September 2012  Volume 25, Issue 8
  International Education Intelligence   
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Education in Turkey

By Nick Clark, Editor World Education News & Reviews,
Ari Mihael, Assistant Director world Education Services

There are 81 provinces in Turkey distributed across seven regions. The education system is centrally managed in accordance with laws set down by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk after the founding of the Republic in 1923. Ataturk created a singular secular system of education designed to produce a skilled working class.

Until the present day, education has been a political and philosophical battleground between the secularists, backed by the military apparatus, and religious conservatives, who form the bedrock of the currently ruling AKP party. This year the AKP pushed through reform legislation that some critics say is politically and religiously motivated. Nonetheless, the ostensible motivations behind the move to extend mandatory education by four years seem noble enough.

In this profile, which accompanies and expands upon a recent WES webinar, we offer an overview of recent changes and reforms to the Turkish education system, a guide to the different levels of the system, the associated qualifications, tips on evaluating commonly seen credentials, and an annotated file of sample Turkish documents.  

Legislative Changes

The legislative history of education in Turkey over the last 20 years has been turbulent. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) pushed through educational reforms this year that, most significantly, add four years to mandatory schooling, increasing the period from eight years to 12 years. On the surface, this seems like a positive change, however, the new law has been heavily criticized as being politically motivated and counterintuitive to the stated goals. Rather than encouraging students to stay in school longer, critics say the new 4+4+4 structure could result in students choosing a vocational education track just four years into their formal schooling at the age of 11.

Previously, the first eight years of primary school were uninterrupted. Under the government’s new laws, the 12 years of compulsory education have been divided into three four-year levels: primary, middle and high school. The government says the new shorter levels will allow for more flexibility, including vocational options. Critics say four years of basic schooling is inadequate before entering into a system of apprenticeship and vocational training.

But of even greater concern for critics are the implications for girls, who are already nine percent less likely to complete high school than men, according to current statistics from the OECD. Under the new law, parents would be allowed to home school their children after the first four years of primary education, and the concern is that parents in rural and conservative parts of the country might prevent their daughters from attending school after those first four years.

Others argue there is a religious bent to the new law. Andrew Finkel, a New York Times blogger and veteran foreign correspondent in Istanbul, made the argument in a Times blog post earlier this year that, “the real purpose of the legislation may be less to keep children in school longer than to let them pursue intensive religious education younger. Once again, education reform here is caught in the never-ending tug of war between the old secular establishment and the conservative government of the Justice and Development Party.”

The ‘tug of war’ that Finkel points to dates back to Turkey’s last major reform of the education system in 1997, when the incoming secular government extended the existing five-year period of compulsory education to eight continuous years. Finkel argues that the reform was aimed at getting more girls through primary schooling and keeping children out of imam hatip vocational schools, which were used to train Islamic clergy, until at least the ninth grade. By the 1990s, these schools were enrolling one in 10 children and they were developing into an established alternative school track. Finkel describes the schools as being “less like madrassas than parochial schools in the United States.”

By the time the AK party regained power in 2003, attendance at imam hatip was down to approximately 2 percent. Finkel argues that the AKP had been determined to undo the effects of the 1997 reform, and hence the belief that the current reforms are, in part, religiously and politically motivated.


Regulatory Structure

The Ministry of National Education is responsible for the administration of all stages and types of pre-tertiary education. Higher education planning and coordination falls under the purview of the Yükseköğretim Kurulu (the Council for Higher Education, YÖK), which is a non-partisan and non-governmental national board of trustees. The council is responsible for the negotiation of university budgets, overall and institutional admission caps, core curriculum guidelines at the undergraduate level, and faculty head appointments.

After being banned in the early 1970s, private institutions of higher education were permitted to operate in Turkey again in the 1981-82 academic year, but only on a non-profit basis. The curricula of these institutions must be approved by YÖK.

In the provinces, educational affairs are organized by the Directorates of National Education appointed by the Minister, but working under the direction of the provincial governor.

Language of Instruction, Academic Year and Compulsory Education

The academic year consists of two semesters and generally runs from late September until early June. There are variations to the school calendar in rural areas and also in the tertiary sector. Universities usually organize the academic year into two semesters between October and January and between February/March and June/July.

