Master's Studies (Course-Based)

Course-based master's degrees are increasingly valued in today’s global economy. They cater to the demand for highly trained professionals capable of providing focused and structured solutions through their knowledge. 

Course-based master's programs at the University of Alberta usually include a greater number of courses than thesis-based programs, providing focused and leading-edge learning, alongside research and practicum placement components.


As a course-based master's student at the U of A, you must fulfill several program requirements, including coursework, a capstone research project decided with your academic advisor and any additional program-specific requirements, all within a six-year timeframe. 

There are other degree requirements and responsibilities, both academic and administrative, that must be completed during your time at the university. 

Program Requirements

Some requirements are defined by the university. These include:

Other requirements are defined by your department, including coursework, practica and comprehensive examinations.

A full list of requirements is defined in your department's section in the University Calendar as well as your department’s graduate handbook.

Your Academic Journey

The Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) is here to support you during your time at the U of A. Curious about what the academic journey of a course-based master’s student looks like? Explore each phase below.

Laying the Foundation


Your program may allow either part-time or full-time registration as your studies progress. Some forms of financial support such as government loans or scholarships may require full-time status to maintain registration. This means a registration of at least nine credits in each of the fall and winter terms. International students may not be eligible to apply for part-time status under their study permit regulations and should contact International Student Services for more information.

To keep your program active, you must register for at least three credits in each September to August period.

In many disciplines, part of your research work may be done off-campus. Please speak to your department about off-campus registration where appropriate.

Financial Support

If you are looking for financial support, there are many options available to you including employment as a Teaching or Research Assistant

These contracts of employment are governed by the Collective Agreement for Academically Employed Graduate Students negotiated between the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the university's Board of Directors.

Another common form of financial support is a graduate scholarship or award. GPS administers over 2,000 scholarships for graduate students. For students in financial distress, we also offer bursaries and emergency funding.

Pursuing Your Program

Academic Advisors

As a course-based master’s student, you'll have at least one academic advisor who will work with you to plan your academic program and capstone project. If you weren't assigned an advisor upon admission, please reach out to your department.

Academic Standing

As a graduate student, you must maintain good academic standing.

Ethics + Academic Citizenship Requirement

The Ethics and Academic Citizenship course (INT D 710) is mandatory for all newly admitted U of A graduate students. The course is equivalent to six hours with no associated instructional fees.

Ethics + Academic Citizenship Requirement

Professional Development

The U of A, in collaboration with the GSA, has introduced the Professional Development (PD) Requirement, a first among Canadian universities, drawing inspiration from similar initiatives at Ivy League colleges in the United States.

The PD requirement is designed to help you discover your strengths, explore your interests, develop professional skills and build valuable networks to thrive in your career. Although it is mandatory for all incoming graduate students, some departments have professional development already incorporated into their programs. Check with your department to confirm how this requirement is fulfilled in your program.

Professional Development Required Training

Leave of Absence

Sometimes, medical issues, parental responsibilities or other emergencies mean that you need to take some time off from your studies.

As a graduate student, you may apply for an approved leave of absence that keeps your program in good standing without the need for registration and can be awarded for up to one year at a time. An approved leave of absence does not count against your six years in the program.

Approved Leave of Absence

Application forms:

Program Extensions

Occasionally, you may need more time to complete your degree. In such cases, your department may support a program extension.

Program extension application form »

Capstone Project

Your capstone project will be defined by you and your academic advisor within the guidelines defined by your program. It is normally carried out at the end of your studies, usually over one or two academic terms.

Completing the Journey


To obtain your degree, you must successfully complete at least 24 credits of coursework; many programs require significantly more coursework than this minimum.

The convocation ceremony represents a crowning achievement of your commitment to research and continuing your education.

Letter of Completion

If you need a Letter of Completion at the end of your program, please use the completion letter request form. Please read the instructions in the form carefully before submitting.