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University tuition fees, 2015/2016

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Released: 2015-09-09

Canadian full-time students in undergraduate programs paid 3.2% more on average in tuition fees for the 2015/2016 academic year this fall than they did the previous year. The increase is slightly lower than the 3.3% rise observed in 2014/2015.

In comparison, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index was 1.3% between July 2014 and July 2015 and 2.1% between July 2013 and July 2014.

On average, undergraduate students paid $6,191 in tuition fees in 2015/2016 compared with $5,998 a year earlier.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta froze tuition fees for the 2015/2016 academic year. Tuition fees were also frozen in New Brunswick except for a few programs, resulting in a 0.9% increase.

Undergraduate tuition fees rose in the remaining provinces, with increases ranging from 1.9% in Manitoba to 5.2% in Nova Scotia.

Undergraduates in Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,660) and Quebec ($2,799) continued to pay the lowest average tuition fees.

In comparison, undergraduate students in Ontario ($7,868) paid the highest average tuition fees in Canada, followed by students in Saskatchewan ($6,885) and Nova Scotia ($6,817).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by province, 2015/2016
Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by province, 2015/2016

Canadian undergraduates in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law continue to pay the highest average tuition fees

As in previous years, undergraduate students in dentistry ($18,934) paid the highest average tuition fees in 2015/2016. They were followed by students in medicine ($13,416), pharmacy ($11,723) and law ($10,983). These four programs recorded some of the highest percentage tuition fee increases: dentistry (+4.5%), pharmacy (+4.0%), law (+4.0%) and medicine (+3.3%).

All undergraduate programs posted increases, ranging from 2.2% in education and nursing to 5.0% in engineering.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2015/2016
Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2015/2016

Tuition fee increases are lower for Canadian graduate students than for undergraduates

Students enrolled in a graduate program paid an average of $6,432 in tuition fees in 2015/2016, up 2.2%. This followed a 2.8% gain a year earlier.

Tuition fees for graduate students rose in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta, where tuition fees for Canadian students were frozen this year. Increases ranged from 1.9% in Manitoba to 3.9% in Nova Scotia. As was the case with undergraduate students, the lowest average tuition fees for graduate students were in Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,474) and Quebec ($2,886).

Graduate students paid the highest tuition fees in Ontario ($8,971), followed by students in Nova Scotia ($8,502) and British Columbia ($7,801).

Masters of business administration remain the most expensive graduate programs, followed by dentistry

At the graduate level, the most expensive programs in 2015/2016 remained the executive master of business administration program (with average tuition fees of $42,235) and the regular master of business administration program, at $28,567. They were followed by dentistry ($12,551).

Similar to undergraduate programs, tuition fees rose for all graduate programs, with increases ranging from 1.0% in pharmacy to 7.2% in the executive master of business administration program.

International student tuition fees

Nationally, average tuition fees for international undergraduate students rose 6.5% to $21,932 in 2015/2016, following a 5.3% increase in 2014/2015.

Newfoundland and Labrador was the lone province with no increase, as its tuition fee freeze included international students. In the other provinces, tuition fee increases for international undergraduate students ranged from 0.7% in Alberta to 10.6% in Manitoba.

Average tuition fees for international full-time students in graduate programs rose 3.2% to $14,350, with increases ranging from 0.1% in Alberta to 12.0% in Manitoba.

Additional compulsory fees

Services included in additional compulsory fees vary from institution to institution and can change over time. Typically, they include fees for athletics, student health services, student associations as well as other fees that apply to full-time Canadian students.

Nationally, additional compulsory fees for Canadian undergraduate students increased 2.8% in 2015/2016 compared with the previous year. On average, these students paid $838 in additional compulsory fees, up from $815 a year earlier.

In 2015/2016, average additional compulsory fees for undergraduate students ranged from $229 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $1,072 in Alberta. New Brunswick posted the highest increase, up 9.5% to $543.

For graduate students, average additional compulsory fees at the national level increased 2.7%, with fees ranging from $273 in Saskatchewan to $1,339 in Alberta. Nova Scotia (up 5.2% to $726) recorded the largest increase, followed by Ontario (up 4.2% to $860).

Since 2010/2011, partial compulsory fees such as health plan and dental plan fees, which students can choose not to pay if they provide proof of comparable coverage, have not been included in calculating the weighted average for compulsory fees.

  Note to readers

Data presented in this release are from the survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs for Full-time Students at Canadian Degree-granting Institutions. The survey was administered from April to July 2015 and data cover the 2015/2016 academic year.

Data for 2015/2016 are preliminary. Any required changes will be applied to the 2016/2017 data release, when 2015/2016 data become final.

It is important to note that tuition fee increases are generally regulated by provincial policies. However, some programs may be exempted from these policies, resulting in possible increases that exceed provincial limits. Tuition fees in Newfoundland and Labrador have been frozen since 2003/2004.

The national and provincial tuition fee averages are weighted with 2012 student enrolments. If the number of enrolments is unknown for a given program, the program is excluded from the averages. The same student enrolment figures are used for weighting both years (2014/2015 and 2015/2016), thereby permitting comparison of changes in the tuition fees only.

The masters of business administration programs have been excluded from the national and provincial weighted averages to eliminate the effect of the high cost of these programs on the overall tuition fee average. Dental, medical and veterinary residency programs offered in teaching hospitals and similar locations that may lead to advanced professional certification have also been excluded.

As of 1998/1999, Quebec weighted averages include the different tuition fees paid by "in-province" and "out-of-province" Canadian students. As of 2007/2008, Nova Scotia weighted averages include the different tuition fees paid by in-province and out-of-province Canadian students. In the other provinces, out-of-province Canadian students and in-province Canadian students pay the same tuition fees.

As the distribution of enrolment across the various programs varies from period to period, caution must be exercised when making long-term historical comparisons.

Data in this release do not take into account financial assistance or tax rebates provided to students. Tuition fees and additional compulsory fees represent only a portion of all costs incurred for attending university.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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