Best Colleges In Korea

Last Updated on May 25, 2024 by Team College Learners

SKY, an unofficial grouping and acronym for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University, represents the pinnacle of academic excellence in South Korea. These universities are renowned for their rigorous academic programs, world-class faculty, and competitive student body. As the most prestigious universities in Seoul, they attract students from all over the country and beyond who are seeking a top-tier education in various fields of study.

Admission to SKY universities is highly competitive and requires a strong academic record, as well as outstanding extracurricular achievements. Prospective students must excel in their high school coursework, demonstrate proficiency in the Korean language, and often have to submit letters of recommendation and personal statements. Additionally, some programs may require applicants to take standardized tests or undergo interviews as part of the selection process.

The admission process for SKY universities typically involves submitting an online application, providing academic records and supporting documents, and paying an application fee. Once applications are reviewed, selected candidates may be invited for interviews or entrance exams. Final decisions are based on a combination of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and overall fit with the university’s values and mission. Overall, gaining admission to a SKY university is a prestigious achievement that opens doors to a world-class education and future career opportunities.

What Attracts Students to Universities in South Korea?

South Korea is very welcoming of international students. The Korean government recently announced a drastic decrease in population. This drop effectively means they don’t have enough students to fill their universities.

Many students have chosen a Korean academic institution because of its low tuition fees, high quality, and affordable education. The number of international students in South Korea rose steadily in the past decade. According to Statista, there were about 152,000 international students in 2021, while in 2011 there were only 89,540 international students in the countr

Is Korea Good for International Students to Study In?

Korea is one of the most popular study destinations in Asia and the world. Universities in Korea consistently ranked in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, with seven institutions in the top 200 in 2024. Study options available for international students are Korean language programs, study-abroad semesters, or full degree programs. Most of these courses are in Korean and are increasingly taught in English.

Korean universities are highly ranked globally, and their degrees are valued all over the world. With affordable tuition and high living standards, international students can have an advanced education while learning the valuable Korean language at the same time.

The tuition for international and domestic students is the same, ranging from 4000 – 20,000 USD. Universities and government institutions regularly provide scholarships and research funds too. Living costs in Korea are relatively lower than in other developed countries. It offers inexpensive internet and mobile services, affordable accommodation, and vibrant culture. Modern Korea still exhibits Confucianism through its generous social conduct.

Top Universities in Korea 2024

More and more students are choosing to study in South Korea, and the country has recently seen dramatic increases in international enrolments. The government announced a plan to increase foreign enrolments to 200,000 by 2032 and is working hard to encourage even more students from the US, Europe and Asia to study abroad in South Korea. If you’re considering studying in South Korea, these are the best universities, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023.

The government hopes to entice even more young people to study abroad in South Korea by offering a range of financial incentives to institutions and individuals, streamlining student visa applications and providing employment support for those who have studied in South Korea and wish to stay on and work.

The Incheon Global Campus outside Seoul is a partnership with universities from around the world, offering degrees from the home university taught by faculty members based on-site in South Korea. By some estimates, almost a third of university courses in South Korea are now taught in English, and many universities offer new, dedicated international campuses.

10. Sogang University

Ranked 10th in South Korea and joint 435th in the QS World University Rankings 2019, Sogang University is one of the leading research and liberal arts universities in South Korea, established in 1960 by the Society of Jesus. Located in capital city Seoul, Sogang gets its highest score in the South Korea rankings for the employer reputation category.  As well as almost a third of courses at its graduate school being taught in English, Sogang offers numerous scholarships to both currently enrolled and new international students.

9. Ewha Womans University

Ewha Womans University, as its name suggests, is a private women’s university, also located in Seoul, which is ranked ninth in the country and joint 319th in the world according to the latest rankings. Established in 1886 by a Methodist missionary, the use of ‘Womans’ in Ewha’s name carries special meaning, as it’s meant to emphasize the high respect the university has for the uniqueness and individuality of each student. Ewha is now the largest women’s university in the world, with 22,600 students enrolled.

