Yonsei University Sky Universities Korea

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

Sky is the top ranking university in Korea, presenting the most prestigious Korean higher education. Yonsei University offers an academic excellence to candidates with outstanding graduated from selected universities around the globe. Beside the superior law courses, Yonsei’s international MBA programs are highly respected by many global MBA programs. Yonsei Law School strives to cultivate students into bright leaders in law that can effectively realize social justice through legal knowledge and professional skills. The goal of this international program is to provide people with a unique opportunity to enhance their practical ability while experiencing the multifaceted, multicultural environment of South Korea.

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Study in South Korea

Having split from North Korea in 1948 into a separately governed country, South Korea has diverged considerably from its neighbor, developing into an internationally recognized Asian powerhouse in the fields of technology, education and tourism, to name but a few of its strengths. Embracing both tradition and modernity, this ‘Asian Tiger’ has much to offer international students, and ­­capital city Seoul is currently ranked among the world’s top 10 student cities.

Investment in education and research has been at the heart of the South Korea’s growth into the world’s 11th largest economy and the fourth largest economy within Asia. It’s this investment and growth in innovation and technology that has meant the country is known as one of the four ‘Asian Tiger’ economies, alongside Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Yonsei University Sky Universities Korea

More than 123,000 international students studied in South Korea in 2017 (more than half of whom were from China), and the government has set its sights even higher, with an aim of 200,000 international students by 2023. As part of this ongoing focus on internationalization, several universities in South Korea, including Yonsei University, are opening new international campuses to meet growing demand, while four universities have opened branch campuses at the Incheon Global Campus (IGC), including the State University of New York (SUNY).

Click on the tabs below to find out about universities in South Korea, student cities, tuition fees and more.

yonsei university acceptance rate

Yonsei University is very competitive for Korean students. You have to be in top 2% of all Korean seniors to be admitted to Yonsei University. If you are a qualified international student, you will be able to attend Yonsei University.

Korea university

With over 370 official higher education providers in total, South Korea has plenty to offer interested students. The country boasts no less than six top-20 entries and 57 representatives in total in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019, and 29 ranked institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2019®.

A closer look at the top universities in South Korea can be had using the new QS South Korea University Rankings, which showcases 50 of the country’s best institutions, based on the same methodology used to compile the Asian ranking.

Read on for info on five of the top South Korean universities.

Seoul National University 

Seoul National University (SNU) is placed joint 36th and number on in South Korea in the QS World University Rankings 2019® and was second in the new QS South Korea University Rankings*. Founded in 1946 as South Korea’s first national university, Seoul National University is one of the three prestigious SKY universities and provides research-led liberal education to around 28,378 students from undergraduate to PhD level. According to data collected by the Korean Educational Development Institute, Seoul National University spends more on its students per capita than any other South Korean university with more than 10,000 students.

The school has two campuses in the city of Seoul – one in Gwanak on the southern side of the city and one within the city center in the district of Jongno, which is also the largest campus in the capital. Seoul National University also has an impressive portfolio of international partnerships, with as many as 289 universities in 58 countries collaborating with the school.

KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology

Situated in Daejeon, KAIST came first in the new QS South Korea University Rankings. A public research university with a current student population of just over 10,000, KAIST was established as the nation’s first research-led science and engineering institution. It ranks 40th in the QS World University Rankings and also comes third in the QS Top 50 Under 50, a ranking of the world’s leading universities under 50 years old. The majority of programs at KAIST are within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and the university ranks among the world’s top 100 institutions in 13 subjects.

Just over a two-hour train ride south of the capital, KAIST is part of the technology hub of the city of Daejeon, the fifth largest metropolis in South Korea and one of Asia’s closest equivalents to Silicon Valley in the US.

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Another university offering a science and technology-focused curriculum, POSTECH is a private research university ranked joint 83rd in the world, and sixth in both the South Korea ranking and the QS Top 50 Under 50. POSTECH’s vast 378-acre smart campus, located 20 minutes’ drive from downtown Pohang, includes not only all the usual facilities – student accommodation, cafés and so on – but also a digital library, a sports multiplex, beautiful gardens and water features, a sculpture park and a pub called the Log Cabin, which, true to its name, is built entirely from logs. There are also the infamous “78 stairs of horror”, which must be climbed to get from the dormitories to the lecture rooms – rather a daunting prospect if you’re running late for class.

POSTECH was the first South Korean university to be officially labeled a bilingual campus in 2010, with the majority of events and programs at junior, senior and graduate level taught in both Korean and English.

Korea University

The third private research institution included in the SKY trio, Korea University has a long-held rivalry with Yonsei University which is reflected in the many competitive sporting events between the two. Ranked 86th in the world and third in the South Korea ranking, Korea University currently has a student body of around 37,000, and, of its faculty of 1,700, over 95 percent hold a PhD or equivalent within their field. The school’s college of law is reputed for offering one of the most prestigious undergraduate law programs in the country. The university, which boasts an Olympic-sized ice rink within its campus, also ranks highly for chemical engineering, social policy and administration, modern languages, politics and accounting and finance. 

Located in Seoul, Korea University is departmentally divided across the city, with its main Anam campus just minutes away from a popular selection of restaurants, bars, shops and cultural attractions, including a famous Buddhist temple.

Sungkyunkwan University 

Ranked joint 100th this year in the global rankings and fourth in the South Korea ranking, Sungkyunkwan University is another private institution which has two main campuses, a Humanities and Social Sciences campus in Seoul and a Natural Sciences campus further south in Suwon. The university has a long history dating back to its founding in 1398 by the Joseon Dynasty, and today has around 34,700 students enrolled. Sungkyunkwan is considered to have one of the best medical schools in the country (ranked 101-150 globally in the subject rankings and third in South Korea), which is affiliated with the world-famous Samsung Medical Center. The university appears among the world’s best for a further 29 subjects, including the top 50 for mechanical engineering, library and information management, and materials sciences.

