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7 Affordable Universities in Calgary, Canada for 2024

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Are you seeking affordable universities in Calgary, Canada? This comprehensive article is tailored for you, compiling a list of the most economical institutions in Calgary, encompassing both colleges for domestic and international students.

Calgary, located in the Canadian province of Alberta, boasts high liveability, ranking fifth in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Global Liveability Index among cities in North America. Its allure as a thriving city attracts numerous students nationally and globally for higher education opportunities.

While Calgary might not house any of the world’s top 100 universities, it offers several cost-effective yet quality educational options, particularly by North American standards. Renowned for its open spaces, rivers, mountains, and abundant sunshine, Calgary provides a picturesque living environment.

The city promotes a culture of free movement, boasting an extensive network of bicycle paths. Encouraging applicants worldwide, Calgary’s universities and colleges offer international students ample prospects for advanced studies, as highlighted in this article.

Why Choose Calgary for Study?

Before delving into a list of cost-effective universities in Calgary, let’s examine the primary reasons to opt for this Canadian city:

Welcoming Environment:

Calgary upholds the Canadian reputation for friendliness, evident in its youthful populace with a majority engaging in part-time volunteering. It’s a hospitable city that warmly embraces tourists and international students from diverse backgrounds.

Dynamic Growth:

With its vibrant ambiance and bustling pace, Calgary stands out as a city brimming with opportunities. It houses numerous oil and gas companies, positioning itself among Canada’s fastest-growing regions. For those inclined toward courses in oil and energy studies, exploring affordable universities in Calgary is highly recommended.


Comparatively, the cost of living in Calgary is notably lower than in other Canadian cities. Daily necessities such as food, groceries, accommodations, and transportation are more economical. Moreover, students in Calgary benefit from mall discounts, enhancing their affordability quotient.

Inexpensive Universities in Calgary, Canada

Here, we’ve compiled a list of budget-friendly universities in Calgary, Canada, along with their tuition fees for both domestic and international students, aiding prospective applicants in understanding the expected costs while applying to any of the colleges or universities mentioned below.

Mount Royal University

Domestic Tuition: $6,600

International Tuition: $21,500 – $23,000

Established in 1910, Mount Royal University (MRU) stands as one of the economical universities in Calgary, Canada. Its primary campus resides in Lincoln Park, southwest of Calgary, while a secondary campus is located approximately 15 miles away in the Springbank rural community. With over 14,000 students, MRU maintains an average class size of 31.

Offering 12 degrees and 32 majors across five faculties: Health, Community and Education; Business and Communication Studies; Continuing Education and Extension; Science and Technology; and the Arts, MRU is recognized for its exemplary interior design, communication, and nursing courses. The university provides over $3 million in scholarships and grants annually, supporting students in reducing educational expenses.

Read Also: How to Get a Free Visa to Canada: A Guide

Alberta University of the Arts

Domestic Tuition: $4,500

International Tuition: $15,000

Among the affordable universities in Calgary, the Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) stands out. Established in 1926 and attaining university status in February 2019, AUArts is the sole post-secondary institution in Alberta exclusively dedicated to arts, crafts, and design.

With around 1,200 students, 72% of whom are women, AUArts represents nearly 30 different countries. The university maintains a teacher-student ratio of 1:16, with an average class size of 15.

Offering programs such as Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Design, and Master of Fine Arts in over a dozen concentration areas, AUArts provides degrees through schools of administration, Visual Arts, Craft + Emerging Media, Critical + Creative Studies, and Communication Design. In 2018, the university awarded over $145,000 in scholarships and grants.

University of Calgary

Domestic Tuition: $5,400

International Tuition: $18,350

The University of Calgary (UCalgary) stands as one of the premier universities in Calgary and Canada, achieving high rankings in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and placing among the top 300 globally. Originating as a branch of the University of Alberta, UCalgary gained independent university status in 1966.

Surprisingly affordable among Calgary’s universities, UCalgary boasts four campuses spread across approximately 500 acres in Calgary, with an additional campus located in Doha, Qatar.

