Turkey is the only country that shares its geographical borders with both Europe and the Middle East. It is a beautiful, culturally-rich country that is among the top 10 best study destinations for students in the world. The country’s education standards are top-class, and it has the highest schooling rate in the world. The country cares about providing quality education at all levels.
As it is part of the Bologna agreement, all degrees provided in Turkey have a high value in all countries, especially in Europe. The country has a total of 183 universities and there’s at least one university in almost every city in Turkey. Higher education in this country is overseen by the government authority, the Turkish National Framework for Higher Education, which works to maintain the standard of education.
The affordability of higher education is a factor that attracts a lot of foreign student population into Turkey every year. The country offers degree programs in English as a language of instruction to accommodate the needs of foreign students. However, the official language is Turkish and graduate-level programs in public universities are taught in this language only.
Apart from education, what’s fascinating about Turkey is the fact that you will get to experience a bit of many cultures – Asian, European, and Middle-Eastern. The country is a colorful, multi-cultural paradise. Such rich culture implies that there is also diversity in other aspects such as language dialects, drinks and of course, food! Turkish cuisine is delightful and Turkish tea and strong coffee have a reputation of their own.
All this teamed together with Turkish hospitality will make anyone fall in love with the country. You will get to experience this fun and vibrant culture and its beautiful and historic architecture all around the country.
For most students, affording the cost of study and living is easy in Turkey. In fact, this is why it is such a sought-after location – because it provides quality education at an affordable cost. Getting exposed to such a vibrant culture will be a lifetime experience for any student. However, since moving to a different country is such a big step, students must prepare themselves accordingly.
As a student moving to Turkey for higher education, here are some of the most common questions that you might have –
How to get a student visa for Turkey?
Can I work while studying in Turkey?
What are the general requirements for an international student in Turkey?
What is the local culture like in Turkey?
Let’s talk more about the A-Z of how international students can pursue higher education in Turkey.
Degree programs in Turkish are cheaper as compared to those offered in English. Private universities are more expensive than public universities.
At a public institution, expect to pay tuition fees between TRY 1,600 to TRY 9,000 per year, depending on the course and the university, of course. Whereas on the other hand, on average, the tuition fees at a private university can be up to TRY 11,000 per year.
You will be spending TRY 500 to TRY 800 a month for books and other study resources/ administration fees per month.
While living costs aren’t really high in Turkey, you must set aside at least TRY 700- TRY 800 per month to cover your living expenses.
Food & Drinks
For affordable meal options, eat at your university dorms. You can get a university meal for as low as a few TRY. If you are eating at a restaurant, TRY 11 can get you a good meal.
For transportation, students can get a bus pass for a month for TRY 300. This is the most convenient mode of transportation. Train tickets are also very cheap and are the other preferred mode of transportation for students.
Entertainment & Recreation
Depending on your social life, on average, you can expect to pay TRY 112 to TRY 168 a month for cinema and other social activities.
On average, TRY 2,000 to TRY 2,700 per month would be enough to cover your accommodation, groceries, and travel in Turkey.
Types of Accommodation
Dormitories: University dormitories are a popular and reliable mode of accommodation for foreign students in Turkey. They are cheaper than most other accommodation types and are a great place to meet and befriend locals and students from around the world. State dorms or private dorms cost anywhere between TRY 280 to TRY 448 or more a month, depending upon the location, university, and facilities.
Flats: You can get independent flats to rent on a sharing or non-sharing basis for TRY 761 to TRY 3170 a month. Note that in Turkey, you are likely to not get any furniture inside the flat. So, the cost of the furniture and other necessities will also be added if you decide to live in a flat.
Middle East Technical University (METU)
Middle East Technical University was founded in 1956 and currently offers 40 undergraduate 97 graduate and 62 doctorate programs to thousands of students every year. Admission is highly competitive in METU as it accepts only the top 1.5% of a total 1.5 million annual applicants. The most popular courses here are in engineering, social sciences, and natural sciences. The language of instruction for most courses here is English.
Student life at METU is vibrant and engaging. All enrolled students can partake in numerous societies, cultural and sports events. The university also organizes annual Jazz Days and Arts Festivals.
The average for international students here is TRY 91,832 for an undergraduate program. The same for a graduate program is TRY 40,814. The total cost may vary according to the course and duration of the program.
