideal pace to complete their program, as it ensures core courses are available and you have maximum flexibility in selecting elective courses.
Laddering Diploma Program Plan
Learners are required to progress through the program according to the above course sequence. Unless you inform the Program Office that you intend to exit the GDC program with the diploma, you will automatically be considered for laddering into the MC program. You will be informed of your admission to the MC program after you have completed your sixth course. If your GPA drops below 3.0 with the fifth course, you will be required to exit the program after completing the sixth course.
Laddering Program Plan for GDC Students Admitted September 2020 or Later
Since Post-Masters Certificate learners may start the program throughout the calendar year, there is no fixed course schedule. You are encouraged to negotiate your program plan upon admission to the program. Be prepared to plan ahead to ensure course availability.
As you move through your program, you will need to register for courses each semester, and you may need to adjust your program. The administration of your program is shared by the Registrar's Office, Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS), and the FHD and GCAP Administration. The links in this section will provide you with specific directions about whom to contact about particular aspects of your course and program management. Please read the information carefully and follow the timelines indicated on the Graduate Counselling Academic Schedule. This page provides the relevant guidelines and forms you are likely to require.
The Practicum year is an exciting time in your Master of Counselling program (maybe even the most exciting time)! There likely will not be many other times in your counselling career where you will receive this much mentoring from supervisors, instructors, and peers, who are all dedicated to supporting your development. The practicum is a time to put all the hard work you’ve done to get here into practice, building confidence in your counselling skills, and exploring the directions in which you wish to continue to grow as you move on from this program.
Please see the detailed information about the practicum and its positioning in your program on the following FHD website links:
In addition to a field placement, the practicum process includes the completion of two practicum courses. In order to be eligible to register in the first course, GCAP 681 Counselling Practicum I, you need to have completed all of the GCAP core courses as prerequisites by the term prior to the start date of the course. Please ensure your program plan is set up to accommodate this, as there is no provision to take any of these courses concurrently with your practicum. GCAP has established understandings with practicum sites that you will come into the placement with the knowledge and competence in specific skills you need for your practicum covered in these courses.
Prerequisites for GCAP 681 Counselling Practicum I
To maximize the effectiveness of the class discussions and intensive seminars in each of these courses, we are restricting each class size to ten students. You will remain with the same cohort and instructor throughout your practicum courses.
Students participating in GCAP 681 Counselling Practicum I and GCAP 682 Counselling Practicum II are required to attend two online intensive seminars, one in each semester of the practicum. These are held via synchronous video meetings in Week 10 in each course, with four full day meetings scheduled in that week (for a total of 24 hours of live video conferences in each of the two courses).
It is mandatory to attend all seminars in their entirety. No absences will be approved by the course instructor or practicum coordinator. Your course instructor will post the scheduled intensive seminar meeting times for your section at the beginning of each semester.
The purpose of these seminars is to provide an opportunity for consultation, supervision, and feedback from your peers and practicum instructors on your work with clients. You will each be responsible for posting a detailed case analysis of a specific client situation to the discussion forums in the weeks leading up to each seminar. You are required to present a video recording showing your counselling work with the client featured in your case analysis. Your fellow students and practicum instructor will follow professional standards of behaviour in giving you feedback on your presentation. This process can provide you with a rich learning experience that will enhance your work with your client(s). More details will be provided within the GCAP 681 and GCAP 682 practicum courses.
Setting up a Practicum Placement
For detailed information regarding the field placement set-up portion of the Master of Counselling practicum, please consult the Practicum Set Up Guide. This document is regularly updated with new information so please return to it often as you prepare for your practicum.
Typhon is used by AU to assist in managing and tracking student and practicum supervisor (preceptor) information. This is the portal through which practicum students submit on-line forms, upload and share documents, track practicum experience during the practicum courses, and complete evaluations. Access to Typhon occurs closer to the time a student is ready for practicum set-up.
Important Communication Forums
Please regularly monitor the Practicum Announcements forum in the Graduate Student Resources page of Moodle, as any relevant information to deadlines, set-up, resources, and other processes will be shared and updated for all GCAP students there.
