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The Turkey Higher Education System

The Council of Higher Education (CoHE) is responsible for the higher education system in Turkey. The council plans, coordinates and regulates the higher education system in Turkey as per the Turkish constitution and the laws on higher education.

Turkish Higher Education Facts

Some of the higher education institutions of Turkey are in top 100 of the Times Higher Education Rankings. There are 7 Turkish universities in the top 100 university list, and 3 of the Turkish universities are in the top 10 as per the Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings, 2014

As per the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), UK world universities ranking, there are 9 Turkish universities in the top 800 university list. 

According to the METU Informatics Institute world universities rankings, 2014, there are 19 Turkish universities included in the top 1000 university list.

Turkish Higher Education Stats

In Turkey, there are total 176 universities as of September 2014. In addition, there are 8 independent post-secondary vocational schools and 6 other higher education institutes.  All the Turkish higher education institutions are accredited and recognized by the Council of Higher Education (CoHE). 
  • State Universities: 104
  • Non-profit Foundation Universities: 72
  • Independent Post-Secondary Vocational Schools:  8
  • Other Higher Education Institutions, such as Military and Police Academies:  6
  • Total higher education institutions: 190
Total number of students in higher education institutions (2013-2014)

State Universities
  • Associate degree: 1.683.044
  • Undergraduate: 3.139.516
  • Master’s degree programme: 206.014
  • Doctorate studies: 60.227
  • Proficiency in Arts: 490
  • Total no. of students in Turkish state higher education institutions: 5.089.291
Foundation Universities
  • Associate degree: 67.089
  • Undergraduate: 231.172
  • Master’s programme: 56.738
  • Doctorate studies: 5.637
  • Proficiency in Arts: 34
  • Total no. of students in Foundation higher education institutions: 360.670

Main Laws Regulating Turkish Higher Education System

Law:  Law No. 1739 
Year: 1973
Concerns: National Education 

Law: Law No. 2547 
Year: 1984
Concerns: Higher Education- Foundation universities

Law:  Law No. 2547- Higher Education Law 
Concerns: All higher education institutions 
Year: 1981

Law: Law No. 4306 on National Education 
Year: 1997

Law: Law No. 4702 
Concerns: Access to the 2-year higher education programmes without university entrance examination for vocational/technical high school graduates
Year: 2001

Law:  Private Education Law No. 625
Year: 1995

Higher Education Institutions: At a Glance

In Turkey, there are mainly three kinds of higher education institutions:

State Universities (Devlet Universiteleri): These universities are managed and established by the state. The state universities in Turkey offer undergraduate, master and doctorate degree programmes.  Generally, undergraduate education lasts for 4 years at universities, but some disciplines such as dentistry, and veterinary science lasts for 5 years; and medicine for 6 years. The state universities do not charge any tuition fees.

Higher Vocational Schools (Meslek Yuksek Okulları): The higher vocational schools in Turkey provide undergraduate programmes that last for 2 years after secondary education.

Private or Foundation Universities (Ozel / Vakif Universiteleri): In 1984 started the establishment of private foundations. These universities are founded by private foundation, but are under the control and administration of the state. Private higher education institutions provide bachelor’s, master’s and PhD studies, as well as associate's degree programmes through their vocational schools.  The language of instruction in most private or foundation universities is English. Students have to pay tuition fee for private universities.

Below are the units/divisions in the universities: 
  • Faculty (College): This is a unit of universities that carries out higher education and research. It conducts educational programmes that require 4 years of full-time study and lead to a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Graduate school: This unit in universities deals with graduate education and scholarly research. These schools award following qualifications: MSc, MA and PhD.
  • Post-secondary school: These are the higher education institution that provides education in a particular profession. The studies at these institutions last for 4 years, i.e. 8 semesters.
  • Conservatory: This higher education institution provides education in performing arts and music. The artistic studies at these institutions are divided into 8 semesters.
  • Post-secondary vocational school: This type of higher education institution prepares students for a specific vocation and the education at these schools lasts for 4 semesters.
  • Research and Application Centre: These higher education institutions conduct research and applied studies. 

Higher Education Qualifications

In Turkey, following are the higher education qualifications offered:

Associate's degree (Onlisans Diplomasi): Associate’s degree programmes lasts for 2 years and generally offered by the vocational high schools. 
  • ECTS: 120 credits
Bachelor’s degree (Lisans Diplomasi): Bachelor’s degree programmes in Turkey usually lasts for 4 years, though some of the programmes lasts for 5 or 6 years. Studies in dentistry and veterinary medicine last for 5 years, while studies in the field of medicine last for 6 years.
  • ECTS: 240 credits
Graduate degree: This degree comprises of masters and doctorate degree programmes.

Master’s degree (Yuksek Lisans Diplomasi): This degree requires 1.5 to 2 years of full-time study. There are 2 kinds of master’s programmes: with and without a master’s thesis. The thesis master’s programme comprises of at least 7 courses, 1 seminar course and a thesis. The non-thesis master’s has at least 10 courses/classes and a non-credit semester project which is graded on a pass or fail system.
  • ECTS: 120 credits (thesis masters), and 90 credits for non-thesis master’s
Doctorate/PhD degree (Doktora Diplomasi): This degree requires 3 to 5 years of study, and students are required to defend their doctoral dissertation.
  • ECTS: 240 credits
Post-graduate programmes: Universities in Turkey offer post-graduate programmes. The duration of these programmes vary depending on the university and study programme.

Types of Turkish Higher Education

Turkish higher education includes two modes of education:

Face-to-face education: Majority of the higher education institutions in Turkey provide face-to-face education. In this kind of education, pupils are required to attend their programmes or practical sessions.

Distance education: In this kind of education, pupils can complete their courses via television, radio or other training instruments.
Since 1982, The Open Education Faculty of Anadolu University since 1982 provides distance education. The university offer 2-year and 4-year undergraduate courses. Also, there are many higher education institutions in Turkey offering distance education through internet.

Admission Requirements

Students must have completed high school studies in order to gain admittance into the higher education undergraduate programme. 

International students are accepted on the basis of the admission criteria set by the institutions. Turkish students are required to pass YGS-LYG exam in order to gain admittance into the higher education institutions in Turkey.

Each higher education institution admission requirements vary. To know more about the admission requirements for Turkish higher education institutions, click here.

Tuition Fees

 The private higher education institutions charge tuition fees higher than the state universities. The tuition fees vary depending on the programme and study level.

Funding to Study in Turkey

The Turkish government provides many scholarships to turkey students and international students to pursue associate, bachelor, master's and doctorate studies in Turkey. Click here to know about Turkish Government Scholarships.
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