How to Apply to a University in Turkey in 2020

Intriguing, dazzling and totally different are just a few of the words that could describe studying a university degree abroad in Turkey. A crossroads between East and West, Turkey remains an iconic destination, be it for studies or holidays. 

The fact that it’s both close to Europe and Asia makes applying for a degree in Turkey a convenient choice for many international students. But in order to attend a Turkish university, there are a few steps you have to follow.

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Step 1: Start searching for the right degree and university

Higher education in Turkey is not that much different from what you’ll find in the EU Bologna system. It is also organised on 3 levels: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D.

Regardless of the degree type you are after, you can choose to do it at one of the 104 public universities and 62 private ones. Two of them are in top 400 world universities rankings according to Time Higher Education. Some universities which offer English-taught study programmes are:

Given the wide choice of Turkish universities, there’s no surprise that the study programmes offer is even wider. There are very few subjects you can’t study in Turkey. Here are some popular options you can consider:  

What is important to know is that each year the Turkish government establishes a fixed number of places for foreign students for each programme which you should check to estimate your chances of getting it (the smaller the number of places the higher the competition).

how to apply to a Turkish university

Step 2: Learn about admission requirements and application documents

If you found your study programme in Turkey, the next step is to check what are the requirements to apply for a degree. While you should always check the exact requirements on the programme website and see if you fit them, there are also some general conditions you have to fulfil.

Applying for an undergraduate degree in Turkey

If you intend to do a Bachelor’s degree in Turkey, you will need to have graduated from high school or be about to graduate. The next documents should be on your list:

  • Application form
  • High school diploma (or a paper certifying you will graduate)
  • Transcript of records
  • Language proficiency score (TOEFL or a university's proficiency test upon arrival)
  • Motivation letter
  • Proof of application fee payment (35-100 USD)
  • A certificate attesting you had a secondary school exit exam (e.g. SAT 1, International Baccalaureate, National Baccalaureate, etc.)
  • A letter which guarantees you have the financial funds to support yourself during your studies

The general deadline for submitting your application documents is before the 1st of August.

Applying for a graduate degree in Turkey

If you want to purse a Master's degree or a Ph.D. programme in Turkey, you will also have to check specific requirements on each programme website, but you can surely expect some of the following to be required:

  • Application form
  • Bachelor's or Master's diploma
  • A statement of purpose (presenting your project and motivation)
  • An updated CV
  • Reference letters from professors and employers
  • Transcript of records  
  • Graduate exam scores (depending on the programme: GRE or GMAT)
  • Language proficiency score (TOEFL, or a university's proficiency test upon arrival)
  • Written exams and/or interviews
  • A letter which guarantees you have the financial funds to support yourself during your studies

There are typically two application deadlines for graduate programmes:

  • For fall semester: end of May
  • For spring semester: end of December

Step 3: Apply and wait for the university admission response

Once you have all your papers in order, you can submit your application. Note that even if you apply online, you will also have to send the documents via post before the deadline. Also, if you have an entrance exam or interview you will need to travel to Turkey to attend them.

 If you have these points covered, you’ll just have to wait a bit. Tick-talk, tick-talk …. until:

  • Mid-August if you are applying for a Bachelor’s
  • Mid-September if you’re applying for a Master’s or Ph.D.

The acceptance letter will also come with info about the next steps you have to take to claim your spot such as paying tuition fees or applying for a student visa at the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate.

how to apply to a Turkish university

Step 4: Apply for the Turkish student visa

Most international students need to apply for a student visa if they go to a university in Turkey. The process for getting a visa is pretty simple and straightforward. You have to take a copy of your university acceptance later and a filled visa application form to the Turkish embassy or consulate in your country. The visa is issued in about 8 weeks after application, so remember to apply in advance.

Note that citizens from 15 countries are allowed to enter Turkey only with their national IDs. Check if your country is among them and read more details about Turkish visas.

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Step 5: Prepare for tuition fees and living costs

Before you jump on that plane, train, or car to take you to study abroad in Turkey, remember to also check practical aspects about university tuition fees and cost of living in Turkey. Here’s what tuition fees apply to international students in Turkey:

  • Bachelors in English: 450 – 1500 USD/academic year
  • Bachelors in Turkish: 240 – 750 USD/academic year
  • Masters in English: 600 – 900 USD/academic year
  • Masters in Turkish: 300 – 600 USD/academic year

You can expect to spend about 350-500 USD/month on living costs, plus and extra 100-150 USD/semester on books and administrative fees.

You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies in Turkey.

If you are curious about what's like to study in Turkey from an international student’s perspective, check out Imran’s study experience in Turkey.

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