Top 7 Colleges in Calgary for International Students in 2024

Colleges in Calgary have made their mark in the global ed-scape, providing world-class learning opportunities to students, both domestic and international. Considered to be one of the best cities in the world to live in, it is the largest city in the province of Alberta, even larger than the provincial capital of Edmonton. It is a multicultural, metropolitan city where almost one in three people living there are immigrants.

If Canada is a country you are considering for studying as an international student, then Calgary is one of the cities to consider, besides Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver

This article covers

Let’s dive in.

Why study at Calgary Colleges?

The oil and gas industry hub of Canada, Calgary is the third largest city and is often referred to as the energy capital. In Alberta, this city is considered to be the safest and the fastest growing. Here’s why you must consider Calgary as a global study destination.

Globally recognized education and work opportunities:

With some of the top institutions such as the University of Calgary, Bow Valley College, or CDI College, Calgary is home to some of the top colleges and universities, not just in Canada but in the world. After Toronto, Calgary has the second highest level of educational attainment (post-secondary qualification i.e.: university degree, apprenticeship, diploma, certificate, etc.).

The Calgary Metropolitan Region is home to Canada’s second-highest number of corporate head offices among the country’s 800 largest corporations. Therefore, the employability rate in this city is also high with in-learning experiences such as internships and on-the-job training.

Cost of Living:

The cost of living index is 75.7 which is lower than the 77.6 of Ottawa, 77.2 of Vancouver, or 78.7 of Victoria.While the overall cost of living has increased in Calgary due to inflationary trends (primarily reflected in the costs of housing and insurance) most skilled professionals make more in Calgary Alberta than when compared to the other provinces of Canada.

Quality of Life:

Be it political stability, healthcare, infrastructure, or weather, Calgary is very friendly and accommodating to international students. With almost 120 languages spoken in the city, it is the third most diverse city in Canada. In the Global Liveability Index, published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Calgary has tied with Zurich, taking third place on the list of the world’s most livable cities. In addition, the weather in Calgary is probably the best of all major cities in Canada. The average daytime high is 24ºC in July and -3ºC in January. Calgary gets an average of 333 days of sun each year.

How much does it cost to study college in Calgary?

For an international student, compared to the UK, the USA, or even Australia, the cost of enrolling at a post-secondary institution in Canada is more affordable. Let’s take a look at some of the indicative figures that will show you the range of expenses you might incur as an international student living in Calgary.

Tuition fee

According to the official website of the province of Alberta, the yearly tuition in a college in the best colleges in Calgary for international students can range anywhere from CA $9,750 to CA $26,560. If you are signing up for a university such as UCalgary or Mount Royal University, the fee is slightly higher, ranging from CA $11,780 to CA $45,208, depending on the course.

Application Fee

Depending on the college or university, the application fee ranges anywhere from CA $70 to CA $150.

Study Permit Fee

CA $150 per person. The study permit is essentially your student visa. It is something you apply for, once you receive the Letter of Acceptance from the university or college of your choosing.

While these are larger, some even one-time expenses, let us look at some of the recurring ones that you will incur.

Cost of Living

Calgary is probably what we would call the perfect middle-ground when it comes to the cost of living. With its gaining popularity as a global study destination, rising status as an upcoming economic hub and Canada’s inflationary trends, there has been a noticeable increase in the cost of living in Calgary for international students. Here are some average figures to help you budget for your life in Calgary.

  • Housing rent costs about CA $800 – $1,100 a month for a studio apartment. It becomes a lot less if you choose to share apartments. Utilities cost about CA $200 – $350.
  • Public transport can be budgeted at around CA $500.
  • Keep aside about CA $1,000 for insurance and about CA $400 CAD for your phone bill per year.
  • Food will cost around CA $4,000 per annum.
  • Always remember to budget extra for both entertainment and emergencies.

What are the scholarship options for colleges in Calgary?

For an international student, a student loan is always an option to help with the financial requirements of studying abroad. But, before you open that door, always look at the scholarships and other financial aid given by the government or the institution.

For instance, the Canadian Bureau of International Education has an entire range of scholarships for international students. These scholarships are awarded on the basis of both merit and financial need. On the whole, with the government of Canada trying to establish the nation as a top global ed destination, numerous scholarship options are available to international students.

That said, here are some specific ones you can consider in Calgary:

Disclaimer: This video reflects details and rankings from 2023

What are the best colleges in Calgary for international students?

