A Lower Fee for a Ph.D.

A Lower Fee for a Ph.D.

U of T lowering tuition costs for most international doctoral students


Photo: Maclean’s.


Starting in the fall semester of 2018, the University of Toronto will be slashing international fees for a vast majority of doctoral programs offered at the university.

Formerly, international students at the University of Toronto (U of T) were charged $21,560 per session, which is a steeper levy than what most Canadian universities charge international doctoral students. However, from September onward, international doctoral students can breathe a sigh of relief because U of T is officially matching its international tuition with its current domestic tuition of $6,960 per session, a third of the previous price.

This charge will only affect students in their fifth year or beyond, because the first four years of U of T’s doctoral programs cover tuition. Unfortunately, many Ph.D. students take longer than a decidedly brief four-year block to complete their degree, which incurs them annual tuition fees for every year that they exceed their funding period.

U of T is one of the leading North American universities in both graduate research and international outreach. Of the 6,145 Ph.D. students at U of T for the 2017–18 academic year, 1,179 are international students. 

“Our international doctoral students have a tremendously positive impact at U of T,” Joshua Barker, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, told U of T News. “They bring new perspectives to research and are instrumental in building an international network that benefits our graduates beyond their time at the university. Our Ph.D. graduates are employed in 97 countries around the world.” 

The decision, according to Barker, is a part of a strategy being employed by U of T to “attract the top research talent” worldwide, since many talented international students have been intimidated by the potentially exorbitant sum of money that a doctorate at U of T would ultimately cost them. Barker notes that the School of Graduate Studies aims “to remove any barriers, financial or otherwise, that graduate students might face as they look to attend [U of T].”

Opponents of the decision point out the fact that, as international fees are not regulated by the government, many Canadian universities have seen a major boost in funding from an influx of international students paying international fees. Government funding, it’s argued, is intended to help domestic students.

However, the university sees this policy as benefiting the institution as well as its international Ph.D. students. 

“The new fee structure will benefit current and prospective international Ph.D. students and help U of T compete on the global stage for leading scholars,” U of T’s website reads.

Alas, not every program will benefit from the new tuition fees. Some professional Ph.D. programs will be exempt from the price cut, including doctorates in the fields of Juridical Science and Education.