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Top Canadian Universities With Cheap Tuition Fees in 2023

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UniSearch - Top Canadian Universities With Cheap Tuition Fees in 2023

Canada is home to some of the world’s highest ranking universities. Adding to its attractiveness where international students are concerned is also its relative affordability. Tuition fees in Canada are, in general, more affordable than schools in other English-speaking countries. With affordable tuition and quality education, Canada is a hot pick for post-secondary education. So, which top Canadian universities with cheap tuition fees are right for you?


Top Canadian Universities With Cheap Tuition Fees for International Students

Here are some of our top picks for affordable Canadian universities with excellent academic standards:

If you've spent any time looking into Canada's highest-ranking schools, some of the names on this list might seem familiar. McGill University, for instance, holds the second-highest position for the best universities in Canada, according to QS World University Rankings! The University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, University of Guelph, and Memorial University of Newfoundland make appearances on the global ranks, too. 


Here’s how average tuition fees for undergraduate programs at these institutions compare to one of Canada’s most expensive universities:

2023-2024 Tuition Fee Ranges for International Undergraduate Students

University NameUndergraduate Tuition Fee RangeUniversity of Toronto Undergraduate Tuition Fee Range
Simon Fraser UniversityCAD 31,460CAD 58,160 - CAD 60,150
McGill UniversityCAD 23,988.67 - CAD 59,697.12
University of CalgaryCAD 25,529.84 - CAD 33,406.64
University of GuelphCAD 30,390.57 - CAD 42,422.64
Canadian Mennonite UniversityCAD 22,220
University of Northern British ColumbiaCAD 25,812.42
Brandon UniversityCAD 17,330.55 - CAD 18,912.30
Humber CollegeCAD 10,638.60 - CAD 29,125.50
Memorial University of NewfoundlandCAD 11,460
University of Saint-BonifaceCAD 9,134


Excellent education at affordable tuition rates is one of the major factors attracting international students to Canada! The list above is by no means the only options you have available either. In fact, with the right know-how, you can narrow down your own list of Canadian universities with cheap universities that best suit you!


What Determines How Affordable a Canadian University Education Is?

The answer isn’t as simple as listing all the universities from cheapest to most expensive. What the best cheap universities in Canada will be for you depends on several factors. How much your tuition fees round off to depends on things like:

  • The program you’re studying
  • Your level of study (i.e., diploma, undergraduate, graduate)
  • The location of the university

Remember, tuition fees for Canadian students and international students differ. The average annual tuition for international undergraduate students is CAD 32,041. This is almost five times higher than fees for Canadian students. So, when looking up the best cheap universities in Canada, you need to consider your options as an international student. Dig deeper beyond the vague estimates for university fees – we’ll show you how to get started.


How Do Tuition Fees Differ Across Programs?

Despite your chosen university having a high average tuition fee, your program of choice might be more affordable. Professional degree programs like veterinary medicine, dentistry, law, and so on, tend to be more expensive. Social and behavioural studies and arts and humanities programs are usually more affordable.

Here are the average tuition fees for international undergraduate levels across programs.

Program Area (Undergraduate Level)

Average Tuition Fees for International Students 2023-24 (CAD)

Education

22,104

Nursing

22,946

Personal, protective and transportation services

25,424

Other health, parks, recreation and fitness

26,257

Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies

27,103

Agriculture, natural resources and conservation

28,238

Humanities

29,742

Architecture

29,804

Social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies

30,049

Business, management and public administration

30,769

Physical and life sciences and technologies

34,763

Mathematics, computer and information sciences

35,628

Law

36,001

Engineering

36,072

Medicine

38,075

Pharmacy

40,736

Dentistry

57,020

Veterinary medicine

65,576

 The top 5 undergraduate programs with the lowest average tuition fees are:

  1. Education
  2. Nursing
  3. Personal, protective and transportation services
  4. (Other) health, parks, recreation and fitness
  5. Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies


And here are the average tuition fees for international graduate levels across programs

Program Area (Graduate Level)

Average Tuition Fees for International Students 2023-24 (CAD)

Veterinary medicine

9,081

Pharmacy

12,532

Humanities

14,220

Optometry

14,436

Agriculture, natural resources and conservation

14,819

Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies

15,709

Social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies

15,919

Physical and life sciences and technologies

15,959

Nursing

16,312

Education

16,899

Mathematics, computer and information sciences

18,391

Law

18,455

Other health, parks, recreation and fitness

19,422

Engineering

21,559

Dentistry

24,582

Business, management and public administration

26,351

Architecture

26,524

Regular MBA

40,032

Executive MBA

55,578

 

Veterinary medicine has the highest average tuition fees at undergraduate level. But it’s the opposite for graduates. This is one of the reasons the right Canadian universities with cheap tuition fees for you may vary depending on program and level of study.

The top 5 graduate programs with the most affordable average tuition fees are:

  1. Veterinary medicine
  2. Pharmacy
  3. Humanities
  4. Optometry
  5. Agriculture, natural resources and conservation


Let's compare the tuition fees of different undergraduate programs within the same university:

University NameProfessional Degree Program FeesSocial and Behavioural Science Program FeesArts and Humanities Program Fees
McGill UniversityCAD 52,439.94CAD 23,071.94CAD 29,601.20
University of GuelphCAD 75,774.85CAD 30,390.57CAD 30,394.57


How Do Tuition Fees Differ Across Universities?

Your degree and level of study both give you an idea of how much you’d expect to pay for the program. Canadian universities set their own fee structures. And factors like location and size of the universities, the facilities students will access for the program, etc. determine specific fees too. So, the averages you see listed above can skew higher or lower depending on these factors. 