The language of instruction is Turkish, although some programs at the tertiary level are taught in English, German or French. A foreign language is taught from fourth grade.

Compulsory education was increased from five years to eight years in 1997 and then increased again this year (2012) from eight years to 12 years. The new compulsory structure consists of four years of primary, middle and secondary school (4+4+4). Until the passage of the reform legislation this year, compulsory primary education was a continuous eight years.

Performance Indicators

Turkey has a very young population compared to its European neighbors, in fact it has the youngest population among the top 20 economies in the world. Almost one in three of Turkey’s 74 million people is between the age of 15 and 29, and half of the population is under the age of 28; however, the country faces serious challenges when it comes to educating its youth.

Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveal that in 2010 less than one in three adults aged 25-64 had the equivalent of a high school diploma (31 percent), much lower than the OECD average of 74 percent and the lowest rate across OECD countries. Among the current generation (aged under 25), upper secondary graduation rates stood at 54 percent, again well below the OECD average of 84 percent and the second lowest among OECD countries after Mexico (47 percent).

At the tertiary level, Turkey performs a little better with a graduation rate of 23 percent for university-level programs (third lowest among OECD countries) and 19 percent for shorter vocationally and professionally oriented programs (fifth highest among OECD countries). This compares to OECD averages of 39 and 11 percent respectively. These percentages are an indication of the number of people under the age of 30 years expected to complete tertiary programs in their lifetime based on current patterns of graduation.

Rates of graduation from university-level programs have been increasing rapidly in Turkey, from 6 percent in 1995 to 11 percent in 2005, and up to 20 percent in 2008. Of all tertiary graduates, 40 percent are currently from degree programs of less than three years, 51 percent from bachelor’s programs, and 9 percent at the graduate level (mainly masters).

On the qualitative front, Turkish schoolchildren perform poorly when compared to their counterparts in other OECD countries. According to results from the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the average student in Turkey performs significantly lower in reading literacy, math and sciences than the OECD average. The best-performing schools provide significantly higher-quality education, with an average difference in PISA results, between the top 20 percent and bottom 20 percent, of 106 points - higher than the OECD average of 99 points. This suggests the school system in Turkey tends to provide higher quality education for the better off.

International Mobility

Due to capacity and quality constraints of the Turkish education system, Turkish students have a long history of travelling abroad for higher education. According to recent figures from the OECD, over 65,000 Turkish students were studying abroad in 2010 and the top five destinations were: Germany (37.8 percent of all international students), the United States (15.6), the United Kingdom (5.6), Austria (3.7) and France (2.9).

Enrollments in U.S. institutions of higher education among Turkish students has held reasonable steady over the last decade at between 10,000 and 12,500, consistently ranking Turkey as a top-ten source of international students, according to figures from the Institute of International Education. In 2010-11, there were 12,184 Turkish students in U.S. higher education, with 6,435 graduate students (52 percent), 3,532 undergraduate students (29 percent), 1,193 other programs (10 percent), and 1,024 non-degree (8 percent).

Turks make up the largest ethnic minority in Germany, after large-scale migration from Turkey to Germany in the 1960s due to labor shortages in Germany and unemployment at home. A majority of Turks in Germany remain of Turkish citizenship due to stringent German citizenship rules, meaning that many of the ‘foreign’ population of Turks in German universities were born there or have gone through the German school system, but are still Turkish citizens. There were 1,629,000 Turkish citizens living in Germany in 2010; an estimated 30,000-70,000 take on German citizenship each year.

In 2010, there were 26,089 Turks in German higher education, according to recent data from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Of those, 19,514 gained their higher education articulation qualification at a German school (i.e., received secondary schooling or undergraduate training in Germany).

As a destination for international students, Turkey tends to attract students from ethnic, linguistic and cultural neighbors. In 2010-11, there were 31,170 foreign students in the Turkish education system, according to data from the country’s Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM). This represents a more than 100 percent increase since 2005-06 when there were 15,481 foreign students at Turkish universities and colleges.