METU university offers on-campus and off-campus accommodation for international students. It has a total dorm capacity of 7,000 students on the main campus of Ankara. The monthly rent, on average, can amount to TRY 250 – 1150 a month, depending on the facilities, the number of rooms, and other factors.
The official website is here
Located in the bustling city of Istanbul and founded in 1863, Bogazici University is a popular choice among international students. According to U.S. News & World Reports 2021, this university ranks #1 in Turkey. The language of instruction here is English and this is one of the oldest universities in Turkey that has been offering English language education from the beginning. The Bogazici University library has an extensive collection of books and its campuses are a popular hotspot for students.
The university has an extensive number of programs to offer to its students. It has six faculties and two schools offering undergraduate degrees and six institutes offering graduate degrees. It admits only the top 1% of those who pass the entrance exam. So, admission is limited and highly competitive.
The university also provides living spaces for international students. The most popular ones are the university dorms inside and outside the campus. There are separate dorms for men and women available on a sharing and non-sharing basis. Dorms, on average, cost between TRY 470 – 625, depending on the number of rooms and the facilities.
Many off-campus options are also available for rent in Istanbul for international students. If you’re looking for apartments, look at the European side, Bosporus village, and the Asian side for cheap accommodation that’s also worth it.
The yearly average fee is TRY 7128 – TRY 11,880 for undergraduate programs for international students. At master’s level, it is TRY 7128 per year. This university does not offer scholarships to international students. But students seeking financial assistance can get student loans to support their studies.
Bogazici University organizes colorful events throughout the year, like music festivals, sports events, cultural events, etc. A student here can experience both a rich academic life and a happening student life at the same place.
Visit the University’s website from here
Bilkent University was founded in 1984 and was the first private not-for-profit university in Ankara, Turkey. The name of the university implies “city of learning and science”. This university is one of the most research-intensive universities in Turkey. The ratio of international students is also much higher here.
Students have many options to engage and participate in numerous music and performing arts events, unions, clubs, and sports in this university. As for the academics, Bilkent University offers 33 undergraduate majors and 32 graduate programs to choose from for its students. It also has the largest university library in Turkey and has three sprawling campuses too.
The university offers hygienic accommodation to all international students in its dorms with a capacity to house 4,000 students in 26 different buildings across its campuses. The students can have single, double, triple, quadruple, and suite accommodation in these dorms that cost between TRY 3400-17100 for a full semester.
Click here to go to the University’s website.
Koc University is a non-profit, private university in Turkey which networks with around 250 partner universities across the world and has 7,000 enrolled students on campus. It was founded in 1993 and is a relatively new university. It offers 22 undergraduate, 32 graduate, and 18 PhD. programs. About 4% of the total students enrolled in this university are international.
The dorms here have a capacity of housing 2,900 students. The average cost of dorms is between TRY 17 – TRY 46.3, depending on the facilities and the number of people sharing the dorm.
The average cost for tuition for international students for an undergraduate course is around TRY 79,208 and around TRY 87,127 for a master’s degree. The tuition is quite expensive here and a student can avail of loans, scholarships, etc. to pursue their degree here.
Visit the University’s website from here
Sabanci University is a private university that was founded in the year 1994. The best courses offered by this university are in the field of engineering, natural science, arts, and social science. Sabanci University also offers foundation year courses with a focus on English language proficiency to help students pursue a full degree course later.
Around 42% of undergraduates in this university receive scholarships. Tuition is also very cheap in this university. An undergraduate course, on an average, costs TRY 1894 only. Various other facilities are also available for international students like dormitories, libraries, co-curricular facilities. On a sharing basis, the monthly expense for a dorm costs between TRY 15 – TRY 21. If you want to study in Turkey on a budget, this is one of the best options for you.
Visit the official website of the Sabanci University
The visa-obtaining procedure for Turkey is easier than in many other countries.
Go and get your visa by visiting the Turkish embassy or consulate in your home country. After getting a visa, you will be able to receive a residence permit and register yourself as a student.
For your application for a residence permit, you will need to register for the same at local police headquarters within one month of arrival to the country. Documents required for the same would be: proof of enrollment in a Turkish university, passport, student visa, photographs, and money for your fees.
