FAQ

Whether you're just thinking about applying for the MA TEFL Program, or you've received your acceptance letter to join us, you're sure to have many questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

 

So you're thinking about applying?

 

Basic information about the MA TEFL Program

 

1. What makes this program different from the other MA TEFL programs?

Bilkent's program differs from other MA TEFL programs in that students complete their graduate course work and MA theses entirely within an 11-month period. Our program is also distinguished by its foreign-educated faculty, its excellent library collection, and support from the Fulbright Commission and the U.S. Embassy. In addition, all enrolled students devote 100% of their time to their MA studies, rather than divide their attention between MA course work and teaching. One other distinguishing feature is that for many years, MA TEFL students have had the opportunity to apply for a travel grant/scholarship to attend the annual TESOL convention in the U.S. One student per year has been funded to attend the convention, as a representative of the Bilkent MA TEFL program.


2. Exactly how demanding is the MA TEFL Program?


This program demands a lot of its students. Students need to be able to balance simultaneously the assignment load from five challenging graduate classes each semester, and the work associated with conducting research and writing a high-quality MA thesis. To complete all program requirements, it is essential that students be able to give their undivided attention to the program - from the moment it starts in September, until it ends at the end of the following July (exact dates change every year). The demands of the program make it impossible, therefore, for students to continue their teaching or other jobs during the 11-month period. We also recommend that students with families discuss the intensive nature of the program with family members to make sure that everyone understands fully how the program may affect their daily routines.


3. How many students are accepted to the program each year?

We currently accept around 15 students each year.


4. How strict are MA TEFL program professors?


The MA TEFL faculty take their jobs very seriously. They are strict in the sense that they expect all students to complete every assignment on time and to the very best of their abilities, to attend every class, and to conduct themselves in a professional manner. At the same time, the MA TEFL faculty do their best to contribute to a friendly and supportive atmosphere in the program, and always make themselves available to help MA TEFL students in whatever way they can.


5. Is it true that some Turkish universities do not accept Bilkent's MA-TEFL diploma when graduates of the MA TEFL program apply for a Ph.D. program because the Bilkent program is completed in only a year?


The Bilkent MA TEFL Program is widely respected. Our graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs not only in Turkey (e.g., at Hacettepe, Middle East Technical, and Bo gazici Universities) but in England and the United States as well. It should be noted that depending on the requirements of the particular Ph.D. program, MA TEFL graduates, from Bilkent or any other university, may be asked to take additional classes as part of their Ph.D. course of study.


6. Who is eligible for a Bilkent scholarship and what does the scholarship involve?


Currently, all Turkish students working at state institutions, who are accepted into the program with the support of their home institutions, are eligible for a scholarship. The scholarship generally covers full support for tuition. For those coming from outside of Ankara, it also usually covers on-campus lodging in a dormitory. The scholarship does not include the cost of materials (books/ photocopying), food, or transportation.

 

You're ready to apply?


The MA TEFL Program application process

 

1. What qualifications must all applicants to the MA TEFL program have?


To be admitted to the Bilkent MA TEFL Program, an applicant must have at least two years experience teaching English as a Foreign/Second language, a score of 60 on the verbal portion of the ALES exam, and a good undergraduate grade point average (for example, 2.75 out of 4.00, 70 out of 100). International students must have a GRE combined score of 950 total (or a new GRE combined score of 295) and 3.5 for analytical writing (rather than an ALES score).


2. What exactly are the roles of the ALES score, the statement of purpose, the reference letters, and GPA scores on the overall evaluation of the applicants?


Each of these plays a role in determining admission to the MA TEFL Program. While the ALES (or GRE) exam and CGPA requirements represent minimum standards for graduate students required by YÖK and Bilkent University, the MA TEFL faculty considers the statement of purpose and recommendation letters for evidence of applicants' ability to complete the program successfully.


3. Can I apply even if I don't have a 60 on the verbal part of the ALES?


As noted above, the ALES requirement is a minimum standard mandated by the program, generally in line with university and YÖK requirements. Because of this, we cannot be flexible about it.


4. Is it possible to fill the application form by hand (in hand writing)?


No. All applications must be completed online at https://stars.bilkent.edu.tr/gradapp/


5. Must ALES scores be submitted by the application deadline?


No. If you are scheduled to take the ALES exam on a date that falls after the deadline for application materials, please submit all other application materials by the deadline. On your application form, please indicate when you intend to take the ALES exam and include a photocopy of your ALES registration form. The application review process will continue but a definite acceptance to the program cannot be issued until an official ALES score is received.


6. What is more important in the reference letters that are included with application materials: the level of English-language sophistication of the writers or the ideas and support expressed in those letters? 


The MA TEFL faculty expect to gain important insights from the recommendation letters. We hope to learn about how others view your ability to complete a rigorous graduate program and about the support of your institution for your attendance. Thus, the more informative the recommendation letters are, the more helpful they are to us in making our admissions decisions. We want to know about your intellectual and academic strengths and how these have been displayed in your previous studies and work. We are more concerned with those types of insights than the level of sophistication of the English used in the letter. We understand that this kind of letter is not necessarily common in all contexts. Thus, it may be helpful if you shared specifically what we are looking for with the people who you ask to write for you so that they can respond best to our requirements and support your application as strongly as possible.