Other universities in South Korea

Also placing within the global top 300 are Yonsei University (107th in the world rankings and fifth in the South Korea ranking), Hanyang University (joint 151st in the world; seventh in South Korea), Kyung Hee University (joint 264th in the world; 33rd in South Korea), and Ewha Womans University (joint 319th in the world; ninth in South Korea). All – with the exception of Kyung Hee University – are located in the capital, proving that Seoul really is a higher education hub. 

*The differences between universities’ positions in the different rankings are due to the different methodologies used to compile them.

Life in South Korea 

Even outside of the densely packed capital city, those who opt to study in South Korea may well experience some degree of culture shock, as they get to know this unique and multifaceted culture. Especially in the cities, the pace of life is fast and competitive, and the hot temperatures can also be relentless. You’ll even have to cope with finding yourself suddenly a year older – age is counted differently here!

But fear not, because peace and relaxation are also to be found – atop mountain peaks, amidst the dense forests of South Korea’s famous national parks, in a traditional steam-filled jjimjilbang (public bathhouse), or on a Buddhist temple retreat where the day starts with meditation and pre-dawn chanting. Off the coast, a number of tranquil islands are also well within reach, offering local hospitality, fresh air and fresh fish.

You’ll need to seek out as much serenity as you can get in between term times, as education is taken very seriously in South Korea. It’s even been known for flight schedules to be changed and the stock market to be opened late in order to minimize noise for students during school exams. Don’t let this high-pressured environment put you off, however, as universities in South Korea offer some of the best educational facilities in the world, combined with relatively affordable tuition fees.

Discover some of South Korea’s major student cities…


One of the world’s ‘megacities’, with a population of over 9.8 million (25.6 million in its metropolitan area), the South Korean capital is home to around 40 universities, including the prestigious “SKY” trio – Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. Having established itself as an economic leader in just 50 years of rapid growth, Seoul is now attracting attention as a site of education, technology, culture, history and design. It was named 2010’s World Design Capital, and a series of restoration and development projects are transforming the city’s historic sites and the public parks along the banks of the Han River. Seoul has also been ranked the 10th best student city in the world, according to the QS Best Student Cities 2018.

Transport in Seoul is brilliant, food is colorful, cheap and varied, and K-pop girl groups are everywhere. As in many South Korean cities, Seoulites like to “work hard and play hard”; the working day may finish late, while socializing and partying will often go on into the early hours, with the streets of Gangnam, Hongdae and Dongdaemun offering 24-hour venues for everything, including eating, drinking, shopping, partying and internet surfing.


Known for its focus on research and innovation, Daejeon is home to several of the leading universities in South Korea, including KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology,Chungnam National University, Woosong University, and Korea University of Science and Technology. As well as more research labs than you can shake a test tube at, Daejeon is home to Expo Park, a science and technology theme park which includes various simulations and exhibitions and an IMAX dome cinema nearly 90 feet high. Nearby are the National Science Museum and Daedeok Science Town – a site devoted to research and development which is known as the ‘brain’ of South Korea. Daejeon is currently ranked 86th in the Best Student Cities index, receiving its best score for employer activity.


A seaport on the east coast, Pohang deserves a mention as the home of Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Korea’s third-highest ranked university in the world rankings. The city center itself, although largely industrial, offers a lively atmosphere, with Bukbu Beach on the north side of the town a popular site for locals and tourists. Cultural and recreational attractions include many museums and parks, along with a famous fireworks festival in Bukbu every summer.


A busy port city known for its distinctive local dialect and rugged character, Busan is the place to go to get to know a more traditional side of life in South Korea. Slightly off the well-trodden tourist trail, Busan is the country’s second most populous city after Seoul, and is full of hidden charms: the famously fresh local seafood (live squid is a local delicacy!), a buzzing nightlife, historic temples, an idyllic surrounding coastline and a vibrant student population due to the local Pusan National University and Dong-A University.

Applying to universities in South Korea 

The admissions process differs from school to school but, in general, you can apply directly to your chosen university by post or online. Be aware that the South Korean academic year begins in March, although many schools take on new students twice a year – in March and September. Deadlines for March applications are typically set between September and November, while for September entry, deadlines are often between May to June. Most universities in South Korea have just two terms, with a summer break from July to August and a winter break from December to February.

Although proficiency in the Korean language is advantageous, around 30 percent of courses at South Korean universities are taught in English. This, along with the fact that English proficiency is growing nationwide, helps to break down the language barrier for international students. However, a desire to learn the basics of the Korean language will certainly be helpful, paving the way for fuller integration into South Korean society and culture. In either case, foreign students must prove their proficiency in the language their course will be conducted in.

Visas to study in South Korea 

To study in South Korea as an international student, you will require a ‘D-2 visa’, which can be gained from a South Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. Typically, as well as proficiency in English or Korean, you will be asked to provide your passport, a completed application form, a certificate of your most recent school record, confirmation of your acceptance at a South Korean university and proof of sufficient finances. For your D-2 visa you will be required to pay a processing fee of about US$50 (for single entry) or US$80 (for multiple entry). The visa allows you to stay for up to two years. Engineering students can apply for the D-2-7 visa, which allows government-invited international students to stay in South Korea after they graduate and find work.

You’ll also need to purchase health insurance from the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), which will entitle you to access treatment at all hospitals in the country and costs around US$20 per month.

Fees and funding 

One of the good things about studying in South Korea is that tuition fees are the same for domestic and international students, as part of the national plan to bring more international students to the country. These fees will vary depending on the course and university.