What makes Calgary one of the best cities for international students is its top colleges providing excellent learning environments and high employment rates. And, like the other provinces of Canada, Alberta also has both universities and colleges which cater to different needs when it comes to the pursuit of higher education.

They are both post-secondary institutions but the difference is as follows:

In simple terms, a university is a larger institution with more students. It is a degree-awarding body set up to aid the pursuit of knowledge. They usually have bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral programs.

A college is what you sign up for if you are looking for specialized training, a diploma, or even a certificate course. It is typically smaller with fewer students in class when compared to a university. A college course can even function as a pathway to a university or can help you enter the workforce after a two/to the three-year course. It is more specialized and career-oriented when compared to a university.

One area of overlap that can happen between a college and a university is the undergraduate degree. Some of the Calgary colleges also offer bachelor’s degree courses, usually in association with a university, or with the approval of the provincial government. So, depending on your pursuits, you can also choose what kind of institution to study in. Here are some of the top universities and colleges in Calgary for international students.


University/ College


Average Fee

1 University of Calgary 182 (QS Global ranking) $32,208
2 Mount Royal University 52 (Edurank National ranking) $25,000 – $27,000
3 Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) 45 (QS Ranking for Hospitality and Tourism) CA $19,000 – $25,000
4 Bow Valley College 104 (Webometrics national rank) CA $18,000 – $35,000
5 St Mary’s University N.A CA $26,580
6 ABM College 236 (Webometrics national rank) CA $13,000 – $30,000
7 Alberta University of Arts 171 (Webometrics national rank) CA $20,000

1. University of Calgary

Source: UCalgary

It is impossible to talk about higher education institutions in Calgary without bringing Ucalgary right at the beginning. The history of this university can be traced back to 1944 when it began in Calgary as a branch of the University of Alberta. In 1966, it was instituted as a separate autonomous university. Today, UCalgary has 14 faculties and 85 research institutes and centers. Every year, about 33,000 students study here. It is also the alma mater of James Gosling (lead designer of the Java programming language), Garrett Camp (co-founder of Uber), Robert Thirsk (astronaut), and Chip Wilson (founder of Lululemon Inc).

Why is it good to study here?

UCalgary stands in 182nd place among all the universities in the world, according to QS rankings 2024, and in the top-ten list in Canada, making it one of the most renowned universities in Calgary. It is known for its work-integrated learning and has a 94% employment rate after graduation. Be it their School of Arts or the Haskayne School of Business (also read: MBA in Canada), UCalgary has a high student satisfaction rate. With a number of student support activities and a diverse student community, UCalgary is a great place to upgrade your higher education experience.


The average fee for an undergraduate program for an international student is CA $32,208, if you are taking a full course-load.


If you are looking for enrollment at the undergraduate level, then these are the entry requirements:

  • Standard 12 board examination with certain required courses for your degree program. These required courses vary depending on the major of your choice. Any equivalent International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) courses or previously completed SAT2 subject tests are accepted.
  • Successful completion of at least three years of formal, full-time study in English at a secondary school in an exempt country (India is exempt) or is accredited to offer Canadian, American or British curricula.
  • Or a minimum TOEFL iBT score of 86 or a minimum IELTS score of 6.5

Courses offered & admission process

B.A., B.Sc., M.A., M.Sc., MBA, M. Eng., and Ph.D. programs are offered at the University of Calgary. The university offers 250 programs that can be combined with your choice, starting from Accounting, all the way to Zoology.

Once you select the course of your choice and ensure that the admission requirements are met, you make an account on the UCalgary website. You ensure that you have all transcripts in hand, ready to upload. You will also have to pay an application fee of CA $145, as an international student.

2. Mount Royal University

Source: Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University began as Mount Royal College in September 1911. It was affiliated to the University of Alberta and then with the University of Calgary. In 2009, Mount Royal was awarded University status by the government of Alberta. Today, the university offers 12 degrees and 32 majors. Their motto is Quam Bene Non-Quantum, which translates to ‘How well, not how much’.

Why is it good to study here?

Ranked 52nd of all universities in Canada by Edurank, Mount Royal University is known for its small classrooms. This provides for intimate learning experiences and more personalized attention from the faculty. The university describes its programs as “future-focused”, indicating that they keep themselves updated on the current and growing needs of the market out there. In addition to conventional degrees, the university also provides diploma programs in aviation and social work.


