I have been meaning to do a comparison of US and Canadian tuition costs for a while, and now a U.S. News article has come out describing the benefits of doing a degree in Canada (presumably aimed at Americans). So it’s a good time to complete my comparison.
First thing to point out, since 2014 the exchange rate between U.S. and Canadian dollars has shifted significantly. Where they were once nearly equal, now $1 Canadian is worth about $0.76 U.S. So if you have income or savings in US dollars, that’s how you can get the big bargain (about 30% more for your dollar!).
Next, which schools should we compare? Although I don’t particularly like rankings and question their value for selecting an undergraduate education, lots of prospective international student and parents do use them. So I decided to use the 2014 QS Rankings for Engineering & Technology, centering on Waterloo with a few universities above and below our ranking. Here are the results of my survey, converting Canadian to US dollars where appropriate:
|Tuition per academic year|
|U Texas @ Austin||$36,012||24|
|U British Columbia||$32,559||$24,745||51|
|UC San Diego||$36,334||56|
Some explanations/qualifiers are necessary:
- These are tuition costs as I found listed on the university websites, not including room & board, incidental fees, books, etc.
- For American universities, these are out-of-state or non-resident tuitions (what anyone would pay if not from that state), for engineering (if I found a program-specific tuition).
- For Canadian universities, these are international or visa student tuitions (what an American would pay if they came to Canada), for engineering.
- perhaps it’s important to note a difference. American universities tend to charge tuition based on residence. Canadian universities charge tuition based on citizenship, so a Canadian (or permanent resident) pays a lower tuition even if they are not from the same province (some exceptions apply).
- The gaps in the QS rankings are positions held by European, Asian and other universities. Within North America these are contiguous rankings.
So we see that the top ranked Canadian universities are quite a bargain for Americans and other international students, ranging from $6,000 to $25,000 cheaper per year, for something that QS ranks as roughly equivalent. Just something to consider.