There is also a Q&A About Practicum forum in Moodle, and we invite you to review the previously posed questions, responses, and discussions, as many of your questions may have already been answered. We also invite you to pose any practicum-related questions that have not been covered in this forum, because if you are wondering about it, then there is a very likely chance that others are as well, and the response can be of benefit to everyone.
Information about GCAP guidelines and expectations for potential practicum supervisors and organizations is available on the following FHD web pages:
Students in the Master of Counselling program must complete a culminating experience as part of their program requirements. Students may opt to complete their degree requirements in one of two ways:
a course-based exit process, or
Most students in the Master of Counselling program will take the course-based exit, which requires students to complete all core courses, electives, and to finish by completing GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar: Knowledge Transfer. The course-based exit is designed to provide you with an opportunity to take what you have learned in the program, and turn it into a professional manuscript in the form of a publishable journal article. The course-based exit is graded on a pass/fail basis, assessed by the course facilitator.
The other option is to complete the program with a thesis. In this route, you complete all the core courses, an advanced research methods course (either qualitative or quantitative), and two thesis courses. The first of these focuses on completing your research proposal, while in the second course, you undertake to write the actual thesis. The thesis route typically takes longer for students to complete, the trade-off being the opportunity to learn research skills applied to a concentrated area of study. Students often wonder whether or not it is in their best interest to do a thesis. There are many factors to consider when making this decision, so it may help to approach your faculty mentor for consultation in this regard.
All students take the same courses in their first year of the program, regardless of the exit route they eventually select. Therefore, you do not need to make a final decision until your second year when you will need to choose different courses if you decide to pursue a thesis. However, you should also be prepared to go into GCAP 691: Methods of Inquiry with a potential thesis supervisor lined up. The 7.1 Master of Counselling Program Plans are design to support you to successful navigate your program, including choosing your culminating experience.
Please understand that there is a difference between planning to head down a particular path towards one of these culminating experiences and being formally admitted to that route. All students, by default, will start on the course-based exit route. There are specific criteria that need to be met if you wish to switch to the thesis exist route. The small number of faculty available to supervise thesis work also means that not all students who wish to take this route will be afforded the opportunity. Only those students who successfully apply to thesis route, meet all the admissions criteria for that route, and secure a supervisor, will continue on to complete a thesis.
If you have any questions about managing your program or courses at any point during your program, please email email@example.com. If your questions are focused on long-term career plans, matching courses to the requirements of regulatory bodies, or other more academic or career planning issues, please direct these to your faculty mentor.
Scholarly Integrity and Use of Previous Coursework
As with all other GCAP written assignments, your responsibility as a student is to be aware of, and comply with, AU scholarly integrity expectations as you develop a final paper for the course-based exit process or write a thesis. Please review 2.3 Plagiarizing Your Own Work in Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines to for guidance about building towards your culminating experience within the intellectual honesty framework.
The bottom line is that the culminating activity in your graduate program must represent a new and original piece of work. You are being assessed on your ability to integrate your learning and to create a professional product, which also clearly requires you to follow standards for scholarly integrity and intellectual honesty. These are the very principles that you will be expected to demonstrate on a continual basis as a professional counsellor or registered psychologist.
Documents written for other purposes (e.g., previous course assignments, funding applications, research study proposals, or previous thesis or research activities) may not be used when writing your thesis or final paper. However, it is allowable, and advisable, to build upon the research, thinking, and writing you have done throughout your program. For example, there may be parts of your GCAP 691 literature review that fit nicely with your thesis proposal literature review or you may want to develop further an area of passion in your course-based exit paper. Of course, you are not permitted to just copy your writing from the earlier literature review to the exit paper or thesis, but you can develop the material further using the earlier work as a basis. Follow the principles in Collins (2020) as you edit and revise content, integrating feedback you’ve received from your instructor, supervisor, or supervisory committee. If you are unsure whether previous writing can be used in your final paper or thesis, please consult with your instructor or supervisor, whose role is to ensure that you abide by the program rules and expectations.
