Famous for its stunning scenery and enchanting coastal resorts, Turkey has made huge strides in recent years to position itself as a viable study destination for overseas students
You'll find that it's not just the Mediterranean sun, fascinating ruins and world-renowned food that attracted more than 125,000 international students to Turkey in 2017/18 (Council of Higher Education). Many couldn't resist the opportunity to study in a country with invaluable global links - acting as a bridge between Europe and Asia.
Whether you've set your sights on the capital city of Ankara, Turkey's cultural and financial hub Istanbul or somewhere a little less high-profile, studying in Turkey will be an affordable yet eye-opening experience.
It's worth mentioning that the country is still experiencing political uncertainty and while most visits are trouble-free, it's important you check the latest UK government travel advice for Turkey.
The country is home to 206 higher education institutions, which cater to around eight million students. Approximately 120 of these are state-governed universities, while the rest are established non-profit private foundations.
A total of ten Turkish institutions feature in the QS World University Rankings 2019, with Koç University (448th) and Bilkent University (456th) ranking in the top 500.
This is an impressive standing, considering the Turkish higher education system is one of the world's youngest. As recently as 1970, there were just eight established institutions in Turkey.
As Turkey is classed as an advanced emerging economy by the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) - having only formed as a country in 1923 - the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2019 provide a good indication of how the country is performing in the current climate. A total of 23 Turkish universities make an appearance, with 6 in the top 100, while both Sabanci University (20th) and Koç University (26th) are ranked in the top 50.
The academic calendar is split into two semesters and runs from September to June.
Degree courses in Turkey
Most Turkish Bachelors degrees will take on average four years to complete full time (over eight semesters). These can be studied in a range of subjects from business management, economics and mathematics, to fashion design, tourism and hospitality.
Exceptions to this include courses in architecture, dentistry and veterinary medicine, which involve up to five years of study, and medicine, lasting up to six years.
Read more about Bachelors degrees and other qualification levels at Study In Turkey - Degrees.
When you're ready to search for courses and apply, visit Study In Turkey - Find Programmes.
A Masters in Turkey (and the equivalent Higher Engineering Diploma) takes up to two years to complete full time.
Turkish universities offer Masters courses both with and without the completion of a thesis. If you opt for a thesis course, you'll study a range of modules as well as writing and submitting a thesis in the second semester of your second year. If you enrol on a non-thesis course, you'll take a wider selection of modules, with the option to study subjects outside your course discipline.
Popular postgraduate subjects include:
- business administration
- industrial engineering
- information technology (IT)
- international relations
- molecular biology and genetics.
Doctorate courses typically take three to four years to complete depending on the nature of the course and tend to follow a structured process. Unlike its UK equivalent, a Turkish PhD is supervised by a committee rather than an individual.
Students enrolled at a UK university can take part in the EU's Erasmus+ programme, which supports education, training, youth and sport.
It provides opportunities for current students to complete a part of their degree abroad. Opportunities last anywhere from three to 12 months and are open to any student enrolled at one of the thousands of institutions affiliated with the scheme.
Costs will depend on whether you're attending a state university or private foundation - with undergraduate fees for an academic year at the former costing international students around TRY 2,500-8,500 (£340-£1,140) for courses taught in English. At a foundation institution this could range from TRY 28,000-112,500 (£3,750 to £15,150) per year.
A postgraduate qualification from a publically-funded university could cost you as little as TRY 3,350-5,000 (£450-£680) for each year of the programme. While foundations set their own benchmarks, Masters courses typically cost the same as those at undergraduate level.
Still, it's these favourably lower-end costs compared to the UK and US systems that makes studying in Turkey an enticing option.
This affordability stretches to the costs of living - the average international student needs just TRY 2,250-3,000 (£300-£400) per month for living costs. This figure covers amenities such as accommodation, clothing and transport. You'll need roughly TRY 750 (£100) per semester to cover textbooks and TRY 6,250 (£840) for food and drink, depending on your lifestyle and preferences.
Get the full lowdown on living expenses at Study In Turkey - Living Costs.
Funding to study in Turkey
You'll need to do your homework if you're hoping to receive funding - most scholarships require entrance exam scores of at least 70%, some as high as 80%.
These include Türkiye Burslari Scholarships, with a number of awards available. For example, the Undergraduate Fellowship Programme is open to students on a four-to-six-year course. Successful applicants will have their tuition fees paid for one year, along with the costs of a return flight, accommodation, health insurance, Turkish language tuition plus a monthly grant of around TRY 750 (£100).
For a full list of the financial help available to international students, visit Study In Turkey - Financial Aid and Scholarships.
You'll need to arrive in Turkey with your student visa already authorised to avoid any issues with registering as a student and receiving a residency permit.
The visa application process takes place at the Turkish consulate in your home country - for the UK, this is the Turkish Embassy in London - but first you'll need to sort out your online pre-application at Republic of Turkey Consular Procedures.
Once this has been approved, you'll be expected to attend an appointment and present:
- a letter of acceptance from a Turkish university
- the completed Turkish student visa form
- proof of your ability to support yourself financially
- a passport valid for at least 60 days beyond the length of your stay
- the required visa fee
- proof of health insurance
- a passport photo.
Make sorting your student visa a priority, as it will take roughly eight weeks to reach you after your application has been submitted.
Read more about Turkish visas at the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
How to apply
To study in Turkey, you'll need to hold appropriate qualifications at the previous level. For instance, you won't be able to study a Masters without already holding a Bachelors degree.
You'll also need to pass the postgraduate entrance exam, the Academic Personnel and Graduate Education Exam (ALES), which is administered by the Student Selection and Placement Centre (ÖSYM).
ALES examinations are held twice a year in March and November. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete, and is comprised of literacy and numeracy questions. See ÖSYM for a more detailed guide of what the ALES involves and how to apply.
Along with your passed ALES exam, as part of your application you'll need to provide:
- a completed international student application form
- your Bachelors or Masters certificate
- an updated CV with letters of recommendation
- proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your course
- photo ID
- the application fee.
The application process begins at home - visit university websites to see whether they operate an online application system or require direct email correspondence.
If you're enrolling on an English-taught course and English is your first language, you won't need to provide any proof of your English proficiency. However, if English is your second language, you may need to provide:
- a letter of confirmation from your English coordinator or professor at your home university
- an internationally-recognised language certificate, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- a passed English placement test, which may be taken at your institution on arrival.
Even if you're studying an English course, this is great opportunity to pick up some Turkish - you'll find the country easier to navigate and may open yourself up to more career opportunities as a result.
Many universities, including Boğaziçi University, offer intensive language courses for international students.
Comparison to UK qualifications
Turkish and UK qualifications are easily compared and translated. As well as the UK and 46 other countries, Turkey is a member of the Bologna Process - an agreement between European countries to ensure comparability in quality and standards of higher education.
Due to this agreement, the Turkish qualification framework follows a similar structure to UK degrees.