Athabasca University.. BSc in Arch?


Hello all. I'm new to this site, and it's been of tremendous help so far.

To recap on myself, I currently live in Canada and dropped out of High school to run a business in grade 11. That business was successful and was bought buy a large corporation. I've always been interested in architecture, and although i'm young, I don't want to go back to high school and finish the courses.

Athabasca University is an open university in Canada that just announced they have been approved to offer a Bachelor of Science in Architecture this Fall. I'm curious if anyone has heard of this? Will completion of this program allow me to get a masters anywhere? Can I presumably transfer my credits after 1 year of successful completion to another "more reputable" school? Many students do that for other majors (BA, etc.). Additionally, has anyone in Canada heard of another similar program, even if internationally (where a high school diploma is not a prerequisite?).

Thanks for reading through this, hope I can get some quality answers!

Jun 25, 14 5:40 pm


Jun 26, 14 4:08 pm

How do you plan on attending Athabasca University without a highschool diploma nor a desire to go finish the courses?  Do they accept students without highschool requirements?  Most 'more reputable' architecture schools are VERY competitive.  You'll not only need the required highschool courses, but also require high marks to be considered for an interview.  Remember, most top schools have 1500-2000 students applying for 70 spots every year.  They only take in the best of the best, although you just might be the first exception who hasn't completed highschool. ;)  

Jun 26, 14 8:03 pm


Please read my initial post. 

They are an "open" public university (meaning no HS required) that is accredited in the US and Canada. Many mature students attend Athabasca and complete a full year and then transfer to a more "reputable" school. I was thinking of finishing BSc in Arch at Athabasca and then applying for Masters at a reputable school.

Jun 26, 14 8:15 pm
So, if you wish to transfer to a masters program, whether you get into Athabasca or not will the university you wish to transfer to for your masters let you attend their school without a high school diploma?
Jun 26, 14 10:00 pm


Athabasca is an open accredited university. Which means that anybody can be accepted, it's guaranteed admission. 

To my knowledge, graduate programs look at your portfolio, letter of recommendations, and GPA/studies in undergrad, meaning they don't look at high school.

Does that make sense? 

Jun 26, 14 10:33 pm
Yes, thank you. I was just curious.
Jun 26, 14 10:55 pm


What are your thoughts regarding my situation? Thanks again for you participation in this thread :)

Jun 26, 14 10:59 pm
What exactly does a science in architecture degree allow you to do? Have you researched that? I'm sure you have, but I am wondering. Is it research on new building materials and the such?
Jun 27, 14 12:42 am


It allows you to get RAIC Diploma as it follows their syllabus (Canada). But I would primarily be looking at using it to either a) transfer after one successful year to a brick and mortar university for BArch (they offer some still in Canada) or finish at Athabasca and get an MArch anywhere.

Don't most people either get BSc in Arch or BArch? 

Jun 27, 14 1:13 am
I think most get their degree (at least in the US) as an M.Arch or B.arch. I'm sorry I don't have more advice to give you, I am actually only a sophomore in high school. I started on Archinect to learn more about architecture myself. That's why I seem to have more questions than answers, sorry about that.
Jun 27, 14 2:10 am

lol. Hi @63degrees

I'm in a similar position I suppose i.e. mature prospective student (not successful entrepreneur! :P ) - I think you've already worked out quite a nice plan? And you don't need anyone to tell you what to do. Take it from me - I do the same thing when I'm nervous or something.

if the school is accredited - that's not what you're worried about.
Maybe you could start talking to some grad programs/schools about how they view transfers from the school? What courses are especially valued or something - if only for the purpose of appeasing your doubts? But i don't think it necessary really...

And I also think selling off a business trumps any stupid old HS diploma any day - you have experience and shiz to offer and hopefully an interesting essay! :) Good luck!

Jun 27, 14 3:04 am

Hi @Fisher Moth,

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you're understanding. I'll contact some grad schools, I don't quite know how the courses transfer. Here is an excerpt of their undergrad architecture courses from

I've tried finding other BSc of Arch courses, but I can't seem to find somewhere that has them presented. Do you (or anyone) have any idea if these are typical classes in BSc of Arch?