If you’re going to be in Turkey for more than 90 days, you will require a residence permit. Apply for it at the Provincial Directorate of Migration Administration. Documents required: passport, photographs, application form, proof of university enrollment, proof of accommodation in Turkey.
This residence permit will be valid for a year and is renewable before 60 days of expiration.
How to Apply
Course Eligibility Criteria
The course eligibility criteria depend on university-to-university in Turkey. Here are some general eligibility requirements to get admission to any program in a Turkish university:
Documents Required for Student Visa
Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies
Students require confirmation of acceptance of studies from the Turkish university they’re seeking admission in, in order to proceed with getting the visa processed.
If you choose to study in a non-native language, you will be required to submit proof of proficiency. Upon not meeting the requirements, you will be required to take up a language improvement course. Generally, an IELTS score of 5.5 is required as language proficiency proof. It might differ for other universities.
All international students have to pay a fixed amount for health insurance before coming to Turkey. This amount is to be paid at the time of university admission. It will be automatically added to the total cost of studying at some universities in Turkey.
Visa Processing Timelines
The Visa processing timeline for Turkey is shorter when compared to other countries but it is still advised to get the visa as early as possible. The processing time can vary if you apply for the same online or offline. Generally, the visa can take between 3 to 15 days to process in an online process. The offline process can take a month or a few months to get your visa ready.
If your visa is rejected, you can apply for a new one after 24 hours and after rectifying the errors in your application.
Travel With Family
You cannot bring your family to Turkey on a student visa. Family members are allowed only after you obtain a work permit and a residence permit. The family includes only the spouse and dependent children and they require a residence permit to live in Turkey too.
There are certain requirements that an aspiring international student must fulfill before moving to Turkey to pursue their degree. Let’s check out what these requirements may be:
Post arrival in Turkey as an international student, you would be required to apply for a residence permit if your duration of living in the country exceeds the period of 90 days. You must apply for the residence permit within one month of your arrival in Turkey.
A checklist especially curated for international students will help them keep necessary things handy for their time in Turkey. Here are some things that you must have when you move to the country:
What to Bring
Here’s the answer to what you should bring when you move to Turkey as an international student:
Remember not to overpack as it can cause inconvenience during travel and even during your stay abroad.
Check-in with your airlines regarding regulations for what you can and what you cannot carry. One rule to swear by is to never carry sharp items. A carry-on bag is where you would want to keep your handy items like:
Before moving to Turkey, an international student must have proof of financial capability to study and live in the country. They must be able to prove that they have the funds to cover their tuition and living for the whole duration of their stay in Turkey. Bank statements and letters from the bank, etc. qualify as proof of finance.
Local Cultural Requirements
Many fun and delicious things are part of Turkish culture, like – shisha, strong coffee, grain beer, and countless Turkish delicacies. People here are very hospitable, open, and welcoming towards foreigners. International students should not find it difficult to mingle with the locals and get a taste of the culture of the country independently. At the same time, politeness, good etiquette, and being respectful towards each other are important while you’re in Turkey.
The official language of the country is Turkish but you will also find the locals speaking in other popular native languages including Arabic, Kurmanji, Zaza, Kabardian. Try to learn Turkish as it would make your day-to-day life in Turkey a lot easier. You will be able to connect with the locals and fit into the culture and professional realm better.
It is mandatory to have health insurance for your entire duration of stay in Turkey. The average cost of health insurance per year can be up to TRY 970.
To enroll for the same, register with the Turkish Social Security Institution and get insurance. You can alternatively get a valid health insurance policy from another agency. Just make sure to check the validity of the insurance at Turkish hospitals as some of the insurance providers only partner with specific hospitals in Turkey and the insurance provided by them is not valid elsewhere.
The other option is getting insurance from another government institution – the GSS (General Health Insurance). It is governed by the Social Security Institution of the Republic of Turkey. You can even get your prescription medicines very conveniently with this. For applying for health insurance at GSS, you must make your application within three months of your university registration.
Turkey is a beautiful country known for its distinct landscape, intricate architecture, and delicious food. The country is rightfully called a “gateway between Europe and the Middle East” because of where it’s located and because of the unignorable European and Oriental influence all across the country.
As for educational standards, Turkey is the second country in the world with the most accessible high education with a schooling rate of 94.2%. It is also an educational hotspot for international students and is in the top 10 study abroad destinations. The country hosts students from 198 different countries every year and has a strong cultural diversity. Currently, more than 170,000+ international students are enrolled in the country.
