Study in Turkey

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Already well-established as a leading global tourist destination, Turkey has ambitions to become a nation known for the quality of its higher education

Istanbul (3rd) and Goreme (14th) may offer rather different delights to holidaymakers, but their presence in TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice 2015 awards for the world's top 25 destinations just serves to highlight Turkey's diverse historical and cultural heritage.

If you add to this its raft of beautiful golden beaches and luxurious resorts, you will soon understand why this land, which spans Europe and Asia, is such a draw for overseas visitors.

Over the past few decades, the Turkish government has encouraged the development of the country's higher education system, so there is now a greater deal of choice for those considering postgraduate study in Turkey.

An affordable, good quality education is available to international students, thanks to its significantly favourable tuition fees and lower cost of living compared to many other popular global study destinations.

It is worth mentioning that the country is still experiencing political uncertainty and while most visits are trouble-free, it is important that you check the latest UK government travel foreign advice for Turkey.

Masters degrees

There are typically two types of Masters degree courses available from Turkish universities: one which includes a thesis; and one without. The former consists of a minimum of seven courses, a seminar and thesis, while non-thesis programmes involve 10 courses plus a semester project. The thesis qualification will normally be completed within two years of study with the non-thesis taking one-and-a-half years to complete.

Entry requirements are determined by the postgraduate course you wish to study, and the university offering the programme. These can vary drastically between institutions and departments, although a recognised Bachelors degree in a relevant field is usually required. You will also need to provide a letter of acceptance from a Turkish university in order to obtain a student visa.

The academic year for universities is divided into two semesters: fall and spring. It runs from September until June.

To search the full list of Turkish universities offering Masters degrees and to find out more about the country's higher education system, visit the official website developed by the Council of Higher Education (CoHE), Study in Turkey.

Turkish universities

Out of the 176 universities in Turkey, supervised by the CoHE, 103 are state governed with the rest (73) established by (private) non-profit foundations.

A total of ten Turkish universities featured in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, with Bilkent University (Ankara) and Boğaziçi University (Istanbul) ranked within the top 400 institutions.

As Turkey is classed as an emerging economy by FTSE, with the country only forming less than 100 years ago in 1923, the Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2015 provides a good indication of its higher education standing at this time. Eight institutions can be found within the top 100 - three made it into the first ten (Middle East Technical University, Boğaziçi University and Istanbul Technical University).

Course fees

The minimum and maximum tuition fee thresholds for Master programmes are set by the Turkish government at the start of the academic year.

For international students, you will find that the costs vary between private and public universities. The Council of Ministers announce the annual fee scales for public institutions after taking into consideration the type of qualification, the subject and course duration. The university then decides upon the exact amount for each programme. The board of trustees are responsible for setting the fees at private universities.

Foreign students at state universities can expect to pay £190 to £385 for a year of postgraduate study taught in Turkish. Classes in English tend to range from £385 to £575 per year.

Private universities can charge anything from £3,200 to £12,800 for a Masters course.

Funding to study in Turkey

While some non-profit foundation universities have their own scholarship schemes, the Turkish government is actively seeking to increase the number of overseas students choosing to attend its country's universities.

The two government-sponsored scholarships, covering such things as tuition fees, accommodation, Turkish language courses, a monthly allowance, health insurance coverage and transportation costs, are:

  • Türkiye Scholarships - two types of awards available to students from all countries on programmes in the social sciences or in science, engineering or technology.
  • TÜBÝTAK Scholarships - The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has a scholarship for international students in the following fields: natural sciences; medical sciences; agricultural sciences; engineering and technological sciences; social sciences; and humanities.

Foreign students on a graduate programme can work providing they obtain a work permit. See work in Turkey.

How to apply

Universities officially open in October, with many places offered on a first-come, first-served basis, although specific application deadlines may differ between each institution. It is advisable to contact them as early as possible, ideally at least one year in advance.

Turkish institutions typically require candidates to have completed an undergraduate degree or equivalent diploma before applying, but as each university will have its own entry requirements, it is worth speaking to the admissions office directly.

In addition to the application form and fee, international students may need to pass graduate exams before they can study at a Turkish university. You may be expected to achieve the required level in the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) revised General Test or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). These computer-based exams are generally available all the year round.

The specific department may have its own written exams and/or conduct interviews to determine suitable candidates for the course.

Language requirements

As popular courses in areas such as medicine, engineering, humanities, business, and finance are often taught in English (as well as French and German), English speakers may not need to provide documentation on their language proficiency. However, it is still advisable to learn the language before applying to a Turkish university.

There is a Turkish language proficiency test for Masters programmes delivered in the native tongue, with TOEFL tests used to assess the student's grasp of English as a foreign language.

Student visas

While Turkey is a key partner for the European Union (EU), as it is not an official member, nationals of EU states will require a visa to study in the country.

After being accepted onto a course at a Turkish Ministry of Education certified university, you can apply for a student visa at your nearest Turkish consulate. The Turkish Embassy in London accepts visa applications during set working hours. They can be contacted via phone and email.

To be granted a Turkish student visa, you will need to provide:

  • a letter of acceptance from a Turkish university;
  • the completed Turkish student visa form;
  • proof of your ability to support yourself financially;
  • a valid passport that meets their expiry date requirements;
  • a visa fee;
  • and a passport photo.

British students with a student visa will no longer require an additional residency permit. Once you arrive in the country, you will still need to register at the nearest police headquarters.

To find out more about visas, visit Turkish Consulate London - Information for visa applicants.

Turkish exchanges and placements

Students enrolled at a UK university can take part in the EU's education, training, youth and sport support programme Erasmus+.

The scheme provides opportunities for millions of students to receive grants for studying abroad. Opportunities last from three to 12 months.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Turkey and be a holder of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers Erasmus+ in your subject.

It isn't necessary to speak Turkish, but you can arrange to undertake an intensive course before you go.

Doctoral programmes

A Turkish Doctorate or PhD degree can usually be achieved within three to four years of study, which includes the completion of a thesis or dissertation.