Btw, I went on your site. Great drawing man, I wish you the best with your endeavors and hope you find a program that you'll fall in love with. 

Jun 27, 14 3:18 am

Get your 4 year BSc at Athabasca then go on to apply for your MArch. No schools in Canada do the 5 year BArch, they are all a 4+2/3 type of system. There are also few undergrad architecture programmes in Canada and not even all the schools that offer a Masters offer a Bachelors. I think transferring between undergrad schools is pretty difficult because each school teaches architecture is such a different way, you might be able to transfer but not get full credit for everything you've done, which as a mature student (I was one too) would be a real pain since you're already so late to the game.

Anyway, if you are worried about the reputation of the school, I wouldn't. People will only care about your Masters (ie: Professional) qualification and even then... they will only care about it until you've gotten enough experience in practice. Though getting your professional degree at a more reputable school matters in so far as the network you can build.

I'm curious to know how Athabasca will approach the studio aspect of education since its courses are usually by correspondence...

Jul 6, 14 10:22 am

Hi @63degrees..

Did you actually already enrol at Athabasca U? Like you, I'm super interested in this program too and wanted a feedback of someone already in it..

@Caitlin.. I totally appreciate your encouragement towards people like us.. :) 

Aug 8, 14 12:41 am

I don't really see the point of enrolling in syllabus + this new Athabasca program. The whole point of the syllabus program is to allow someone who don't have a professional degree (B.Arch/M.Arch) to complete that external coursework and thus make them eligible to sit for the exams, independent of any other schooling. So what does the Athabasca stuff do? It doesn't really make sense.

Aug 8, 14 1:03 am

@Bench: From my understanding, the syllabus and the B.Arch are two different programs.

The Syllabus is an apprenticeship oriented program leading to RAIC's Diploma in Architecture. The academic component of the RAIC's Diploma in Architecture is completed through Athabasca's architecture course offerings... the syllabus is a very VERY long program (10-12 years on average).

The B.Arch on the other hand is your typical pre-professional architecture degree for admission to any M.Arch I (3 or 7 semesters, or AP) and M.Arch II (research), offered completely online.

I'm really curious to hear about people who've followed the B.Arch project, teach in the program, applied to the program or are currently student.

I'm guessing the first graduation class will be around 2018, I wonder how admission office will deal with a distance education degree... I feel the stigma around distance education ism't warranted anymore.

Dec 11, 15 6:29 pm
Non Sequitur
Hardly anyone finishes the riac syllabus and I've seen very spotty work come out. Second tier preparation at best.
Dec 12, 15 12:04 am

With a decade long curriculum, that's what I was thinking, but in a 4+2 stream seems like a sensible route for someone to at least complete their undergrad.

Dec 12, 15 8:17 am

has anyone complete the Bcs in arch at athabasca and actually got accepted in a masters degree program somewhere?

Oct 29, 19 9:49 am
Non Sequitur

You should not need a masters after the Athabasca degree since it's intent is to allow students to write the ExAcs upon graduation (using the RAIC syllabus experience structure)


I was trying to get the masters without having to go through the syllabus intern ship because it would take much longer then getting into a masters program right out of athabasca

Non Sequitur

Look to an accredited March program then... not to a school geared towards syllabus.


the degree and the syllabus are two different things. 

Oct 29, 19 10:58 am

I have heard of the school but not for Architecture, good for them for trying to break the typical educational protocol. I went to school with several "mature" students who didn't do an undergraduate degree and for that matter I don't know if they graduated high school either. I would go for it and see if they permit you to enroll as a mature student ( you might have to write and english placement exam or something similar and get your degree.  Just be wary that it has the necessary provincial accreditation to permit you to move on to master's program in the future to complete your full Arch education.  You may not ever wish to pursue your masters but good to have the ability to go that direction isf desired with out having to back track with course work.

