Study in Turkey

A Turkish Culture Overview Fact File

  • Official name – Republic of Turkey
  • Population – 76, 805, 524*
  • Languages – Turkish (official), Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek
  • Currency – Turkish Lira (TRL)
  • Capital City – Ankara
  • GDP – purchasing power parity $906.5 billion*
  • GDP Per Capita – purchasing power parity $12,000*


Turkey is a vibrant amalgamation of two unique cultures, reflecting a diverse collection of ideas, beliefs and values. Crossing both European and Middle Eastern boundaries, Turkish society is patriotic and proud of its ancestry and achievements. The rapid modernization of the country, combined with its traditional values, makes Turkey a fascinating market for foreign businesses but requires an understanding of its cultural design in order to secure your future business success.

Turkish Culture – Key Concepts and Values

Family – The most essential social unit in Turkish culture is the family. A Turk’s personal life is dependent on and revolves around family, friends and other community groups. These, in turn, command one’s opinions and decisions. Family loyalty is a vital aspect of Turkish society and one that has a major impact on Turkish business practices. Many businesses in Turkey are still family-owned and run and the concept of family connections and influence is apparent during business exchanges in Turkey.

Polychronic time – Turks tend to juggle several activities and issues at the same time and continue multiple conversations simultaneously. Thus, in a Turkish business environment, it is not uncommon for phone calls to be taken during scheduled meeting and for people to enter the meeting room without invitation. Business meetings tend not to follow a linear system and are rarely structured. As a result, you should be prepared to exercise patience when conducting business in Turkey.

Islam – Modern day Turkey is a secular state; however the philosophy and ideology of Islam still remains a prevalent feature of Turkish culture. Although not so prominent in the more Western-influenced areas of the country, the Islamic culture of Turkey continues to influence cultural life, beliefs, language, teaching, social relationships and democracy. It infiltrates all levels of society, providing guidance, values, and rules for personal life, public behavior and business etiquette.

The Turkish Economy

Founded in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic has witnessed periods of instability and recurrent democratic power. Today, Turkey is an associate member of the European Union, and is undergoing many changes in order to strengthen its democracy and integrate its economy into a more global field. Turkey’s economy is a dynamic blend of both modern and traditional industries, with an increasingly strong private sector. Turkey’s geographical position offers an excellent base for economic activities throughout the region and is emerging as a powerful cultural and political focal point. Such an increasingly attractive business environment presents many advantages and potential opportunities to businesses wishing to expand in this area of the world.




Areas of Study

Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Turkey can be studied in a variety of subject areas much like the range of courses on offer in other countries. An undergraduate qualification takes two to four years to complete. (For medicine it is six years) A postgraduate qualification typically takes two years to complete, although this varies between institutions. Some programs are slightly longer or shorter depending on the course content.
Eligibility for a course may also depend on meeting an appropriate level of Turkish proficiency, although quite a number of Turkish universities conduct tuition in English. Universities usually also offer Turkish courses for students for whom Turkish is not their first language. Check individual institutions for details.

Educational System in Turkey


Turkey’s educational system is composed of two parts; formal education and mass education. Preschool, elementary education, secondary education, and higher education form the basis of formal education. Mass education on the other hand is separated from the formal education and includes national education centers, apprentice training centers, open universities, and county colleges.

In Turkey, the higher educational system is regulated and monitored by the Council of Higher Education, a government agency. The system allows state and non-profit private universities (called foundation universities) to exist, however, there are no for profit private universities in Turkey.

There are a total number of sixty universities excluding private universities. Students want to study in reputable departments at reputable universities to succeed in the future. That is why they start studying for the entrance exams as much as two years in advance, usually taking up private tutoring as well. However, only 1/3 of the students can continue on to a state university of their choice. The others go to private universities, provided they can afford it, or start working, or wait one year to retake the exam, and some attend the military service.

Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type): There are no non-university level post-secondary studies in the Turkish higher education system. Higher technical and vocational post-secondary studies last for four years in higher schools and for two years in vocational higher schools affiliated to the universities. They offer vocational training in various professions and confer an Önlisans Diplomasi following completion of  two-year university studies and a Lisans Diplomasi on completion of four-year university studies.

University level first stage – Önlisans Diplomasi /Lisans Diplomasi: An Önlisans Derecesi or Diplomasi (Associate Degree) is awarded after the successful completion of two-year university studies. Courses leading to the Lisans Diplomasi require a minimum of four years’ university study.  Courses last for  five years in Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine and for six years in Medicine. In Veterinary Medicine, the professional qualification of Veteriner Hekim Diplomasi is conferred. In Dentistry, the Dis Hekimligi Diplomasi is conferred upon the completion of five years’ study. In Medicine, the professional qualification of Tip Doktorlugu Diplomasi is conferred. The graduates of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry can directly apply to PhD/Doctorate programmes in Turkey. The qualifications in these three fields of study are considered to be the equivalent of a Yuksek Lisans Diplomasi (Master’s degree).

University level second stage – Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi/Bilim Uzmanligi Diplomasi: The Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi (Master’s Degree) lasts for two years with thesis and for one-and-a-half years without thesis.

University level third stage – Doktora Diplomasi/Bilim Doktorlugu Diplomasi/Tipta Uzmanlik Belgesi/Sanatta Yeterlik Diplomasi: Candidates must hold the Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi and sit for an examination. The Doktora Diplomasi is conferred after two years’ study and on completion of a doctoral thesis (a total of four years). The Tipta Uzmanlik Belgesi (specialist degree) in Medicine is conferred to recognize a physician’s advanced skills and expertise. It is considered to be the equivalent of a Doktora Diplomasi.

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers: Primary school teachers are trained in universities where they must obtain a Lisans Diplomasi.

Training of secondary school teachers: Secondary school teachers are trained in universities where they must obtain a Lisans Diplomasi.

Training of higher education teachers: According to the Higher Education Law (art. 35), higher education institutions are responsible for the training of their own academic staff, both at home and abroad. There are various criteria for the promotion of teaching staff members.

Non-traditional studies: Distance education is offered at the Open Education Faculty of Anadolu University. Entry is on a competitive basis through the central national university entrance examination (ÖSS). Courses last for two or four years.

Support for International Students


int-officeLike universities in many other countries, Turkish universities make efforts to support international students studying in Turkey.

Universities with exchange programs usually have international offices to support international students. They provide guidance about the application processes, accommodation, culture, and more. They also organize cultural and social events and excursions.

Click here for more information about Bilgi University International Students Office.

Click here for more information about Özyeğin University International Students Office.

Click here for more information about Kültür University International Students Office.