Cheapest Colleges in Canada For PhD Programs

Going to Canada for PhD programs can be considered among the cheapest in the world due to the high stipends in the forms of scholarships, assistantships and fellowships from Canadian universities. The PhD stipends serve as extra benefits for PhD Students studying in Canada. Although there may be some colleges with little deviations from this perception, this is the essence of this chat on the cheapest colleges in Canada for PhD programs.

To maintain and improve their intellectual level, postgraduate students need to undergo rigorous postgraduate academic training. It is a tough task to maintain higher academic training for a long period in terms of duration and fees. The more cheap and effective a PhD level training is, the more advantageous it is for both the country and the student. Measures to reduce funding and increase higher academic programs are being taken to enhance postgraduate academic training.

Canada, as a developed country, has great policies to maintain academic standards. The academic training at the PhD level is research-based and advanced, with no spoon-feeding. PhD students take an average of 4-5 years to complete their training and are responsible for completing their training within this period.

However, financial constraints can play a role in delaying the time to complete a doctoral program not just in Canada but globally. For this reason, intending PhD students who wish to study in Canada can leverage this post to learn about the Cheapest universities in Canada for PhD programs, to make informed decisions about which schools to get their PhD.


Top 10 Cheapest Colleges in Canada for PhD Programs

Top 10 Cheapest Colleges in Canada for PhD ProgramsThe following Canadian universities offer PhD programs at a lower cost than the average. This is because international students pay higher fees than Canadian students and some schools waive the international portion of fees for PhD students. Please note that some of the following schools are located in the provinces with the highest tuition fees in Canada.

However, even the higher priced schools in these provinces may offer programs at lower prices. Think about the right location for you, your tolerance for cold and proximity to your research when choosing schools in these provinces. Here is a list of the Most inexpensive schools in Canada to do a PhD.

  1. Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)
  2. University of Manitoba​
  3. University of Saskatchewan​
  4. University of Alberta
  5. University of Calgary​
  6. Simon Fraser University (SFU)
  7. Brandon University​
  8. University of Winnipeg​
  9. University of Regina​
  10. Lakehead University​

Let us take some time to discuss them in detail and explain why they are included in the list of the most affordable colleges for PhD in Canada.

#1. Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)

Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) is one of the cheapest colleges in Canada For PhD and offers PhD research programs in the fields of humanities, social sciences, medicine, and engineering, as well as interdisciplinary programs. The university provides an open learning and research environment that promotes the creation and transfer of knowledge. It has a special culture and tradition with a strong sense of community.

The tuition fees are around $2000 and there are mandatory fees which can vary from $500 to $1000. International students’ tuition is three times the Canadian tuition but still around $6000 at MUN. The fees are among the cheapest in Canada for international students. MUN is also offering an international graduate award valued at $16300 per year for three years.

See Also: Best Provinces for PhD Students Seeking PR in Canada

#2. University of Manitoba​

The University of Manitoba offers excellent funding to full-time PhD students. A guaranteed funding package is available to graduate students who are enrolled under “Plan A” at the PhD level. This package usually consists of a Teaching Assistantship, Graduate Fellowship, and Graduate Assistantship and eliminates the need to apply for multiple forms of financial support from the university. This kind of funding support helps the students solely concentrate on their studies and contribute towards education and research.

Also, the tuition fee for international PhD students is more than 3 times that of the local students. To alleviate this high fee, the University of Manitoba offers a Tuition Fee Remission (TFR) scholarship to all international students in research-based graduate programs.

The university ranks among the top 25 research universities in Canada, offering admissions to more than 90 different PhD programs in fields of health sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences alike. The University of Manitoba stands number 2 on the list of affordable colleges for PhD in Canada.

#3. University of Saskatchewan​

The University of Saskatchewan is a top choice among the inexpensive schools in Canada for PhD. This university has a well-established reputation in medical, agricultural, and scientific research. University of Saskatchewan is one of the founding members of the U15 group of Canadian Research Universities (referring to the 15 most research-intensive universities in Canada).