The number of students in Turkey from predominantly Muslim countries in 2010-11 was over 18,000. Azerbaijan was the number one source with more than 4,200 students, followed by Turkmenistan with 4,110, and Northern Cyprus with 3,800. Iran and Bulgaria were the fourth and fifth. A total of 1,552 students from 44 African countries studied in Turkey in 2011-12, over a four-fold increase compared to 2005-06.

Anadolu University in Eskişehir hosts the most international students, followed by Istanbul University, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), Ankara University, and Marmara University.

International enrollment caps at state universities have recently been increased to accommodate more international students, while private universities are also reportedly recruiting more aggressively abroad. The use of English at many universities has also been a draw for foreign students, but cultural and linguistic ties with Turkic students from Central Asia and the Caucasus, combined with relatively cheap tuition costs, are undoubtedly the biggest draw for foreign students in Turkey.

Education Structure

Primary Education

As previously noted, the structure of education in Turkey has undergone a number of significant changes in recent years.

Prior to the current academic year (2012-13), the Turkish education structure was based on a law passed in 1997 that mandated eight years of compulsory primary education, followed by three years (changed to four years in 2005) of optional secondary school. The pre-1997 system consisted of five years of compulsory primary education, followed by three years of optional middle or junior high school.

With the passage of reform legislation in 2012, compulsory education has been extended to 12 years and split into three levels of four years each (4+4+4). Under the provisions of the new laws, students can enter technical or vocational schools as early as fifth grade after completing four years of primary education.

Along with changes to the structure of primary schooling, the age of entry has also been lowered. Students who will reach 66 months (five and a half) during the school year are now required to enroll at primary school, which has essentially created a double cohort of entering primary school students in the current academic year (2012-13). In addition, children who turn 60 months during the school year are able to register in primary school with the consent of their parents.

At the time of writing (September 2012), it remained unclear how the school curriculum would change with the new educational structure, as the Ministry of Education had yet to release full curricular guidelines. Given the younger age of incoming primary school children, the content of the first grade curriculum has been the subject of much speculation. Initial reports suggest that first grade children will not be taught basic literacy until April, meaning that they will essentially follow a pre-school curriculum focused on games and socialization for much of the first grade.

The Ministry of National Education sets the primary school curriculum, in addition to preparing and approving textbooks and teaching aids. Prior to the reforms, subjects included arts and crafts, civics and human rights, career guidance, foreign language (English, French or German from grade four), mathematics, music, physical education, religious education and ethics, science, social studies, Turkish history, Turkish language and literature, and traffic safety and first aid.

After eight years of study, students were awarded the İlköğretim Diploması (Primary Education Diploma) under the old system.

Prior to the 1997 education reforms, students undertook five years of primary education and three years of lower secondary (similar to the new 4+4 structure). Students graduating from lower secondary education were awarded the Ortaokui Bitirme Diplomasi (Junior Secondary Completion Diploma). It is unclear at this time exactly what qualifications will be awarded to students at the termination of their two four-year stages of basic education. 

Secondary Education

In the pre-2012 system, students were eligible to begin secondary studies after graduating from eight years of primary school at the age of 14. Under the new structure, students enter secondary school after four years of primary school and four years of middle school. Under both structures, secondary school lasts four years (grades 9 through 12). In the post-2012 era, secondary school is compulsory. Before the 2005-06 academic year, secondary programs were three years in length (grades 9 to 11).

Students can study at a general, technical or vocational high school. Some high schools have an additional year of preparatory classes in a foreign language. Under the new system, students can enter the technical or vocational stream at the start of the new four-year middle school stage.

There are several different types of schools in the general high school stream. These include general high schools, fine arts high schools, religious high schools, science high schools and foreign language high schools. These schools are academically focused and prepare students for higher education and the university entrance examinations.

In 2010-11, there were 4,748,610 students enrolled in secondary schools. Of those, 2,676,123 were enrolled in the general secondary stream (56 percent). Just 130,397 of all secondary students were enrolled at private schools (3 percent).