An undergraduate course at a public university costs around US$4,350 per semester (with humanities subjects at the lower end and medicine at the top). At a South Korean private university, fees are estimated at US$5,800 per semester. And at Seoul’s 16 internationally ranked universities, the average annual tuition fee for undergraduate students is US$6,500.

To calculate the total cost, bear in mind that there are two semesters in each academic year, and South Korean undergraduate programs typically last four years (or six years for subjects like medicine and dentistry).

Scholarships for international students are widely available from individual universities, covering between 30 to 100 percent of tuition fees. In addition, a number of governmental scholarships are available, which may also cover air fares and living expenses. One such governmental program is the Global Korea Scholarship (GKS).

Recent government deregulations of scholarships, dormitories, part-time jobs and employment after graduation aim to make studying in South Korea more accessible for international students – by making it easier to cover the costs, and also to stay and seek work in the country after graduation.

Accommodation and living costs 

University dormitories are usually the cheapest options for accommodation, costing around US$280 to US$1,300 per semester, with the costs varying depending on how many students you’ll be sharing with, and whether catering is included. Private accommodation costs can vary considerably, at anywhere between US$280 and US$700 per month. Most universities offer affordable catering on campus, and if you take advantage of this you’ll likely only spend around US$260 on food a month. In Seoul (South Korea’s most expensive city), a one-way public transport ticket costs around one US dollar, or alternatively a monthly pass would be US$50.

Once you’ve been enrolled for six months (one semester) you’ll be eligible for applying for part-time work to help supplement your income. You can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during semester breaks, and will need to supply employers with your student visa and a letter of recommendation from your university.

SKY Universities

Korea University Seoul Campus

The main hall at Korea University, a SKY University in Seoul.

SKY stands for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. These three universities along with KAIST and POSTECH are known by everyone as the top universities in Korea.

If you’ve looked into studying in Korea, I am sure you are already sick of hearing about these universities. I don’t want to discuss SKY for long as I think their reputation is highly overrated. SKY universities are also surrounded by an elitist feeling that to me as a foreigner, feel unfounded.

However, I wouldn’t be writing an article about studying in Korea if I didn’t at least mention them in passing.

Are SKY Universities the best

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 2

The three SKY universities.

I can’t say for certain as I haven’t studied at other Korean Universities, but I can make a few observations.

If you plan to work in Korea after graduation attend a top 10 university (SKY, Ehwa, SKKU, KAIST, etc). If you don’t attend one of these universities your chances at jobs will be far lower and you will have a much harder time here.

However, if you are here for an exchange, or you will move back overseas after studying, then you have more options. I’m sure there’s no limit to the number of people who will disagree with me, but I think it’s better to pick a university that suits you rather than the one with higher ratings.

Pick a university that offers what you want. If you are here for an exchange this is especially important, as the university you do an exchange to isn’t really too important in the end.

The SKY experience

If you study at a SKY university you will quickly notice that it influences how people act towards you. If you wear your university jacket, you will get many people saying ‘wow, you must be smart!’.

If you mention that you attend a SKY university often people will be in awe. 

In Korea, it is common to wear a baseball-style jacket with the logo of your university. In the fall (when it gets a bit colder), you will see almost half of all students don their jackets. This is a very cool part of Korean university culture.

However, I stopped wearing mine after about a year. People will treat you differently if they know that you are from such an ‘elite’ university and I grew to dislike the attention that it got. Especially if you wear it outside of Seoul.

While there’s nothing wrong with representing your university (and the jackets are very nice!), this is something to be aware of. There is definitely a change in attitude towards when your university is openly visible.

It overshadows a greater problem with Korean society in regards to education, as there most definitely is elitism. With how vital a good education is in Korea, it’s easy to see where this stems from.

Applying For University in South Korea

Applying for university can seem daunting, but it isn’t too bad.

The application process for universities in Korea can be quite complicated and, at times, it can be very stressful. The application process for every university is different, however, they can generally be broken down into a few steps.

Every university has a different application procedure. Here are a few:

  1. Online application — This is the first step and will normally occur over a period of a few months in the semester prior to the one you are applying for. If you want to apply for the spring semester, you should apply in the fall semester prior, and vice-versa.
  2. Submit physical materials — This step usually occurs at about the same time as the online application. In this period you should submit any physical materials. These can include a personal statement, school record, birth certificate, etc.
  3. Acceptance and Payment — A few months later you will receive an email regarding your acceptance status. This will be followed up with a tuition payment deadline.

Once you get accepted you can begin to work on applying for a visa. I applied in New Zealand and the process took less than a week. However, it was a very concerning time!

The university only sent out my official letter of acceptance a week before I was supposed to be in South Korea. I was really worried about the lack of time before my departure and applying for my visa.

Luckily, the visa process was very fast and I was able to get my visa a mere three hours before my flight departed New Zealand. However, since the letter of acceptance is sent out very late (and very close to the date you should be in Korea), I recommend asking the visa office if there is any way to hasten the process.

Once you apply for a student visa with the required documents it is just a matter of waiting. Luckily, you don’t have to do anything else!

Language Requirements

The biggest hurdle for many people is the language requirement. To study at most universities in Korea you should either be fluent in Korean or have decent English. Typically an IELTS score of around 5 — 6 is required.

If you come from a country that has English as an official language then you can generally get away with no English test results. Simply submit your high school transcript.

If you have studied in an international school that is taught in English then I recommend contacting your preferred universities. You might find that you don’t need to prove your English ability!

Required Documents

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 4

Again, this depends on the university, however, there are a few documents that are required more often than not.