8. Kyung Hee University

Ranked eighth in South Korea and joint 264th in the world, Kyung Hee University achieves perfect scores for both of the indicators measuring its proportions of inbound and outbound exchange students, and it also gets a very high score for the international students indicator, showing that internationization is certainly one of Kyung Hee’s strengths. Considered one of the most prestigious private universities in the country, Kyung Hee also featured in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 as a top-150 university for hospitality, development studies, modern languages and linguistics.

7. Hanyang University

Hanyang University, also located in Seoul, is ranked seventh in the South Korea ranking and joint 151st in the world university rankings. As well as its main campus in Seoul, Hanyang also operates the ‘ERICA’ (Education Research Industry Cluster at Ansan) campus in Ansan in the Gyeonggi-Do province. Home to nine colleges and 42 departments, the ERICA campus is recognized as a leading school for industry cooperation, employability and start-up support.

Hanyang was ranked among the world’s best for 28 fields in the latest subject rankings, including the top 100 for civil engineering, architecture, business, chemistry, materials sciences. sports-related subjects and pharmacy.

6. Pohang University of Science And Technology (POSTECH)

Ranked sixth among the top universities in South Korea and joint 83rd in the world, Pohang University of Science And Technology (POSTECH) does particularly well in the indicators measuring research productivity and impact (papers per faculty and citations per paper). POSTECH’s 400-acre campus, located on the outskirts of the city of Pohang, was the first bilingual campus in South Korea and includes numerous state-of-the-art facilities such as the Tae-Joon Park Digital Library, a 25,000-square meter building with a collection of over 355,000 books.

5. Yonsei University

Yonsei University is ranked fifth in this year’s South Korea rankings and 107th in the world, earning a perfect score for its proportion of inbound exchange students. Yonsei was established in 1885, making it one of the oldest universities in the country, and it now has around 38,569 students enrolled and its main campus in Seoul and secondary campus in Wonju, including 4,647 international students.

Looking at the most recent rankings by subject, Yonsei was placed in the global top 50 for three subjects: dentistry, hospitality & leisure management, and social policy & administration.

4. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is ranked fourth in the South Korea rankings and joint 100th in the world, and is the oldest university in the country, with roots going back to 1398 when it was opened by royal decree during the Joseon Dynasty. SKKU boasts a longstanding collaboration with industry leader Samsung, and is currently in the process of implementing ‘Vision 2020’, a scheme aiming to, among other things, mean that SKKU will produce creative global leaders and world-class research to contribute to the good of the country and society.

SKKU is currently ranked in the global top 50 of the subject rankings for mechanical engineering, library & information management and materials sciences.

3. Korea University

Coming third in the South Korea location ranking and 86th in the world, Korea University (KU) was founded in 1905 and currently has around 37,000 students enrolled on two campuses.  It was ranked number one in the country for its international research network, and also came second for its proportion of international students, with around 11 percent of students coming from outside the country.

Korea University currently ranks among the world’s best for 33 subjects, boasting positions in the global top 50 for accounting & finance, business & management, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, modern languages, politics and social policy & administration.

2. Seoul National University

Ranked second in South Korea and 36th in the world, Seoul National University (SNU) was founded in 1946 by the merging of 10 institutions, making it the first national university in the country. It achieved the highest scores in South Korea for the academic and employer reputation indicators, and also claims one of the country’s strongest alumni networks, with SNU graduates making up one in four of the CEOs of the top 100 South Korean companies. It also has an impressive portfolio of international partnerships, having partnered with 289 universities in 58 countries.

Seoul National University was featured among the best in the world for an impressive 41 subjects, including the top 20 for chemistry, mechanical engineering, pharmacy, sports-related subjects and more.

1. KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology

Concluding our look at the top universities in South Korea, KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, located in the research and technology hub of Daejeon, is the number one university in South Korea according to the new ranking, and was also placed 40th in the world university rankings*. Established in 1971 as the nation’s first research-orientated science and technology institution, KAIST achieved some of its highest scores in the papers per faculty and citations per faculty member indicators. Although it’s mainly based within the Daedeok Innopolis, a cluster of high-tech research institutes, government agencies and venture businesses, KAIST also has a campus in capital city Seoul, which is home to its business school.

KAIST is internationally ranked for 13 subjects and achieves top-100 positions for each field, with particularly high scores for materials sciences, several branches of engineering, and computer science. 

Best Medical Colleges in South Korea

South Korea is not only the home of K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty, it is also the place for an excellent education. This is well-reflected in the country’s statistics, with 70% of 24 to 35-year-olds having completed some form of tertiary education. Owing to its high-quality school system, Koreans are always in the top 10 of the Program for International Student Assessment.

With that being said, studying Medicine in Korea proves to be a good choice for locals and foreigners alike. If you are all set on becoming a competent physician-scientist, then you should consider any of these best medical schools in Korea.

How much does it cost to study in Korean Medical Schools?

There are many costs involved in studying at medical schools in Korea. One of the biggest costs is tuition, which can cost up to $15,000 a year. In addition to this cost, there are living costs such as rent, food, and other expenses. Although this can be a lot, there are ways that international students can study for free.

1. Seoul National University (SNU) College of Medicine

The SNU College of Medicine is not only the best medical school in Korea, but it is also considered the best in Asia (according to the US News Rankings). It is housed in the SNU Yeongeon campus, which is in the northeastern part of Seoul.

Established in 1889, the college was only given its current name in 1946. Now 120 years old, SNU has produced some of the world’s brightest doctors with the help of its breakthrough Lee Jong Wook curriculum.

After honing the foundational skill sets of students for the first 2 years, they are taught to improve their skills during the medical proper. For graduate school, aspiring physicians are allowed to specialize in either Medicine, Clinical Medicine, or the Biomedical Sciences.

2. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) School of Medicine

Established in 1398 during the Joseon dynasty, SKKU is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in South Korea. However, its School of Medicine is quite young, having been only founded in 1997, but it is considered as one of the best medical schools in Korea.

Although that is the case, the SKKU School of Medicine has managed to produce many of Korea’s great physicians. This is due to its breakthrough problem-based learning system. In fact, SKKU was the first in the country to offer such a curriculum for pre-clinical education.

SKKU is affiliated with three hospitals, the most famous of which is the Samsung Medical Center. Apart from this hospital, medical students can also have their clinical rotation in other institutions, such as the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital and the Samsung Changwon Hospital.

3. Yonsei University College of Medicine

The college’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 1886, which makes it the oldest medical school in Korea. Through the persistence of Dr. Horace Allen and Dr. J.W. Heron, the college’s forerunner – the Che Jung Won Medical School – was born. It stood strong despite the war, as it was the only medical school for Koreans – by Koreans – during the Japanese occupation.

Following a merger in 1957, the school was finally named Yonsei University College of Medicine.

As a top private institution, Yonsei has a selective system that allows only 100 successful applicants per year. With the guidance of more than 550 full-time faculty members, the elite few are educated through an intuitive problem-based learning system. They are then rotated in the respected Severance Hospital, which has an inpatient capacity of 2,300.

4. University of Ulsan College of Medicine

Located in the southeastern region of Korea, the University of Ulsan was founded as the Ulsan Institute of Technology in 1969. It was made a full-fledged university a few decades later in 1985. After three years later, the illustrious College of Medicine was established.Find Open Programs for International Students

The college has 450 professors who supervise the students’ rotations in its many affiliate hospitals, including the Gangneung Asan Hospital and the Ulsan University Hospital.

Medical students also get to intern at the prestigious Asan Medical Center, which was established in 1989. With a total of 2,705 beds, the hospital is well-known for its revolutionary medical services and advanced clinical research.

5. Korea University College of Medicine

Korea University is a private university based in Seoul. Founded in 1905 as Bosung College, it was granted its current name 41 years after.

