The Turkish Study Abroad Market

In this market report on Turkey we will cover socio-economic, educational and mobility trends. Turkey has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Last year the economy grew by 6 percent. It should not come as a surprise that Turkey is one of the four MINT countries. MINT is a phrase coined by Goldman Sachs to refer to rapidly emerging, populous non-BRIC economies.

Turkey is among the world’s leading producers of agricultural products; textiles; motor vehicles, transportation equipment; construction materials; consumer electronics and home appliances. Over the past decade many international companies have their production lines set up in Turkey. This is a major contributor to the Turkish economy and provides tens of thousands of jobs.

As the economy flourishes and the middle class continues to grow, Turkey needs educated and talented young people to contribute to its development, and tertiary education will become more financially feasible for many families.

This pressing need, coupled with the country’s limited number of domestic higher education spots, has made Turkey an international student recruitment market worthy of serious consideration. At this point more than 51,000 Turkish students are studying for a degree program abroad. All this and more in the Market Report on Turkey.

Quick facts

  • Population: 84,78 million (2021)

  • Education: 8 years compulsory

  • Academic year: September – June

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 15

  • Duration: 4 years

  • Enrollment numbers: 11 million (2019 data)
    Enrollment rate: 103%

Higher education

  • Duration: 6 years (bachelor 4, Master 2)

  • Enrollment numbers: 6.7 million (2019)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 104%

  • Universities/Higher Education Institutions: 166 ( 104 public, 62 private)

Turkish Education System

Secondary education

General secondary education covers education between the age of 15 to 18 for four years after primary education. Secondary education includes all of the general, vocational and technical education institutions. Secondary education is often referred as high school education, since the schools are called lyceum (in Turkish: lise).

There are 6 types of secondary schools in Turkey:

  1. Public High Schools (“Normal Liseler” or “Duz Liseler”). Any student who successfully completes 8 years of basic education can go onto these schools. Graduates of public high schools, if successful in the nationwide University Entrance Examination (ÖSS), can go onto higher education institutions. Graduates are awarded with the Lise Diploması.
  2. Vocational High Schools (Meslek Liseleri): Some of these schools may take an additional year to complete. Graduates can automatically go on to higher vocational schools (Meslek Yüksek Okulları – 2 Year Vocational Colleges) in their respective fields of study if they wish. Alternatively, if successful in the university entrance examination, they can go onto 4-year schools in their respective fields.
  3. Anatolian High Schools (Anadolu Liseleri): One year of English study followed by 3 years of regular high school education, additional hours for English. Math and Science lessons at these schools are sometimes taught in English. Lessons at some Anatolian high schools are taught in either German or French.
  4. Super High Schools (Super Liseler): The difference between these and normal high schools is one extra year of English study. They differ from Anatolian high schools in that the language of instruction for math and science courses is always Turkish and less hours are given to English lessons.
  5. Science High Schools (Fen Liseleri): These are special public schools for students who have exceptional aptitude in the sciences. These very competitive high schools train students specifically for higher education in the sciences, technical and medical fields. There is also Anatolian Science High Schools (Anadolu Fen Liseleri), where the medium of instruction for math and sciences is sometimes in English.
  6. Private High Schools (Ozel Liseler): Most private high schools charge very high tuition fees and are very competitive.

Admission to Higher Education

Students graduating from secondary education obtain the Lise Diplomasi. This diploma is a prerequisite for admission to higher education. Admission to university is centralized and based on the Student Selection Examination (ÖSS). Candidates have to obtain a minimum score at the ÖSS of 160 points to be eligible to enroll in two-year vocational higher education and open/distance education programs and a minimum of 185 points for all four-year bachelor/University programs. The maximum ÖSS score that can be obtained is 300 points.

Source: UNESCO

Higher Education

The academic system in Turkey is largely modelled after of the American / Anglo-Saxon system, with two-year Associate’s Degree programs, followed by 4-year Bachelor’s degree programs, and a 3-4 year Doctorate. Higher Education in Turkey is under the authority of the Council of Higher Education (YÖK), which is a fully autonomous national board of trustees without any political or government affiliation.

University level studies:

  • University level first stage: Önlisans Diplomasi/Lisans
    Diplomasi: An Önlisans Derecesi or Diplomasi (Associate Degree) is awarded after the successful completion of two-year university studies. Courses leading to the Lisans Diplomasi require a minimum of four years’ university study. Courses last for five years in Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine and for six years in Medicine. The qualifications in these three fields of study are considered to be the equivalent of a Yuksek Lisans Diplomasi (Master’s degree).
  • University level second stage: Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi/Bilim Uzmanligi
    Diplomasi: The Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi (Master’s Degree) lasts for two years with thesis and for one-and-a-half years without thesis.
  • University level third stage: Doktora Diplomasi/Bilim Doktorlugu Diplomasi/Tipta Uzmanlik Belgesi/Sanatta Yeterlik
    Candidates must hold the Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi and sit for an examination. The Doktora Diplomasi is conferred after two years’ study and on completion of a doctoral thesis (a total of four years). The Tipta Uzmanlik Belgesi (specialist degree) in Medicine is conferred to recognize a physician’s advanced skills and expertise. It is considered to be the equivalent of a Doktora Diplomasi.
Image depicting the Turkish Educational System

Types of Higher Education Institutions

There are 3 types of Higher Education Institutions in Turkey:

  • State Universities (Devlet Universiteleri): Universities provide either two or four years of education for undergraduate studies, while graduate programs last a minimum of two years. Some universities also ask for an additional year of English preparatory study to be completed before the start of studies, unless an exemption examination is passed
  • Higher Vocational Schools (Meslek Yuksek Okulları): Higher Vocational Schools offer 2 years of undergraduate study after high school and are similar to community colleges in the USA. Graduates must take the national Vertical Transfer Test (Dikey Gecis Sinavi) and have a good GPA to be admitted to university. Graduates are awarded h the Associate’s or Pre-Bachelor’s Degree (On Lisans Diplomasi).
  • Private or Foundation Universities (Ozel / Vakif Universiteleri): Private Universities all operate under the supervision of the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and are non-profit by nature. When accredited, they can award bachelor, master and PhD titles. Most of the countries top universities are located in Istanbul or Ankara and are ranked in the world’s top 100. Examples are: KOC University, Bilkent University, Istanbul Bilgi University.

Latest Turkish Higher Education study abroad stats

At this point a total number of 51,146 Turkish students are studying abroad (source:UNESCO). These are the most popular study abroad destinations for students from Turkey:

Turkish students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in Turkey

Upcoming Education Fairs in Turkey

Online behavior

Internet penetration in Turkey is growing rapidly, reaching 43 million in 2020. This statistic below displays a forecast of the development in internet user numbers in Turkey from 2015 to 2022. In 2022, the number of monthly active internet users is projected to reach 44.89 million individuals. This would be an increase of approximately 5 million new users from 39.83 million users in 2017 (source:

Most visited social media websites 

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform in Vietnam with 50% marketshare (source:


Scholarships for Turkish students

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