  • High school transcript/expected graduation certificate
  • Proof of financial stability — This isn’t always needed, but some universities will require you to prove that you have at least X amount of money. When I applied in 2016 Korea University required me to prove at least $30,000. However, there are ways around this, and some universities don’t require it.
  • Relationship to sponsor — If you need to prove finances then you can also show ‘sponsors’ money. If you do, you must prove your relationship to that person.
  • Recommendation letter (from a past teacher or ‘official’)
  • Proof of language proficiency (often not needed if you live in a country with English as the official language). This can be IELTS or TOEFL
  • A portfolio is also required for some students (for example, art students)

Studying in Korea

In this section, I will cover the most important aspects of studying in South Korea. From the quality of education to getting admitted to a Korean university.Pros & Cons of Studying in Korea

Why Study in South Korea

Not only does Korea have all of the usual benefits of studying abroad (meeting a wide range of people, experiencing a new culture, learning a new language, etc), but it also has a few unique factors that make it an attractive option.

Seoul was recently rated as one of the top 10 student cities in the world. Why? Because it’s exciting. I have never visited somewhere more exciting in my life! Life is fast-paced and energetic. It may not be the best place to live, but it’s great for students.

The cost of living in Seoul is relatively high, but it’s cheaper than in most developed countries. The costs are covered in more detail in my post about the cost of living in Seoul as a student. However, here are a few benchmarks.

  • A one-room apartment in Seoul can be found for around $400 per month.
  • A semester of tuition usually costs around $2500. However, this depends on the major.
  • An unlimited mobile phone plan can be found for around $50 per month as a student.

While Seoul might not be the cheapest place, it is definitely not the most expensive. This makes it a fantastic place to study — especially considering that many scholarships are available.

That leads me to another point! There are a lot of scholarships available in Korea. If you can get into one of the many scholarship programs then you can greatly decrease the cost of tuition. Sometimes, you can even get scholarships that cover rent and all tuition costs.

Seoul is a beautiful city and a fantastic place to study.

Another aspect that makes Korea great for students is that there is just so much to do. The social life in Korea is fantastic! Drinking is popular (and cheap) and there are so many activities — from singing at karaoke to visiting cat and dog cafes.

yonsei university sky universities korea ranking

Mediocre at best. Korea has incredibly high rankings for education up to high school, however, their university rankings begin to drop off a lot.

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 6

At Korea University, I often find myself wondering how such bad teaching can be allowed. I have had teachers who often give homework copied straight from another university’s lectures. I don’t know if this is allowed, but it doesn’t seem very professional.

I have had professors who can’t speak English well at all teaching English classes. If you sign up to teach one of the English classes it is my belief that you should be adequate, if not fluent in the language. I understand that this is a Korean university, but these classes are listed as English classes.

I have had professors who publicly humiliate people. One professor even called out students in front of the class and told them that missing a class (which they had in the prior week) is unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of fantastic professors at my university, and in Korea. Further, I understand every university has good and bad professors, but for a university that prides itself on being in the top 100? The education can be terrible at times.

You may not notice it initially, but if you attend a top university you will begin to notice elitism. Sometimes obvious, sometimes not, but you will notice it. I have had professors say ‘If you don’t study well you should have gone to (insert lower-ranked university here) instead!’ Or ‘you are the best students in Korea’.

Elitism does exist, and it gets to some people. Some people will refuse to date someone who didn’t study at a SKY university (especially if they studied at one themselves). It doesn’t matter if the uni was a great university, but rather if it was SKY or not. I understand wanting to date someone who has been successful, but this view of ‘success’ is extremely limited.

Minus these bad experiences, education is decent. Most professors are friendly and are willing to help you with any troubles that you might have. Koreans are generally very hospitable and this is the same for professors.

Many of the textbooks used are the same as at other universities. Often the lectures will follow the chapters in these books and this means that you will often get a similar education to most other western universities.

Study in Korea in English

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 7

Studying in a foreign language can be incredibly hard. Luckily English is also an option!

Many people ask whether or not it is possible to study in Korea in English. The good news is that it is! As long as you are interested in Business, International Studies, or a few other majors.

Many universities will offer a few courses that can be completed in English. At Korea University, those courses are International Studies and Business. International relations and other courses are also offered partly in English. I believe the same goes for Yonsei University.

There are many partly English courses and these are an ideal option as they allow you to study in English for a few years while you learn Korean. After a few years, you can begin moving to the Korean classes.

Every university is different, and some will offer English courses while some won’t. However, many of the more famous universities will offer at least one or two courses that are fully in English.

If you search around you are sure to find universities which offer other courses in English too. It really just depends on the university!

Graduation Requirements

All of this information is all well and good, but how do you actually graduate? Luckily, it’s pretty straightforward.

Graduation is credit-based and each course generally awards 1-4 credits. To graduate in Korea University I need to get 130 credits with a specific amount in major courses, some in elective courses, and a few in other areas.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle, however, is that most universities will require you to attain TOPIK 4 to graduate. TOPIK is a Korean language test and generally, you will be required to pass it in order to graduate.

Korea University has recently done away with this system. Now, you can graduate either by proving English OR Korean fluency rather than both.


What’s It Like Being A Foreigner In Korea? | ASIAN BOSSAsianboss did a video about what it’s like to be a foreigner in Korea. While it’s a very brief video, some of the points are very valid. Especially the comment near the end about no matter how long you live in Korea, you will never be treated like a Korean.

Will you experience racism? Probably. But it’s rarely obvious, and it won’t prevent you from having a great time here. I have never had any direct racism at my university (as it is a relatively global university), however, I have experienced it on the subway, in restaurants, and in public areas. Sadly it also depends on your race.

If you are caucasian you will be treated generally positively. However, there is definitely still prejudice in Korea towards other races. I have heard of some bad experiences from my friends from Southeast Asia, as some Koreans look down on people from that area.

You will most likely have many experiences that aren’t really racism, but more just prejudice. I’ve been assumed to be American more times than I can count. Sometimes people will randomly say ‘I love America’ to me.

