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The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in South Korea for Global Students

Discover the unique blend of traditional and modern learning experiences South Korea offers to international students seeking quality education abroad.
The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in South Korea for Global Students
The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in South Korea for Global Students

Deciding to study abroad is a transformative step toward personal and professional growth. Among the myriad destinations for international education, South Korea stands out as a beacon of academic excellence and cultural richness. Known for its scenic beauty, dynamic cities like Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and advancements in technology and entertainment, South Korea offers a unique blend of traditional and modern experiences. If you're contemplating furthering your education in Korea, you're choosing to combine quality learning with an immersive cultural journey.

Keep reading to learn about popular universities, average tuition costs, and how to find programs for international students.

Top Korean Universities for Study Abroad

South Korea boasts several universities ranked within the top 100 globally, reflecting the high-quality education you can expect. In this article wee will give four examples of top universities in Korea. Te universities are not only academically prestigious but also important in shaping the country's technological and scientific achievements.

Seoul National University

Considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in South Korea, Seoul National University offers students a chance to study in the heart of the country’s bustling capital city. The university has 16 colleges, a graduate school, and 10 professional graduate schools offering hundreds of undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD courses.

Seoul National University - Study in Korea | Scholarships | Grants | Programs

Yonsei University

Yonsei University, which started life in the late 1800s, was founded by Horace Grant Underwood, a Christian missionary. Yonsei University is a member of SKY universities, a term for the three institutions widely regarded as the most prestigious in the country.

Yonsei - Study in Korea | Scholarships | Grants | Programs

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Established in 1971 with assistance from US advisors, KAIST emerged as South Korea's inaugural university focused on research in science and technology. There's a chance that a KAIST alum could be behind the design of your smartphone, laptop, or car, underscoring the institution's significant role in enhancing South Korea's stature as a high-tech powerhouse.

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Established in 1986 in the southeastern port city of Pohang, POSTECH is a university centered on research. Annually, it enrolls a limited number of students, tailoring its educational approach to meet the unique interests and academic focuses of its students.

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Study Abroad Programs and Options

Study abroad programs in South Korea cater to a broad range of interests and objectives, from brief language courses to comprehensive degree programs. Whether your aim is to delve into Korean culture, focus on a particular field of study, or acquire global exposure, South Korea provides numerous options to suit your preferences. Below is a summary of the main categories of study abroad opportunities available in South Korea:

Korean Language Programs

Korean language programs serve as an ideal entry point for those keen on mastering the Korean language or preparing for degree studies in Korea. These programs are widely available at universities and language institutes throughout the country and vary in length from a few weeks to over a year. They are designed to accommodate learners at all levels, from absolute beginners to advanced speakers, with a focus on enhancing reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. Successfully completing a language program not only boosts your language skills but also deepens your comprehension of Korean culture and society.

Korean Language Courses & Summer Schools Guideline

Expert Selection: Dive into our handpicked selection from over 20 top-tier language courses and summer schools.

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Short-Term and Summer School Programs

Short-term programs, typically offered during summer or winter vacations, are ideal for students unable to dedicate a full semester or academic year abroad. These programs, lasting between 2 to 8 weeks, blend language learning with cultural immersion experiences. Attendees can engage in traditional arts and crafts, cooking classes, and visits to key historical and cultural landmarks. Moreover, some summer school programs provide specialized courses in English covering subjects like business, engineering, technology, and Korean studies.

International Summer Programs at Korean Universities
Are you interested in studying in Korea? 🇰🇷 Discover what it’s like to live and learn at top Korean universities with our comprehensive guide on Summer Programs! Click here to learn more 👉

Semester or Year Exchange Programs

Exchange programs enable students to attend a university in South Korea for one semester or a full academic year, all while staying registered at their home university. These programs are favored by students eager to live the life of a Korean university student, with the added benefit that credits earned usually count towards their degree at home. Participants have a selection of courses available in English spanning multiple disciplines such as humanities, social sciences, business, and STEM fields.

Navigating the Global KU Scholarship for Exchange and Visiting Students
Dive into the Global KU Scholarship at Korea University, a golden opportunity for international exchange and visiting students to enrich their academic journey.

Full-Degree Programs

Students seeking to dive deep into South Korea's academic and cultural environment may consider enrolling in a full-degree program. South Korean universities provide undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in both Korean and English. Available fields of study encompass engineering, science, business, arts, and humanities, among others. Opting for a full-degree program offers a comprehensive educational journey and can pave the way for internship and employment opportunities in Korea post-graduation.

Application Requirements

Applying to universities in Korea requires careful preparation. Please note all documents must be submitted in English

  • Official High School Transcript and graduation certificate (Apostille or Consular Confirmation) in English
  • Personal statement and a study plan limited to one A4 page in English (why do you want to apply to universities in Korea, what are you planning on studying, and more )
  • A copy of the identification page of your passport
  • A passport-style color photo with a white background
  • Official language certificate
  • Copies of your parents’ passports (or official documents indicating parents’ nationality)
  • An official document showing a parent-child relationship between the applicant and their parents

Application Process

As long as you have complete and valid documents, it is generally easy to apply to universities in Korea. Here are the steps for enrolling in a Korean learning institution.