Three Upper-Secondary Branches

Secondary education is divided into three branches:

  1. General Academic Branch (4 Years)

    The first year academic curriculum is common to all students. In the second year, students declare a concentration from the following streams

    • Natural sciences
    • Literature and mathematics
    • Social sciences
    • Foreign languages and mathematics
    • Art

    Graduates are awarded the Lise Diplomasi (Secondary School Diploma), which gives access to the university entrance examinations.

  2. Technical Branch (4 Years)

    Graduates are awarded the Teknik Lise Diplomasi (Secondary Technical School Diploma) or Devlet Teknik Lisesi Diploması (State Technical High School Diploma), which grant access to university entrance examinations (although they will typically study at vocational/technical institutes).

  3. Vocational Branch (4 Years)

    Graduates are awarded Meslek Lise Diplomasi (Secondary Vocational School Diploma) or Devlet Meslek Lisesi Diploması (State Vocational High School Diploma), which also grant access to university entrance examinations (although they will typically study at vocational/technical institutes).

Technical and vocational education is offered at technical high schools and vocational high schools. Both prepare students for employment in various occupations, and for higher education. Technical and vocational high schools can be divided into four main types: industrial and technical; commerce, tourism and communication; social services; religious services. Graduates from both types of schools can apply for admission to a two-year higher vocational school or four-year higher school.


The core program is set by the Ministry of National Education and includes biology, chemistry, foreign language, geography, health, history, mathematics, military science, philosophy, physical education, physics, religious education and ethics, and Turkish language and literature.

In the academic branch, students follow a common core curriculum in grade 9 and then specialize in one of the five streams noted above. In grades 10, 11 & 12, there are common courses that everyone takes, but fewer of them to allow for elective (concentration) courses.

In the table below, all numbers refer to weekly class hours. In the instances where there are two numbers per course in the elective section, the first reflects an elective chosen for a student not concentrating in that particular field, and the second for students with that concentration.

Overall, students spend 30 hours a week in the classroom regardless of concentration. They are required to complete 30 credits per year in order to graduate.

General Academic High School Weekly Curriculum
Source: Ministry of National Education

Grading Scale

At the secondary level, most schools follow the ministry-approved 1-5 grading scale. Grading in Turkish secondary education is somewhat stringent, and grades tend to cluster in the twos and threes. Given the grading distribution common to Turkish secondary education, WES considers both grades ‘4’ & ‘5’ as equivalent to a U.S. ‘A’ grade. The ‘5’ grade is not commonly awarded in Turkey.

Secondary Education Grading Scale

Admission to Higher Education

Students graduating from secondary school are eligible to take university entrance examinations. Typically, university entry is reserved for students graduating from the general academic secondary branch, with graduates from technical and vocational schools pursuing further studies at technical institutes.

General Requirements

Students must finish schooling and have the Lise Diplomasi, Meslek Lise Diploması or Teknik Lise Diploması. Students are then eligible to sit for a centralized two-stage university entrance examination administered by the Student Selection and Placement Center (OSYM), affiliated with and supervised by YÖK.

Entry to institutions of higher education is based on a student’s grade point average from secondary school combined with scores in the Yuksek Ögretime Gecis Sinavi (Higher Education Transition Exam – YGS) and the Lisans Yerlestirme Sinavi (Undergraduate Placement Exam – LYS). The two-stage system replaced the single Ögrenci Seçme Sınavı,(Student Selection Examination – ÖSS) in 2010.

Results are announced in July and students have to submit their university choices by the first week of August. They are placed in programs based on demand and scores. Placement notices are issued at the end of August.

In 2011, 1,692,000 high school graduates took the exam.

Stage 1 Exam (Yuksek Ogretime Gecis Sinavi - Higher Education Transition Exam, YGS):

The results of the Higher Education Transition Exam, which takes place in April while students are still in school, are used for acceptance to two-year post-secondary vocational programs and to filter students for the Lisans Yerlesttirme Sinavi (Undergraduate Placement Exam), which takes place in June.

If a student does not wish to pursue university studies, then the stage one examination is sufficient for entry into terminal two-year degree programs. For those students in the academic branch wishing to compete for university places, the results of the first stage examinations will be combined with those taken in the second stage in June.