Once an old guy passed me on the escalator and said ‘good job!’ (With a smile) when I walked past with my girlfriend. And more than anything, sometimes people (especially children!) will stare.

People will also always assume you speak English. I don’t count these as harmful experiences, often they are even funny. But you should always be aware.

Overall, the experiences are vastly positive.

What about racism in university? It’s there, but it’s not direct. Me and nearly every other international student I have talked to have been excluded at some point.

Club meetings where you won’t be included (they may not even let you know there is a club meeting!), drinking events where you slowly get pushed out of the group only to end up forming two groups (foreigners and Koreans) and being outright turned down from joining the club.

I don’t think the intention is to exclude, but it seems to naturally happen, even if you can speak fluent (or decent) Korean.

Overall, racism wasn’t a big problem here for me, and often it worked in my favour. But everyone will experience it in some way. South Korea is the most homogenous nation on earth, second only to the more secluded Korea, and this is bound to have some effects.

To conclude, if you are worried about racism then you can stop worrying. Racism exists everywhere, and while it is more common in Korea than in many places, it is rarely ever harmful.


Cost of living in Seoul for students

Monthly living costs in Seoul as a student

This is something that I am often asked about, and I have a more in-depth article here. Tuition in Korea is about 2,000,000-6,000,00KRW a semester. The cost is highly dependent on the university and subject, but it is cheaper than in most western countries.

Textbooks are incredibly cheap, just don’t purchase them ‘legally’. In Korea there are basically no copyright laws for textbooks, meaning that your local print shop will happily print the textbook you need for 10,000KRW.

You can easily afford all the textbooks for the semester for around 50,000-100,000 KRW. Do not buy books from bookstores if you want to save money, just get them printed.

Dormitories usually range from 800,000-2,500,000KRW a semester. However, often cheaper housing can be found off-campus. Goshiwons are around 300,000 a month, and studios can be found as cheap as 300,000 a month with a 2,000,000 deposit (which is returned when you leave).

However, often there will be minimum stay lengths, so if you are only in Korea for a short time usually a dorm or goshiwon is the best option.

Goshiwons like the one above can be found very cheap in Seoul!

Food is dependent on what you like to eat. A cheap meal out is about 5,000, while a more expensive meal out may be up to 15,000. Eating at home is a viable option too.

Transport is 1,250 one way for subways and buses. It is extremely cheap and easy, along with being fast. Transport probably won’t be one of your big costs.

Other Factors to Consider

It is important to answer the question, why do I want to study in Korea and what are my future plans after graduating? Studying in Korea is a fantastic experience, however, depending on what you want to do in the future it can also hinder you.

If you plan to work in Korea then attending a Korean University will definitely benefit you. Not only because of the education but also because future employees will know that you understand Korean culture and (possibly) the language.

However, if you plan to work in your home country, let’s say the USA, then you are going to have a much easier time if you have a domestic degree. Most western countries tend to prioritise potential employees with domestic degrees.

There are also other factors to consider. For example, many countries have different requirements for jobs. For example, a doctor or engineer moving countries will often have to be retrained to meet the requirements of the new country.

I am unsure about the situation in other countries, but I would highly recommend investigating it before coming to Korea. Make sure that you are setting yourself up for success in what you want to do.

If you plan to go to another country for your graduate degree, make sure that your Korean degree will allow you to apply for the programs that you want.

These things may seem obvious, but many people overlook them when they first come to Korea. It’s far easier to have a plan at the start than to realise you have to reevaluate later on.

Korea Isn’t a Kdrama


This might sound obvious again, but hear me out. Studying in Korea isn’t like a Kdrama. Especially at university, which can be extremely stressful.

I have known a lot of people who came to Korea only to really dislike it. Of course, this isn’t always due to Kdramas and other Korea media, but it definitely has an influence.

Studying in Korean Universities can be very stressful due to the high amount of pressure. Especially since many classes in Korea have relative grading, you will often be competing against the rest of your class.

If possible, visit Korea and explore around a bit before deciding to study here.

That isn’t to say that Korea isn’t like a Kdrama at all… In some respects, it can be! Just remember to be objective and keep in mind that life in Korea isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s very far from it. Media tends to only show the positive aspects and often you won’t know about the negative aspects until too late.

Campus and Student Life

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 10

Campus life at Korean universities is exceptional. Many universities have beautiful campuses that are large and interesting. Even if the university you are interested in has a small campus, Seoul has so much to offer. The transportation is so great that interesting areas are always close by.

Dormitories are offered by most universities and they can range greatly in quality and location. However, usually, foreigners are prioritized into the nicer/more modern dormitories.

Korea University has basketball courts, swimming pools, ice-skating rinks, tennis courts… Really everything you could ever want. Korea is one of the bigger universities though and is better equipped than others.

Every university I have visited however has a beautiful campus. Ewha, Yonsei, and Korea all have an old European architectural theme and are beautiful.

Konkuk University has an amazing lake right in the middle of the campus, and Sungshin Women’s University is surrounded by a multitude of types of entertainment. There are a LOT of universities in Seoul, and the vast majority of them have nice campuses. Especially any university in the top 10-20.

I wish I could be broader and speak more about other universities, however, I can only speak about the places I have been. One thing I can say for sure though is that Korean Universities usually have amazing campuses that are interesting, large, and beautiful.

But even if your university doesn’t have a large or beautiful campus, Seoul is fantastic and is an amazing city for students. You will be able to find lots of entertainment wherever you choose to study.

Student Life

Korea has SO MUCH to see and do. Seoul especially.

Student Life. Did you know Soju is the most drunk alcohol in the world? Well, now you do! Korean’s drink like crazy, and if you come here to participate and embrace the culture, so will you. You can buy Soju for under $2 per bottle! It may not be the nicest, but everyone who has come to Korea definitely remembers their experiences with Soju!

