Top 10 Affordable Universities in Canada

Over the years, Canada has attracted international students from all across the globe as a study destination that offers reputable, distinguished universities, vibrant city life and a lifestyle known for being laid back and well-organized: the country provides the perfect location for academic pursuit. With more than 30 universities listed among the top academic institutions on the planet, it is no wonder students from around the world are considering or have decided to make a Canadian school their destination for their studies.

Much like anywhere else, some institutions in Canada are more affordable than others. Tuition costs vary from location to location and can even range in price for different students at the same school depending on what they have come to study.

University Tuition Fees in Canada

While studying at an institution in Canada can still be considered an expensive endeavor, it is still less expensive than comparable universities in Australia, the USA or the UK. While tuition costs vary yearly, there are differences depending on the programme being followed, but for the most part, you can expect the tuition fees to hover around a certain point.

Bachelor’s Degrees

You can expect the general tuition range for bachelor’s degrees to be between 550 and 30,000 CAD each year. You’ll find getting a bachelor’s in social science, engineering or medicine will cost the most.

Tuition costs for popular programmes:

  • Bachelor’s in Engineering & Technology: 1,350 – 55,000 CAD on an annual basis
  • Bachelor’s in Social Sciences: 1,025 – 56,000 CAD on an annual basis
  • Bachelor’s in Business & Management: 550 – 56,000 CAD on an annual basis
  • Bachelor’s in Computer Science & IT: 1,535 – 55,500 CAD on an annual basis
  • Bachelor’s in Natural Sciences: 1,780 – 53,000 CAD on an annual basis

Master’s degrees

For a Master’s programme, the cost tends to be between 1,075 – 65,000 CAD annually. Some of the most expensive disciplines include law, computer science, engineering and business.

Tuition costs for popular programmes:

  • Master’s in Business & Management: 2,150 – 52,700 CAD on an annual basis
  • Master’s in Computer Science & IT: 2,150 – 52,500 CAD on an annual basis
  • Master’s in Engineering & Technology: 2,150 – 52,500 CAD on an annual basis
  • Master’s in Medicine & Health: 2,150 – 58,300 CAD on an annual basis
  • Master’s in Social Sciences: 2,150 – 37,000 CAD on an annual basis

Regardless of the discipline you want to pursue or what sort of programme you’re interested in, the top five most affordable Canadian universities are as follows:

  • Memorial University of Newfoundland: 2,150 – 11,460 CAD on an annual basis
  • University of Saskatchewan: 4,110 – 24,000 CAD on an annual basis
  • Athabasca University: 1,625 – 17,250 CAD on an annual basis
  • University of Regina: 1,715 – 20,050 CAD on an annual basis
  • Royal Roads University: 3,750 – 27,600 CAD on an annual basis

The price in even the most affordable of these universities will vary depending on the study programme that you have chosen. Some programmes are more expensive than others and could end up costing you more than 30,000 CAD a year. The programmes that will often end up costing you this much are master’s degrees in law, business and dentistry. MBAs, or Master of Business Administration degrees, could run you well over 50,000 CAD per year.

Take a look at of some of the tuition fees at the top-ranked Canadian universities by comparison.

  • University of British Columbia: 1,300 – 52,300 CAD on an annual basis
  • University of Toronto: 15,750 – 57,050 CAD on an annual basis
  • McGill University: 2,230 – 58,300 CAD on an annual basis

These institutions also have programmes that could run you as much as 63,000 CAD a year if you choose a more expensive degree path.

Cost of Student Living in Canada

The cost of living for students in Canada tends to be a bit above average when compared to other countries, but it is widely considered to be worth the cost due to the higher quality of life most students report. In most of the provinces including Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, you will need roughly between 800 and 1,500 CAD per month to cover living costs. Calgary and Vancouver are two of the most expensive cities to live in and have living costs that can soar as high as 2,000 CAD each month.


There are different housing options for you to choose from in Canada as a student, each falling within a similar price range. The following prices do not account for basic utilities or internet:

  • Student residences: 250 – 625 CAD per month
  • University-arranged homestays: 400 – 800 CAD per month
  • Rent and share an apartment: 300 – 700 CAD per month.

Food and Transportation Costs

Keeping your house stocked with groceries tends to run around 300 CAD a month, and dining out tends to be about average compared to countries like the USA or the UK. Canada has a robust public transportation system with discounts for students between the ages of 18 and 25 with the total price of a pass for transportation being 90 CAD a month. Taxis are another option with prices between two and 6 CAD per each kilometer.

Financial Support and Funding

Financial aid programmes which support international students studying in Canada include:

Scholarships that are provided to non-Canadian universities

Scholarships given by Canadian universities for PhD and Master’s programmes

Various third party scholarships online

Student Visa and Permits in Canada

In order to study in Canada, a permit is needed. Keep in mind that a student permit is not a visa. Because of this, you will not necessarily be allowed to enter the country and study in Canada based on that permit alone. You should look and see what sort of visa you will need and how you can obtain it while you are applying for your permit.

A permit to study in Canada costs around 150 EUR to obtain, and you will need to apply for it well before you travel to Canada. Documents needed for a student visa include:

  • Valid travel documents, like a passport
  • Acceptance letter from the Canadian university
  • Documents proving you can support yourself financially in Canada

In conclusion, with only a slightly above average cost of living, a high quality of life and a selection of affordable universities to choose from, studying abroad in Canada is an exciting and excellent choice for many students, regardless of what their academic pursuits may be.