İstanbul Üniversitesi
Beyazıt Yerleşkesi
34452 Beyazıt, İstanbul

1. Brief History

The origins of Istanbul University date back to 1453 when it was first founded by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, based upon philosophy, law and medicine. Initially constituting the two Medreses (theological schools) of Zeyrek and Hagia Sophia, subjects focused upon included astronomy, geography, philosophy, philology, and literature. Throughout the next few centuries, as a result of the modernizing world these schools were restructured and combined to form the Darülfünûn (House of Sciences) in 1846.

With the founding of the Darülfünûn came increased emphasis on applied physics courses, literature and law, as well as mathematics and theology. In 1912 the school was again renamed as the Istanbul Darülfünûnu (House of Multiple Sciences), as courses offered increased and the curriculum was broadened to include the recently established schools of chemistry, physics, law, and theology.

On April 21, 1924, the Republic of Turkey officially recognized Istanbul Darülfünûnu as a state school.  After the reforms of Mustafa Atatürk, including the unification of the three separate educational strands of the Ottoman system, increase in availability of education (particularly coeducation of boys and girls) as well as numerous political and economic reforms, Istanbul Darülfünûnu was recognized as Istanbul University on August 1, 1933. Classes officially began on November 1, 1933.

Today Istanbul University is an internationally recognized institute of higher learning, with over 170 000 students and twenty two faculties dedicated to research and education.

Nobel Prize Laureates include:

  • Orhan Pamuk (Nobel Prize winner in Literature)
  • Aziz Sancar (Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry)
  • Abdullah Gül (11th President of Turkey)
  • Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (second President of Israel)
  • David Ben-Gurion (first Prime Minister of Israel)

2. Key Facts




Today Istanbul University offers 903 diploma programs spread across twelve campuses in 23 faculties, 17 institutes, 2 departments, 7 vocational school, 1 conservatory, 1 Foreign Language School and 80 application and research centers.

The twelve campuses include Laleli-Vezneciler, Vefa, Horhor, Avcılar, Çapa, Cerrahpaşa, Şişli, Kadıköy, Bahçeköy, Bakırköy and Büyükçekmece, whilst the main campus Beyazit-Central is located in the historical old city.

Istanbul University consists of 23 faculties, including: 

  • Open and Distance Education Faculty
  • Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty
  • State Conservatory
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Letters
  • Faculty of Science
  • Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing
  • Hasan Ali Yücel Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Theology
  • Communication Faculty
  • İstanbul Faculty of Medicine
  • School of Business
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Forestry
  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Political Sciences
  • Sports Science Faculty
  • Faculty of Fisheries
  • Faculty of Transportation And Logistic
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Its seven vocational schools include:

  • Vocational School of Justice
  • Faculty of Forestry Vocational School of Forestry
  • Vocational School of Health Services
  • Vocational School of Social Sciences
  • Vocational School of Technical Sciences
  • Vocational School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Vocational School of Security And Safety

Its institutes include:

  • Institute of Accountancy
  • Institute of Ataturk’s Principles and Reforms
  • Institute of Business Economics
  • Institute of Cardiology
  • Institute of Child Health
  • Institute of Educational Science
  • Institute of Experimental Medicine
  • Institute of Forensic Sciences
  • Institute of Health Sciences
  • Institute of Lung Diseases and Tuberculosis
  • Institute of Marine Sciences and Management
  • Institute of Neurological Sciences
  • Institute of Oncology
  • Institute of Sciences
  • Institute of Social Sciences
  • Research Institute of Turkology

Istanbul University’s staff includes 5,784 academic and 12,337 administrative staff.


  • Associate degree: 53,696
  • Undergraduate: 169, 982
  • Graduate: 30,246
  • Open and distance learning: 141,325
  • Approx. total: 254,000


USD 800 million budget

3. Research

Focus / Key Aspects:

Istanbul University utilizes multiple research laboratories to collaborate with both Turkish and international universities on various projects, for example the project ‘Electrical Neuronal Oscillations and Cognition’ undertaken within the scope of the EU run COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) program.

Research emphasis tends to focus upon healthcare, protection and sustainability of the environment, renewable energy resources, critical materials, infrastructure developments and investigations into Anatolian history, culture and heritage, with over 2,500 projects being undertaken each year.

Specific topics of research include collaborative studies regarding neuro-immunology and immune-genetics with the Universities of Heidelberg (Germany), Mannheim (Germany) and Petras (Greece), as well as an Institute dedicated solely to experimental research regarding genetics of hereditary disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy and neuro-degenerative disorders.

4. Partnerships and Programs

Partner Universities:

Istanbul University has collaborated and continues to do so regarding joint projects and ties with Bremen University (Germany), Munich Ludwig Maximilian University (Germany), the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Germany), MD Anderson Cancer Research Center (USA) and Semmelweis University (Hungary).

Specific projects include a partnership with the Universities of Paris, Cologne and San Diego regarding nervous system abnormalities, as well as the Leibniz Molecular Pharmacology Institute, Open University UK and the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden.

Other notable partnerships include the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (USA), European Research Network (Switzerland), Rutgers University (USA) as well as the World Health Organization regarding infectious diseases and anti-tuberculosis drug resistance.

Student Programs:

The university offers multiple student programs, the foremost constituting ERASMUS. Each year, more than 400 students from Istanbul University have undertaken an ERASMUS exchange initiative. Istanbul University currently holds 600 Erasmus bilateral agreements with EU universities, predominantly in Germany, France and Italy.

Mevlana Exchange Program for non-EU countries and Memorandum of Understandings with approximately 60 countries of the world are other ways of international student and staff mobility in Istanbul Unversity.

In addition, their Student Mobility for Placements Program allows students to undertake an internship at a firm abroad, whilst their Farabi program allows students to undertaken an exchange semester at another university in Turkey. 


  • European University Association
  • Coimbra Group
  • Mediterranean Universities Union

    5. Trivia


    Leadership in higher education for centuries


    To bring together East and West, as the Science Bridge from the past to the future


    Istanbul University publishes the highest number of publications in Turkey, the number per faculty member increasing an approx. 5% each year.

    The main campus building was previously used as the headquarters of the Ministry of War by the Ottoman Government, and some Roman and Byzantine ruins are still visible.

    The main gate of the campus building was depicted on the Turkish 500 Lira banknote from 1971 to 1984.

    The library holds approx. 2 million books.

    6. Useful Links