Activities like karaoke are abundant and can be found everywhere, PC bangs (pc cafes) and arcades too. Nightlife areas are scattered all across Seoul and there is always at least one popular place close by.

Hongdae, Itaewon, and Gangnam are all popular for their nightlife, and usually, you will be located close to at least one of them!

If you want to experience the cultural and historical side of Korea then you are in luck. Palaces, temples, and historical sites are abundant in Seoul.

One of my favourite aspects of Seoul is that there is also a lot of nature located around it. There are many mountains that are easily reachable and there are also some fantastic parks in the city.

Shopping in Seoul is also fantastic. Anything you want to buy can be found here! It is extremely convenient.

If you are worried about student life in South Korea, don’t be. It’s a very exciting and thrilling place to live, and you will never be bored.

Course Registration

Classes at Korean universities are quite hard to keep track of at times. Let me begin at course selection.

Selecting courses is competitive! Very, very, competitive. There will be a set time before each semester where you will pick all of your classes. The catch? Nothing is guaranteed, and you might not even get your major REQUIRED classes.

The best part? Since everyone is fighting to get the classes as fast as possible, the site will lag due to the sudden traffic spike. Popular classes will be gone in a matter of seconds. Not 10 seconds. Not 5 seconds. I am talking under 3 seconds before the popular classes are full.

Since the site is also notoriously slow at this time, it is a very stressful time. Everyone hates the course registration time.

The only upside is that more senior years get to pick their classes in advance. So 4th years will pick their classes a few days before 3rd years. 3rd years, in turn, pick a few days before 2nd years and so on and so forth.

This means that while the 1st and 2nd years rarely get the classes they want, you do eventually get a chance to pick the classes you want with less competition. If you miss a class that you really need you can also talk directly to the professor — sometimes they will let you join their class.

There will be a period a few weeks later where you can add and drop certain classes, and after this, you can’t change your classes again for the semester.

Class Rules

Studying in Korea - Everything You Need to Know 11

Classroom at the University of Seoul.

Every class has different rules (even if they are the same course, just with different professors). If you have a beginner English 1 class with X professor and beginner English 1 with Y professor, the classes won’t be equal.

Professor Y may have extremely hard exams and professor X might not even have exams! Make sure to read the (usually incomplete) syllabus and professor reviews so that you know what to expect.

Some classes are relative grading and some will have absolute grading. This means that some classes will be far easier than others. Often you won’t know which type of grading the class has until you ask the professor.

Generally, the syllabus will also list the rules of the class, and this is something that is vital to read. Some professors won’t allow electronic devices while some will. Some won’t allow absences while some will.

At least at Korea University, there seems to be no consensus on rules. Every professor has vastly different rules and there seems to be no universal basis.

Some professors will upload course materials and some won’t. However frustrating this may be for you, you will have to put up with it.

Some professors will have fantastic English, and some may be quite poor. It is essential to read the professor reviews before picking classes if you care about all of these points I have made. There is no other way to know exactly what you are in for.

All of the professors and classes are quite different, frustratingly so. However, if you are careful then this won’t be a problem for you. Just be wary and learn about what you are signing up for before you do.


Class attendance is far stricter than in most western universities. In some classes, you will lose points for every class you miss (5 absences will make an A+ impossible), for some classes you will fail when you miss two lectures, and some you can miss 20% of classes.

I have never had a class where attendance doesn’t matter. If you come to Korea, you should attend most of your classes, don’t expect to be able to miss them.


Korea has two very long vacations. One to enjoy the winter, and one to enjoy the summer!

Korean universities have two very long vacations! One is usually from mid-June to the start of September, and the other from mid-December to February. This means that in total you will have about 5 months of vacation in the year! It’s fantastic. This gives you a lot of time to explore Korea and get the most from your time.

Daily Schedule

Daily schedules can be vastly different, but the earliest classes usually commence at 9 am with the latest being around 7-9 pm.

Typically one class will have two sessions per week. These classes will be for one hour and fifteen minutes each. However, some classes will just have one three hour session per week. If you are taking an average amount of credits (18) you will have 6 classes. This means around 12 classes per week, each of which is 1:15.

University Facilities

One thing that I quickly noticed in Korea is that the universities tend to have MUCH nicer campuses and facilities than universities I have visited in other countries. At many of the more prestigious universities, it seems like the campus is a matter of pride.

There are many different cafes and restaurants located around the campuses as well as nearly anything else you could want as a student. From banks to mobile phone stores, they can often be found on the campus.

The bigger universities will also have lots of sports facilities ranging from basketball courts all the way to ice-skating rinks. Even for ‘less prestigious’ universities, the campuses were far nicer than anything I’ve ever experienced in New Zealand.

University Clubs

What is student life without a few university clubs? This is another aspect which Korean Universities do very well. In fact, they have some of the largest varieties of clubs that I have ever seen!

Most of the clubs are open for anyone to join and many are also free. However, some clubs will have membership fees.

While there is a massive variety of clubs, it’s also worth noting that some of them won’t be possible to join. Since it is Korea, many of the clubs will be in Korean and this can make it hard to participate in as a foreigner.

Generally, there are clubs for international students also, and these are great to join if you are interested in making new friends and meeting people.

Study in Korea Scholarships

Did you know that it is possible to study in Korea for free? I’m here to say that it most definitely is!

There are so many universities in Korea and they all offer different scholarship options. Since it would be impossible to list them all, I will be listing some general scholarships (where the university doesn’t matter) as well as some scholarships from KU (Korea University).

Korea University has similar scholarships to many other universities in Korea and I recommend checking out the scholarships at the university that you are interested in. I am just using Korea University as an example as it is where I personally have the most experience.

