A Masters in Turkey has plenty to offer adventurous international students, with historic universities and a long tradition of intellectual exchange. Turkish universities are attractive for more practical reasons too, with no fees for the majority of its postgraduate Masters programmes.
This page provides a complete introduction to Masters study abroad in Turkey, with information on universities and courses and advice on fees, applications and student visas.
|Masters Study in Turkey - Key Details|
|Oldest University||Istanbul University (1453)|
|Course Length||1-2 years|
|Typical Fees (International)||$600-900 USD|
|Academic Year||October to July|
Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey is certainly one of the more exotic and exciting destinations for postgraduate study in Europe. In fact, the country has always played an important role in the exchange of eastern and western ideas. Some of its universities date back to the fifteenth century, when Turkey was the seat of the Ottoman Empire: a transcontinental civilisation that prided itself on its scientific and philosophical innovations (several important concepts in mathematics and astronomy owe their origin to Ottoman thinkers).
Today, Turkey continues to be an important hub for intellectual exchange and international scholarship. As a candidate for EU membership, the country is also a full participant in the Bologna Process, with estimates suggesting that around 30,000 foreign students enrol in the country each year. Many of these are postgraduates, attracted by a range of Masters programmes complimented by modern advanced research facilities and unique archives of historical material unavailable elsewhere in the western world. Of course, a Mediterranean climate, beautiful architecture and diverse geography may also play a small role in attracting international students to study for a Masters in Turkey.
Want to know more about life for international students in Turkey? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.
As is common throughout Europe, Turkish higher education providers may be either public or private institutions.
Public universities (Devlet Universiteleri) are founded and administered by the Turkish state. These institutions account for the majority of enrolments (around 75% of the total) and will generally provide the widest range of Masters programmes in different fields.
Private universities (Ozel Universiteleri) are established and administered as independent institutions, on a non-profit basis. They are sometimes referred to as 'foundation universities', having been established by groups seeking to conduct research or training in specific areas or through specific external partnerships. Some also operate in association with overseas universities or employ international experts.
As a prospective Masters student in Turkey you can study at either a public or private university, depending on the opportunities available in your subject area. Private universities will usually charge higher fees, but this cost may be offset by unique partnerships and opportunities that are unavailable at public institutions.
The academic year in Turkey takes place across two semesters, from October to January and from February to July. A two week holiday period usually separates these teaching sessions, with a longer summer vacation between July and October. Most full time Masters programmes will commence in October, but other options may be available for part-time students or on courses that allow entry in the second semester.
A Masters in Turkey (Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi) usually takes around two years to complete. You will enrol in a series of modules delivered in specific semesters, with the assessment of these individual components contributing to your final grade.
The majority of Turkish Masters degree programmes will also require you to produce an individual thesis in the second half of your second year. This will usually be submitted for an examination, which will be conducted orally in a similar manner to the defence of a PhD thesis. This may seem intimidating if you are used to education systems in countries such as the UK, where most Masters dissertations are simply marked and returned, but don't let it worry you. By the time you've completed your degree and written your dissertation you'll be confident in your expertise and the examination should provide an opportunity to show off your knowledge in a stimulating intellectual discussion. Plus, undergoing an oral examination as part of your Masters degree is an excellent preparation for further academic work - an opportunity not many students get before they begin a PhD.
Turkish universities carry out their own admissions and you should therefore contact institutions directly to enquire about their process. As a minimum you should be able to provide evidence of existing undergraduate qualifications in a relevant subject-area. Recognition of degrees will usually be a simple process, particularly if you have previously studied in Europe. If your qualifications are less familiar you may need to contact your university in advance; their international office should be experienced in handling these enquiries.
Other applications procedures are at the discretion of universities, but it is not uncommon for Masters students to be invited to interview. Information on requirements and dates will usually be posted by institutions in advance. If you are likely to have difficulties with travel and / or accommodation you should contact your institution early and ask for advice.
In addition to requiring appropriate qualifications at the previous level of study, most applicants to Turkish universities are also required to sit an entrance exam. This applies to postgraduate programmes and to international applicants.
