Counselling, Postgraduate Diploma

  • Application Deadline
  • 18 months
  • English (book IELTS)
The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Counselling (PBDC) program offered by Athabasca University focuses on the fundamentals of counselling psychology, theory, and practice.


The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Counselling from Athabasca University is designed for students who either do not want to complete a full master's degree or who do not meet the admissions criteria for the master's program and plan to apply to ladder into that program upon completion of the Diploma.

Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete six credits during each academic year (September 1 to August 31). Students are required to receive an overall grade of 70 per cent or B- to pass each GCAP course. In addition, students are expected to maintain at least a B or 75 per cent in the program. Students who fail a course, or who receive a grade of B- in two courses, may be removed from the program with no option for re-admission to graduate programs.

Laddering to the Master of Counselling

Students are expected to progress through the program according to the following course sequencing. After completion of 5 courses, you may apply to ladder into the Master of Counselling program.You may apply to ladder once you have started your fifth course. Once final grades are in for the fifth course, the application may be approved and students may be permitted to continue to complete the Master of Counselling degree. If your GPA drops below 3.0 with the fifth course, you will be required to exit the program after completing the sixth course (which may then be an elective course).

Programme Structure

All diploma students are required to complete the following courses:
  • Models of Counselling and Client Change
  • Professional Ethics
  • Infusing Culture into Counselling
  • Developing a Working Alliance

In addition, students will complete two elective courses. Students who successfully complete the required coursework for the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Counselling may apply to ladder their courses directly into the Master of Counselling program. Normally, students will not take GCAP 681, 682, or 685 as part of the Diploma program.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 18 months
  • Credits
    18 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Book IELTS
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test OF English as a Foreign Language – offers a paper-based test (PBT). The final, overall PBT score ranges between 310 and 677, and is based on an average taken from the three test components (listening, structure, and reading). The writing part of this test is scored separately on a scale of 0-6. Read more about TOEFL (PBT).

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

You need the following GPA score:

Required score: 2.5
Recommended score: 2.5

Applicants for graduate programs must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA equivalent to 2.5 on a US 4.0 grading scale. Admitted applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 scale. No exam grade should be lower than 4.5 (European grade scale) or D (American grade scale).

Your GPA (Grade Point Average) is calculated using the grades that you received in each course, and is determined by the points assigned to each grade (e.g. for the US grading scale from A-F).

To be admitted to the PBDC program, applicants must have:
  • an undergraduate (baccalaureate) degree, normally four years
  • a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 in the last 10 full course equivalents (60 credits).
  • a minimum of three courses* (nine credits) in psychology or educational psychology, including:
    • a course in developmental psychology (3 credits)
    • a course in learning psychology (3 credits)
    • a course in counselling theories or personality theories (3 credits).

    * These courses must be at the second-year undergraduate level or above.

English is the language of interaction and instruction in Athabasca University’s graduate programs. Proficiency in English consists of a broad, complex set of skills in the areas of reading, speaking, and writing. It is the student’s responsibility to be proficient in both written and spoken English at the graduate level. Potential applicants to the University’s graduate programs should note that, just as advanced programs and courses may have certain academic prerequisites; graduate faculties apply entrance criteria that also include English Language Proficiency screening through diagnostic tests and standard test scores.

Prospective Visa students or foreign applicants* applying for admission to an AU graduate program (as a program student) are expected to provide documentation of completion of at least one of the following English Language Proficiency assessments at the time of application for admission:

  • Successful completion of a degree program at an accredited post-secondary institution where English is the primary language of instruction; proof that the instruction for the degree was in English may be required;
  • A grade of 70% or higher in an Athabasca University undergraduate or equivalent level English course that is recognized by the faculty/centre;
  • Successful completion as a non-program student of a number of Athabasca University courses as determined by the faculty/centre;
  • Most recent official score, taken within the last two years, of any of the following:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and obtain a minimum score of 550 (on the written test) or 80 (on the Internet-based test);
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and obtain a minimum score of 6.0;
    • Michigan English Language Battery (MELAB) test and obtain a score of 80;
    • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) and obtain a minimum score of 60.

    * Note: Foreign Applicant, in this sense, refers to a student who is applying to a graduate program who has obtained a degree in a language other than English.

Work Experience

At least 2 year(s) of work experience are required.

In the admissions process, preference is given to applicants who have two years or more of full-time experience in counselling or a related field or two years or more of full-time teaching experience PLUS related volunteer or part-time counselling experience. If you are lacking the prerequisite psychology courses, they are available at a distance through Athabasca University.

Getting a Student Visa

This is an online programme. You can attend from the comfort of your chair! So you don't need a student visa! (Unless that chair you're sitting on is in a foreign country...)

Tuition Fee

  • International Applies to you

    8613.3333333333 CAD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 12920 CAD for the full programme and a duration of 18 months.
  • National Applies to you

    7813.3333333333 CAD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 11720 CAD for the full programme and a duration of 18 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.
  • The total tuition cost for a student living in Canada who takes all her or his courses from Athabasca University, over a 1 2/3 year period, would be $11,720 ($1,425 x 6 = $8,550, three-credit course equivalents, plus program fees for 5 semesters = $3,170 for a total of $11,720). Application, Admission, and AUGSA fees are not included in the above calculation.


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