Tuition fee variance across universities typically depends on the following:

  • Size & reputation - the larger the university and the greater its reputation, the higher the tuition fees are likely to be
  • Location - universities in cities with lower costs of living typically have lower tuition fees compared to those in cities with higher costs of living

An undergraduate program in arts and humanities at the University of Toronto can go anywhere between CAD 6,210 – 41,470. The University of Toronto is the highest ranking Canadian university globally. Toronto, unsurprisingly, has a higher cost of living compared to other Canadian cities. Meanwhile, you can also enroll for a similar program at the University of Alberta, another globally-ranking university, for an average tuition fee of CAD 11,186.  Located in Edmonton, the cost of living here is cheaper. 

As you can see, there’s plenty of variabilities, across programs and universities, and within programs and universities. What works for your budget depends on what you’re looking for specifically.


How Do Tuition Fees Differ Across Location?

Tuition fees can vary quite a bit depending on the territory or province you’re studying in.

Here’s a breakdown of the average tuition fees for international students across provinces/territories:

Territory/Province

International Undergraduate Fees 2020-21 (CAD)

International Graduate Fees 2023-24 (CAD)

Newfoundland and Labrador

11,983

4,089

New Brunswick

16,744

12,374

Manitoba

17,099

11,558

Nova Scotia

19,639

21,780

Saskatchewan

20,636

6,496

Prince Edward Island

21,093

10,278

Quebec

26,147

17,689

Alberta

27,404

14,683

British Columbia

28,240

20,233

Ontario

40,724

25,112

 

Based on tuition fee averages, for example, the most affordable places for international students are:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador (home to the Memorial University of Newfoundland, one of the top 25 universities in Canada)
  2. New Brunswick (home to the University of New Brunswick, one of the top 30 universities in Canada)
  3. Manitoba (home to the University of Manitoba, one of the top 15 universities in Canada)

And the best part? All these universities also rank in the top 850 schools globally.

If you're not sure where to begin figuring out which top Canadian universities have cheap tuition fees, why not start here?


Where Do I Start Looking for the Most Affordable University for Me?

With all these factors to consider, how do you go about finding the best cheap universities in Canada?

A great place to get started is this EduCanada tool. The tool prompts you for a couple of preliminary details, like:

  • Field of study
  • Language of study (English/French/Both)
  • Level of study (training/college/undergraduate/graduate)
  • Preferred location

The site then generates a comprehensive list of all the programs universities in your chosen locations offer. Be as specific as you can so you can find the perfect match for you!

The best part? When you shortlist the programs you’re most interested in, the tool breaks down expected costs for these programs specifically. You can compare the programs you’re interested in by cost to find the best option!


Things to Consider in Your Financial Decision-Making

Tuition fees are undoubtedly a big consideration in what you’re planning to study. But they’re by no means the only consideration:

  • Cost of living – from accommodation to daily transport and groceries, costs of living vary as widely as tuition fees do. While Vancouver and Toronto are Canada’s most expensive cities, you can opt for the more affordable suburbs or smaller towns. Even within the busiest and most expensive cities, there are ways to budget if you know what to pay attention to.
  • Scholarships – many Canadian universities consider you for a scholarship upon admission. These include fully funding you, from tuition to accommodation, to smaller but still generous awards. Usually, the bigger the award, the more competition there is for it. But don’t miss out on the many smaller awards and faculty/program-specific options! These are often less competitive, and may even go unawarded because people don’t know about them or don’t apply. You can often apply for several smaller awards that add up to considerable amounts. The Canadian government also offers various great scholarships!
  • Work – working as a student is part of the learning culture in Canada. From the biggest to the smallest public universities in Canada, there are work placement programs for students. Schools craft curriculums to respond to what the economy needs. This means that your school commits to helping you gain hands-on work experience. Co-op programs, part- and full-time work let you earn considerably to offset your costs. As a full-time international student, you don’t need a work permit for a job! And if you’re planning toward post-study work opportunities in Canada, the work experience gives you a head start.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which top Canadian universities have cheap tuition fees for international students?

That would depend on a bunch of factors. The tuition fees international students would pay studying for a bachelor’s degree in social sciences can be very different from the tuition fees of an engineering major at the same university. Since there’s so much variation in tuition fees across programs, universities, and locations, it’s handy to filter down your options first.

Tuition fees in Canada will typically vary depending on your:

  • Study level - generally, a four-year bachelor’s degree will cost more overall than a one-year master’s degree
  • Program - tuition fee ranges can vary broadly across disciplines! Professional degree programs like veterinary medicine and law, for example, sport higher tuition fees than arts and humanities subjects
  • University - some institutions, depending on their size and reputation, will cost more than others for the same program. The University of Toronto, for example, being one of Canada’s and the world’s highest-ranking universities, sees higher tuition fees than a smaller, primarily undergraduate university like Trent University
  • Location - typically, universities in the major metropolitan cities in Canada carry higher price-tags! Cities with higher overall costs of living will usually see higher tuition fees too


What are the cheapest universities in Canada for international students in 2023?

Below are our picks for the best affordable universities offering excellent educational standards in Canada:

  • Simon Fraser University
  • McGill University
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Guelph
  • Canadian Mennonite University
  • University of Northern British Columbia
  • Brandon University
  • Humber College
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • University of Saint-Boniface

Our Final Thoughts

Canada has some of the world’s highest ranking universities. Even smaller, lesser-known universities rank impressively both globally and nationally. Several affordable universities in Canada offer degrees, experiences, and quality you won’t find elsewhere! It’s a matter of finding the right match for you. As you narrow down your specifics by program, university location, cost of living, and more, you’ll find the place right for you. In Canada, “cheaper” doesn’t mean a lower quality in education. You can still get an excellent education from Canadian universities with cheap tuition fees, once you know what to look for. And we hope this article has given you a solid idea of how to get started.


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