Korea University Scholarships:

GPA based scholarship (Graduate) | Undergraduate:

  • 100% of tuition costs — GPA above 4.0/4.5
  • 60% of tuition costs — GPA above 3.5/4.5 (for humanities and social sciences)
  • 65% of tuition costs — GPA above 3.5/4.5 (for natural sciences and engineering)

Need-Based Scholarship:
50% of tuition costs — students who need financial support

Academic Improvement Scholarship:
50% of tuition costs — students who show a significantly improved GPA

Other scholarships:

National Institute for International Education
Study in Korea 

Should You Study in South Korea?

If you still want to study in Korea after reading this post, then go for it!

Studying in Korea has its upsides and downsides. If you want the best academic education then don’t come to Korea. Even if you go to Seoul National University, you will be getting a worse education than you would at many ‘lesser’ western universities. However, if you want to get a decent education and have an amazing time then Korea is great.

I think that the academic aspect is a major part of university, but it isn’t everything. It is important to also have an enjoyable university experience, and coming to Korea will make that certain.

Of course, there is a lot more to studying in Korea that I couldn’t possibly list here. The post is long enough as it is and there are so many different aspects to consider when choosing to study abroad. However, if you have any further questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me with the comments below. I am happy to answer any further questions!

How to Apply to Korean Universities (Complete Guide)

Do you want to apply to Korean universities? In this article, I have created a step-by-step guide on how to apply to Korean universities. This might be a surprise to some, but there is a lack of international students in many prestigious Korean universities. In 2015, the Korean government announced plans to triple the current number of international students to 200,000 by 2023. To make this possible, the Korean government is giving incentives for international students such as Korean Government Scholarship, decreased visa regulation, and increased funding for university scholarships for international students.

It is not just the Korean government that wants international students in their campuses, but the universities themselves are looking for qualified international students. The primary reason is to increase the diversity of their student body which helps Korean students to adept to the global society. Also, this increased diversity helps their worldwide global ranking because diversity is a huge factor in the college ranking system.

So both the Korean government and individual universities want international students to study in Korea. Are you interested?

Since many international students are unfamiliar with the process of applying to Korean universities, I will do my best to give you a good overall picture. Keep in mind that different universities have different procedures and different required documents.

How to Apply to Korean Universities

Applying to Korean Universities is pretty straight forward. Here, I will give step-by-step guide on how to apply to Korean Universities.

  1. Create a list of Korean universities to apply. Visit Korean Scholarships List for all the Korean Universities that offer scholarships to international students.
  2. Read the application materials for each university to see the required documents, eligibility (English proficiency test scores, etc.), and application dates. If you look at List of Korean scholarships, there are application deadlines listed with each scholarship.
  3. Divide the universities into reach, match, and safety schools. Reach schools are schools that are difficult for you to get into, match schools are schools that you have a good chance for you to get into, and safety schools are schools that you are almost 100% sure that you will get into. If your scores are not stellar, you might not have safety schools. In that case, you need to apply to more match schools.
  4. Prepare the necessary documents for each university that you are applying to. I have made a list of commonly required documents to apply to Korean Universities below.
  5. Submit the necessary documents and application to universities. They will state if they want the application submitted online or submitted by mail.

Commonly Required Documents to Apply to Korean Universities

Application Form 

Some countries such as the US allows students to use same application to many different universities. In Korea however, every university uses different application forms that you will need to fill out individually.

Also, most, if not all Korean universities use the online application, and you have to pay a fee for each application you send to different universities. However, some universities provide fee exemptions to all international students or to students with financial difficulty.

Standardized Tests

To apply to Korean universities as an undergraduate, you need to take a standardized test for high school students such as the United States’ SAT and ACT. Depending on the country that you are from, the required standardized test will be different.

If you want to have a better chance in graduate admissions, taking standardized tests such as the United States’ GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and getting a good score will help significantly.

Language Proficiency Tests 

Korean Universities expect all international students to be somewhat proficient in English. Proficiency in Korean is not necessary, but you will have better opportunities to receive scholarships if you are proficient in Korean. Many universities require TOEFL or IELTS for English proficiency and TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) for Korean Proficiency.

Recommendation Letters

To apply to Korean universities as an undergraduate, you need two recommendation letters for most universities. Each school has different recommendation letters asking different questions about the student, so you might not want to ask the same teachers to complete all of the recommendation letters.

To apply to Korean universities as an graduate student, you need different type and quantity of recommendation letters for different universities, so it is wise to check with different universities.

Counselor Reference (Undergraduate Only) 

This reference is written by your high school counselor. If you attend a school that doesn’t have a school counselor, your principal can submit it instead.

The counselor reference contains information about your high school career such as your GPA, the level of your courses, and extracurricular activities. Sometimes, the counselor can submit an optional recommendation letter vouching for your character qualities.

School Report (Undergraduate Only) 

A school report contains the information about your high school such as the students’ average standardized scores, rigor of the high school compared to other high schools, courses offered, universities that their graduates have attended, and other relevant information. Every school should have a school report available, and you can ask your school counselor or principal to submit the school report for you.


Transcripts contains the your courses throughout high school, grades for each courses, and overall GPA. If you are applying as an undergraduate, many Korean universities only consider grades from 10th-12th year of high school, but some universities consider grades from 9th-12th year as well.

If you are applying as a graduate student, you need the transcript containing your GPA and all of your courses taken as an undergraduate student.

Personal Statement 

Personal statements ask you different questions regarding your personal life, career goals, and extracurricular activities. Since universities use different application forms, the questions will not be the same from universities to universities. Since personal statements are important part of your application, you need to take time writing each one. Applying to few universities will help you to focus your time on each application which will make you a successful applicant.

Students who are applying as a graduate student need to write a personal statement regarding your interest and the field of study. Some universities might ask you specific questions about yourself and your accomplishments. Since the requirements are different for each university, check with individual universities.

