Immigration. Travel. Living.

Education: South Korea 2021

Flag of South Korea

Studying in Korea is a perfect idea for a bright future.  The Korean government encourages the influx of foreign students in every possible way, including through the introduction of new scholarships and grants, providing places in dormitories, and assistance in finding work in South Korea both during and after graduation.

Higher education in South Korea

The South Korean government is targeting an annual increase in the number of foreign students at local universities. Today, there are more than 370 higher education institutions in the country, divided into universities and colleges. In the second case, the period of study is usually 2-3 years and the curriculum is aimed at obtaining professional education in a specific field.

There are 3 types of South Korean universities:

  • National (government-funded)
  • State (funded by regional authorities)
  • Private (financed by the university’s funds)

There are 3 levels in the Educational System of South Korea

  • Undergraduate (4-6 years old)
  • Master’s degree (2 years or more)
  • Doctorate (3 years or more)

As a rule, the programs teach in the Korean language, but some universities have English-speaking classes. Besides, most universities offer intensive Korean language courses for international students, lasting from 3-4 to 10-40 weeks.

The academic year in South Korea consists of two semesters, each lasting 16 weeks:

  • Spring (February-March to June).
  • Autumn (from August to January).

It should be noted that the most popular fluids of education in the country are the IT specialists, engineers, and medical staff.

How to apply to the University of South Korea?

Each university in South Korea has its requirements for international students for admission, so for accurate information, you must contact the universities directly through the official websites. Usually, special sections contain a list of documents and it is possible to place an application online. For a general understanding of the procedure, we highlight the main conditions.

A certificate of secondary education with a duration of study of at least 12 years or a university diploma (as an equivalent).

Knowledge of English or Korean at a level sufficient for training. In the first case, TOEFL (79–80 points) or IELTS (6.0 points or more) certificates are accepted, and in the second, the TOPIK test of knowledge of the Korean language. Testing is conducted 5 times a year (January, April, July, October, November) and is supervised by the National Institute of International Education under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Korea.

people walking between tall buildings

Entrance exam (test) – College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT). Testing takes place annually in November and includes some disciplines, depending on the chosen program. In most cases, CSAT scores must be excellent for admission to a Korean university.

To move to South Korea to study at a university, a foreigner must obtain a D-2 student visa from the Korean Consulate in their home country.

The beginning of the academic year starts in spring and finishes in November. Some universities are allowed to start their studies in September. Even though about 25% of courses at universities in South Korea are taught in English, knowledge of Korean at least at the minimum level is essential for faster adaptation and integration into the local society.

Tuition fees in South Korea

Tuition fees for South Korean universities vary by institution and course/program. In national and government agencies, the average cost is around $ 4,000– $ 9,500 per year. 

It is worth noting that the tuition fees for South Korean citizens and foreigners are no different. The most expensive is to live in the capital of the state – Seoul, especially if you rent an apartment privately.

Many Korean universities offer full-fledged scholarships to gifted international students that cover 30 to 100% of the tuition fees.

Moreover, to pay for tuition, for a comfortable stay in South Korea, a foreigner will need at least $ 800-1000 per month for food and leisure. Read more about free education at Korean universities here.

The prestigious international ranking of the best universities in the world QS World University Rankings 2020 includes 30 universities from South Korea, while the top hundred include 5 higher educational institutions of this country.

TOP 3 best Korean universities

Seoul National University

The largest and most prestigious institution of higher education in South Korea – Seoul National University was founded in 1946. In the QS World University Rankings 2020, it takes 37th place, which it shares with one of the best Japanese universities – Kyoto University. 

Two campuses are located in the central and southern parts of Seoul. The structure of the university includes 16 colleges, 1 higher, and 10 professional schools. The learning process of 28.3 thousand students is provided by 2.6 thousand teachers. More than 4 thousand foreigners study Korean at the university, and 699 are exchange students.

Tuition fees – from 2,611,000 to 5,038,000 won per semester (2,335-4,500 dollars)

Seoul National University official website –

Korea Advanced Technology Institute (KAIST)

The second-largest university in the Republic of Korea is located in the city of Daejeon, which many call the country’s science and technology capital. The Korean Institute of Advanced Technology was founded in 1971. It is ranked 41st in the QS World University 

Rankings 2020. The university has 5 colleges that train first-class specialists, mainly in the field of engineering. Today, just over 10 thousand students study within the walls of the educational institution. Foreigners have a wide range of scholarship programs at their disposal.

Tuition fee – 3,433,000 won per semester ($ 3,065)

The official website of the Korea Institute of Advanced Technology –

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

According to many authoritative publications, Pohang University of Science and Technology is the best private university in South Korea, located in the city of Pohang. Date of foundation – 1986. In the QS World University Rankings 2020, it occupies 83rd place along with the famous Belgian university – the Catholic University of Leuven. The beautiful downtown campus includes a digital library, a state-of-the-art sports facility, a sculpture park, lush gardens, and waterways. 

The structure of the university has 11 faculties, where more than 3.5 thousand students study and 281 professors teach.

Tuition fee – 3,062,000 won per semester (2,735 dollars)

Official website of Pohang University of Science and Technology –


Studying in South Korea for foreigners will allow them to obtain high-quality knowledge, and a prestigious and respected worldwide diploma will greatly simplify the process of finding a job in Seoul or other major Korean cities. Average salaries in South Korea in 2021 exceed $ 2.5 thousand per month, and in the capital, the figures are even higher. It is also an opportunity to explore Korean history, culture, and traditions.

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