The Higher Education Transition Examination is standardized and tests students in four core curriculum fields:

  1. Turkish (Language and Expression)
  2. Basic Mathematics
  3. Social Sciences
  4. Sciences

Stage 2 Exam (Lisans Yerlestirme Sinavi - Undergraduate Placement Exam, LYS)

The exam takes place in June shortly after students have graduated. The score of the LYS (60 percent) is added to the results of the YGS (40 percent), and the final grade is combined with the secondary GPA to calculate a final score.

The Undergraduate Placement Examinations consist of five standardized examinations:

  1. Mathematics
  2. Natural Sciences
  3. Literature and Geography
  4. Social Sciences
  5. Foreign Language

The Bologna Process and Turkey

Turkey is signatory (2001) to the Bologna Process, which aims to create a European Higher Education Area by making higher education more comparable and compatible across Europe.

Among the harmonization, mobility and transparency measures that signatory countries are expected to implement within their national systems of education, the most important are the adoption of a three-cycle degree structure (with standard 3-2-3 program lengths) and the introduction of the common European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

In addition, there are a number of mobility and transparency tools that institutions and nations are required to adopt in issuing credentials to enable greater readability and portability. Among these are the Diploma Supplement, an outcome-based qualifications framework and common quality assurance procedures.

While not universal, many Turkish universities have successfully adopted the Diploma Supplement and ECTS, after they were made mandatory at all Turkish institutions of higher education from the 2005-06 academic year. Turkey has always had a three-cycle system, but the undergraduate level remains at four years, rather than the Bologna standard of three years.

Higher Education

At the university level, the higher education system follows a three-cycle - bachelor, master, doctorate – structure. Two-year associate degrees are offered mainly in technical and vocational fields for entry into the labor force. Qualifications may be awarded with either a Turkish title or an English title.

Both private and public universities are under the auspices of the Council of Higher Education (YOK). There are currently 78 (104) public universities and 36 (62) private universities in Turkey. Bilkent University was the first private university, established in 1984. Some 91,000 students were enrolled in private universities in academic year 2010/11. More than half of private universities (33) are in Istanbul, with most others clustered around major population centers. Public universities have a much broader reach across all regions and cities.    

Periods of study are quantified in credits (including ECTS in some cases), and the academic year is mostly organized into semesters.

Diplomas and Degrees

Stage I
Associate Degree (Önlisans Diploması)

The associate degree is conferred on completion of a two-year technical or professional program at a meslek yüksek okulu (school for higher professional education). If taken at a university, it may articulate into a four-year degree, but if the degree is taught at vocational/professional institutes it typically does not. A minimum of 64 credits or 120 ECTS is required for graduation.  

Bachelor Degree (Lisans Diploması)

The bachelor degree is typically conferred following four years of study and the completion of 128 credits (240 ECTS). Engineering, dentistry, architecture, and veterinary degrees are five years (160 credits, 300 ECTS); medical programs are six years in length, with direct entry from the upper secondary cycle.

Professional degree titles include: Dis Hekimligi Diploması (dentistry), Eczacilik Lisans Diploması (pharmacy), Muhendis Diplomasi (engineering), Tip Doktorlugu Diploması (medicine), and Veteriner Hekim Diploması (veterinary medicine).

Stage II 
Masters Degree (Yüksek Lisans Diploması)

The Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi follows a Lisans Diplomasi and includes two types of programs: those with a final thesis and those without. The programs with a final thesis take two years (60 credits, 120 ECTS); those without take one and a half years (45 credits, 90 ECTS).

The Bilim Uzmanligi Diploması (Specialist Diploma in Science), offered in specialized fields, requires two years of study. The Uzmanlık Belgesi (Specialist Certificate) is a professionally oriented two-year graduate degree, offered in the fields of agriculture, pharmacy and veterinary science. For medical studies, the program includes two to six years of clinical training, and is completed after the first stage degree.

Stage III
Doctor of Philosophy
(Doktora Diploması)

Programs take between three and five years to complete, and consist of coursework (21 credits), completion of a qualification exam and the writing and public defense of a doctoral thesis.