Use of an Editor
Some students may choose to use the services of an editor to review their course-based exit paper or thesis. The editor is permitted to do only copy editing (i.e., correcting spelling, grammar, and formatting; ensuring stylistic consistency; and refining wording to clarify existing ideas and arguments). The editor may not do substantive editing (i.e., adding content, reworking ideas, changing overall conceptualization, or altering the nature, order, or flow of your arguments). Review Section 6.3 Capitalizing on Peer Reviewing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading in Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines for additional guidance on the use of an editor. Please inform your instructor or supervisor if you plan to use the services of an editor.
GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar: Knowledge Transfer
GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar: Knowledge Transfer is an opportunity to demonstrate the metacompetencies you have mastered throughout your program by applying them to the development of an original manuscript for a peer-reviewed publication. Please carefully review the GCAP 695 syllabus for course expectations and requirements in this 13–week, paced seminar. You are not expected to publish your manuscript within the course. You are expected to complete a polished manuscript that is ready for submission for peer-review by the end of the course. The course-based exit is graded by the seminar facilitator (instructor) on a pass/fail basis.
The purpose of the content in this section is to advise you of the steps you need to take in advance of the seminar to prepare yourself for it:
Select a topic area of interest in counselling psychology about which you are passionate and interested in writing.
Conduct an academic search using the AU library to glean the research and scholarship for this area of interest. Save, and keep track of, these articles for possible future reference during your writing process.
Formulate a thesis statement and rationale for your article. Ensure that
your argument has not made in an earlier paper (either course assignment or public document);
your review of the literature supports this argument, but the same thesis (argument) has not been presented in the literature you have reviewed; and
your thesis adds value to that literature-base, to a level that would make it acceptable by a peer-reviewed journal.
Identify potential target audiences and publications for your paper.
You may think that spending 13 weeks writing one paper is a lot of time for little output. However, a manuscript developed for peer-reviewed publication is different from the literature reviews or term papers you have completed for previous assignments in GCAP. Peer-reviewed journal manuscripts are comprehensive, make a logical and concise argument, fill a gap in the existing literature, and use advanced critical thinking skills; completion of your previous GCAP papers is what has prepared you for the proficient application of these skills. The suggestions above for preparation prior to the GCAP 695 start date will give you an advantage that will set you up for success. The 13 weeks go by very quickly. However, if you do not follow any of the preparation advice, you can still be successful, provided you are prepared to spend more time in the first few weeks focusing on the steps provided above, and the resources provided in the next section.
Resources and Guidance to Support Advance Preparation
You have had the opportunity to benefit from Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines to support your writing throughout your graduate program. By now, we hope that you are very familiar with this resource. You will find it valuable to review this material prior to the course start date. Section 4. Developing a Writing Plan: Critical Deconstruction provides guidance on developing a literature review; organizing your ideas; and on reading, thinking, and writing critically. Section 5. Drafting Your Paper: Critical Reconstruction addresses how to structure your literature review, develop your thesis statement, build your argument, and synthesize and integrate the literature in support of your argument.
Take the opportunity to define what you want to write about and what you plan to accomplish through that writing. Ask yourself: What is it that I want to say about this topic to my professional colleagues? or What is it that I hope to accomplish by writing an article on this particular topic? If you are struggling to find a topic or to refine a purpose for your paper, feel free to connect with your faculty mentor to discuss possibilities.
We suggest that you choose a topic that you have already worked on, throughout your program if possible, mainly because you will be able to draw on this earlier work as a resource for your writing in this course. However, it is important to find a balance between being practical (i.e., not starting your research from scratch) and choosing something about which you feel passionate, so that you can sustain your interest throughout GCAP 695.
You will likely have gathered many resources throughout your graduate program that you can draw on in your writing for this course. Be sure to organize those resources in a way that allows you to locate the information you need now easily. See subsection 4.4 Generating and Organizing Your Ideas in Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines for suggestions about one way to start organizing that information, or you may have already developed a system that works for you. Now is the time to go back through previous course assignments, course readings, and reference lists that you have accumulated to identify which resources you will use for this paper. You will also need to do a new search of the library databases to see what has been published recently in your topic area.
