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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 relatively low fees for its postgraduate 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.
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).
|Masters Study in Turkey - Key Details|
|Oldest University||Istanbul University (1453)|
|Course Length||1-2 years|
|Typical Fees (International)||€120-705|
|Academic Year||October to July|
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 Üniversiteleri) 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 (Özel Üniversiteleri) 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.
Several Turkish universities feature among the top 600 in the world, according to the Times Higher Education and QS World University Ranking systems.
|University||THE 2020||QS 2020||ARWU 2019|
|Istanbul Technical University||601-800||651-700||801-900|
|Middle East Technical University||601-800||591-600||701-800|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.
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 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, encompassing 120 ECTS credits. 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 also require you to produce an individual thesis in the second half of your second year. This is 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.
Some Turkish Masters courses don’t involve a written thesis, instead requiring students to complete a vocational project.
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 between €120 and €705 per year for international students.
Costs at private institutions can be significantly higher.
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 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 Erasmus+ scheme.
You can also read our guide to Erasmus+ funding.
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 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). Many 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.
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. Read our guide to graduate admissions tests.
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. Find out more about common English language tests for international students.
It's worth 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’s not yet a member international students still need to apply for a visa before arriving in the country. You should begin this process by visiting the Republic of Turkey Consular Procedures website and completing the pre-application form for a visa.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to make an appointment with your local Turkish consulate and finish the process for a student visa, which usually includes supplying copies of:
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.
You should also make sure that you’re covered by some form of health insurance while studying in Turkey. You can get a private insurance policy or register with the Turkish Social Security Institution (SGK).
For more information about life in Turkey once you've arrived, see our guide to living in Turkey as a Masters student.
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 for opportunities in Turkey or the surrounding region.
Last updated 20/01/2020