The College of Medicine was initially created to educate women doctors in the field of western medicine. More than just making reputable women physicians, the school has made impressive leaps and bounds since then.

Guided by its philosophy of molding doctors with strong ethics, the college has produced many of Korea’s top female and male physicians.

Apart from providing its students with good preclinical and clinical medicine knowledge, this medical school in Korea encourages its wards to engage in overseas exchanges and outreach problems.

KU students usually spend their internships in any of the college’s three affiliate hospitals, which are the Anam Hospital, Guro Hospital, and Ansan Hospital.

6. College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea

Next on our list of best medical schools in Korea is the Catholic University of Korea- College of Medicine. The university itself traces its humble beginnings back to 1855, with the founding of St. Joseph’s Seminary. Its School of Medicine, on the other hand, was created almost a century after the university was established.

The College of Medicine follows an OMNIBUS curriculum, where premedical education is specialized for each student. The program also includes two 6-week competency development programs, which cover consultations, diagnosis, simple medical procedures, and other treatment opportunities.

As a Catholic University, it also has a humanity education program that covers insight meditation and sympathy courses.

As for clinical rotations, students get to rotate in any of the university’s 8 affiliate hospitals – which has a combined capacity of 5,700 beds.

7. Kyungpook National University (KNU) School of Medicine

Based in Daegu, the KNU School of Medicine is the second-oldest medical school in Korea. Founded in 1923, it offers MD and MD-Ph.D. courses.

As one of the most prestigious schools in the country, KNU only accepts an average of 110 applicants every year.

The School of Medicine has 2 affiliate hospitals, namely the KNU Hospital and the KNU Medical Center. Catering to 25 specialties, these hospitals have a combined capacity of almost 1,400 beds.

With its high quality of medical education, the School of Medicine has produced more than 8,500 doctors. With the help of its 260 faculty members, KNU continues to shape physicians and physician-scientists who shine in their respective specialties.

8. Pusan National University (PNU) School of Medicine

Located in Busan, PNU is considered the second-best public university in Korea. Also known as Busan National University, it was initially founded in 1946 as a two-year college.

While PNU is widely known for its Engineering courses, it is also famous for its School of Medicine (not to be confused with the School of Traditional Korean Medicine, which is another department in the university).

Apart from creating exceptional doctors, this medical school in Korea takes pride in molding global leaders in the field of medicine. It also focuses on global and specialized research, which are fostered through the Research Institute for Medical Science, Cancer Research Center, and the Medical Research Center for Ischemic Tissue Regeneration.

9. Inje University College of Medicine

Located in Gimhae, Inje University was founded in 1932 as the “Paik Clinic”. In 1979, the Inje Medical College was opened, which became a university a decade after.

The College of Medicine was established to create ‘warm-hearted doctors essential to the 21st century.’ In 2009, it was named the best school by the Evaluation of Medical Education Accreditation body.

The curriculum makes use of problem-based learning and standardized patients, which help the students become more effective physician-scientists. It also offers competency-based education, which can help improve the student’s problem-solving ability.

The College of Medicine also offers several medical humanities courses, which aim to inculcate the golden value of patient safety.

The College of Medicine is affiliated with five Paik hospitals located in Seoul, Busan, Sanggye, Ilsan, and Haeundae. These institutions, which are considered some of the best in the country, together constitute a bed capacity of 3,600.

10. Hanyang University College of Medicine

We end our list of top Korean medical schools with Hanyang University, which is a private institution based in Seoul. It was founded as the Donga Engineering Institute in 1939, which was the first engineering school in the country. It was then renamed Hanyang, which is the former name of Seoul.

While the creation of the College of Medicine was already visualized in 1965, it was only three years after when the school started accepting its first batch of 80 students.

Hanyang students have the opportunity to undergo their clinical rotation in the esteemed Hanyang University Medical Center. Under this system is Hanyang University Guri Hospital, as well as the famous Hanyang University International Hospital.

As part of a globally-renowned research university, the College of Medicine is widely known for its regional research outputs.

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