Typical reference lists for GCAP 695 papers intended to become journal articles run around 25–30 articles, so you should plan your references accordingly. Unless you are drawing on a classic work, reflecting on the historical evolution of a body of literature, or writing on a topic for which recent publications are limited, your references should be no more than ten years old. These references should all be original (i.e., not secondary) sources.
As noted in the previous section of this handbook (7.4 Planning Ahead for Your Culminating Experience), you cannot simply cut and paste sections from various course assignments to create your journal article or proposal. This is considered plagiarism and will be treated in the same way as copying material directly from someone else’s paper or article. Please carefully review Section 2.3 Plagiarizing Your Own Work in Collins (2020) Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines. As you are preparing for this course, you may want to go back over the old assignments to see if there are ideas, concepts, or background information that you can draw on for this paper. Remember that no more than 50% of the final document should be derived directly from earlier writing, and the new and original thesis of the final manuscript should be a substantive reworking of this content. If you find a particularly profound statement that you cannot say as well again, then flag it to copy into this paper, but reference it as a quotation from your original paper. This is an important practice as you move into your professional life, where others will expect you to follow these guidelines as you prepare other documents for publication.
Regarding APA: You are advised to review previous course assignments, and read what your instructors had to say about your writing and APA style. Make yourself a list of your common errors. Leaving this until Week 12 of GCAP 695 will make this task much more difficult. You cannot use the Mastery Learning Process in this course. In this case, you are encouraged to connect with colleagues ahead of time to review each others' papers. You will engage in peer review of one another’s work as part of the course, but having at least one extra pair of eyes for additional peer reviewing is a very good idea.
The last preparatory task, which is also outlined early in the GCAP 695 seminar, is to explore possible peer-reviewed journals you would like to target for publication. There is a wide range of journals available on many topics related to counselling and psychology. You don't need to go into this seminar with a firm decision about which journal(s) you will target. However, it will save you time to begin this search in advance. Here are some tips for narrowing the possibilities for potential target audiences:
Review the reference lists from articles you have gathered to see which journals commonly appear;
Look at the reference list of a seminal article on your topic, and see what journals the authors have drawn upon;
Google journals of interest, and read the submission criteria. Download the instructions for authors so you can compare expectations across various journals.
Students who apply and are approved to complete a thesis are expected to engage in a research activity that is relevant to the practice of counselling or counselling psychology. Students are required to demonstrate a depth of knowledge and understanding of the discipline, their particular area of specialization, and the research methods currently used within the social sciences. The thesis route involves an in-depth research project that makes an original contribution on a topic that is important to the body of literature of counselling and psychology. Throughout this process the student is expected to demonstrate a high level of skill in conducting an independent research project with the guidance of his or her supervisor and supervisory committee.
Criteria for Entry into the Thesis Route
Please note: All students will automatically begin their programs in the course-based exit route. Students may then apply to the thesis route. There is no guarantee of admission to this option. Acceptance into thesis route is limited by the student’s academic success and the few faculty members available to provide thesis supervision.
Students must meet the following criteria for eligibility to take the thesis route:
Completion of GCAP 691 with:
85% (A-) minimum on the literature review paper, and
85% (A-) minimum on the overall course.
GPA of 3.7 (A-).
Agreement for supervision from a GCAP faculty member.
*Please note that choosing, and being accepted into, the thesis route may add time to your program. Currently, you are required to take an advanced research methods course, which offered only once per academic year, through the Centre for Nursing and Health Studies. These courses have been integrated into the 7.1 Master of Counselling Program Plans. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
Procedure for Entry into the Thesis Route
If you think you may want to take the thesis route, your first point of contact should be with your faculty mentor, whose role is to help clarify your intentions and to work with you to find a supervisor. This conversation should include a discussion of your area of interest, how your interest fits with current faculty interests, and some discussion of how doing a thesis will affect your program plan and your time in the program. Inevitably, choosing the thesis route means a longer time to complete your degree. You can also choose to approach potential supervisors directly. Take time to browse faculty member research profiles as noted within their faculty biographies to get a sense of whose interests and supervision style would best fit your own needs and preferences.