The tuition fee for international students can range between $25,000 – $27,000.


If you are applying after high school, then you must submit your completed Grade 12 transcript with at least five relevant courses.

Two separate English requirements must also be met for admission to Mount Royal.

English Language Arts 30-1 (or an equivalent course administered by the university) if required by the program, and demonstrate English Language Proficiency through

  • 2 years of full-time study in English in high school (Indian schools following English medium are accepted) or
  • TOEFL iBT with a minimum score of 86 or
  • IELTS with a minimum score of 6.5

Courses offered & admission process

Mount Royal University has a plethora of courses to choose from in the field of arts, sciences, health and social services, education, communications, and business, as well as diploma programs in aviation and social work. Their undergraduate degrees are 4 years long and include hands-on learning experiences such as co-op education, apprenticeships, and internships. You also have some programs that are designed for university transfer, wherein you can take advantage of Mount Royal’s small classes for up to two years and then switch to another university. They also have diploma and certificate programs that are meant for upgrading your skills. Mount Royal also offers both credit and non-credit Continuing Education programs. You can access the entire list of courses here.

For a semester beginning in Fall, applications open on October 1. Till February 1 it is considered early application. You can expect a decision anytime between November and May, depending on the volume of applications.

3. Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Canada’s first publicly funded technical institute, SAIT is a popular choice for an undergraduate/ polytechnic institute in Calgary. Home to over 14,000 students every year, SAIT delivers numerous skill-oriented courses through nine different schools. Polar Explorer Jason Landry, artist Ted Goodwin, and many Canadian MLAs call this school their alma mater.

Why is it good to study here?

The hospitality and tourism courses at SAIT have been ranked 45th in the world by QS Rankings. As a polytechnic institute, SAIT offers hands-on industry training that will allow you to further your education in a university or consider joining the workforce. It is also a global institution with students from over 90 countries enrolling there yearly.SAIT stands apart as one of the best colleges in Calgary for international students.


For international students, the tuition fee can be anywhere between CA $19,000 and CA $25,000. This is a rough estimate since fees are calculated every semester based on the number of credits and courses you choose.


SAIT has a clear admission requirement policy. You can check it out here, depending on your course. Some of the general criteria include completion of high school (Standard 12) and proof of proficiency in English. While a whole range of tests is considered by the school, the most common ones are TOEFL (minimum score of 20 in each category) and IELTS (minimum score of 6.0). Unlike other schools, SAIT is particular in that these tests must be taken within 12 months before you submit your application.

Courses offered & admission process

SAIT offers three baccalaureate degrees, three applied degrees, 86 diploma and certificate programs, 27 apprenticeship trades, and more than 1,100 continuing education, corporate training, camps, and other open registration courses. Besides hospitality-related courses, the school is also known for business administration, electrical engineering, and architecture.

Here’s how you apply to SAIT as an international student.

4. Bow Valley College

Source: Bow Valley College

Established in 1965 as a community institution, the main campus of Bow Valley College is located in downtown Calgary. The branch campuses are Airdrie, Banff, Canmore, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore. With a student population of 17,000, this college is one of the premier higher educational institutions in Canada.

Why is it good to study here?

Ranked 104 of the top colleges in Canada by Webometrics, applied research projects are one of the strong points of this school. The learning framework of this college is built around Competency-Based Education. These competencies are carefully curated and built-in students with the help of prospective employers so that a graduate from Bow Valley College is set to meet industry standards upon graduation.


The fee ranges from CA $18,000 to CA $35,000 for diploma and certificate courses in this Calgary college.


The academic requirements vary with each program. However, when it comes to language proficiency, a minimum score of 6.0 in IELTS or 83 in TOEFL iBT or its equivalent is what is expected.

Courses offered & admission process

Over a hundred courses are offered by the seven specialized schools of Bow Valley College.

  • The Chiu School of Business
  • The School of Continuing Learning (professional development, continuing education, and open studies courses)
  • The School of Community Studies
  • The School of Technology
  • The School of Foundational Learning
  • The School of Global Access
  • The School of Health and Wellness

5. St Mary’s University


A private catholic university focussed on teaching and research, St Mary’s University offers primarily undergraduate degrees in arts, sciences, and education. Home to about 900 students, it creates an intimate learning setup, where the average classroom size is only about 25.

Why is it good to study here?