7. Can students who have not been accepted to the MA TEFL program reapply?


 Yes. Students who have been turned down for admissions can reapply to the MA TEFL program as many times as they like.

 

You've been invited to join the entrance exam?

 

What to expect on exam day

 1. Are all applicants invited to take the entrance examination? 


No. There are many factors that come into play when we decide who will be invited to take the entrance examination. The application materials that are sent in, for the first phase of the process, are examined carefully to identify applicants who can then move on to the second phase of the process. The entrance examination represents the second phase of the application process. Applicants who do not meet minimal requirements and who do not have clearly indicated support from their home institutions are not invited to take the entrance examination.

2. What exactly does the entrance examination involve?


The entrance examination is a full-day event. Examinees take an English proficiency test (somewhat like the TOEFL), as well as a 45-minute essay writing exam. In the afternoon, students take part in a group task and are individually interviewed for approximately 20 minutes by one MA TEFL faculty member.


3. Is there anything special that I should know to be able to pass English language proficiency test, given as part of the entrance exam?


Because the test given is an English language proficiency test, it is not tied to any particular course program or syllabus. Thus, there are no specific materials to be studied in preparing for it. You may want to think ahead of time about appropriate test-taking strategies, like time management, to help you prepare for the testing process.

4. What is the essay exam like?

Is there any way I can prepare for this part of the entrance exam? The essay exam involves a response to a question/prompt on some aspect of English language teaching. Forty-five minutes are allotted for completion of the essay. Your response to the prompt should reflect your knowledge and experience as a teacher. In judging the exams, we look for evidence of your ability to write adequately to meet the writing demands of this program. We are not looking for specific references to theories or names in the field. 

As with other parts of the entrance exam, there is no specific material to be studied to prepare for the essay exam. We do recommend that you plan to use your time wisely, giving yourself the opportunity to plan your response, write, and then revise it.


5. Will the questions in the interview ask for theoretical knowledge or practical knowledge gained through experience?


The interviews are not aimed at discovering any particular theoretical knowledge. We are interested in your experiences as a teacher as you recall them. We will be looking for signs of maturity, a commitment to teaching, organization, as well as general knowledge about English language teaching. We will also ask some questions to gauge your ability to cope with personal issues in relation to the rigors of the program.


6. Will any applicants be eliminated after the morning exams?

We try to interview as many applicants as possible because of the insights that personal contact with applicants supplies us. However, if there are large numbers of applicants, it may be necessary to eliminate some candidates based on the morning test results.


7. Are there any books or reference materials that may help me develop my skills for the tests at Bilkent University?


 No. The tests are proficiency tests and thus are not linked to any particular materials or syllabus. Thus, there are no books or reference materials that you should consult before the interview. The best preparation is a positive attitude and the continued development of your English language skills.

 

Congratulations--You've been accepted!


Preparing to join the MA TEFL Program

 

1. What will be expected of me to be successful in this program?


You will be expected to work hard! Your weekly coursework will involve extensive reading, and, frequently, the preparation of short written assignments. You may also have mid-term and final exams, and various long written assignments or extended projects, depending on the course and professor. At the same time, you will gradually be preparing your thesis. This involves identifying and then narrowing down your research topic, carrying out an extensive review of the related literature, writing up a thesis proposal, conducting data collection, writing a 5-chapter thesis (between approximately 80-100 pages, not including references and appendices), and defending the thesis in front of a thesis committee. Excellent time management skills are obviously very important for success.


2. What courses will I be required to take?


Please consult this website for information about course requirements.


3. What equipment do you advise me to bring with me to Bilkent?


Although Bilkent University has extensive computer laboratory facilities open to all students, it is strongly recommended that MA TEFL students bring their own computers with them. Having your own computer will allow you greater freedom to work outside of the department, and at the times of your choice. Because most course assignments need to be typed and the thesis, of course, needs to be typed, having access to a computer is very important.


4. What are Bilkent University accommodations like?


The dorm rooms are located on campus and the university supplies regular service buses from dorm facilities to classroom areas on campus. Dormitories have kitchen facilities (including a stove and refrigerator, with tables and chairs) that students can use when they want to cook their meals and prepare snacks. If you are provided a dorm room as part of your scholarship, you will be in a shared room with up to three other students. If you wish to pay for a private dormitory room, you may choose to do so.


5. To what extent am I supposed to have computer skills?


You should be comfortable with word processing. Any experience with SPSS will be a help.


6. Is there any need to think about potential research topics before starting the program?


It would be very useful to identify general areas of interest to yourself (through reading journals like the TESOL Quarterly or looking at the topics of previously written theses in TEFL) or to your department (by asking your program coordinator/director about research areas that might be of particular value to your home institution). It is not necessary, however, to determine a thesis subject before you arrive, and you do not need to conduct any preparatory research before starting the program.


----Bilkent University has a beautiful campus. If you consult the Bilkent website, you can see a map of the campus and its facilities, including an excellent sports facility and concert hall. Nearby, within walking distance, is a large shopping center with a supermarket, appliance store, movie theater, bookstores, banks, plus much more. The University has many concerts and other free-time activities for students and faculty. The Bilkent website also includes information about these extracurricular activities. The university also provides excellent transportation around campus and into Ankara free of charge to students and faculty.