Please note that the timing of your conversation is important. Ideally, if you are seriously considering the thesis route you should review the requirements in May of your first year (third semester, spring/summer). This is also the time when you should approach potential supervisors.
Securing a thesis supervisor should be a collaborative process that ends in a mutually satisfying result. Certainly, your potential supervisor will ask you questions about your writing skills, areas of interest, prior research experience, and reasons for wanting to switch to the thesis route. This is also a time, however, for you to ask questions related to the supervisory experience: How many other students is this person supervising concurrently; Do they have capacity for more? What expectations are there for frequency of supervisory meetings, independent work, time for completion, and so on? How would your prospective supervisor describe their supervision style or personality?
After finding a faculty member willing to supervise you, and once your GCAP 691 grade is available, ask your supervisor to send an email to the program director (FHD-MC-Program-Director@athabascau.ca), copying firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating a willingness to supervise you, and noting your successful completion of the thesis route eligibility requirements. You will then be formally transferred to the thesis route.
The next step is to complete the Master’s Thesis Supervisor Approval Form. A full description for securing your supervisor and assembling your supervisory committee is found within the FGS Graduate Handbook. Please note the following exception to what is provided in the handbook, Section 1.1 Eligibility Criteria: currently only full-time, continuing faculty from the FHD (within which GCAP is subsumed) are eligible as supervisors.
Follow the Thesis Route 7. 1 Program Plan, and register in either GCAP 692 Advanced Quantitative Methods or GCAP 693 Advanced Qualitative Methods for the spring/summer semester.
Note: If it turns out that you do not meet the thesis route requirements, you will not be able to enrol in GCAP 692/693 (whichever you chose). You will be asked to enrol in another course as per the regular course-based exit program planning. Once deemed ineligible for the thesis route, there is no recourse to improve your GCAP 691 grade by taking the course again.
Responsibilities and Expectations
At the outset of your thesis journey it is critically important that all involved in the process are clear about the various responsibilities and expectations. Ambiguity in this regard can lead to conflict, frustration, and potentially to stunted or halted progress. The student, supervisor, and supervisory committee cover the central roles of the thesis process; the responsibilities and expectations of each are described in the FGS Graduate Handbook, as indicated below.
In some instances, it may be advantageous to have a co-supervisor. Typically, a co-supervisor is used when the primary supervisor lacks the full range of skills, knowledge, or experience necessary to supervise the student independently. Note that co-supervisors do not need to be Athabasca University (AU) faculty, which permits greater flexibility in your supervisory choices.
Please note the following exceptions to what is contained in the FGS Graduate Handbook on responsibilities and expectations involved in the thesis process:
For the Roles and Expectations of the supervisor, the FGS Graduate Handbook indicates that it is the supervisor’s responsibility to “construct an academic plan (program of study) for the period of time for the degree.” This is not consistent with GCAP procedures for program planning, which have been given above, and which you must follow
The FGS guidelines include the role of Interim Supervisor/Advisor at AU. Note that for GCAP students, your faculty mentor is the equivalent of an interim supervisor; however, the responsibilities for this role differs somewhat from the graduate studies guidelines. Please refer to Section 3.3 of this GCAP Student Handbook for a full description of your mentor’s role.
