Turkey is a rich and culturally diverse country, attracting expats from all over the world. As families move to Turkey, it becomes crucial to understand and navigate the Turkish education system. Whether you're enrolling your child in a school or planning to study at a Turkish university, being well-versed in the various educational options available is essential.

In this guide, we aim to simplify the complex and dynamic education system of Turkey for expats, providing you with insights into the different types and levels of schooling. We'll discuss the benefits of international schools compared to local public and private schools, helping you make informed decisions for your child's education. Furthermore, we'll also explore university options for expats, from high-ranking private institutions to government-funded public universities that offer an array of academic opportunities.

To navigate life in Turkey effectively, learning the Turkish language is of immense importance. We'll delve into the range of available language learning resources and techniques, from enrolling in language centers to self-learning methods. Lastly, as adaptability plays a significant role in expat families' smooth integration into Turkey's unique culture and social fabric, we'll offer valuable tips on embracing Turkish customs and traditions while maintaining a healthy balance with your home culture.

By understanding the Turkish education system and embracing its cultural nuances, expat families can not only succeed academically and professionally but also enjoy a richer, more fulfilling life. Empower yourself and your family with the tools and knowledge to thrive in Turkey, using our guide as a trusted roadmap to explore the abundant opportunities that await you in this captivating country.

International Schools in Turkey

International schools present a popular choice for expat families looking for high-quality education that aligns with their cultural and linguistic background. Offering international curriculums aligned with either the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), these schools provide a seamless transition for children who have been studying abroad. Some factors to consider when choosing an international school are:

  1. Accreditation: Ensure the school is accredited by a recognized international organization, such as the Council of International Schools (CIS) or the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO).
  2. Language of Instruction: Most international schools in Turkey teach in English. However, some schools may also offer bilingual programs in Turkish and English.
  3. Location: Consider the school's proximity to your residence and the ease of access to public transportation.
  4. Extracurricular Activities: Investigate the range of extracurricular activities offered by the school, as these can significantly contribute to a child's personal growth.

Public and Private Schools in Turkey

Apart from international schools, expat families can also consider enrolling their children in either public or private Turkish schools. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

  1. Public Schools: Public schools in Turkey are government-funded and have no tuition fees. While offering a high standard of education, they primarily teach in Turkish. Public schools may provide a more immersive cultural experience, but may also present language challenges for non-Turkish speaking children.
  2. Private Schools: Private schools in Turkey, often referred to as "college," provide a higher quality of education, smaller class sizes, and more individual attention. Some private schools offer bilingual or international curriculums but typically charge considerably higher fees than public schools.

Universities in Turkey

When contemplating higher education in Turkey, expat students can choose from an impressive range of public and private universities. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a university in Turkey:

  1. Public vs. Private: Public universities generally have lower tuition fees compared to private institutions but may have larger class sizes and limited English-taught programs. Private universities often offer an extensive range of programs in English and boast smaller class sizes but come at a higher cost.
  2. Location: Assess the university's location and proximity to your residence, as well as factors such as the cost of living, job opportunities, and campus life.
  3. Rankings: Compare Turkish universities using international ranking systems, such as QS World University Rankings, to gauge the institution's academic reputation and quality.
  4. Scholarships: Research scholarship opportunities are available to international students, as many universities in Turkey offer financial aid based on academic merit or need.

Learning Turkish

To embrace and enjoy life in Turkey fully, learning the Turkish language is indispensable. Here are some resources and methods to help you master the language:

  1. Language Centers: Enroll in Turkish courses offered by language centers, such as Tömer or the Yunus Emre Institute, which provide comprehensive language instruction tailored to various proficiency levels.
  2. Online Resources: Utilize e-learning platforms and mobile apps, such as DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone, to supplement your learning process.
  3. Language Exchange: Participate in local language exchange programs or seek a language partner to practice speaking and develop a deeper understanding of Turkish culture.
  4. Immersive Learning: Immerse yourself in the language by engaging in everyday conversations, watching Turkish TV shows, and reading books in Turkish.

Adapting to Turkish Culture

Integrating into Turkish society and embracing its culture is crucial for expats seeking a harmonious life in Turkey. Here are some tips to help you adapt and maintain a balance with your home culture:

  1. Cultural Sensitivity: Educate yourself about Turkish customs, traditions, and social etiquette to participate meaningfully in cultural events and gatherings.
  2. Building Connections: Develop friendships with Turkish nationals and fellow expats to create a support network that fosters both emotional and practical assistance.
  3. Local Activities: Participate in local events, such as festivals, concerts, and volunteer initiatives, to socialize and form connections with your new community.
  4. Maintaining a Balance: While adapting to Turkish culture, it is essential to maintain a balance with your home culture by preserving your values and traditions through regular practices and celebrations.


Understanding and navigating the Turkish education system is essential for expats and their families to succeed in their new lives in Turkey. By exploring the various schooling options, learning the local language, and embracing Turkish culture, expat families can enjoy a richer, more fulfilling life in this captivating country.

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