While contemplating an education abroad, the cost is one of the first parameters that most international students consider. Post-graduate education in Canada is often deemed world-class and more affordable than the other comparable destinations such as the United States or the United Kingdom – which are some of the key reasons why students choose Canada for their studies.
To better understand and get a realistic sense of the cost of studying in Canada, we surveyed 44 international students from varied backgrounds who have recently completed their education or are currently pursuing full-time post-graduate programs.
Average school expenses for international students in Canada
Course type: Post-graduate certificate or diplomas in various fields
Duration: Depending on the nature of the course, it could range between eight to 18 months.
Average school-related costs for post-graduate certificate or diploma in Canada
|Expense type||Annual cost|
|Tuition||Approx. $13,000 to $22,000 CAD.|
|Books||Up to $800 CAD.|
|Supplies (such as laptops, tablets, and other program materials)||Expect to spend between $500 to $3,000 CAD. Some programs may not require you to buy any additional materials, so you may save on these expenses.|
|Health/medical insurance||Ranges between $200 to $1,300 CAD depending on coverage.|
|Other school fees, if any||May range between $200 to $1,300 CAD.|
To sum up all school expenses, as an international student pursuing a post-graduate certificate or diploma in Canada, you may expect to spend approximately $14,000 to $29,000 CAD per year.
“Budget for more than what you think you’ll need. The first two to three months are key to understanding what’s expensive and what’s not, so account a little extra for those months.”
– Kashwin, graduated in 2020
Course type: Masters (such as MBA) or niche post-graduate certificate or diploma programs
Duration: 18 months to two years (Note: Niche fields refer to disciplines like robotics and AI, construction, big data, blockchain, design, etc.)
Average school-related costs for masters (such as MBA) program or niche post-grad certificate or diploma in Canada
|Expense type||Annual cost|
|Tuition||Approx. $15,000 to $30,000 CAD. Some programs can cost up to $50,000 CAD, depending on the course.|
|Books||Approx. $200 to $1,500 CAD.|
|Supplies (such as laptops, tablets, and other program materials)||Expect to spend between $500 to $2,000 CAD. Some programs may not require you to buy any additional materials, so you may save on these expenses.|
|Health/medical insurance||Ranges between $250 to $1,500 CAD depending on coverage.|
|Other school fees, if any||May range between $200 to $1,600 CAD.|
To sum up all school expenses, as an international student pursuing an MBA or a niche post-graduate certificate or diploma program in Canada, you may expect to spend approximately $16,000 to $37,000 CAD per year.
“Avoid the trap of living far away from campus to save money. Living nearby may appear expensive, but it will be economical in the end as you won’t need to spend money on public transit. Take advantage of everything your college/university has to offer – gym, WiFi (to avoid going over your data plan), or even the library computers, if you need to work with licensed software.”
– Oscar, graduated in 2014
Course type: Post-graduate advanced diploma programs
Duration: Three years.
Average school-related costs for post-graduate advanced diploma programs in Canada
|Expense type||Annual cost|
|Tuition||Approx. $14,000 to $18,000 CAD, or even more, depending on the program.|
|Books||Approx. $300 to $1,200 CAD.|
|Supplies (such as laptops, tablets, and other program materials)||Expect to spend between $500 to $1,500 CAD. Some programs may not require you to buy any additional materials, so you may save on these expenses.|
|Health/medical insurance||Ranges between $1,000 to $1,500 CAD depending on coverage.|
|Other school fees, if any||Up to $2,000 CAD.|
To sum up all school expenses, as an international student pursuing an advanced diploma program in Canada, you may expect to spend approximately $16,000 to $25,000 CAD per year.
“Plan your finances with extra room for uncertainty and bumps along the way (be prepared with 40-50 per cent above your initial budget), especially if coming to Canada with family and children.”
– Sabrina, graduated in 2019
Average living expenses for international students in Canada
|Expense type||Monthly cost|
|Housing and accommodation||Whether living on-campus or off-campus, expect to spend between $1,100 to $2,500 CAD per month. You can lower your housing costs by choosing to live with roommates and splitting the rent.|
|Groceries||Approx. $250 to $800 CAD for a single person.|
|Internet/cable||Approx. $50 to $150 CAD. Cable subscriptions often constitute the larger component of this expense. Internet alone generally averages between $50 to $80 CAD.|
|Utilities (gas, hydro, AC, water, heating)||Approx. $50 to $200 CAD. If you choose to live on-campus, these costs are generally included in your residence fee – which may make on-campus housing options seem slightly expensive.|
|Mobile plan||Approx. $50 to $100 CAD.|
|Public transit||Approx. $80 to $150 CAD.|
|Car (maintenance, gas, insurance, etc.), if you decide to get one||Approx. $500 to $800 CAD (excluding the cost of your purchase or lease).|
|Shopping and entertainment||Approx. $100 to $300 CAD.|
|Health/gym memberships||Approx. $30 to $100 CAD.|
|Other expenses (dining out, coffee, drinks, lifestyle, etc.)||Approx. $50 to $200 CAD.|
As an international student studying in Canada, you may expect to spend approximately $27,000 to $64,000 CAD annually on living expenses.
Tip: To know your options for finding affordable housing as an international student in Canada, see Finding accommodation in Canada: Tips for international students.
“The amount you have in Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) won’t even cover rent. Live either on-campus or near campus to make most of your time and save on commute costs – cook at home and take coffee from home. Ensure your debit card has unlimited debits or manage your debits. Be careful while using a credit card, and keep a close eye on your expenses.”
– Aakanksha, graduated in 2016
Summary of school and living expenses for an international student in Canada
|Course type||Annual cost|
|Post-graduate certificate or diplomas in various fields||Approximately $41,000 to $93,000 CAD per year.|
|Masters (such as MBA) or niche post-graduate certificate or diploma programs||Approximately $43,000 to $101,000 CAD per year.|
|Post-graduation advanced diploma programs||Approximately $43,000 to $89,000 CAD per year.|
“Research and plan ahead before starting your program. Even though your study permit may allow part-time employment, sometimes due to the course-load, it becomes impossible or very difficult to work part-time. So you will need to have strong financial support to pay your expenses during the time you’re just studying.”
– Lucas, graduated in 2019
Managing your finances as a student
Getting an education abroad is expensive. Hence, having sufficient finances to support your overseas education from the get-go is important. To fund your studies in Canada, you can consider options such as student loans, scholarships, grants, bursaries, student lines of credit, and financial aid offered by individual educational institutions.
Tip: As you estimate the cost for your education in Canada, be sure to check the government of Canada website for the proof of financial support required as part of your student permit application.
|Looking for more information on banking, budgeting and finances in Canada?
Download Arrive’s International Student Finance Guide and get started with confidence!
“Save money as much as you can. The pandemic showed me how important it is to have savings in case something unexpected happens. Also, I strongly recommend living near the campus as it helps with saving time, which means money, as you can then use that time on your part-time job.”
– Carolina, graduated in 2019
Living expenses, on the other hand, can be offset by taking up part-time jobs while studying, or through a co-op or internship program at your university, provided your study permit allows it. Be aware that taking up a job while studying may eat into your study time. Some courses tend to be very intensive and may leave you with very little to no time for taking up part-time employment.
|Resources to help you finance your education in Canada and offset living expenses|
Having access to the right resources, doing thorough research, and planning for your student-life finances well in advance will free up your mind and enable you to focus on your academics, so that you can graduate and start a successful career in your chosen field.