The Supervisor–Student Relationship
The quality of the supervisor–student relationship is critical to the successful completion of a thesis. Similar to the role of the working alliance within the therapeutic context, the effectiveness of the supervisor–student relationship is most robust when there is agreement on the tasks and goals required for thesis completion. As noted above, the FGS Graduate Handbook provides general guidelines for the responsibilities of the student, supervisor, and supervisory committee. In addition to these guidelines, specific GCAP requirements include the following:
The supervisor shall
respond to student emails within a 48–hour period, unless limited availability has previously been noted.
return written feedback on a student’s writing within two weeks.
accommodate requests for phone or video contact.
provide advanced notice of their anticipated time away from work (e.g., holidays, sabbatical leave, conference attendance).
proactively respond to tension, conflict, misunderstanding, or any other threat to the quality of the student–supervisor relationship
set the date for the Annual Report (must be submitted to FGS between June 1st and September 1st), and ensure the report is completed and submitted within the required time period.
The student shall
monitor their thesis timelines and alert their supervisor if timeline targets will not be met.
provide advance notice of their anticipated time away from studies (e.g., holidays, parental leave, conference attendance).
proactively respond to tension, conflict, misunderstanding, or any other threat to the quality of the student–supervisor relationship
respond to supervisor emails within a 48–hour period, unless limited availability has previously been noted.
If conflict arises between the supervisor and student it is the responsibility of each to address the situation in a timely and respectful manner that reflects the problem-solving skills promoted within counselling psychology as reflected in the Master of Counselling Transdisciplinary Program Outcomes and Disciplinary Competencies. If a resolution cannot be attained, one or both of the parties should inform the program director who will help mediate a solution. Failing this, the matter should be brought to the Dean of the FGS. Given that some situations can be very difficult to resolve, a change of supervisors may be considered.
Student Involvement in Faculty Research
As part of their role with AU, GCAP faculty members are expected to engage in a program of research and writing as a way to extend disciplinary knowledge. Some faculty members will be involved in research projects large enough in scale to include student participation, whether as a research assistant, collaborator, or as both.
Examples of the collaborator role include the student researcher assuming a small component of a larger study or undertaking a secondary analysis of existing data. In such situations it is important to establish at the outset the parameters of the relationship. For this reason, prior to you joining your faculty member’s research team, the faculty member will ask you to read and sign a research agreement detailing authorship rights, project responsibilities, and confidentiality requirements.
Please be aware that even though you may be conducting your research in conjunction with your supervisor’s program of research, all student research that involves human participants must receive ethical approval prior to its commencement unless it meets the Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 grounds for exception from ethical review.
The thesis route 7.1 Program Plan outlines the required courses. Normally, the first thesis-related course you take, following successful entry into the thesis route, will be either GCAP 692 (Advanced Quantitative Methods) or GCAP 693 (Advanced Qualitative Methods). These advanced methods courses will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully undertake an independent research project. Of course, your supervisor and supervisory committee will also provide a great deal of firsthand guidance.
Following your advanced methods course, you will take Thesis I, which is offered through the Centre for Nursing and Health Studies. Thesis I focuses on proposal development. This flexible and practical course extends the guidance and support you receive by adding the course instructor to the mentoring you already receive from your supervisor; however, your supervisor does not formally partake in the week-to-week course activities. The goal of Thesis I is to support you to complete both your thesis proposal and your thesis proposal oral examination in a structured and timely fashion.
After your supervisor is selected and approved, you and your supervisor can assemble your supervisory committee, the procedures for which are also found in the Graduate Handbook. Your supervisory committee should be approved prior to taking Thesis I, so that committee members can provide feedback on your proposal prior to examination.
Your thesis proposal is an important document that lays the foundation for your later research activities. Your proposal also provides your supervisor and supervisory committee with enough information to judge the soundness of your research question(s), and methodology, as well as your ability to conduct the research as described.
Finally, the literature review for your proposal will acquaint you with the design and procedural details of many other studies, thus helping you to refine your own research plans. While the length and format of proposals may vary according to topic, methodology, and supervisor preference, in general they adhere to the following format:
An introductory chapter provides a brief overview of your topic and the research problem;
A literature review chapter provides a critical, integrative review of the literature on your topic;
A methods chapter provides a rationale for your chosen methodology, a description of the procedures you will follow, and an overview of the ethical care of your participants;
A short concluding chapter summarizes the potential implications of your research;
A work plan includes an anticipated timeline for the completion of your research; and
A list of references provides your sources for citations in your proposal as per APA formatting requirements.
