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The Most Expensive Universities to Study in Canada

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Aug 25, 2022Date Published
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UniSearch - The Most Expensive Universities to Study in Canada

One of the key factors that influence your university choice? Costs. After all, post-secondary education can be expensive. Canada tends to be more affordable than universities in other English-speaking countries. But international students do pay more than Canadian students. This doesn’t mean Canada university costs are impossible or unreasonable. What the most expensive universities to study in Canada are depends on a couple of factors.

And knowing these factors helps you make a more informed decision. You’ll need to consider things like programs, level of study, the territory your university is in. While this might sound daunting, it’s a simple matter of knowing what to look for.

Let’s look at what factors determine what the most expensive universities to study in Canada are!

What Determines Canada University Costs?

Universities in Canada set their own tuition fees. This means that fee structures vary across the dozens of universities in the country. Usually, costs increase a little bit every year. So, looking at the tuition fees of the previous year gives you an idea of what you might have to pay.

That’s not all though. Several other factors may also influence how costly Canadian universities are. These include:

  • Which program you’re studying
  • What level you’re studying at (i.e., diploma, undergraduate, graduate)
  • The location of the university
  • The size of the university

How Your Program Determines the Most Expensive Universities to Study in Canada

Based on our industry insights, professional degree programs skew toward the most expensive. These include dentistry, optometry, medicine, law, and so on. Arts and humanities, and social and behavioural studies programs, tend to be cheaper.

Here’s a breakdown of the average tuition fees for foreign undergraduate students

Program Area (Undergraduate Level)

Average Tuition Fees for International Students 2020-21 (CAD)

Veterinary medicine

65,576

Dentistry

57,020

Pharmacy

40,736

Medicine

38,075

Engineering

36,072

Law

36,001

Mathematics, computer and information sciences

35,628

Physical and life sciences and technologies

34,763

Business, management and public administration

30,769

Social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies

30,049

Architecture

29,804

Humanities

29,742

Agriculture, natural resources and conservation

28,238

Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies

27,103

Other health, parks, recreation and fitness

26,257

Personal, protective and transportation services

25,424

Nursing

22,946

Education

22,104

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

  1. Veterinary medicine
  2. Dentistry
  3. Pharmacy
  4. Medicine
  5. Engineering

And here’s a breakdown of average tuition fees for foreign graduate students

Program Area (Graduate Level)

Average Tuition Fees for International Students (2020-21)

Executive MBA

55,578

Regular MBA

40,032

Architecture

26,524

Business, management and public administration

26,351

Dentistry

24,582

Engineering

21,559

Other health, parks, recreation and fitness

19,422

Law

18,455

Mathematics, computer and information sciences

18,391

Education

16,899

Nursing

16,312

Physical and life sciences and technologies

15,959

Social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies

15,919

Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies

15,709

Agriculture, natural resources and conservation

14,819

Optometry

14,436

Humanities

14,220

Pharmacy

12,532

Veterinary medicine

9,081

 

At graduate level, the top 5 programs with the highest tuition fees are:

  1. Executive MBA
  2. Regular MBA
  3. Architecture
  4. Business, management, and public administration
  5. Dentistry

So, what you’re planning on studying will tend to influence how much you’d expect to pay.

The Most Expensive Universities by Location

Canada university costs can also vary across the territory or province the school is in. Costly Canadian universities are usually in major cities which are best for international students, close to or within city centres. The largest, most globally-renowned universities typically also charge the highest fees on average. Meanwhile, Canadian universities with cheap tuition fees are in smaller towns, outskirts of cities, or the suburbs.

Here are the average tuition fees for international students across territories/provinces.

Territory/Province

International Undergraduate Fees 2020-21 (CAD)

International Graduate Fees 2020-21 (CAD)

Ontario

40,724

25,112

British Columbia

28,240

20,233

Alberta

27,404

14,683

Quebec

26,147

17,689

Prince Edward Island

21,093

10,278

Saskatchewan

20,636

6,496

Nova Scotia

19,639

21,780

Manitoba

17,099

11,558

New Brunswick

16,744

12,374

Newfoundland and Labrador

11,983

4,089

 

On average, the most expensive universities to study in Canada are in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. This lines up with data from the Mercer Cost of Living Survey (2021). According to this survey, Toronto (Ontario), Vancouver (British Columbia), and Calgary (Alberta) are among the top 200 world cities with the highest costs of living. These cities also host some of Canada’s highest-ranking, globally-renowned universities, including; the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. 

