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Top 10 Low-Cost Universities in Canada: 2023-24 Fees

SKShishant KumarMar 7, 2023

Top 10 Low Cost Universities in Canada 2023-24 Fees

The Canadian education system is well renowned for establishing a remarkably multicultural society that values diversity, with student-friendly overtones that make international applicants feel at home. Low-cost universities in Canada make education accessible for everyone while maintaining the country’s noteworthy benchmark of quality education. 

As of today, the country offers more than 8,000 college and 16,000 university programs (Universities Canada, 2022), giving students flexibility over their workload and the courses they wish to take. Despite the lofty costs of education in developed nations, tuition fees in Canada are relatively lower than that of their counterparts in Australia, the UK, and the US. According to data released by the Council of Ministers of Education, international student fees averaged about C$32,000 annually in 2020-21. 

However, with over 200+ options to pick from, there are several affordable universities in Canada that are worth exploring. To give you a better understanding of which college would be the right pick for you, let us first peruse the benefits of studying in Canada

Reasons Why You Should Study in Canada?

  • Dominant service sector– The service industry in Canada employs over 2/3rds of its people, thereby acting as the driving force behind furthering the country’s GDP. With such a dominant service sector, there is always a constant uptick seen in the demand for skilled labor. This directly implies that there will rarely ever be a scarcity of jobs for both international and domestic students who graduate from a Canadian institute. 
  • Excellent quality of life– Canada proudly claims the top spot in the list of the 78 best countries to live in, according to a 2021 article published by U.S. News & World Reports. There has been a transformational change noted in global foreign relations after the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. Canada has strongly evolved in terms of social respect, respect for human rights, and social harmony. 
  • Affordable education that is valued across the world– The Canadian education system stands on the principles of ample research opportunities and affordable education for all. It is thus a matter of little wonder how Canadian provinces occupy a prominent position in every study abroad aspirant’s list. Being a global leader in education, degrees from Canadian institutes are held in great regard across the world. 
  • Multiple funding and scholarship options– Most doctoral and thesis-based programs are funded by the institute you are enrolled in. For self-financed undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Canadian government offers partial scholarships and part-time working opportunities to international students. Some scholarships featured by EduCanada comprise Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development ($10,200 to $12,700) and the Study in Canada Scholarships ($10,200 to $12,700)
  • Enriching cultural diversity- Canadian politics have long expressed how cultural diversity is a valuable and enriching quality of national life. When students from a multi-ethnic background live together, they foster the virtues of cultural sensitivity, empathy, and acceptance of differences in others. According to recent official reports from Statisque Canada, 23% of Canadians are immigrants, standing a testament to the nation’s progressive policies. 
  • Safe communities– Canadian provinces are an ode to its cosmopolitanism. The country has one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere. A highly hospitable environment helps in the formation of safe communities with free speech and expression well advocated for by the Canadian Government. 

The 10 Best Low-Cost Universities in Canada 

Statistics Canada, a government-monitored website distinctly states that an international undergraduate student can expect to spend $36,000 annually in tuition fees for one academic year. This is significantly lower than the academic expenses incurred by foreign applicants in other developed nations. 

Similarly, international graduate students should estimate their scholastic budget to fall in the range of $21,000 for one academic year. Based on these figures, we have curated a list of the 10 most affordable universities in Canada that offer quality education- 

Canadian Mennonite University 

Founded in 2000 and formally supported by the Mennonite Church of Canada, Canadian Mennonite University is a comprehensive, liberal arts institution in Manitoba. It offers accredited 3- and 4-year baccalaureate and graduate degrees with a distinct practicum component. 

A practicum component gives students work-integrated learning opportunities through community and work engagement, thereby making them job-ready. With a 12% international student population, it should be noted that in 2022/23 itself, the Canadian Mennonite University gave over $720,000 in financial aid to applicants. 

Type of University  Private University 
Location  Winnipeg, Manitoba
Courses Offered  19 BA majors (UG)

4 MA degrees and a collaborative MBA (PG)

Popular Programs  Sociology, Theological Studies, Philosophy 
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $11,920 annually for undergraduate students

$12,230 annually for graduate students  

Scholarships Offered  Full-Tuition Awards for international students

Brandon University 

Located in Manitoba, Brandon University currently enrolls 3000 full and part-time students on and off-campus in various degree programs. With one of the most affordable fee structures in the country, this public university strives to offer financial aid to students with a high academic standing.  

In addition to liberal arts courses, a few selected professional programs are also provided by BU. 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Brandon, Manitoba 
Courses Offered  25+ UG programs 

5 PG programs 

Popular Programs  Education, Arts, Life Sciences, and Music 
Annual Tuition fee for International Students  $17,071 annually for the most expensive UG program (Health Sciences)

$7,000- 10,000 annually for graduate students 

Scholarships Offered  Entrance scholarships are only for domestic applicants, those who hold an International Baccalaureate diploma, and students excelling in AP courses. 

Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS-M) Program

University of Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg fosters a community of 1,400 international students from almost 80 countries. After its establishment in 1967, the institute flourishes as a provincially and privately funded post-secondary institution. 

