A Look at Postgraduate Courses for Home Study

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Athabasca University

In 2006, Athabasca University became the first Canadian public university to receive United States accreditation; the accrediting body is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Students with a bachelor’s degree (whether a three or four-year credential) can enroll in postgraduate courses for home study through the Master of Arts, Integrated Studies program. You do not need to pursue a degree to enroll in courses; Athabasca University allows bachelor’s degree holders to enroll in courses without formal admission to the MAIS program.

Some courses run like traditional online classes with a set academic calendar; others offer more individualized study and can be completed at a slower pace. Self-paced courses usually begin each month, and available options as of 2010 include the sociology class “Deciphering Our Social Worlds,” the women’s studies course “Gender Culture and Technology” and “Self-Directed Behavior” in the psychology department.

Students not pursuing a MAIS degree, which takes anywhere from two years of full-time attendance to six years of part-time study, are not eligible for student loans or other forms of financial aid. As of 2010, each course cost about $1,540. Non-degree students also must pay an $80 application fee. Degree-seeking and non-degree students do not ever have to visit Athabasca University’s Alberta, Canada campus to earn credits or a MAIS degree.

Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University is a public, state-subsidized educational institution. The university offers a Master of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies program. However, students with bachelor’s degrees can enroll in courses without actually pursuing the master’s credential. All Western New Mexico University courses are run by a traditional academic calendar, which includes two summer sessions as well as fall and spring semesters. If you decide to pursue a degree through the university, you’ll need to choose two to three concentrations. Options include history, English, writing, sociology, psychology, political science, criminal justice, and several types of education. All MAIS courses are offered on the Internet and are great options for home study.

The university does not charge any application fees as of 2010. Students can take up to 12 credits a semester without special permission. During the summer session, residents of New Mexico as well as non-residents pay the same tuition rate, which equals about $535 per course. The price of books is not included, though a few courses do not require the purchase of textbooks.

During the traditional academic year, non-residents and residents alike can take up to six credits total for about $1,070. However, if a non-resident decides to take more credits during the fall or spring semesters, tuition rates spike dramatically. For example, adding one extra course could end up costing an additional $4,000 in tuition. On the other hand, residents of New Mexico would still pay only about $550 per course, even if they decide to take 9 to 12 graduate-level credits.

These postgraduate courses for home study do not ever require students to visit campus. Degree-seeking students must complete 36 credits to graduate with the MAIS.