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Tuition fees for degree programs, 2019/2020

Released: 2019-09-04

Canadian undergraduate and graduate students in Ontario will pay lower tuition fees in the 2019/2020 academic year compared with a year earlier, while students across the rest of the country will either pay the same tuition fees as last year or more. International student tuition fees were up 7.6% at the undergraduate level and up 4.4% at the graduate level.

The actual cost that students pay for degree programs varies depending on the grants and financial assistance they may receive.

Tuition fees decrease for Canadian undergraduate and graduate students in Ontario

Nationally, students enrolled full time in undergraduate programs will pay, on average, $6,463 in 2019/2020, down 5.3% from the previous year. The average cost for graduate programs will decline 4.5% to $7,056. To further explore results on 2019/2020 tuition fees in a visual format, visit the "Tuition fees for degree programs: Interactive tool."

Average tuition fees reflect both the variety of degree programs offered by institutions and the proportion of students enrolled in these programs. As a result, even if there are no changes in specific program tuition fees, the average tuition could change if new programs are added or if the distribution of students across programs changes.

The results of the Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs survey do not necessarily reflect the actual cost that students pay for their degree programs. Students may receive financial support, such as scholarships, bursaries, government grants and tax credits, which can vary across institutions and provinces.

Undergraduate and graduate average tuition fees decreased for Canadian students in Ontario, reflecting a cut in tuition fees by the provincial government for publicly funded postsecondary institutions across the province, beginning in 2019/2020. Tuition fees for undergraduate programs declined 9.9% in Ontario, while fees for graduate students decreased by 9.1%.

Conversely, tuition fees for undergraduate programs were unchanged in Alberta, while they rose in eight provinces and Yukon. The increases ranged from 2.0% in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia to 8.5% in Yukon. The increase in Yukon was attributable to higher costs per course in the single degree program offered at Yukon College.

Graduate tuition fees for Canadian students were unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador, but rose in the nine remaining provinces, with increases ranging from 1.3% in British Columbia to 4.1% in Saskatchewan.

Highest average undergraduate tuition fees are in four professional degree programs

Chart 1  Chart 1: Average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2019/2020
Average undergraduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2019/2020

Professional degree programs include law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry and pharmacy.

The highest average tuition fees for Canadian undergraduate students in 2019/2020 were in four professional degree programs: dentistry ($21,717), medicine ($14,162), law ($12,388) and optometry ($11,236). These four programs accounted for 2.9% of all Canadian undergraduate student enrollment. Recent findings from the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform revealed that graduates from these programs had the highest median employment income two years after graduating.

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 the humanities.

In social and behavioural sciences and legal studies (not including law), the average undergraduate tuition fee for full-time Canadian students was $5,544, with fees ranging from $2,709 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $7,420 in Nova Scotia.

Undergraduate tuition fees in business, management and public administration averaged $6,827. Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,759) posted the lowest fees, while Ontario ($9,503) recorded the highest.

In physical and life sciences and technologies, undergraduate tuition fees were the lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,714), while they were above the Canadian average ($6,056) in the Maritime provinces, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Undergraduate tuition fees in the humanities averaged $5,542, ranging from $2,680 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $7,409 in New Brunswick.

Masters of business administration remain the most expensive graduate programs

Chart 2  Chart 2: Average graduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2019/2020
Average graduate tuition fees for Canadian full-time students, by field of study, 2019/2020

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 $56,328 in 2019/2020, while the fee for a regular MBA averaged $27,397. These averages at the national level reflect the broad range of fees among the provinces that offer these programs.

The average tuition fees for executive MBA programs ranged from $11,592 in Quebec to $91,100 in Ontario, while the average tuition fees for regular MBA programs ranged from $2,847 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $39,106 in Ontario.

Business, management and public administration ($13,252) recorded the third highest average tuition fees for graduate programs nationally, followed by dentistry ($12,892).

Additional compulsory fees for Canadian students edge down

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, $914 in 2019/2020, edging down 0.5% from the previous year. For graduate students, average additional compulsory fees edged up 0.3% to $871 in 2019/2020. Ontario was the sole province to post lower compulsory fees in 2019/2020. The decrease in the province reflects a government initiative that allows undergraduate and graduate students to opt out of fees for designated non-essential services.

Tuition fees for international students increase

The average tuition fees for international undergraduate students in Canada rose 7.6% to $29,714 in 2019/2020. Two-thirds of international students were studying at the undergraduate level. Of this group, 29% were enrolled in business, management and public administration, with an average tuition fee of $28,680.

Just over 13% of international undergraduate students were enrolled full time in engineering, which had above average tuition fees of $33,703.

Very few international students (0.5%) were enrolled in professional degree programs, where the average tuition fees for international students were among the highest of all programs, ranging from $32,450 for medicine to $63,323 for veterinary medicine.

Average tuition fees for international students in graduate programs rose 4.4% to $17,744 in 2019/2020.

Graduate tuition fees for international students increased in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, where they were unchanged, and Prince Edward Island, where they declined 15.1% as a result of lower tuition fees in the master of education program.





  Note to readers

Data presented in this release are from the annual Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC) survey. The survey covers all public degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges) in Canada; that is, institutions 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 TLAC survey was administered from April to June 2019 and data cover the 2019/2020 academic year. Data for 2019/2020 are preliminary. Any required changes will be applied to the 2020/2021 data release, when the 2019/2020 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 program structures and fees.

National and provincial tuition fee averages are weighted with 2016/2017 student enrolments using the Postsecondary Student Information System. 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 (2018/2019 and 2019/2020), thereby allowing for 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.

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

Figures on enrolments are from the 2016/2017 Postsecondary Student Information System.

The fields of study are adapted from the 2016 Classification of Instructional Programs, Statistics Canada's standard classifying instructional programs.

Data in this release do not take into account financial assistance or tax rebates provided to students.

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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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