Europe - Country Commercial Guide
Turkey Education
Last published date:

Capital:  Ankara

Population:  82.5 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $2.39 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Turkish liras (TRY)

Language:  Turkish (official) 


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Turkey has 47,628 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook

39.08% of the population in Turkey is under 25 years old.



Turkey’s population of 82.5 million is relatively young.  Around 27 percent of the population is under the age of eighteen.  This young population provides considerable opportunities for international education institutions.

As of December 2021, there are 129 public and 74 foundation (private) universities, serving 8.24 million students in various academic programs.  2020 figures reveal that 3.37 million students are enrolled in undergraduate and vocational programs; 343,569 in graduate programs; 106,148 in doctoral programs; and 4.42 million in the Open University (distance education in various subfields).  Public universities charge a small fee, whereas private university tuition costs range from $1,500 to $12,000 per year.  Outstanding students of limited means often 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 administered over a two-day period in June of each year.  Every year, an increasing number of students take the university exam.  In 2021, 2,592,390 high school graduates took the exams, and 816,747 applicants were enrolled in a 4-year program, while 793,166 applicants were enrolled in a 2-year program. The remaining test takers were unable to enter a higher education program of their choice.  In Turkey, the Ministry of National Education is responsible for administering nearly all educational services in the country, except for 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.

Capacity and quality constraints of Turkish higher education institutions spur demand for Turkish students to study abroad. Many students wishing to study abroad place U.S. universities at the top of the list due to the perceived quality of education and potential career prospects.  Over 47,000 Turkish students go abroad for university education.  U.S. colleges and universities already attract around a fifth of these students for undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as specialized training.



Higher Education:  The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2021 statistics show that Turkey, with its 8,109 students, is the fifteenth leading place of origin for foreign students in the U.S.  Among European countries, Turkey holds the second place for number of students in the U.S., following the U.K.  The enrollment levels of Turkish students are as follows:

Undergraduate: 2,693

Graduate: 3,834

Other (Non-degree programs): 132

Optional Practical Training: 1,450

About half (47%) of Turkish students at U.S. universities are pursuing graduate degrees.

According to the Turkish Fulbright Commission, which is part of the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network, 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 U.S. boarding schools has increased 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 quality, residential campus environment, and superior extra-curricular activities at U.S. boarding schools invaluable.  It is also important for potential students and their families that graduated students are accepted at some of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the U.S. and around the world.



There are not enough places in popular Turkish universities and university programs to accommodate the student demand. Thus, opportunities exist for U.S. 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 students’ decision-making processes since the scholarship sponsors pay for their entire program and scholarship holders are usually obliged to work at their sponsoring organization for about four to eight years after graduation.

Due to the competitive nature of the Turkish labor market and high unemployment, many students are compelled to pursue post-graduate education to increase their employment prospects.  These programs are even more competitive in Turkey, so students seek placement at international universities.  Graduate studies are the most popular level of enrollment for Turkish students studying abroad; almost 50% of the Turkish students in the U.S. are pursuing graduate degrees.

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



  • Study Expo Study Abroad Fairs

         February 26-27, 2022 - Istanbul (Hybrid)


  • EURIE- Eurasia Higher Education Summit

        March 2-4, 2022 – Istanbul (Hybrid)


  • IEFT Study Abroad Fairs

        April 10-17, 2022 – Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul (Hybrid)


  • A2 Study Abroad Fairs

        April 2-9, 2022 – Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir (Hybrid)

        November 12-18, 2022 - Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir (Hybrid)





Perim Akguner, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Istanbul, Turkey

Phone: +90 212 335 9197