Universities are autonomous to determine their own curricula and degree-award requirements. Undergraduate curricula tend to be specialized with limited elective courses as compared to U.S. undergraduate programs.

Compulsory subjects at public universities are determined by the Council of Higher Education, and at the undergraduate level they include civic education; Ataturk’s principles and history of the Turkish revolution; language studies (foreign and Turkish); and art, music or physical education.


Assessment occurs at the end of each semester and/or annually depending on the institution.

Most Common Grading Scale

Grading scales may vary depending on the institution. Some universities use a letter grading scale (AA, AB, etc), but the most common scale runs from 0-10. Many private universities use a U.S.-based marking system (A-F) and a four-point GPA. Typically, the public universities use the 0-10 grading scale.

Grading at public universities tends to cluster in the ‘7’-‘8’ range, which is on par with clustering patterns in the U.S. around the ‘B’ grade.

Turkish Academic Credentials

What Institutions Provide

- Degree certificate/diplomas
- Academic transcripts

In most cases, Turkish secondary schools and universities will send these documents to requesting institutions without problem and in a timely manner. The WES experience with Turkish universities is that documents will typically be sent within a week of the student requesting them. At both the secondary and university level, institutions will send documents directly. For an additional fee at many universities, students can request an expedited service. Universities, in most cases, will not send the graduating certificate, rather they will send transcripts, which is adequate as the transcript will clearly indicate if and when the student graduated.

If the transcripts come directly from the awarding institution in a sealed envelope, WES does not require an original copy of the degree certificate. If your institution does require originals of the degree certificate, it can be requested from the candidate/applicant.

In most cases, the Turkish student can arrange for the awarding institution to send an English version of the documents. Public universities, especially, are able to send official dual-language documents (one set in English, one set in Turkish) upon request and oftentimes they do this as common practice. An increasing number of private universities now do the same.

What WES Requires

Higher Education

  • Academic transcripts issued by the institutions attended for all programs of study. These are to be sent directly by the institutions attended.
  • Clear, legible photocopies of all degree certificates issued by the institutions attended. These are to be submitted by the applicant.

Secondary Education

  • Clear, legible photocopy of graduation certificate issued by the Ministry of National Education.
  • Academic transcript issued by the institution attended.

Sample Documents

Click here for a PDF file of the academic documents referred to below.

A. Lisesi Diplomasi (Secondary School Diploma)

1. Name of the Qualification (Lisesi Diplomasi).

2. Student biographic information.

3. Academic information, including the concentration (Turkish and mathematics, in this example), the foreign language selected (English), overall GPA (68.64), and the years of upper secondary study completed (4).

4. Stamps and signatures of the ministry director and the school principal.

The WES internal stamp in the top left corner indicates that the document’s authenticity has been verified. WES will only issue a credential evaluation report once the authenticity of all supporting academic documentation has been verified, either by receiving the documents directly from the issuing institution or verifying the document with the issuing institution.

Secondary school diploma certificates are issued in Turkish only. If this document is received translated into English, it should not be considered an official document without the Turkish counterpart. The example shown after the official Turkish language document in the PDF file has been translated by a professional third-party service.

B. Official Secondary Transcript

1. This document is issued and transmitted by the secondary school attended.

2. Biographic information.

3. Academic information, including concentration details, final grade graduated (12), and the date the transcript was originally issued.

4. List of courses. This is pre-printed, so the grading to the right will indicate which subjects the student actually took.

5. Marks. For grade nine (common core curriculum), results are not indicated with the exception of the overall grade for the year (69.83). It should be noted that some schools offer grade nine scores on their transcripts, and where they do not, they can be requested if needed. For grades 10-12, which include elective courses, the transcript should show weekly class hours (which should match the ministry curriculum guidelines) and grades for each subject. Students take common core curriculum subjects in the last three years in addition to their elective courses.

6. The final grade indicated on the diploma (68.64) is the average of the last three years of secondary study. This grade is used as part of the calculation for university entry, in addition to entrance examination scores.

7. The grading scale used by the institution (percentage) and its equivalency to the standardized ministry-approved 1-5 scale.

Note: this document is issued in English as an official document by the institution attended (not a third-party translation).

