Being an online MBA student at Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business (AUFB) is an experience like no other. Once you are accepted into the program, you join a virtual ‘classroom’ of talented managers from  organizations of various shapes and sizes and industries—private, not-for-profit, and government—across the country and beyond. And you have a strong support network to help you succeed including; core faculty and academic coaches, administrative support, and technical support… not to mention your new student peer community.

The Faculty of Business also has a strong student and alumni relations community that will help you connect to students and graduates.

Weekly:  20 to 25 hours
Full Program:  2.5 to 3 years*

*Those in the Accelerated or Accounting programs will finish sooner. 

Weekly commitment
The Athabasca University Online MBA for executives is a rigorous and challenging program, and will demand much from you in terms of personal commitment and time. Expect to spend 20 to 25 hours per week on readings, course work, discussions, group assignments, and individual assignments. The time you spend on each course may vary somewhat depending on your aptitude for and familiarity with subject matter.

Daily commitment
To be successful, AU MBA students must actively engage in online discussions on an almost daily basis. The program’s collaborative, peer-learning oriented format demands that you be present and contributing within the learning environment roughly five to six days per week—cramming on weekends will not work. Often students struggle with this time commitment during the first and second course, but once schedules and routines are established, finding the best times and places to fit school around life become easier.

Program completion time
Most students complete the MBA in two and one half to three years. It is possible to complete the MBA in less than two and a half years, however, this will require a significant time commitment beyond 20 to 25 hours per week for portions of your studies. Students can take up to five years to complete the MBA should they need to.

Course scheduling
With the exception of some elective courses, all MBA courses are eight weeks long and are separated by a two-week break. Courses are taken one at a time, allowing you to dive deeply into one topic area at a time while also ensuring that you can balance your student life with your professional and personal lives.

Student view
“There comes a time in your professional life when you ask ‘is this really it?’ and you start exploring possibilities of how you can get more of what you want – maybe its a change in industry, a promotion, a project opportunity. For me, that  exploration led to Athabasca’s MBA program. I knew I’d experience a rich learning environment with mature, accomplished fellow students and that I could fit the learning into my very busy work and home life. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and completing the program has opened so many doors!”

Louise Taylor Green, MBA
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Economical Insurance

Time and location are barriers to participation for many students when it comes to classroom based learning.  At traditional bricks-and-mortar schools, you have to organize your life around set school hours. At Athabasca, you can schedule your school hours to fit the rest of your life.

The AU MBA is online, asynchronous, and paced:
What does exactly does all that mean? 

All of your course activities take place in one course environment that you can access on your laptop, home computer, work computer, tablet, even your smart phone if need be. Some courses do have physical textbooks, which will be mailed to you, but otherwise, everything you need to read, discuss, collaborate, and submit work will be organized in one spot.

We have students and academics across Canada and around the world engaged in learning and teaching 24 hours a day. Asynchronous learning means you are never required to be online at a certain date and time. You can complete your work, contribute to discussions, and ask questions of your professor at any time as long as you meet your deadlines.

Too much flexibility can be as bad as not enough. AU’s paced courses have set start and end dates, with assignment deadlines and requirements for group work and collaboration within each course to keep you on track. In short, they are just like regular university classes, minus the trip to the classroom.

Whether you are in Saskatoon or Singapore, at home, or over the ocean on a flight, you can engage with others and never worry about missing a lecture. Our robust learning environment is key to providing flexibility as it allows you to work on or offline, meaning you can draft your contribution to discussions while working remotely and upload once you can connect to the Internet again.

You control when and where
You are expected to contribute 20 to 25 hours per week to your studies over roughly five to six days per week, but the when and where is completely up to you: early mornings, over your lunch hour, after work, even into the wee hours of the night – what works for you works for us.

Student View
“You need the support of your family and friends to get through this, but it’s not so unmanageable that you can’t have fun along the way. Each year our family takes a vacation and I brought AU along with me. In the mornings as we sat on the Caribbean beach, there I was with my text books beside me. The rest of the time, we were on holidays.”

Wayne van Wyk, MBA
Director, Web Operations
Alcatel-Lucent Canada Inc.

“I’m responsible for creation, management and execution of Teledyne DALSA’s global strategy for Life Sciences Imaging. Sitting in a classroom a couple nights a week or on weekends simply wasn’t possible for me. I needed a program where I could be in China one week and in Germany the next. During the MBA, I’ve moved back and forth from Canada, and spent two years living in the Netherlands. I did homework on more flights than I can count. I was also able to put the program on ‘pause’ when work demanded more of me. Athabasca was flexible enough that no matter what life had in store, I could be successful.”

Bryan Delodder, MBA student
Director, Life Sciences
Teledyne DALSA

Athabasca University Online MBA for executives students are experienced managers with interesting and diverse backgrounds across many different industries, sectors, countries, and cultures. This diversity of opinion and life experience adds depth to the program’s curriculum, and helps students understand how theories can be applied in a variety of contexts.

Why do you think the way you think? 
Expect to engage in daily discussions with students in your group throughout each course. And expect to be challenged to examine and explain why you think the way you think.

