Graduate Tuition Fees Are in Decline

By Dalia Sibie

According to recent data published by Statistics Canada, graduate tuition fees in Canada have decreased by almost 14% from 2018 to 2022. This data targets full-time Canadian students attending publicly funded degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges).

In the meantime, World Data indicates Canada’s inflation rate has risen by approximately 9% between 2018 and 2022. As a result of the rise in Canada’s inflation rate, tuition fees were expected to increase during this period. However, the opposite was true!

So how can the decline in fees be explained? How are universities and colleges coping with the rise in inflation if they haven’t increased their fees?

There are a number of elements that are worth mentioning. First, the tuition fees in this data are for Canadian students only. There was no indication of how much international students are paying in the data, which can sometimes be twice what Canadian students are paying. So, the share of tuition fee revenues is expected to increase. Second, many academic institutions were able to reduce their personnel costs and other operating costs during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last, with declines in undergraduate enrolment, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, academic institutions were trying to be as competitive as possible in recruiting and retaining students. As a result, they reduced their tuition fees.

The Academic Year 2022-2023

The data shows that the highest average tuition fees for this academic year are in the provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario. In contrast, the lowest rates are found in the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The lowest average tuition fees are in Quebec for $3,397, and the highest is in Nova Scotia for $10,045.

The highest tuition fees by field of study in all provinces, except Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, are for the Executive and Regular MBA. It costs between $7,281 for a Regular MBA in New Brunswick and $90,423 for an Executive MBA in Ontario.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest tuition fee is $5,691 for Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness, and in Nova Scotia, the highest fee is $22,316 for Dentistry.

The lowest tuition fees by field of study vary from province to province. In general, these are the fields that have the lowest fees: Law, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Education.

The lowest fees range between $2,737 for Veterinary medicine in Quebec and $7,201 for Education in Nova Scotia.

Canada’s most expensive province for students to study is in Nova Scotia, while Quebec is the cheapest. The most expensive field of study for this year is an Executive MBA in Ontario, and the cheapest field is veterinary medicine in Quebec.

Tuition fees vary significantly by level and field of study. Understandably, higher fees for a higher level of education are due to higher expected returns when employed. But, the big difference in fees between fields of study can affect future employment opportunities and create a state of imbalance in the labour market.

The decrease in graduate tuition fees in Canada over the past couple of years has been a positive sign for students.


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