As of today, the university’s programs nurture academic talent with a focus on indigenous excellence. It also has a dedicated Science Complex that houses state-of-the-art research facilities.  

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Winnipeg, Manitoba
Courses Offered  50+ UG programs offered by 5 faculties

20+ PG programs offered by 3 faculties

Popular Programs  Economics, Business Administration, Humanities 
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $20,047 annually for the most expensive UG program (Business)

$26,846 annually for the most expensive PG program (Management)

Scholarships Offered  International Special Entrance Scholarship Program ($3,000)

President’s Scholarship for World Leaders ($5,000)

University of Northern British Columbia

Located in the lush landscape of central British Columbia, UNBC is one of the best small, inclusive, research-intensive universities in Canada. Held in high regard for its commitment to sustainability, UNBC is known to be one of  ‘Canada’s Greenest Employers’. 

In 2022, Maclean’s ranked UNBC second overall in the Primarily Undergraduate category, placing it in the top echelon of small universities. With a diverse student population of 4000+ students, the university also offers a vibrant campus life for international applicants. 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Main Campus- Prince George

Other campuses in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Quesnel, and Fort St. John. 

Courses Offered  40+ UG programs

30+ PG programs 

Popular Programs  Education, International Studies, English, Social Sciences
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $23,818 annually for undergraduate students 

$7,495 annually for graduate students 

Scholarships Offered  Graduate Entrance Research Scholarship ($15,000)

UNBC Board of Governors Bursary ($1,500)

University of Saskatchewan

Ranked among the world’s best institutes for sustainability and social impact, the University of Saskatchewan encourages its students to tackle relevant global issues. With a network of 169,000 alumni around the world and 72 Rhodes Scholars, the University of Saskatchewan has established itself as one of the premier research-intensive institutions.

Built on the principle of employing a multidisciplinary approach, the Health Sciences Building on campus integrates eight health science fields. A practical, hands-on learning environment helps in giving students the exposure they need to thrive in their workplace upon graduation. 

 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Saskatoon
Courses Offered  80+ UG programs

50+ PG programs

Popular Programs  Science, Agriculture, Bioresources
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $25,751 annually for undergraduate students 

$9,396 annually for thesis-based graduate programs 

$4,700 annually for course-based graduate programs

Scholarships Offered  Guaranteed Entrance Scholarships ($3,000)

University of Saskatchewan International Excellence Awards ($10,000)

International Baccalaureate (IB) awards ($20,000)

Canadian Curriculum Schools Awards ($15,000)

University of Calgary 

With a 94% employment rate after graduation, the University of Calgary stands tall in the list of the most affordable universities in Canada. Promoting an entrepreneurial spirit among students, the university is reckoned to be a top startup creator amongst all the research institutions based in Canada. Boasting a thriving tech ecosystem, a Masters in Data Science from this university is a popular program. 

In addition to this, the international student population comprises 10% of the total student strength at the institute, advocating the creation of an equitable, diverse, and inclusive community.  

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Calgary and Doha 

Main Campus, West Campus, Health Sciences Campus, Downtown Campus- in Calgary 

Qatar Campus- in Doha 

Courses Offered  105 UG programs 

102 PG programs 

Popular Programs  Computer Science, Engineering, Health, Humanities
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $26,408-$35,000 annually for undergraduate students 

$10,240- 23,600 annually for graduate students 

Scholarships Offered  International Entrance Scholarship ($20,000)

CIBC International Entrance Scholarship ($10,000)

University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba (UM) is the oldest university in western Canada. With a student strength of over 30,000, the main campus of the university comprises more than 60 teaching and research buildings. 

The diverse, intercultural atmosphere of the university is reflected in its international applicant numbers. With a tradition of excellence, the University of Manitoba now amalgamates using modern facilities to enrich learning experiences and open up a plethora of opportunities for its students. 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Winnipeg
Courses Offered  100+ UG programs

146 PG programs (99 Master’s and 47 Doctoral)

Popular Programs  Social Science, Engineering, Pharmacy
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $28,965 annually for the most expensive undergraduate program (Law) 

$17,274 annually for the most expensive PG program (Finance)

Scholarships Offered  International Undergraduate Student Entrance Scholarship ($3,000)

University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship

University of Alberta 

According to the QS Rankings of 2022, the University of Alberta is one of the top 120 universities in the world. Providing $34 million dollars in awards and scholarships annually, 1 out of 5 students at the university receives financial aid. 

Ranking 2nd in Canada for graduate employment, the university’s business administration courses are highly popular among international students. The Executive MBA program is of great repute with other favored specializations including engineering, nursing, and agriculture. 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Edmonton
Courses Offered  200+ UG programs 

130+ PG programs

Popular Programs  Business, Engineering, Nursing, and Agriculture 
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $31,500 42,000 annually for undergraduate students 

$13,800 annually for graduate students 

Scholarships Offered  President’s International Distinction Scholarship ($120,000 payable over 4 years)

University of Alberta International Leader Scholarship ($10,000)

Gold Standard Scholarship ($6,000)

The University of Alberta International Admission Scholarship ($5,000)

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Ranked as Canada’s #1 comprehensive university by Maclean’s, SFU was established 57 years ago as a distinguished public research university in 1965. 