Oct 30, 19 3:37 pm

@63degrees hi there, I went to university for a B.arch (not AU) and the program you listed is almost identical to mine, maybe their electives have a more scientific focus, but it's just the same, in response to your question.

Feb 16, 20 4:29 pm

I think your best bet if you want to transfer during your undergrad would be to complete 2 years at athabasca then apply to one of the 2 year bachelor programs ( u of Calgary, u Manitoba, and Dalhousie have them, maybe others). Most people entering these programs have a 4 year degree, but the requirement is only 2 years worth of undergrad credits. They wouldn’t  care if you have a high school diploma as long as you have the university credits. If you complete the BSc at athabasca, grad schools won’t ask for a high school diploma either. 

Feb 16, 20 6:16 pm
Non Sequitur

Athabasca is syllabus geared meaning that it’s an alternative to March. It would be weird to switch paths


The BSc is new and is different than the syllabus.


Here in the U.S., in order for the degree to be officially conferred, you have to have a high school diploma or GED. Doesn't Canada have something equivalent to a GED? (Replying to the OP's context)

I'm sure it is a bit late.

Feb 16, 20 10:28 pm

You don't need a HS diploma or GED to get a degree in Canada - anyone over 19 can apply as a "mature student" - there's an English competency requirement and some required fundamental courses that you have to have either taken in high school or take as not counting toward your degree, but no high school diploma or GED required. Canada has the GED - it's very similar to a US GED - but it doesn't have much meaning in Canada, especially for pursuing higher education. It's mostly for people who want to go into jobs for which high school would be the typical terminal academic achievement.


Wouldn't a GED at least open up access to undergraduate programs that requires at least a high school diploma or equivalent (GED or other equivalent) for admission into the university and/or the particular degree program. Usually it doesn't cost that much let alone the time needed. Aside from maybe an optional GED preparation course, you can begin taking the GED exam whenever you are ready and pay for the exam proctoring. In pursuing higher education, it is ultimately going to be completing the degree(s) that matters more. I am sure some programs have other additional criteria for admissions but still. I am not talking about using the GED in lieu of some aptitude exam or portfolio submission requirement. The OP did mentioned his or her going to an "open" public university. In other people in similar situation as the OP can just get the GED or whatever high school equivalency status and then have more universities to choose from that may require a high school or equivalent status.


Most colleges and universities in Canada accept "mature students" with no GED or HS diploma requirements. The requirements are only as I stated above - English competency demonstrated by exam and/or coursework, and certain high school level fundamental subjects completed. The GED just isn't used in the same way as in the US - it's mostly only relevant to vocations for which a high school diploma is usually required or preferred (example: retail manager) - it has little if any relevance to college or university admissions, majors, or degree eligibility, and would not exempt anyone from any other requirements.


Technically, in the U.S., one doesn't necessarily have to have a high school diploma (or equivalent) to start taking college classes. One has to check with the particular academic institution. They would have to have that to GET the degree conferred. To receive an associates or higher degree, one is expected to have their high school diploma or GED or equivalent. It can be concurrently conferred OR in sequential order because the a high school diploma or equivalent is a pre-requisite/co-requisite for conferring of a undergrad certificate, associates, or bachelor's degree just as a bachelor's degree is a pre-requisite/co-requisite for a master's degree even if a person is able to get admissions into a masters without a bachelors degree conferred, it would be expected ultimately to have been conferred before completion of the master's degree. (I am talking about certain exceptions in the admissions to the norm that some institutions allows). 

Perhaps, Canada is a little more relaxed on that I guess as you mentioned, there being other ways like you mentioned as pre-college level preparatory classes. In the U.S., most public community colleges do not absolutely require a GED or high school diploma before admissions. The universities might be a little more stricter in the U.S. since students tends to come from all over the state or abroad. They have their reasons. Of course, if you are 18 and older and don't have a HS diploma or GED, you can likely attend a university but if you are under 18.... it might be less likely.

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