The test used within Turkey is the Entrance Examination for Academic Staff and Graduate Students (ALES). Most Masters programmes will require applicants to achieve a score of at least 50-55 on this test, with better results potentially increasing your chance of admission to more competitive places or of winning merit-based scholarships. The content of the ALES is designed to confirm that prospective students possess the basic skills and competencies needed to successfully complete a postgraduate course. It isn't intended to trip up applicants and shouldn't be a concern for students who are otherwise prepared for Masters level study. The body responsible for administering the ALES is ÖSYM and their website carries information on the process for arranging and taking the test. At present, the majority of their information is in Turkish, but your university should be able to assist if you are unable to find the material you need.
Some institutions may accept international tests such as the GMAT or GRE in lieu of the ALES. As a rule, scores of 450 or 610, respectively, will be recognised as equivalent to a passing ALES score. You can read more about these graduate admissions tests here.
Some Masters programmes are taught wholly or partly in English and this trend is increasing at newer universities seeking to attract more international students. Where a programme is taught in Turkish you will usually be asked to take a Turkish language test as part of your admissions process.
If you are applying for an English-language programme and English is your second language you may need to take a proficiency test. ÖSYM offers its own tests for this purpose, but Turkish universities may also accept international tests such as TOEFL or IELTS. You can read more about common English language tests for international students here.
It's worth considering learning some Turkish regardless of the specific requirements on your course. Acquiring foreign language skills is one of the many advantages of postgraduate study abroad and a great way of reflecting this experience on your CV.
Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, but as it is not yet a member still requires international students to apply for a visa before arriving in the country. You should begin this process by visiting the nearest Turkish consulate in your country of residence. Applications will usually require you to provide a valid passport, proof of your acceptance at a Turkish university and a nominal fee.
The examination, approval, and acceptance of a visa application can take up to eight weeks and you should factor this into your application process. Make sure you apply for your Masters course early enough to confirm a place at your institution and leave sufficient time for your visa to be issued.
Once you have arrived in Turkey you will need to apply for a residence permit within one month. This will allow you to enter and leave the country without needing to have your visa re-issued. You can apply for a permit at a local police office, providing a copy of your passport, visa and proof of enrolment at your university.
For more information about life in Turkey once you've arrived, see our guide to living in Turkey as a Masters student.
Fees for Masters degrees in Turkey can be quite variable. As a general rule you can expect costs to be higher for courses in English and for private universities to charge more than public universities. Programmes in English at public universities will cost an average of ?1,250-1,850 ($420-622 USD) per year of study with Turkish language equivalents costing ?650-1,250 ($219-420 USD).
Costs at private institutions can be much higher, with average fees between ?10,000 - 40,000 ($3,360-13,440 USD).
Funding to study a Masters in Turkey is available, with the Turkish government offering various scholarships for international students. Eligibility for this will depend on your country of origin, with students from developing nations in Africa and Asia often prioritised over those from wealthier European or North American countries.
Many universities also offer maintenance support and / or fee waiver scholarships to some of their own students. Eligibility for these may be determined according to academic merit and / or financial need. Information about such funding may be advertised on university websites or made available upon request.
Turkey also participates in the Erasmus exchange programmes run by the European Commission, having recruited over 5,000 international students this way so far. To find out more about opportunities in Turkey and other countries, visit the website of the current Erasmus+ scheme here.
You can also read our guide to the Erasmus Mundus international scholarship programme.
Our own postgraduate funding website provides a comprehensive database of small grants and bursaries available to support postgraduate study around the world, including travel bursaries, living cost support, fee waivers and exchange programmes. Click here to start searching for funding to study a Masters in Turkey, or elsewhere.
Turkish Masters degrees are internationally recognised and will equip you well for research at PhD level or employment in fields related to your subject area. the relative rigour of the turkish admissions and assessment process may also help you stand out amidst other candidates or applicants.
Whatever you decide to do after you graduate, your time spent studying abroad will demonstrate your flexibility, equip you with additional skills and experiences in addition to your qualification and, of course, prepare you especially well for opportunities in Turkey or the surrounding region.
Last updated - 03/11/2016