With international students from over 145 nations enrolled across the college’s 3 campuses, financial assistance is provided through scholarships and bursaries to recognize outstanding academic achievement. 

Ample career opportunities also present themselves for the university’s graduates as SFU’s co-op education program is one of Canada’s largest and employs 8,500 students in global corporations.

Type of University  Public University 
Location  3 campuses in Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver 
Courses Offered  100+ UG courses offered by 8 faculties 70+ PG courses offered by 8 faculties 
Popular Programs  Computer Science, Engineering, Art, and the Health Sciences
Annual Tuition fee for International Students  $32,724 (including the public transit pass)- all UG courses 

$6,075 annually for the first 6 terms- all regular PG courses 

Scholarships Offered  Undergraduate Scholars Entrance Scholarship ($20,000 up to an amount sufficient to cover tuition and mandatory supplementary fees)

University of Guelph 

With a multinational coterie of 2000+ international students, the University of Guelph integrates a strong foundation in core concepts with concentrated studies in specialized areas. 

Ranked as one of the largest employers in Canada by Forbes, this university receives over 80 million dollars in research funding. It prioritizes the role of research through experiential learning opportunities for students, including 45+ co-op programs tailored for the same purpose. 

One striking feature of the University of Guelph is that it offers its students innovative financial solutions to fund their education. They are encouraged to earn part-time while studying, with 4,000+ on-campus jobs made available on a competitive basis. 

Type of University  Public University 
Location  Ontario 
Courses Offered  80 UG programs 100+ PG programs 
Popular Programs  Agriculture, Architecture, and Science 
Annual Tuition Fee for International Students  $33,046 CAD annually for undergraduate students 

$42,000 CAD annually for the most expensive graduate degree in Master of Cybersecurity and Threat Intelligence (MCTI)

Scholarships Offered  International Entrance Scholarships ($17,500 – $20,500 CAD)

Quinn Memorial Scholarship ($2,000 CAD)

Hardy International Student Scholarship ($2,000 CAD)

Cost of living for international students in Canada 

Despite being home to some of the most renowned colleges in the world, even the best Canadian cities for international students are quite affordable compared to the US and the UK. 

Depending on the province of residence, the type of accommodation, and other personal spending habits, living expenses tend to fall in the range of CAD 15,000 to CAD 20,000 per year. The table provided below can help you get an average estimate of your cost of living as an international student in Canada.

Some variables to be accounted for include 

Variables Average Expenditure Per Year
Food CAD 2,400-3,600
Transportation  CAD 1,400-3,000
Accommodation On-campus: CAD 3,000-7,500 

Off-campus: CAD 9,000-26,000 

Health insurance  CAD 600-1,000
Miscellaneous CAD 7,200-8,400

Financing options for international students 

A number of government and third-party agencies offer scholarships to meritorious applicants who wish to enroll in a Canadian institution. Awards, bursaries, and scholarships give international students an array of options that empower them to continue their education despite any financial barriers. 

Some prominent external organizations offering awards, scholarships, and even loans to such foreign students include

  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Universities Canada
  • MPOWER Financing
  • Scholarships Canada

In addition to this, some government-sponsored scholarships featured by EduCanada comprise 

Name of the scholarship  Scholarship amount in CAD
Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development $10,200 to $12,700
Study in Canada Scholarships $10,200 to $12,700

International students can also work side jobs to recompense their living expenses. For those looking to work part-time while studying, the Canadian government asks that you meet the following requirements 

  • Being a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI) with a study permit that includes work conditions 
  • Having a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Being enrolled in a study program that is at least 6 months long and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate. 

If you fulfill the above criteria, you will be allowed to work both on and off-campus for 20 hours a week, with a minimum wage ranging between $10-14 CAD per hour

Conclusion 

Canada is a sought-after destination for international applicants due to its reputation as a pioneer in education and its excellent quality of life that does not pinch the pocket. 

As of 2021, the foreign student strength in the country stood at 621,600, according to the data made available on Statistics Canada. Here, several top-tier institutions in the global rankings provide quality education at an affordable price. With annual tuition fees as low as 7,000 CAD, the country also provides a plethora of post-study employment options and immigration opportunities for its international graduates.

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Frequently Asked Questions

International students will need to have an undergraduate degree in a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the 4.0 scale. All past academic transcripts, 2-3 LORs, and English Language Proficiency (ELP) exam results will need to be furnished. In addition to this, students may also need to sit for standardized tests such as GRE, TOEFL, and more.

Canadian institutions offer financial aid in the form of awards, bursaries, and scholarships to deserving international students. Several external organizations also offer loans at low rates of interest.

Statistics Canada states that an undergraduate student can expect to spend $36,000 annually as tuition fees for one academic year. Similarly, international graduate students should estimate their scholastic budget to fall in the range of $21,000 for one academic year.

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