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Study in South Korea

Since their split from North Korea in 1948, South Korea has created its own path. Considerably different to its northern neighbour, South Korea is now a meeting point of modernity and tradition. The government has made it a priority to invest heavily in the higher education system, welcoming international students with open arms.

Why Study in South Korea?

The South Korean government has set a target of attracting 200,000 international students by 2020, meaning that they have had to make universities more accessible. This has also lead to a steady climbing of international rankings. You will find 15 of South Korea’s universities in the 2019 QS World University Rankings top 500. The highest ranked of these is Seoul National University, which is placed in 36th. The next highest ranked is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which is placed in 40th.

With a fascinating mixture of ancient temples and modern architecture, South Korea has something to offer everyone. The country specialises in the innovation of science and technology, but also has impressive pedigree in the arts. There are many public and private universities, all offering a wide variety of degrees.

About South Korea

Officially the Republic of Korea, South Korea is a country located in South East Asia and is home to over 51.4 million people. There is archaeological evidence that the Korean Peninsula was inhabited by early humans from the Lower Paleolithic period. Since that time, the country has experienced a long and turbulent history, including wars and occupations. In 1948, an election was held in the US occupied area of Korea, and this led to the creation of the Republic of Korea. The border between South and North Korea remains the most heavily fortified in the world.

Today, South Korea is a developed country, with a high income economy. It is a global leader in the technological and industrial sectors, and has an export driven economy. The country is a member of the United Nations, G20 and OECD. Society in South Korea sees higher education as a high priority, as it holds cultural importance and helps cement a person’s socioeconomic position. The South Korean educational system is extremely competitive, and students are encouraged to work hard. If you choose to go to university in South Korea, you will be getting a high quality educational experience.

Cost of Studying and Living in South Korea

South Korea uses the South Korean Won (KRW) as its currency.

If you choose to study at a South Korean university as an international student, you will pay the same tuition fees as domestic students. However, tuition fees vary from institution to institution. At a public institution, you should expect to pay between $2,000/€1,700 and $4,500/€3,900 per semester. Degrees such as medicine will be on the more expensive side. At a private institution, you should expect to pay between $3,000/€2,600 and $6,000/€5,200 per semester. At one of the top ranked universities, annual fees will be around $6,800/€5,900. There are plenty of scholarships available for international students, these tend to be awarded by individual institutions. These will cover between 30% and 100% of your tuition fees. There are also some scholarships available from the government, which can also cover living costs.

For your living costs, you should budget for minimum of $1,200/€1,000 per month. This covers your accommodation, groceries and travel. If you choose to live in one of the bigger cities, your living costs will be higher. This is also the case if you choose to stay in privately rented accommodation as opposed to university dormitories. If you are studying for a masters degree, you are able to work up to 20 hours per week without a work permit so long as you have a valid visa.

Another cost that international students need to consider is health insurance. If your course will keep you in South Korea for longer than one year, Korea’s National Health Insurance Corporation provides health insurance on the same basis as Korean nationals. To get this, you have to submit a copy of your alien registration card and verification of purpose of stay at an office of the Corporation.


To study in Korea, you will need to obtain a D-2 visa. This can be applied for at the South Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. To be accepted for a visa, you will need to provide certain documents. These are your passport, a completed application form, recent educational transcripts, proof of your acceptance into a South Korean institution, proof of sufficient funds and evidence of language proficiency (English or Korean). You will also need to pay a visa application fee, which will depend on what sort of visa you require.


The official languages of South Korea are Korean and Korean Sign Language.

There are many courses taught in English at South Korean universities, at bachelors and masters level. You can also opt to study in Korean if you wish. No matter which language you choose to study in, if it is a non-native language you will need to provide evidence that you have language proficiency. If you do not meet the required standards, you may be able to take a course to help your language skills improve.

Even if you study in English, it is recommended that you make an effort to learn as much Korean as possible. Communicating with the locals and other students is the perfect way to practice. This will not only improve your everyday life, it is also a skill that will look great on your CV/resume!

Why Consider Study Abroad in South Korea Programs

Living and studying in South Korea may provide students an opportunity to explore a beautiful and vibrant country. Study in South Korea is a once in a lifetime opportunity, whether exploring South Korea’s large and bustling capital city, Seoul, or exploring the country’s lush coastlands and countryside, students are sure to enjoy a variety of interesting sights and gorgeous views. Students are also likely to enjoy South Korea’s rich and dynamic culture.

South Korea is officially known as the Republic of Korea. It is located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It shares a land border with North Korea and oversea borders with Japan and China. South Korea’s terrain is comprised mostly of mountains with some coastal plains, rolling hills, river basins, and valleys. It has a humid continental and subtropical climate with four distinct seasons.

Food When you Study in South Korea

Staple foods in South Korea include rice, vegetables, legumes (such as soy and mung beans), and meats. Popular flavors include sesame, ginger, garlic, spicy dried peppers, and fermented sauces, foods, and pastes. South Koreans bring their foods and flavors together to create regional specialties and dishes. Common specialties include soups, noodle dishes, stir-fried dishes, and raw dishes such as Miyeok guk, Baek Kimchi, Japchae, and Tangypyeongchae. South Koreans commonly serve multiple dishes during one meal so that people can enjoy a variety of foods and flavors. Meals are often times served with eumcheongnyu, or non-alcoholic beverages, such as teas, sweet rice drinks, fruit punches, fermented grain juices, and herbal beverages. Many South Koreans also enjoy alcoholic drinks such as beers, rice wines, and Soju.

Much of South Korean film and musical culture is uniquely South Korean. The country is well-known for its locally-made television dramas and mini-series, and also has a relatively popular and well-developed film market primarily comprised of Korean-made films. Popular music in South Korea includes genres such as “K-Pop” and “trot”, both of which have unique and dynamic sounds.

Applying to a university in South Korea is a relatively easy process and the international office is there to help you along the way so make sure you use them as much as you need! Almost every university will require you to apply directly to the university through an online application, just like South Korean students do, so check out their website for more information!

Luckily, English taught programmes in South Korea are expanding rapidly, so it will not be difficult to be accepted if you cannot speak fluent Korean, although we really recommend reaching a certain level purely for your comfort and ability to settle in. You can look at over 1,000 courses offered by South Korean Universities.

Documents you will need to apply

  • Letter of recommendation and a counsellor reference
  • Copy of your passport
  • Certificate of Facts concerning the entry and exit, issued by the Korean authorities
  • University application materials, which often include a personal statement
  • Proof of proficiency in either Korean or English language, depending on the programme you are applying to

You will need a visa to study in South Korea and you’ll need to sort this out well in advance as it can take a few months for a study visa to be processed depending on which country you come from.

When to apply

Korean universities take deadlines seriously, so don’t wait to apply!

Applications are usually open from January to February, with admissions decisions released in April. Certain programmes may require language proficiency exams, which can be held in August, after acceptance onto the programme. Be sure to check with your specific university for more accurate dates.

Tips for applying

  • Start organising your documents now. If you know you want to study abroad, you’ll need documents, like a passport, no matter where you go. You won’t want to wait until the last minute to get your documentation in order. You’d be surprised how many students’ passports are due to expire and then end up having to delay their studies!
  • Get in contact with the international office at your university. If you have any questions, they will be able to help you!
  • Be aware of deadlines. Like we said before, deadlines are a big deal in South Korea! Make sure to get everything in before the application period ends.
  • Apply to more than one university! This will increase your chances of acceptance and give you more choices. 












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