General Structure

In 1981, Turkiye implemented a reform of its higher education system in accordance with the new Higher Education Law (No. 2547), which centralized the administration of all higher education institutions under the Council of Higher Education (CoHE). The restructuring led to the designation of all institutions of higher education as universities, expansion of higher education throughout the country, centralized application to higher education, and introduction of a central university exam and placement. Turkiye’s first nonprofit foundation university also started providing education for students in 1986.

In 2012, Turkiye implemented a compulsory education system that lasts 12 years and is divided into three stages: pre-primary school education, primary education, and secondary education.

higher education

Pre-primary School Education

Pre-primary school education is optional and provides education for children aged 3 to 5 who have not yet reached the age of compulsory primary education.

Primary Education

Primary education is compulsory for all citizens and provides education and training for children aged 6 to 10. It is free at state schools and lasts four years (grades 1-4).

Elemantary Education

Elementary education is compulsory for all citizens and provides education and training for children aged 10 to 14. It is also free at state schools and lasts four years (grades 5-8). At the end of elementary school, students are typically informed about general, vocational, and technical high schools, as well as the types of employment opportunities they can prepare them for.

Secondary Education

Mandatory secondary education applies to all citizens and comprises general or vocational and/or technical high schools. It provides four-year courses for children aged 14 to 17 (grades 9-12) and is free at state schools.

Higher Education

After completing their high school education, students in Turkiye have the opportunity to pursue higher education, which is organized based on the Bologna three-cycle system.

Types Of Higher Education Institutions And Academic Units

Faculty (College)

A higher education division dedicated to scholarly research, publication, and offering various departments and programs. Successful completion of an educational program lasting at least four years leads to a Bachelor’s degree.

Graduate School

An institution within a university that provides graduate education, conducts scholarly research, and promotes applications in various fields. MA, MSc, or Ph.D. degrees are awarded upon completion.

4-year School

A higher education institution that specializes in providing instruction for a particular profession. The program typically lasts for eight semesters.


An institution of higher education that trains artists in music and performing arts. The program usually takes eight semesters to complete.

Post-Secondary Vocational School

A vocational school is a higher education institution that aims to provide specific professional training lasting four semesters.

Research and Application Center

An institution of higher education that conducts research and applied studies to meet the needs of various professional fields, as well as providing preparatory and support activities for higher education institutions.


Associate’s degree (short cycle)

An Associate’s degree is a qualification awarded upon completion of a two-year study program. Such programs are offered by universities, foundation postsecondary vocational schools, and some distance education programs. On-the-job training may be required for some associate degree programs.

Bachelor’s degree (1st cycle)

 Upon the completion of a four-year course and 240 ECTS of study, individuals are awarded a Bachelor’s degree. However, the study duration for dentistry, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy is extended to five years, and for medicine, it is six years. These four fields are considered equivalent to a Master’s degree.

Master’s degree program (2nd cycle)

A Master’s degree program is a program that typically lasts for two years and results in the awarding of a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Sciences (MS) degree. Two types of Master’s programs are available: those with or without a thesis. A Master’s program with a thesis generally requires the completion of courses totaling a minimum of 120 ECTS, followed by the submission of a thesis. Non-thesis programs are typically completed in either one or one and a half years. These non-thesis programs require the completion of graduate courses totaling a minimum of 90 credits, as well as a term project.

Doctoral degree program (3rd cycle)

A Doctoral degree program is usually an eight-semester program leading to a Ph.D. degree. It consists of courses with 180-240 ECTS, a proficiency exam, a dissertation proposal, a dissertation, and an oral defense. After successfully completing the coursework and the proficiency exam, students must submit and defend the dissertation orally before an examining committee.

Specialization in Medicine Programs

Specialization in Medicine Programs is equivalent to doctoral degree programs and is carried out in the faculties of medicine, university hospitals, and research and training hospitals. For specialization in medicine, a competitive selection examination is held in various branches of medicine for those graduating from the faculties of medicine. Specialist candidates must submit a dissertation and defend it before an examining committee.

Proficiency in Art

Proficiency in art is at least a six-semester post-Master’s program in the visual and performing art branches, making it equivalent to a Doctorate. It requires the presentation of an original work of art or, in the case of music and the performing arts, a superior creative performance.

International Student Admissions

Suppose international students intend to pursue undergraduate studies in Turkiye. In that case, they must have completed their secondary education in an institution that offers education at a level equivalent to that of a Turkish high school. They can directly apply to their preferred universities, and the selection process will be handled by the university.

For graduate or post-graduate studies, international students also apply directly to their desired universities, which have their own admission requirements. Additionally, various scholarships are available for some international students to explore.

Tuition Fees

In Turkiye, tuition fees are determined differently for public and non-profit foundation universities. In public universities, the amount of tuition fees is determined and announced by the Presidential Decree, considering the type and duration of study in various disciplines. On the other hand, the university’s Board of Trustees sets the tuition fees for non-profit foundation universities.

Before registering for courses at the beginning of each semester, students are required to pay their tuition fees for that specific semester. Both public and non-profit foundation universities offer various scholarships to a certain percentage of admitted students. These scholarships may include full or partial tuition waivers, merit-based scholarships, or other forms of support. Some of these scholarships may also cover academic materials, accommodation, food, beverages, and certain allowances. Additionally, student assistantships and research fellowships are other types of support available to students during their studies in Turkiye.