C. Undergraduate Transcript (Public University)

1. Document issued by the registrar from Hacettepe University (a major public university). More often than not, this institution will send dual-language documents. This first version is the Turkish-language document.

2. Date issued, faculty attended, major undertaken, semesters completed.

3. Date of Admission, date of graduation and degree type awarded (B.S.). WES policy is to not request an original copy of the degree certificate as it is already indicated clearly that the student graduated on the official transcript.  

4. This is a semester-based transcript. Course codes on the left are detailed similar to the U.S. Credit allocation is given in the middle three columns (T=Theory, P=Practical, K=Credit). The grading scale differs from the most common grading scale, although quality points are given in the next column (credit allocation x 1-5 score equivalency).

5. The semester GPA and credit allocation are indicated on the bottom line of the semester section.

6. The final cumulative GPA (2.86) is indicated in the bottom right corner of the final semester score.

7. Total credits (158) are indicated in the bottom left.

Notes: Institutions often send the official English documents as a package with the Turkish documents, as was the case in this example. This should not be considered a third-party translation, rather an official institution-issued document.

D. Undergraduate Degree Certificate (Private University) & Transcript

1. Sabanci University is one of the major private universities in Turkey.  

2. All documents are issued in English (including the certificate), and even the terms they use are Anglophone. Private universities cannot use the terms Lisans Diplomasi, so they will use the English equivalent (bachelors degree, masters degree). 


1. Biographic information

2. Verification that the degree was awarded (B.A. in 2007).

3. The grading scale used is equivalent to that typically used in the U.S. (A-F), including credit allocation and quality points. Everything is expressed in a very similar way to the U.S. system.

4. Course load and grades by semester.

Note: At the end of the document, the total credit accumulation is indicated. Again, this is very similar to the U.S. system, with a total of 124 credits (in this example) being earned over the four years, a total of 419.70 quality points, and an overall GPA of 3.38. 

E. Dual Language Degree Certificate & Transcripts (Middle East Technical University)

This is an example of a dual-language degree certificate, which is becoming increasingly common at some institutions, especially in technical fields such as engineering and architecture. In this case, a Bachelor’s in Industrial Design was earned.

The document typically has a side-by-side translation, so it is essentially issued in two languages on one document.  

The accompanying transcripts are issued in English (in addition to Turkish), and again, if all the appropriate stamps, signatures and biographic details are there, they should be considered official documents with legal bearing in Turkey.

The grading scale used at this institution (AA-FF) is converted to the percentage scale in the accompanying Diploma Supplement.

F. Yuksek Lisans Diplomasi (Masters Degree)

2. ‘Yuksek’ indicates that this is a ‘higher’ licentiate degree, or master’s degree.

3. ‘(Ing)’ after the degree title indicates that instruction was offered in English.

4. The student’s biographic information

5. This is a temporary document issued by the university prior to the award of the official graduation certificate.


2. At the bottom of the document, the overall GPA and credit allocation is noted.

4. This is a three-year qualification. The first year consists of coursework with credit allocations and grades.

5. The second (and third) years of this particular program were spent on pass/fail project work. 

Note: this is a dual language document with part of the transcript in English and part in Turkish. Again, this is very common. The actual degree certificate was issued in Turkish only – a third-party translation was also provided.

G. Izmir Economic University

1. The document is issued by Izmir Economic University, and again is a dual-language document.

2. The name of the qualification is offered on both the Turkish document and the English document.

Transcript & Diploma Supplement

Izmir University has adopted the Bologna Process, which means that they will issue the Turkish form of the document in addition to a Diploma Supplement. This is an accompanying document covering eight information areas related to the student, the program, the grading scale, the required access to the program, the qualification, and the home country education system. It also includes the transcripts, with grades and credits earned. In addition to Turkish credit allocation, the document provides an equivalency for ECTS credits, the common credit currency among signature education systems.

An increasing number of universities in Turkey are starting to issue Diploma Supplements. However, it should be noted that no Turkish universities have adopted the three-year Bologna-compliant bachelor degrees, just some of the transparency tools such as the Diploma Supplement.

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