The Education System of Turkey

Turkey is located between Western Asia and Southeastern Europe. In Turkey, education is regulated by a national system which was formed as per the Ataturk Reforms after the Turkish War of Independence. The Ministry of National education is responsible for school level education in Turkey- pre-primary, primary and secondary education. The higher education system of Turkey is managed and supervised by the Council of higher education (CoHE). 

The National education system of Turkey comprise formal and non-formal education.
  • Formal education encompasses pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education. Primary and secondary education in Turkey is funded by the state. Education in public schools for children aged 6 to 18 is free of charge.
  • Non-formal education is for young adults who could not attend schools or could not complete their studies.

Compulsory Education

Compulsory education in Turkey lasts 12 years.

Formal Education

Primary and secondary education in Turkey is represented "4 plus 4 plus 4" system, where the first level of primary education lasts for 4 years, followed by second level primary education for 4 years, and secondary education for 4 years.

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education in Turkey is optional and is offered by the kindergartens, nurseries, day-care centres and other child-care institutions. Children aged 3 to 6 may attend this pre-primary schools. In Turkey, there are private as well as state preschools.

Primary Education (In Turkish: İlkoğretim Okulu)

Primary education in Turkey is for children aged 6 to 14. This educational level is mandatory to attend and is divided into two levels:
  • Level 1: First School (İlkokul 1. Kademe): The duration of this level is 4 years and covers grades 1 to 4.
  • Level 2: The duration of this level is 4 years and covers grades 5 to 8.
Subjects: At grades 1 to 3, there are 4 core subjects: Mathematics, Turkish, foreign language, and life sciences (Hayat Bilgisi). At grade 4, instead of life sciences; science and social studies is taught. 

Certificate: Students who successfully complete their primary school studies are awarded a primary education diploma. 

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Turkey is optional and is for children aged 15 to 17/18. The duration of secondary education is 4 years. This education is offered by high schools (Lise). The government is responsible for these schools and education in these schools is free of charge.

Secondary education in Turkey comprises of general, vocational and technical education. This educational level prepares students for higher education or a vocation. 
  • General secondary education: Children aged 15 to 17 may go for general secondary education.  This secondary educational level consists of high schools, Anatolia fine arts high schools, high schools of foreign language teaching, Anatolian High Schools, science high schools, and Anatolia teacher training high schools.
  • Vocational and technical secondary education: This secondary educational level prepares students for a particular profession, or for higher education. This secondary educational level consists of technical educational schools for boys, religious education schools, technical educational schools for girls, health education schools, trade and tourism schools, special education schools, multi-program high schools, and private education schools.
Examination: At the end of secondary education, students are required to sit for a high school finishing exam. Students who pass this examination are allowed to sit for the University Entrance Exam. Students who pass the university exam are eligible to apply for higher education institution in Turkey.

Private Schools in Turkey

Private schools in Turkey are classified into 4 categories:
  • Private Turkish schools: These schools are established by corporate bodies of Turkish citizenship. These schools provide public education courses at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels.
  • Private schools for minorities: These schools are formed by Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities; and provide education at pre-primary, primary and secondary educational levels to the minority class pupils who are having turkish citizenship.  
  • Private foreign schools: These are schools are formed during the Ottoman Empire by Austrian, French, Italian, American and German individuals under the conditions of the Lausanne Treaty.  Turkish children attend this school.
  • Private international educational institutions: These educational institutions are established according to the provisions in the Law no. 625 (article 5).

Higher Education

The higher education council (YOK) administers the higher education system in Turkey. Public higher education institutions receive finance from the state. Students who have completed secondary education and passed the university entrance exam are eligible for higher education. The degree structure of Turkish higher education adheres to the Bologna process. Turkish universities provide following qualifications:
  • Associate's degree: Vocational high schools in Turkey offer associate degree.  
  •  Bachelor’s degree: The duration of this degree is 4 to 6 years, depending upon the field of study. Generally, this degree programme lasts for 4 years. The technical institutions provide an engineering diploma after 4 years of full-time study. For studies in architecture, veterinary medicine and dentistry, it lasts for 5 years; while medicine studies require 6 years of study and lead to the qualification of Medicine Doctor (MD). 
  • Master’s degree: This degree requires 2 years of full-time study. 
  • Doctorate or PhD degree: This degree requires 2 to 4 years of study and students who have completed master’s degree programme are eligible for this level. At the end of the PhD programme, students need to submit a doctoral thesis. 
  • proficiency in art degree is the equivalent of a doctorate in fine arts, and a specialist degree is equivalent to a doctorate in medical science.

Non-Formal Education

Non-formal education in Turkey is administered by the Ministry of National Education (MEB).  This form of education is provided by a network of training centers available in Turkey. The non-formal education provides knowledge and skills to the individual from different professions; help pupils who couldn’t complete their education to study further and complete their studies, teach health lifestyle and balanced nutrition; and also provide reading and writing skills.  

This form of education also encompasses distance higher education which is provided at the Open Education Faculty of Anadolu University.  The duration of the course of study is 2 to 4 years.

Admission Requirements

Students must complete their secondary education in order to gain admittance into the Turkish higher education. Students are admitted into the universities on the basis of the entrance exam results. The exam is conducted and managed by the student selection and placement centre (OSYM).

To know in detail about the admission requirements and procedure, click here.
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