Thesis Proposal Oral Examination
Prior to beginning your research, your thesis proposal must be approved by your supervisory committee through an oral examination. The procedures for this examination are found in the FGS Graduate Handbook. Central to these procedures is the use of videoconference technology for conducting the examination. Your supervisor is responsible for setting up the videoconference session for your examination.
The complete set of guidelines and procedures for the thesis proposal oral examination are found in the FGS Graduate Handbook. Be sure to review and adhere to the scheduling deadlines found in Sections 2 and 3 of that document. Following your examination, your supervisor will complete and submit the Master's Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report. There are five potential outcomes of a thesis oral examination: pass, resubmit with revisions, fail, adjourned, and repeat oral. Details and procedures for the various outcomes are provided in the FGS Graduate Handbook.
Once a pass has been finalized, you can submit your research ethics application to the GCAP Research Ethics Subcommittee. The AU Research Ethics Board provides delegated authority for the GCAP subcommittee to review student research ethics applications. Instructions for completing your research ethics application are found on the AU Research Ethics website. Prior to writing your research ethics application you should carefully review the AU Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans Procedures. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to review, provide feedback, and sign off on your ethics application to ensure it has been correctly filled out and complies with the ethical standards set forth in this AU policy and the TCPS 2 2nd edition of Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. Applications can be submitted at any time, and normally a decision will be made within two weeks of receipt. An exception is research that is deemed to pose a greater than minimal risk, which must be sent for full Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. In this instance, submissions must be received no later than the first Friday of the relevant month, for review by the REB that same month.
Participant recruitment and data collection cannot proceed until full, unconditional ethics approval has been communicated to you and your supervisor.
When writing your thesis it is important to ensure that the supervisory committee is informed of your progress. To help ensure this occurs, a mandatory annual report must be submitted the FGS between June 1st and September 1st. Prior to submitting this report, you and your supervisory committee must review and discuss achievements from the past reporting period, and set goals and priorities for the subsequent reporting period. Detailed instructions for this process are found within the FGS Graduate Handbook.
All theses must conform to the thesis Format for Theses and Dissertations established by the FGS. From September 2020 forward, you are required to use the APA 7th edition. Within the FGS guidelines you have a choice between a traditional format and a manuscript-based format. If you choose the latter, you must write a least two manuscripts prior to your final thesis examination. Regardless of your chosen format, all theses must entail human subject research.
Final Thesis Exam
Once you and your supervisor agree that your thesis is ready for final examination, your supervisor sets in motion the required procedures. A full description of these procedures is found in the FGS Graduate Handbook. As with the thesis proposal examination, the supervisor is responsible for setting up the videoconference session for your thesis examination. A notable difference between your proposal examination and the thesis examination is the inclusion of an external adjudicator for the latter. An explanation of this role is provided in the FGS Graduate Handbook. Note that as described in the handbook, the form for the external committee member must be submitted to Graduate Studies no later than 6 weeks prior to the oral examination date. Please review the scheduling requirements for this task, and all other tasks required for your final examination. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary delays.
Following your examination, your supervisor will complete and submit the Master's Thesis and Oral Examination Report. As with the thesis proposal examination, there are five potential outcomes of a thesis oral examination: pass, resubmit with revisions, fail, adjourned, and repeat oral. Details and procedures for the various outcomes are provided in the FGS Gradaute Handbook.
After the successful examination of your thesis, there are two steps required prior to completion: the final approval and submission of your thesis, as detailed in FGS Graduate Handbook.
Degrees are granted by AU throughout the year. You can apply to graduate as soon as you complete your program requirements. Students in all GCAP programs will receive a credential parchment; however, only Masters’ students will be invited to attend the formal convocation. All students must apply to graduate in order to receive their credential. The Application to Graduate and all formal convocation details are available through the Office of the Registrar.
Alumni Relations provides you with a way to stay connected to the university after graduation. Remember this site when you get close to completing your program; you can look here for employment opportunities across the country.