In any AU MBA course, participation in group discussions will count for up to 40 percent of your grade, and is based on

  • how you think through and respond to questions posed by other students and your academic coach,
  • how you help others understand your point of view by sharing insights and examples from your own experiences, and
  • how you integrate others’ points of view and experiences, as well as new theoretical knowledge, into your overall management perspective – in other words, how you demonstrate that you are developing and maturing as a senior manager and leader.

Student View
“There were multiple occasions where the answers I’d given were challenged by another student, someone with a completely different perspective than mine, and I had to step back and really think about what I believe and why I believe it. In business, there often isn’t just one ‘right’ answer, but I hadn’t realized the weighting of an answer is so connected to organizational, national or even regional culture.

In my current role, I’m applying the lessons learned, not just from the professors and the textbooks, but from other students. In setting up distribution networks and teams around the world, those lessons are proving crucial.”

Randy Kehler, MBA
Manager, Distribution Sales
Intelligent Hospital Solutions

All voices heard equally
Your identity as an MBA student at Athabasca – how you are perceived by other students and your professors – isn’t based on how old or young you are, or your gender, or ethnicity, or physical abilities. You are known by the way you think. What matters is the strength of your arguments, how you connect academic theories and concepts to your organizational issues, and, most importantly, that you effectively share ideas and thoughts with your peers.

A chance to think things through
Your first answer isn’t always your best answer. That is one of the challenges with a traditional MBA classroom model and the inherent competition between students to answer questions and participate. At Athabasca, interaction and peer learning are not constrained time or location, and neither is your ability to fully think through problems or collaborate on solutions. You can always revisit what you’ve said and add nuance, examples, even change your opinion.

Better questions, better answers
Your academic coaches have the same advantage. When you ask a question, they do not have to answer immediately with their ‘top of mind’ answer. They can think a few minutes, maybe even go and look something up before they respond. That gives you a better answer too.

We believe that having time—to think and reflect, to craft a response, or to make sure you understand someone else’s argument—is of fundamental importance to your studies and will help move you beyond simple memorization to mastery.

Student View
“We are surrounded by people, both in our personal lives and at work, who see the world similarly to us. It can be rare to come across a completely different view. Almost everyday in this MBA, I was challenged to think bigger and broader. It sounds simple to say, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ but when you have all these conversations about how things can or should be done differently, it changes the way you see your own career, company, industry and the world.”

Roger Lemaitre, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
URU Metals

As with any university, your current course professor will be your main point of contact at any given time. However, at AU, there are many others working to ensure you have a positive and successful graduate school experience.

Your Professors
Core Faculty members teach, conduct research, and lead academic disciplines within AU’s undergraduate and graduate programs. They shape the overall direction of the AU Online MBA for executives, and oversee course and coaching quality for all core and elective courses within their academic specialization.

Academic Coaches work with small groups of eight to ten students in each course, ensuring a high standard of student-academic interaction.  We call them academic coaches because their job is not to teach in the traditional sense, but rather to facilitate active discussion and collaboration among students. They guide conversations and provide insights, tools, or new information to help clarify points or themes. Most academic coaches are PhD qualified (master’s degree minimum) and all have significant industry experience. Many are full time faculty members at other universities.

Graduate Enrolment Advisors
All  MBA students are assigned a Graduate Enrolment Advisor upon acceptance into the program. Your advisor becomes your main administrative contact and works with you throughout your program to help you manage your schedule and meet your degree requirements. When your job demands or other life issues get too big even for an online study schedule, your advisor will help you find the best way through. Your advisor generally stays the same throughout the life of your program.

We know you want to be able to effectively study, collaborate, and get your work done online without having to become a technical expert on our systems. We want that too. HelpDesk staff provide you the resources and assistance you need to participate effectively in the online learning environment—they work extended hours to help you with setup, travel issues, or any other technical issue that comes along.

The AU Library supports students in AU courses by collecting online, print and audiovisual resources in subject areas taught at the university, and making these available to the AU community. You can access the following services:

  • A massive collection of online full-text journal databases, e-books and other electronic collections.
  • AUCAT, the online catalogue of library materials and borrow materials from the AU Library collection.
  • Library assistance and instruction from staff at the Library Information Desk.
  • Interlibrary loans (ILL) for journal articles and book chapters.

Course Development & Production
Course Development and Production is responsible for the editing, design, and distribution of all learning materials for the Online MBA for executives. The Course Administrator for this unit works with students to ensure they have all the proper course materials as well as any applications required for successful completion.

Student and Alumni Relations
AUFB’s Marketing and Communications department works diligently to not only raise the profile of the AU MBA program and attract new students, but also to ensure current students are happy with their AU MBA experience and remain connected with our school after they graduate, as alumni. They arrange student and alumni events, send newsletters, maintain social media connections, and do whatever else they can to stay in touch with our student and alumni bodies.

Staff View
“It can get pretty complicated to juggle work, life, and school. Our role is to help students make sense of their schedules and trouble shoot any issues they might have… hopefully long before they actually become real issues! We know that students can’t always predict when challenges or opportunities will present themselves. We’ll work with you to make sure you have a plan that works for you.”

Chris Wheaton,
Graduate Enrolment Advisor
Faculty of Business