Because of this, combined with its high level of research activity, the institution has received a good amount of money to support the development of more graduate students and research opportunities. With over 80 PhD programs, it represents a high number of academic disciplines that are sure to cater to the needs of international and local scholars. Hence, it is difficult to dispute that the University of Saskatchewan is a good place to start your career in academia without breaking the bank.

International PhD students have the benefit of paying the same tuition fees as Canadian PhD students. The fees can range from approximately $4000 to $10,000 per year (full-time), depending on the program. This is a huge advantage compared to the average international PhD tuition, which can range from $10,000 to up to $100,000 at certain institutions in the United States.

#4. University of Alberta

The University of Alberta takes pride in its exploratory nature and in being a public research-focused institution. Currently, the university has an overall student population of over 37,000, with over 7,000 of those being postgraduate students. There are 300 programs available for postgraduate studies and the main areas of focus include the environment, energy, resources, and sustainable development.

The tuition is $8,000 per year for a PhD but most students in the Department of Medicine and Biosciences are offered $21,000 per year for the first 2 years and $25,000 for the remaining years. In addition, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science offer an additional $1,000 per year in Graduate Assistantships toward the tuition.

For international students, there are graduate student bursaries, scholarships, and assistantships, which are provided by the departments and faculty members. These scholarships vary in value but can significantly reduce the cost of tuition making the University of Alberta count amongst the cheapest colleges in Canada for PhD.

See Also: Managing Finances on a PhD Stipend

#5. University of Calgary​

University of Calgary is a public comprehensive research university and it is one of the cheapest schools to do a PhD in Canada. It is located in the province of Alberta. Established in 1944, the University of Calgary occupies a beautiful, park-like setting covering more than 200 hectares which offers future students a proximity to Canada’s magnificent wilderness.

The university offers a sizable amount of funding opportunities. A variety of scholarships and awards have been designed to assist students’ successful progress in their programs. U of C is the only Canadian university to offer a Dean’s Scholarship for entrance PhD candidates; an elite program not tied to a specific degree, field, or targeted recruitment initiative. This includes an upfront award in the first year ranging from $10,000 to $38,000.

Finally, the U of C graduate scholarship office reported an average of 5,001 PhD students receiving $12,691 in scholarship funding and 1,589 master’s students receiving $6,449. This is more than any other degree level, and the funding tends to increase. These offerings make the burden of costly tuition and life in a city with high costs of living more bearable.

#6. Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a public research university in British Columbia, Canada with a relatively low tuition fee for domestic and international research candidates. As of 2015, the annual tuition fee for domestic PhD candidates at SFU was $2,531.10. International PhD candidates pay double the tuition of domestic candidates, around $7,530.18.

SFU’s costs per unit are relatively low compared to some other institutions, and many countries offer scholarships for students to study abroad. SFU also has a centralized website for awards and financial aid to help students offset the cost of their PhD.

#7. Brandon University​

Brandon University will not charge international students more than domestic students for tuition. In addition to not increasing international tuition fees, the University will also decrease English for Academic Purposes (EAP) tuition fees from $5000 to $4000. The move is meant to attract more EAP students to Brandon, as well as increase the number of international students who go on to undergraduate and graduate studies.

High tuition rates for international students have been an issue for some years and are often cited as a barrier to the successful recruitment of offshore students. Various initiatives to combat this issue have long been put forth by the Board of Regents, Senate, faculty and administration. “This is a very exciting and proactive move that will surely position Brandon University as a leader in building successful relationships with international students. By providing both increased access to education for international students and decreasing their fees once here, the entire University community will benefit from an increase in diversity and cultural awareness,” says Dr. Deborah Poff, President and Vice-Chancellor.

