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Tuition fees for degree programs, 2017/2018

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Released: 2017-09-06

In general, the tuition fees associated with postsecondary degree programs increased in 2017/2018. The actual cost that students pay, however, depends on their program of study, and the grants and assistance they may receive.

Tuition for undergraduate programs for Canadian full-time students was, on average, $6,571 in 2017/2018, up 3.1% from the previous academic year. The average cost for graduate programs was $6,907, a 1.8% increase over 2016/2017.

While postsecondary institutions receive the majority of their revenue from government funding, according to the Financial Information of Universities and Colleges, and the Financial Information of Community Colleges and Vocational Schools surveys, tuition fees represent a growing source of revenue for universities and degree-granting colleges.

Across Canada, the increase in undergraduate average tuition fees for 2017/2018 ranged from 0.1% in Alberta to 5.5% in Nova Scotia.

Tuition fees for Canadian graduate students were unchanged in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, and rose in the remaining provinces, with increases ranging from 0.8% in British Columbia to 2.8% in Nova Scotia.

The tuition fees reported by the survey on Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs reflect both the variety of degree programs offered by institutions and the proportion of students enrolled in these programs. This survey does not necessarily reflect the cost students will pay as there is an assortment of non-repayable financial support available, and this can vary across institutions and provinces. For example, scholarships, bursaries, government grants and tax credits can decrease the actual amount that students pay. According to the 2010 National Graduates Survey, almost two-thirds of students who graduated with a university degree had received such non-repayable financial support.

Highest average undergraduate tuition fees are in dentistry, medicine, law and pharmacy

The most costly average tuition fees for Canadian undergraduate students were in dentistry ($22,297) in 2017/2018, followed by medicine ($14,444), law ($13,642) and pharmacy ($10,279). Among all Canadian undergraduate students, just over 3% were enrolled in one of these four programs.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2017/2018
Weighted average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2017/2018

On the other hand, almost 60% of Canadian undergraduate students were enrolled in one of four fields of study—social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies (not including law); business, management and public administration; physical and life sciences and technologies; and humanities. Tuition fees across these fields of study varied by province. At the Canada level and across most provinces, tuition fees in humanities were lower than or similar to the tuition fees for the other three fields of study.

In social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies (not including law), the average tuition fee for full-time Canadian students was $5,721, and ranged from $2,550 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $6,860 in Nova Scotia. Undergraduate tuition fees in business, management and public administration were lowest in Quebec ($2,731) and highest in Ontario ($10,024). In physical and life sciences and technologies, undergraduate tuition fees were above the Canadian average of $6,191 in four provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan).

Masters of business administration programs remain the most expensive

At the graduate level, the most expensive programs remained the executive and regular masters of business administration (MBA) programs. Average tuition for an executive MBA was $51,891 in 2017/2018, while the fee for a regular MBA averaged $29,293. These averages at the Canada level reflect the variety and broad range of fees among the provinces that offered MBA programs. Average tuition fees for the nine provinces offering regular MBA programs varied, from $2,378 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $11,760 in Alberta, $26,623 in British Columbia and $41,924 in Ontario.

Dentistry ($12,652) had the third-highest average tuition fees for graduate programs at the Canada level, followed by business, management and public administration ($11,220).

Additional compulsory fees for Canadian students continue to increase

Additional compulsory fees vary by institution and can change over time. These fees apply to all Canadian students, regardless of field of study. Typically they include fees for athletics, student health services and student associations.

Nationally, additional compulsory fees for Canadian undergraduate students were, on average, $880 in 2017/2018, up 3.8% from the previous year. For graduate students, average additional compulsory fees increased 4.2% to $838.

Tuition fees for international students

Across Canada, the average tuition fees for international undergraduate students rose 6.3% to $25,180 in 2017/2018. Average tuition fees for international students in graduate programs rose 5.4% to $16,252.

Two-thirds of international students were studying at the undergraduate level in 2017/2018. Of these students, almost one-third were enrolled in business, management and public administration ($24,683), which had tuition fees below the national average. Meanwhile, 14% of international undergraduate students were enrolled full time in engineering, which had above average tuition fees of $28,625.

  Note to readers

Data presented in this release are from the annual survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs. The survey covers all public degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges) in Canada; that is, those that offer programs leading to degrees as defined by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials: bachelor's degrees, applied (bachelor's) degrees, applied master's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees. These degrees are more commonly offered by universities, but may also be offered by colleges. Canadian students, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, are reported separately from international students.

The survey was administered from April to June 2017 and data cover the 2017/2018 academic year. Data for 2017/2018 are preliminary. Any required changes will be applied to the 2018/2019 data release, when the 2017/2018 data become final.

Although tuition fee increases are generally regulated by provincial policies, some programs may be exempt from these policies, resulting in possible rises that exceed provincial limits. Tuition fee averages may vary from year to year because of changes in the structure of and fees for programs.

National and provincial tuition fee averages are weighted with 2014 student enrolments. If the number of enrolments for a given program is unknown, that program is excluded from the averages. The same student enrolment figures are used for weighting both academic years (2016/2017 and 2017/2018), thereby allowing a comparison of changes in tuition fees.

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

Data on enrolments are from the 2014/2015 Postsecondary Student Information System survey.

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.

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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