Look Out Toronto's top 10 Universities Which Are Best For International Students!

Which Programs Cost More?

Remember, universities set their own fee structures. All the data you’ve looked at in this article are averages of fees across different programs and areas. Canadian university costs can vary widely for the same programs depending on the university itself.

Here are the 3 most and least expensive universities in Canada for arts and humanities

Most Expensive (Undergraduate – International Students)

Least Expensive

(Undergraduate – International Students)

Most Expensive (Graduate – International Students)

Least Expensive (Graduate – International Students)

University of Toronto

(37,680 – 58,970 CAD)

Memorial University of Newfoundland (11,460 CAD)

University of Toronto (6,210 – 41,470 CAD)

University of Alberta (11,186 CAD)

Queen University

(41,053 – 48,500 CAD)

Université Sainte-Anne (10,970 CAD)

OCAD University (33,123 CAD)

Mount Saint Vincent University (11,044 CAD)

University of Ottawa

(36,161 CAD)

University of Guelph (10,703 – 26,750 CAD)

University of Fraser Valley (25,000 CAD)

Université Sainte Anne (10,970 CAD)

 

As you can see, there can be huge variations in tuition fees not only across but within universities too. The University of Toronto may be one of the most expensive universities to study in Canada. But whether it will be for you depends on your program and level of study.

So, how do you figure out what works for you in tuition fees?

handy tool by EduCanada might help you figure it out. Here, you can filter through your options by specifying your program, level of study, the areas you’re considering, and some other factors.

The tool narrows down all the programs in different universities that match your search. You can then shortlist the ones you want to explore more closely. The search then breaks down the estimated costs of these programs at your chosen universities in detail. You get a much more thorough idea of things like:

Tuition, broken down to:

  • Tuition fees
  • Compulsory fees
  • Books/supplies

Cost of living, broken down to:

  • Groceries
  • Miscellaneous
  • Local Public Transport

The great thing about this tool is that you can shortlist a few universities together to compare these costs across the board. This way, you can make a much more informed decision based on your budget.

And hopefully, thanks to our breakdown, you already have an idea of what you’re planning to study, how much you expect to pay, and the area you’ll be focusing on!

Tuition Fees Aren’t the Only Cost to Consider

While tuition and program fees are a big cost to consider, there are other things to inform your budget-based decisions. For example, the cost of living in Canada can also vary widely, depending on where you’re living and your choice of accommodations. Whether you choose on-campus accommodations or commute from more affordable rented housing is something to consider. Which province or territory, or which area within your city of choice you want to stay in is another.

Also, don’t feel daunted by high tuition fees. Lots of Canadian universities offer generous scholarships. These can be fully-funded scholarships, like the University of Toronto’s Lester P. Pearson International Scholarship. This doesn’t just cover tuition fees, but also your accommodation and other expenses. Most universities also offer many smaller awards, or faculty- and field-specific awards. These may be easier to compete for since fewer people tend to apply to these. You may be able to apply for many awards for a greater sum in scholarship! The Canadian government has generous awards schemes in many categories too.

You can work while studying in Canada to offset the costs. There are paid co-op programs that involve work placements as part of your curriculum, as well as part- and full-time work. As a full-time international student, you’ll have plenty of job opportunities. You may wonder that will be the pay range of part-time jobs, don't worry part-time jobs' salaries are also on the higher side. Keep these in mind when figuring out your finances while studying in Canada! Working as a student is especially a great option if you plan on settling in Canada permanently. Part of the requirements to apply for permanent residency is work experience in Canada!

Our Final Thoughts

Cost is a very important deciding factor when choosing what and where to study. But there’s no simple answer to questions like “Which is the most expensive university in Canada?” It can vary quite a bit, depending on things like your program, where you’re studying, what level of study you’re enrolling for, etc. To figure out the best options for you, you’ll need to do plenty of research. Hopefully, the breakdown you’ve read here helps you figure out where you need to focus!

 

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