St Mary’s University provides transferable university courses in 35 academic disciplines. It gives you the scope to get settled in a smaller international learning setup before transferring to a larger competitive arena of the other universities in Calgary for international students such as the University of Calgary or that of Alberta in Edmonton. The focus is on experiential learning so that learning does not remain theoretical.


The annual cost for an international student, including student services, is around CA $26,580.


While different courses have different admission requirements, the common eligibility criterion is English language proficiency. A minimum TOEFL iBT score of 80 or an IELTS score of 6.0 is needed. Higher scores are required, should you choose to pursue a degree in Education.

Courses offered & admission process

St Mary’s University provides Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs in varied disciplines such as English, Psychology, Education, Liberal Studies, and Management, to name a few.

When it comes to admission, an application fee of CA $50 – $110 must be paid.

6. ABM College

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Compared to the other institutions in the list that offer a wide range of courses, ABM college is a private higher education institution that offers specific career-centric education. It offers programs only in the fields of healthcare, technology, and business administration. These super-specialized courses are presented in the form of either a diploma or a certificate program.

Why is it good to study here?

Accredited by the Alberta and Ontario Ministries of Career Colleges and Universities, the goal of ABM College is simple – to provide “education that gets you hired”. You have the choice between in-class and virtual learning as the school continues to provide online or blended programs. The schedules are flexible and this includes the intakes. Some courses at ABM have monthly intakes which means you do not have to wait long to begin your education journey. If healthcare, technology, or business is the field of your choosing, a specialized college might just be the better fit.


The approximate total cost of a diploma can range between CA $13,000 and $30,000 depending on the choice of programme.


  • Applicants must have a minimum of a secondary school graduate or Grade 12 equivalent level of education.
  • Students must be a minimum of 18 years of age prior to applying.
  • English language tests:
    • IELTS Academic total band score of 6.0 or
    • TOEFL Internet-based test scores of 70 or
    • Pearson Academic (PTE) of 54

Courses offered & admission process

All courses offered in ABM revolve around health, business, and technology. They are all either diplomas or certificate programs. You can check out the full list of courses here.

The application process involves submitting the completed application form online along with the required transcripts. They may be required to undergo assessment through International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) or World Education Services (WES).

7. Alberta University of the Arts

Source: AUA

Interestingly, the origins of the Alberta University of the Arts can be traced back to SAIT. The art school wing of SAIT became the Alberta College of Art in 1960. In 1995, it gained university status and was granted the power to award Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. It was renamed the Alberta College of Arts and Design, to highlight the importance of design education.

Why is it good to study here?

If you want to immerse yourself in the world of art and design, AUA is the place to go. With an eclectic mix of specializations in art and design, the entire ethos of this university is designed to enrich the artist in you. The university also has student travel programs that allow you semester studying elsewhere in North America, the UK, continental Europe, or Australia, making it one of the most sought after design universities in Calgary for international students.


The average tuition fee for an international student is about CA $20,000.


  • High School diploma equivalent to an Alberta high school diploma and a minimum of 60% in the final year of study
  • Portfolio of 12 pieces of your original and most imaginative work
  • TOEFL score of 83 or higher or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher

Courses offered & admission process

Bachelor of Fine Arts (11 different specializations)

Master of Fine Arts

Certificate courses

Applications for the Fall semester open on October 1 and close by June 1. You submit the completed application form with the necessary documents and portfolio along with a non-refundable application fee of CA $110.

Read also: Top colleges in Vancouver, Montreal, and Surrey

How to apply to universities in Calgary?

Now that you have all the information about the top colleges in Calgary, how do you go about the application process? Each university has its own set of requirements and deadlines to keep up with. The prep work can get overwhelming. Here is how you can make the process simpler.

Step 1

Go to and sign in. It opens the world of universities for you, for free. All you have to do is sign up.

Step 2

Complete your profile. Ensure you have everything filled up especially about your existing qualifications, choice of courses and your top preferences of colleges in Calgary. If you have worked in a related field, do let us know. This will help us collate the best universities for you.

Step 3

Search for the courses of your choice. All the information you need, gathered in one place, at no cost.

Step 4

Check out our insights page for more up-to-date information about universities and colleges.

Step 5

Then simply set up a visit to pick a Relationships Team closest to you and choose a slot to meet with a Relationship Member. Our RM will be with you every step of the way, helping you identify the perfect course and college, assisting you in the admission process all the way till immigration.

Let’s shape your future together.

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