Offering over 250 undergraduate and graduate programs to a student body exceeding 30,000, UCalgary houses 14 faculties and employs over 1,800 academic staff. The university allocates more than $17 million annually to scholarships, grants, and awards, with incoming freshmen holding an average of 95% or higher qualifying for a $5,000 scholarship.

Saint Mary’s University

Domestic Tuition: $8,322

International Tuition: $15,912

Distinct from the more recognized St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saint Mary’s University (StMU) in Calgary, Alberta, is a small private Catholic institution with 875 full-time and part-time students. Founded as St. Mary’s University College in 1986, it gained university status in 2014.

With an average class size of 25, StMU offers Bachelor of Science, Post-Bachelor of Education, and eight Bachelor of Arts programs encompassing General Education, Liberal Studies, English, and Psychology. Recognized among the cost-effective universities in Calgary, StMU provides numerous scholarship opportunities and grants ranging from $500 to $31,000.

University of Lethbridge

Domestic Tuition: $5,000

International Tuition: $17,500

The University of Lethbridge (ULeth), established in 1967, primarily operates from its main campus in Lethbridge, with a secondary campus in Calgary. With an enrollment surpassing 8,700 students, including about 670 on the Calgary campus, ULeth maintains an average class size of 34 and a student-faculty ratio of 1:15.

While most of ULeth’s 150+ programs are offered at the main campus, the Calgary campus focuses on undergraduate and graduate programs in management and health sciences. ULethbridge provides a $1,000 Calgary Campus Award to the initial 150 fall semester enrollees, standing out as an affordable choice among Calgary’s universities.

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Ambrose University

Domestic Tuition: $13,000

International Tuition: $19,000

Ambrose University stands out among the universities in Calgary, Canada, offering an affordable option for students seeking cost-effective institutions. Formed in 2007 from the merger of Union University College and Nazarene University College, it achieved university status in 2014.

As a private Christian institution, Ambrose University goes beyond conventional Bible college education. Situated on a 40-acre campus in southwest Calgary, it caters to approximately 900 students with an average class size of 18 and a student-faculty ratio of 1:19.

The university provides various undergraduate and graduate programs across its Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Ministry, and Divinity. Ambrose University also offers multiple scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)

Domestic Tuition: $6,500

International Tuition: $20,300

Established in 1916 as a polytechnic institution, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is Calgary’s first publicly funded technical college. With a student body exceeding 11,000, including around 1,600 international students from approximately 94 countries, SAIT is among the affordable universities in Calgary.

SAIT offers over a hundred career programs through its eight schools, encompassing bachelor’s degrees in fields like hospitality and tourism management, business administration, and construction project management. The institution annually grants over $5 million in scholarships to students across almost all programs.

Additional Colleges in Calgary for International Students

Beyond the mentioned universities, Calgary houses several notable colleges catering to international students:

Bow Valley College

Bow Valley College operates as a public, board-run institution offering comprehensive educational programs. It provides vocational training, adult upgrading, university transfer programs, and English language study, serving as a full community institution.

Columbia College

Columbia College stands as a promising option among the colleges in Calgary, Canada, particularly for international students seeking vocational academic institutions. It offers diverse diploma and certificate programs covering a wide array of subjects.

Cambridge College

Cambridge University is dedicated to empowering individuals in their pursuit of higher education goals. Among the colleges in Calgary for international students, it focuses on fostering an environment that enables all students to achieve their fullest potential.

Throughout your academic journey, you may have opportunities to enhance your communication skills and cultivate critical thinking abilities.

Rocky Mountain College, Calgary

Rocky Mountain College represents one of the Christian multi-denominational colleges in Calgary, Canada, situated in Calgary, Alberta.

Describing itself as a Christian learning community, the college is committed to preparing students to serve as effective agents of moral, spiritual, and social transformation for the greater glory of God. It offers a range of programs, including one-year certificate programs, two-year diploma programs, as well as three- and four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees

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