The education system in Turkey

Education in Turkey
Updated 2020-05-25 11:51

Whether you are moving to Turkey with your children and plan to enroll them in a local school or whether you are, yourself, interested in pursuing studies in Turkey, here is information you may find helpful.

Primary and secondary schooling

Preschool education is optional in Turkey. Compulsory schooling starts from age 6 and spans over 8 years - 4 years of elementary school and 4 years of middle school. According to their personal ambitions and to the results of their end-of-middle-school exams, pupils are then split between general high schools or vocational and technical training schools for another 4-year secondary cycle.

State primary and secondary schools offer free-of-charge education, but the curriculum is - as could be expected - fully in Turkish. In major cities, international private schools provide, for a fee, education in English or in other foreign languages and are quite sought-after. In fact, well-off Turkish families often elect to have their children educated in private French or German schools, where pupils acquire full command of Turkish, English and of a third European language.

Good to know:

Although the school uniforms are no longer mandatory as the old law was abolished in the year 2012, in most schools, students still wear a uniform in order designed by the school board to alleviate the impact of financial inequalities.

Useful links:

British International School:
Istanbul International Community School:
Pierre Loti French Highschool:


There are over 200 universities in Turkey that are managed by the State or by non-profit foundations. Public institutions are free beyond a registration fee (of around 200 Turkish liras per class attended), while private schools are often much pricier. All are in any case supervised by the Turkish Council for Higher Education (Yuksek Ogretim Kurulu, YOK) which notably tweaked the Turkish system to create equivalences with the European Qualifications Framework.

Most universities offer undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees.

Each university is free to decide upon its own academic calendar; however, the academic year generally starts in September or October to end in June, with breaks in the winter and in the spring. Some universities also offer an additional summer trimester.

Except in specific fields, such as law or medicine, it is quite easy for foreign students to enlist in a Turkish university. Prospective students should register with the YOK, take an entry exam and provide a translated version of their past degrees, grades transcripts and credentials.

Good to know:

Admission to the very best Turkish public universities, such as Bogazici University in Istanbul or the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, is subject to a demanding competitive exam for which students prepare for months. An ordeal reflected in the Turkish phrasing for admission: 'okul kazanmak' (literally, 'win a school').

Exchange Programmes

Many Turkish universities have inked bilateral agreements with international counterparts and offer student exchange programmes.

Turkey is an active participant in the European Erasmus Programme: in 2013, 162 Turkish universities had joined the programme, and Turkey was the third most popular study destination after England and Germany.

Good to know:

Foreign students have to obtain a student residence permit to be able to stay and study in Turkey, but universities generally take care of most of the administrative procedures and provide thorough guidance.

Useful links:

List of universities in Turkey:
Top Universities in Turkey:
Study in Turkey:

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