  1. Choose a Korean university based on your preference, including location, study duration, budget, and more. 
  2. After deciding where to apply to universities in Korea, make sure you are eligible and can enroll before the deadline. You may also apply for a scholarship upon specifically meeting the academic qualifications.
  3. Complete and collect the admission requirements early. Some prerequisites generally take longer to finish than others, so start the application process early to get a lot done before the deadline.
  4. Upload the admission requirements needed to apply to universities in Korea. Again, ensure to submit your application before the deadline.

Await further instructions from your chosen Korean university. To facilitate a smoother process, consider seeking assistance from study abroad providers specializing in counseling and student support, including help with your home university and other necessary procedures.

Living in South Korea as a Student

The cost of living in South Korea for international students is generally affordable, though it varies based on your lifestyle and financial decisions. Your budget for studying in South Korea will depend on your preferred standard of living.


Groceries are daily expenses you cannot escape from. In South Korea, groceries are relatively expensive compared to countries such as America, but you can definitely avoid breaking the bank with careful planning.

Check out the list below for a rough idea of what you can expect to pay on average for everyday grocery items:

  • Milk (1L): KRW 2,798
  • Load of fresh white bread (500g): KRW 3,831
  • Chicken fillets (1kg): KRW 11,310
  • Potatoes (1kg): KRW 5,484
  • White rice (1 kg): KRW 4,413
  • Eggs (12 pack): KRW 4,517


  1. On-campus accommodation. If you decide to stay in on-campus student halls of residence, you can expect to spend between KRW 500,000 and KRW 1,650,000 per semester on accommodation.
  2. Private rentals. Alternatively, you can choose to rent privately. Renting a one-bedroom flat in South Korea will cost you an average of KRW 450,000 to KRW 1,000,000 depending on the location, size, condition of the flat, and the type of housing.  
  3. In South Korea, it is typical for landlords to request a security deposit on top of the first month's rent when you first move into a rental property. So, don't forget to factor that in when you budget for accommodation.
  4. A security deposit for a 1-bedroom flat in South Korea usually costs between KRW 3,000,000 and KRW 10,000,000. The amount is refundable when your contract ends if you have left the property in reasonable conditions.
  5. Always ensure that you have seen the accommodation before signing any agreement. Avoid making any payment before signing a contract. Make sure that you understand the terms and conditions that you have signed up for. 
  6. Goshiwons are shared accommodations often located near university campuses. They are compact living spaces that typically include a small room with basic amenities like a bed, desk, shared kitchen, and bathroom. You can have your own room or share a room with up to four people to keep costs low.
    1. On average, you might find goshiwon rents ranging from around KRW 300,000 to KRW 700,000 per month. 

Healthcare and medical insurance

International students living in South Korea must subscribe to the Korean National Health Insurance scheme by law. With this insurance, you will have access to healthcare services equivalent to those available to Korean citizens.

International students holding D-2 visas can enroll in the Korean National Health Insurance program at a discounted fee. As of 2024, D-2 student visa holders must pay a monthly insurance fee of around KRW 65,200 to KRW 78,250.

Cultural Immersion and Activities

Cultural immersion and activities in South Korea offer a vast and diverse range of experiences that allow international students to deeply connect with the country's rich heritage and dynamic contemporary culture. Engaging in these activities not only enhances your understanding of Korean customs and traditions but also enriches your overall study-abroad experience. Here's a closer look at some of the cultural immersion opportunities and activities available in South Korea:

  • Tea Ceremonies: Participating in a traditional Korean tea ceremony is a serene way to understand the sophistication of Korean tea culture. It teaches patience, respect, and the art of mindfulness.
  • Wearing Hanbok: Dressing up in Hanbok, the traditional Korean attire, and walking around historical sites like Gyeongbokgung Palace or Bukchon Hanok Village offers a tangible connection to Korea's past.
  • Learning Traditional Crafts: Workshops on making traditional Korean crafts such as Hanji (Korean paper), and pottery, or learning the art of Korean calligraphy offer hands-on experience with Korea's artistic heritage.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Many students are concerned about the costs of studying abroad. Fortunately, a range of scholarships and financial aid options are available to international students wishing to study in South Korea. These scholarships, offered by both the Korean government and individual universities, can cover tuition fees, living expenses, and sometimes even airfare.

List of Some Scholarships in South Korea

Scholarships - Study in Korea | Scholarships | Grants | Programs
This category is dedicated to accumulating various scholarships and grants for studying in Korea, providing detailed information about opportunities.

Studying abroad in South Korea presents a unique opportunity to gain a global perspective, enhance your academic profile, and immerse yourself in one of the world's most fascinating cultures. With a wide range of programs and options available, you can tailor your international education experience to fit your personal and academic goals.

About the author
Matayeva Zhanar

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