Among the total 6000 different programs that Turkey’s 207 universities provide, the most popular courses are in business management, computer science, engineering, and nursing. Turkish universities are technologically-equipped, worldly regarded, and affordable, with many programs offered in English.
Moreover, since Turkey is part of the Bologna Agreement and the European Higher Education Area, all the degree certificates awarded by Turkish universities are accredited and recognized by all European countries.
If you want to study in a vibrant, student-friendly, multi-cultural destination with a rich history, tasteful cuisine, and of course, top-class and affordable education, Turkey might be the right place for you.
Working While Studying
Turkish law states that international students can work while pursuing a degree to support themselves. However, there are a few conditions that the students will be required to fulfill:
Associate and Bachelor’s degree students can only start work after the first year of studying in a Turkish university. Work permits for such degrees only allow students to work for up to 24 hours a week. This is to ensure that students devote most of their time pursuing academics.
Students pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral degree can work soon after obtaining a work permit. For degrees higher than graduation, work permits allow for full-time work alongside their degree. However, students will require a written permit from their university allowing for the same.
Financial Cost & Assistance
Although tuition and cost of living in Turkey are quite affordable, students can pursue their higher education even cheaper by availing of financial assistance.
A student may avail of financial aid by any of the following methods:
The Turkish government alone grants more than 4000 scholarships every year, which is availed by students seeking admission to various courses in state-owned Turkish universities. Other governmental institutes and non-governmental institutes also grant scholarships. Private universities grant partial scholarships to students based on the students’ grades.
These scholarships may be merit-based (based on academic excellence or excellence in co-curricular) or need-based. Some of the popular scholarships are:
CoHE Scholarships for International Students: This scholarship is for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is awarded specifically to students from countries who have signed protocols with the Council of Higher Education in Turkey. In order to receive this scholarship, a student must have a Turkish proficiency certificate. If they don’t have it, they would have to enroll in a one-year language preparation course to be eligible for the scholarship.
Turkiye Scholarships: This is another popular scholarship for international students that allows students to eventually get placed in the university they applied for admission to. This is a one-of-its-kind scholarship that also covers the accommodation and health insurance of the student.
Academic grants are given with an institution’s or individual’s free will. The student receiving the grant does not have to pay back the amount granted. Grants are offered to people who have little source of income but have excellent academic potential. Grants are supposed to cover tuition fees, travel and rent expenses, and the living cost of the student.
Students’ jobs in Turkey are mostly in the food sector, entertainment and hospitality sector, and retail shops. A student can also give English lessons part-time to fulfill their monetary goals.
Along with the mentioned jobs, students in Master’s and P.hD courses can take up assistant lecturer jobs or administrative jobs in universities.
Turkish universities offer some brilliant foundation courses for students who do not meet direct requirements for getting admission to Turkish universities. A foundation program generally includes language and academic modules aimed at improving the students’ academic potential and language fluency. This can help the student do better in the full degree program later.
Entry Requirements for Foundation Programs
The Education System
Turkey is part of the European Higher Education Area and follows the Bologna process of education. According to the Bologna Agreement of 1999 (which was signed in order to improve the academic level of European countries), any degree awarded to Turkish students will be approved and recognized in other European countries that are part of this agreement. So, the students graduating from Turkish universities will be able to continue their studies and even work in other European countries after their graduation.
The country has 183 higher education institutions, 109 of which are public universities and the rest 74 are private non-profit institutions. English is the language of instruction mostly in private universities whereas, in government universities, Turkish is the prominent teaching language. Proficiency in Turkish is also required for undergraduate level but most master’s and doctoral courses are taught in English.
The Turkish education system is thoroughly modernized and All higher education is managed and overseen by the Turkish National Framework for Higher Education. also follows the European Credit Transfer System and lays emphasis on lectures, readings, and independent study. For practical subjects, students are required to attend labs and workshops frequently.
Undergraduate degrees in Turkey take four years to complete whereas medicine and other technical degrees can take up to six years to complete. Postgraduate programs, on the other hand, take two years and PhD take around four years to complete. The country also offers associate degrees, which are regarded higher than a high school diploma but not equivalent to an undergraduate degree.