It’s no secret that Calgary is a great place to reside. The city in the Canadian province of Alberta ranks fifth in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Global Livability Index, ahead of any other city in North America. So, it makes sense that a lot of students from different parts of Canada and outside the country think about moving to the city for higher education. And although Calgary doesn’t house any of the world’s top 100 universities, you will find here a number of inexpensive but quality options, at least by North American standards. 

If you’re an incoming international student in Canada, you can try the universities located in Calgary. They have a reputation for quality education and affordable tuition fees. In the article below, we listed the cheapest universities in Calgary.

What is the Cheapest University in Calgary for International Students?

The cheapest universities in Calgary are Ambrose University, the University of Calgary, and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. The tuition fees in these institutions ranges from CAD 8,242 – CAD 27,742 (USD 6,434 – USD 21,871). Compared to other universities, they are more affordable. However, please keep in mind that you also need to prepare for other expenses such as food, accommodation, and more during your studies.

Aside from the universities mentioned above, there are other universities in Calgary that you can consider. In the article below, you can check other institutions that you can find in Calgary. Make sure to read more!

Check Also: Canada Programs for International Students

Cheap Universities in Calgary

1. Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University (MRU) began its journey over a hundred years in 1910. Its main campus is situated at Lincoln Park in southwest Calgary. At an approximate distance of 15 miles from the main campus exists a second campus belonging to the rural community of Springbank. The public university currently has a student population north of 14,000, with the average class size being 31.

At MRU, a total of 12 degrees and 32 majors are offered through its five academic faculties: Health, Community, and Education; Business and Communication Studies; Continuing Education and Extension; Science and Technology; and Arts. Its Interior Design, Communication, and Nursing programs are a cut above the rest. To help students lower the cost of their education, the university annually disburses more than $3 million in scholarships and bursaries.

2. Alberta University of the Arts

  • International Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: CAD 569 (USD 444) Per Credit
  • International Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: CAD 31,250 (USD 24,392) Per Year
  • Tuition Fee Page
  • Scholarships Page

Although this cheap university in Calgary was founded in 1926, the Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) didn’t earn university status until as recently as February 1, 2019. It is the only higher education institution in the province of Alberta dedicated to art, craft, and design. Its total enrolment stands at around 1,200, of whom 72 percent are female. The Calgary-based public university has students from around 30 different countries. The faculty-to-student ratio is 1:16, while the average class size is 15.

At AUArts, students can earn Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Design, and Master of Fine Arts degrees in a dozen areas of concentration. The programs are offered through four administrative schools: Craft + Emerging Media, Visual Art, Critical + Creative Studies, and Communication Design. In 2018, the university awarded over $145,000 in scholarships and bursaries.

3. University of Calgary

  • International Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: CAD 2,204 (USD 1,720) Per 3 Units
  • International Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: CAD 8,242 (USD 6,434) Per Year
  • Tuition Fee Page
  • Scholarships Page

The University of Calgary (UCalgary) is one of the top 10 universities in Canada, according to QS World University Rankings 2020 as well as multiple other rankings. It also ranks among the top 300 universities in the entire world. Starting off merely as a branch of the University of Alberta, it became a full-fledged university in 1966. The comprehensive research university has four campuses in Calgary, with the main one occupying around 500 acres of land. A fifth campus is located in Doha, Qatar.

UCalgary offers over 250 undergraduate and graduate programs to a student population north of 30,000. It has 14 faculties, employing over 1,800 academic staff. The public university spends over $17 million annually in scholarships, bursaries, and awards. New students with an average of 95 percent or higher are awarded $5,000 scholarships.

4. St. Mary’s University

While the country’s more-renowned Saint Mary’s University (SMU) is located in Nova Scotia’s Halifax, Alberta’s Calgary too has a St. Mary’s University (StMU) of its own. It is a small, private Catholic university with only 875 full-time and part-time students. Founded as St. Mary’s University College in 1986, it became an independent university and earned its current name in 2014.

With an average class size of 25, StMU offers a Bachelor of Science degree, a Bachelor of Education after-degree, and eight Bachelor of Arts degrees in fields like General Studies, Liberal Studies, English, and Psychology. This cheap university in Calgary offers numerous scholarships and bursaries ranging from $500 to $31,000 to its students.

5. University of Lethbridge

  • International Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: CAD 19,324 (USD 15,233) Per Year
  • International Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: CAD 1,631 – CAD 12,824 (USD 1,285 – USD  10,109) Per Term (Depending on the credit per term)
  • Tuition Fee Page
  • Scholarships Page

Although the University of Lethbridge (ULeth) has its main campus positioned in the city of Lethbridge, it has a second campus situated in Calgary. Founded in 1967, the public university currently has over 8,700 students enrolled. Of them, around 670 students are studying at the Calgary campus. The average class at the university is 34. Its faculty-to-student ratio is 1:15.

While ULeth’s main campus is where the lion’s share of its 150-plus programs is based, the Calgary campus hosts a bunch of undergraduate and graduate programs in Management and Health Sciences. The university presents $1000-worth Calgary Campus Awards to the first 150 students enrolled in a program at the campus in the Fall semester.

6. Ambrose University

Next on our list of cheap universities in Calgary is Ambrose University. In 2007, a merger between Alliance University College and Nazarene University College gave birth to Ambrose University College, which went to earn university status in 2014 and becomes Ambrose University. It is a private Christian university that claims to be more than just a bible college. With its 40-acre campus sited in southwest Calgary, it offers higher education to only around 900 students. Its average class size is 18, while the faculty-to-student ratio is 1:19.

Ambrose offers a handful of programs at undergraduate and graduate levels through its Faculty of Arts & Science, School of Education, School of Ministry, and Seminary. The university provides its students with a number of scholarships, ranging from $500 to $2000.

7. Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Established in 1916, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is a Calgary-based polytechnic institute. It is the first publicly-funded technical institute in the Great White North. It has a student population north of 11,000. Of them, around 1,600 are international students representing as many as 94 countries.

Through its eight schools, SAIT offers over a hundred career programs, including Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Construction Project Management. Annually, it hands out over $5 million in awards to students enrolled in almost all of its programs.


We hope that this article on cheap universities in Calgary was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Canada!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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