Europe - Country Commercial Guide
Turkey Education

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-01-15

Capital:  Ankara
Population:  82,017,514 (July 2020 est.)
GDP:  $2,062,045,000,000 (2019 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Turkish liras (TRY)
Language:  Turkish (official) 

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Turkey has 47,546 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
39.08% of the population in Turkey is under 24 years old.


Turkey’s population of 82 million is relatively young when compared with many other countries.  Over 30 percent of the population is under the age of eighteen.  This young population provides considerable opportunities for international education institutions.

As of December 2020, there are 131 public and 78 foundation (private) universities serving 7.94 million students in various academic programs.  2019 figures reveal that 4.54 million students are enrolled in undergraduate and vocational programs, 297,000 in graduate programs, 101,240 in doctorate programs, and 2.20 million in the Open University.  Public universities charge a small fee, whereas private university tuition costs range from $2,000 to $12,000 per year.  Many outstanding students of limited means can attend private universities on merit scholarships.

Entrance into universities is competitive due to the limited capacity of high-quality university programs.  Students need to successfully pass a nationwide placement test that is administered in June every year over two days in three sessions.  Every year an increasing number of students take the university exam.  In 2020, 2,296,138 high school graduates took the exams and around 16% of these applicants were enrolled in a 4-year program, 13.5% in a 2-year program, and 6% to the Open University (distance education in the various subfields).  The rest were unable to enter any higher education program.  In Turkey, the Ministry of National Education is responsible for administering all educational services in the country, excluding higher education.  The Council of Higher Education (YÖK) is a 22-member corporate public body responsible for the planning, coordination and supervision of higher education.

The capacity and quality constraints of the Turkish universities spur the demand of Turkish students to study abroad.  Many students wishing to study abroad place American universities at the top of the list due to the quality of education and strong career prospects.  Over 46,000 Turkish students go abroad for university education. U.S. colleges and universities already attract around one fourth of these students for undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as specialized training.


Higher Education

The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2020 Statistics show that Turkey, with its

9,481 students, is the fifteenth leading place of origin for students in the U.S.  Among European countries, Turkey holds the second place after the U.K. with its number of students in the U.S.  The enrollment level of the Turkish students is as follows:

Undergraduate: 3,104

Graduate: 4,178

Other (Non-degree programs): 463

OPT: 1,736

About half of the Turkish students in U.S. universities are studying for their graduate degrees.

According to the Turkish Fulbright Commission, which is part of the Education USA network of the Department of State, the following are the most popular fields of study chosen by Turkish students planning to study abroad:

  • Engineering, computer science, and other technical fields
  • Business administration and economics (especially MBA programs in finance, marketing, and international business)
  • English as a second language
  • Short-term certificate programs and/or summer programs (mostly in business ESL)
  • Social sciences, humanities, and arts (mainly psychology, political sciences, architecture and law)
  • Mass communications (radio-TV, film & video production)
  • Medicine and other medical fields (for the most part, advanced level residencies)

Secondary Education

The inadequacies of the Turkish secondary education system have been a driving force for Turkish parents to send their children to reputable boarding schools.  Through marketing efforts, Turkish student representation at the U.S. boarding schools has been increasing in recent years. In 2019, over 400 Turkish students pursued their studies at U.S. boarding schools, making the U.S. the second most popular destination for boarding schools after the U.K.

Many Turks find the academic excellence at U.S. boarding schools invaluable as well as the unique residential campus environment and the superior extra-curricular activities.  It is also important for potential students and their families that graduating students are accepted at some of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the U.S. and around the world.


There are more students interested in quality higher education programs than can be accommodated by the popular Turkish universities.  Thus, opportunities exist for American universities and colleges to explore recruitment possibilities from Turkey.  The results of the central university placement exam in Turkey are announced in mid-July.  U.S. higher education institutions can reach out to unmatched or dissatisfied students if they are able to accept students starting in the second semester/quarter of the school year.

The Ministry of National Education, the Council of Higher Education and many ministries offer scholarships to hundreds of successful students each year wishing to continue their studies abroad.  These students usually apply to well-known “top universities” chosen from a Specific List provided to them.  Cost is not a critical factor in their decision-making process as the scholarship sponsors pay for their entire studies and the scholarship holders are usually bonded to work with their sponsoring organizations for about 4-8 years after they graduate.

Due to the competitive nature of the Turkish labor market and the significant unemployment level, many students feel the necessity to have a postgraduate/master’s degree increasing their chances to find better jobs.  These programs are even more competitive, so students seek placement at international universities.  Graduate studies are the most popular level of enrollment for Turkish students; over 50% of the Turkish students in the U.S. are pursuing graduate degrees.

Several Turkish universities have cooperation programs (such as dual diploma, language programs) with American universities, enabling their students to continue their education in U.S. institutions.  Other American universities may wish to pursue such cooperative agreements as well as student exchange programs to attract qualified Turkish students.


  • EURIE- Eurasia Higher Education Summit

March 3-5, 2021 – Istanbul (Virtual)


  • Study Expo Study Abroad Fairs

Online Programs Virtual Fair – January 19, 2021

Secondary Education Virtual Fair – February 13, 2021


  • IEFT Study Abroad Fairs

May 18-24, 2021 – Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul (Hybrid fairs)


  • A2 Study Abroad Fairs

April 10-11, 2021 – Istanbul (Hybrid fairs)


  • U.S. Commercial Service – Turkey


  • U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service Global Education Team


  • Industry and Analysis, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services


  • Turkish Ministry of National Education:


  • Higher Education Council of Turkey


  • Education USA Turkey


  • The Turkish Fulbright Commission


  • Turkish-American Association


  • Institute of International Education



Perim Akguner, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Ankara, Turkey


Phone: +90 212 335 9197