#8. University of Winnipeg​

Studying at the University of Winnipeg is more cost-effective as the annual tuition fee for international PhD students amounts to $8,189.60. To help support graduate students, the Faculty of Graduate Studies offers a quality suite of scholarship, award and grant opportunities throughout the academic year. A variety of national and internal awards exist to address the different needs and costs associated with advanced education, and include opportunities for research, teaching, travel and completion scholarships; these awards vary from $1,000 to $50,000.

As well, the administered student research opportunities have tripled over the past decade, allowing students to not only develop their research and analytical skills but also assist faculty in impactful research and discovery.

#9. University of Regina​

The University of Regina is one of the most prestigious universities in Canada. It is a public university offering both undergraduate and postgraduate courses to its students. This university has a lot of reputation in terms of research and the quality of the education that it provides for the students residing in the country and those coming from abroad to study. There are students from more than 70 countries around the globe so, the university has a good percentage of international students to add to the diversity.

If the University of Regina’s incredibly low tuition doesn’t impress you, then its recently established President’s Research Chair could sweeten the pot. Regina’s tuition deals can’t be ignored. For Canadians, the figure on $2000-3000 per year, and less than $5000 for most international doctoral students. That’s remarkable given that many Canadian schools charge inflated international rates in the hopes of subsidizing domestic education.

#10. Lakehead University​

The average graduate student at Lakehead University pulls in approximately $19,000 per year in government and institutional awards and about 60% of full-time graduate students have their tuition completely covered by some form of financial aid thereby counting Lakehead University as one of the cheapest colleges in Canada for PhD. This is a significant amount, given that the tuition fee for a Canadian graduate student stands at an average of $6,000.

Lakehead University offers both thesis and course-based Masters and PhD programs in many disciplines, and accepts January applications for many programs, meaning that you can begin your studies in the winter term as well as the traditional fall term. This is better for some students since there are more teaching assistant work opportunities with fewer students studying in the winter term.

Comparison of Tuition Fees and Living Costs

An exploration of the financials for international PhD scholars commences with tuition analysis. Territories such as Alberta, British Columbia (BC), and Ontario are notorious for their lofty pricing structures. Quebec, in contrast, champions cost-efficiency, averaging $12,000 in fees for overseas doctoral students. It stands out for its equal treatment in fiscal matters, charging both international and provincial students a uniform annual sum, often around $20,000.

Manitoba, with a history of accessible education costs, institutes an average annual charge of $7,000 for foreign academicians. Significantly, some centers of higher education within the prairie and maritime locales eschew the supplementary international surcharges, standardizing their fee demands with those faced by Canadian domestic scholars.

Across Canada’s higher education landscape, one finds stark contrasts in tuition demands. Several renowned universities, particularly those buoyed by long-standing acclaim, equate the financial requisites for international and out-of-province scholars. For instance, peers at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia invest between $12,000 and $14,000 yearly for their doctoral pursuits.

On the spectrum’s opposite end, the most economical tuition for international PhD learners often falls near $8,000, a rate traditionally reserved for either out-of-province or overseas attendees amongst institutions typically commanding higher levies

When an international aspirant is mentored by a supervisor who shares provincial ties with the host institution, there may emerge opportunities for tuition relief, flirting with the amounts ordinarily billed to out-of-province inhabitants and unlocking avenues for substantial financial savings.


The top ten universities in this article have been chosen based on a number of important factors including local cost of living, tuition costs, and available resources. Do note, however, that the cost of tuition at different universities across Canada varies dramatically based on the province in question. An additional point to consider is that some universities offer funding in the form of scholarships or graduate assistant positions.

This information has not been factored into this article because a prospective student can’t use it for comparison before entering a university. This may result in an individual student paying less than the tuition cost listed for a particular university. This article is intended solely to attempt to depict the general average cost of securing a PhD at a Canadian university for the typical student.


Remember that a downturn in the economy can lead to changes in tuition rates at Canadian universities. So the information given in this article should not be viewed as fully accurate. You can visit the University’s websites for the most recent up-to-date data concerning tuition fees and other costs.


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