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Study and living costs

Graduate studies is an exciting step forward in your education and life – one that gives you the opportunity to further your research, develop your skills, positively impact your career path, and increase your earning potential. It’s important to have a clear understanding of the costs and expenses associated with graduate studies so that you’re ready to make the commitment.

Waterloo Region is one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada and is a vibrant place to live and learn. Rapid transit makes it easy to get around, and the City of Waterloo maintains over 230 km of trails, bike lanes and signed bike routes for active transportation. Along with the wide array of startups and tech giants, Waterloo has a vibrant food and restaurant scene, and fun events and festivals happening year-round. Take a virtual tour.

Tuition and incidental fees

Tuition and incidental fees vary by program and student type (domestic or international).

To determine the tuition and incidental fees per term for your program, visit the Graduate program tuition page on the Finance website. Once you are on the page:

  • Choose your program type: master’s & diploma programs or doctoral programs
  • Choose your residency status: Canadian/permanent resident or international
  • Choose a term (tuition amounts for future terms are posted approximately two months prior to the start of each term and incidental fees are subject to change)
  • Find your program under the appropriate faculty. Tuition amounts are listed per term, with three terms occurring over the course of a year.

Student Financial Services also has an Interactive Tuition Fee Estimator that will allow you to receive an estimate of your future tuition, incidental and residence fees. Use the Student Fee Estimator if:

  • you are applying for a study permit and need to pay fees in advance to show proof of payment as part of your study permit application
  • you are applying for an education loan

Study and living costs

The amounts in the chart below are approximate and should be used only as a guide. The amounts reflect estimated living costs for a single person living in Waterloo (lower amount is based on shared accommodation), and show the amounts by month, academic term (4 months), and year (3 academic terms). 

Estimated living costs
Expense Estimated costs (monthly) Estimated cost (one term) Estimated cost (one year)
Off campus housing (shared), including utilities* $950-$1,900* $3,800-$7,900* $11,400-$22,800*
Food (groceries)  $385 $1,540 $4,620
Telephone $106 $425 $1,272
Entertainment / Recreation (doing fun stuff!) $150 $600 $1,800
Personal care (think hair cuts) $80 $320 $960
Clothing  $132 $530 $1,584
Laundry (typically not part of housing costs) $43 $170 $516
Transportation (additional costs over and above free UPass) $28 $111 $336
Books and supplies  $247 $988


Total $2,121 - $3,071 $8,484 - $12,584 $25,452 - $36,852

*This represents the wide range of rental costs depending on the type of housing (e.g., a room in a shared house vs. a one-bedroom condo/apartment) and the proximity to campus.

Additional one-time costs
Expense Cost
Computer  $2,000
Security deposit for housing/rental unit (last month's rent) $950 - $1,900
Home décor/furniture $500
Winter clothing (winter coat, boots, etc.) $300

Living costs vary depending on several factors:

  • Living on-campus in residence
    • Please note that graduate housing is always in high demand and spaces are not guaranteed. We encourage those who are interested to apply early as offers are sent on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Living off-campus and the type of housing. For example, living alone in an apartment or condo will cost more than living in a shared house with roommates. Proximity to campus also affects rental costs. If you are considering living further away from campus to reduce costs, choose somewhere close to the ION light rail line for easy access to campus. 
  • Your lifestyle – do you prefer to cook your own meals or eat out at restaurants? Do your recreational activities cost money or are they free?

With the information on study and living costs from the chart above you can now use the Student budget calculator to estimate your total costs/expenses and your resources to fund them. These resources could include your minimum funding, awards (internal or external), financial need funding, graduate student employment, or your own personal funding.