Copy of your and your parent’s passport 

Students who are applying as an international student and their parents cannot be citizens of Korea. To confirm this fact, many universities require you to submit a scanned copy of your and your parent’s passports.

If one or both of your parents are Korean citizens, you need to apply through a separate application called International Application II. This application is for students who have studied in foreign country for twelve years and for international students whose one or both parents are Korean citizens.

Supplementary materials 

If you are applying as a music or art major, many universities require you to submit a portfolio featuring your best work.

If you are a graduate student, certain universities require summary of thesis of your research as an undergraduate student if you have conducted research. Also, if you have published any papers, it would greatly strengthen your application to submit these as well.

Optional Materials

The following materials are optional but will greatly strengthen your application. You should not worry if you don’t have these because only few students will. However, if you still have time to prepare to participate in these programs and take the corresponding tests, you should definitely consider taking them.

International Baccalaureate (Undergraduate Only) 

International Baccalaureate (IB) is a worldwide program known for its rigorous assessment. IB is offered in over 3,000 schools in over 140 different countries. It is a very rigorous program, but it is definitely worth it if you do well. If you have a high IB score, you can go to almost any elite Korean universities and other Asian elite universities because they are extremely impressed with students who have a high IB score.

Advanced Placement (Undergraduate Only) 

Advanced Placement (AP) offers college-level classes in high school. After you have finished the class, you need to take a standardized AP tests to receive a score from 1-5. If you do well on AP classes and receive a score of 4 or 5, you can be admitted to elite universities. Also, the advantage of AP classes is you can receive college credits for certain classes if you receive a certain AP score such as a 4 or 5.

SAT Subject Tests (Undergraduate Only) 

SAT Subject Tests are separate from SAT I and test your knowledge in a certain subject such as Biology or Math. This 60-minute long test is usually taken by Americans and will greatly help your application if you receive a high score.

Important Information about Applying to Korean Universities

1. It is much easier for international students to get into Korean Universities than Korean students. 

To get into elite Korean universities or even to universities that are located in Seoul, many Korean spend thousands of hours studying for a Korean standardized test called the Suneong. Many subjects of this brutal test is graded on a curve, which means that student scores are determined by everyone else’s scores. In order to go to universities that are located in Seoul, students need to be in top ten percent of all test takers. This competitive atmosphere is unfortunate, but it is a reality for Korean students.

The good news is that the admissions for international students are much easier compared to Korean students. As I have mentioned earlier, Korean universities want international students in their campuses because of diversity and rankings. You can use these facts to your advantage and receive top-level education in one of the best schools in Asia.

2. Korean Universities provide excellent education and hire the best professors around the world. 

Korean universities provide a well-rounded and excellent education in all area of studies. Also, their professors are among the best professors in the world and studied in elite universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Take a look at chemistry professors in KAIST and Seoul National University. They have studied in prestigious universities around the world and are now researching in the forefront of discovery. If you apply to Korean universities and be admitted, you can study under these excellent professors and reach your full potential.

3. Many of the classes in top universities are taught in English. 

In top universities, many of the classes are taught in English mainly because of two reasons. First, most of the textbooks that the professors use are written in English especially in fields of math and sciences. Since English is a global language and is used by scholars around the world to write dissertations and scholarly papers, many of the science and math textbooks are written in English. The professors find it necessary to teach in English if the textbook itself is English.

Second, the percentage of English classes compared to Korean classes affect the college rankings significantly. The Korean government wanted Korean students to be able to communicate with the scholars around the world and are also able to work globally. To accomplish this, they encouraged ranking systems to factor in the percentage of English classes compared to the percentage of Korean classes. As the result, top universities offer many English classes, and some even offer all of their classes in English (e.g. KAIST).

So, you do not need to worry about the language barrier in your classes. Also, many Koreans speak English so you can be able to communicate with many people. It might be difficult at first to do simple tasks such as buying groceries, but you will learn basic Korean quickly.

4. International Students can be admitted in both Spring and Fall semester.

In Korea, the academic year starts in March and ends in January. Most Korean students will be admitted in the Spring semester while few will be admitted in the Fall semester. For international students however, there will be about the same number of students admitted in each semester because academic years of high schools in various countries end differently. So, you will have equal chance of admission in either semester.

5. There are many scholarships for international students in Korean universities. 

Since the Korean government wants international students to study in Korea, it offers many government scholarships just for international students. There are several of these, but the biggest scholarship is the Korean Government Scholarship which offered tuition and monthly stipend for 170 undergraduate and 700 graduate students around the world in 2017. For more information about the Korean Government Scholarship.

best university in korea for international students

These days, young scholars aspire to study in a place that is both affordable and home to some of the world’s greatest universities. South Korea possesses all of these qualities. Some of the best universities in the world are found here, and they frequently appear at the top of prominent university rankings lists. These schools and universities are well-known throughout the world, with a strong reputation and high ranking among prominent institutions.

Here is a list of the top 30 universities in South Korea where aspirants can study next:

Universities in South Korea Times Higher Education Ranking (2021) QS World Universities Ranking (2022) 
Seoul National University6036
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)9641
Sungkyunkwan University10197
Pohang University of Science and Technology  (Postech)15181
Korea University16774
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology176212
Yonsei University18779
Kyung Hee University251264
Sejong University301601
Hanyang University351156
Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology501305
Ajou University601531
Chung-Ang University601414
Ewha Womans University601362
Konkuk University601601
University of Ulsan601541
Chonnam National University801751
Inha University801561
Kyungpook National University801541
Pusan National University801601
Yeungnam University801801
Catholic University of Korea1001482
Chonbuk National University1001571
Gyeongsang National University1001
Kookmin University10011001
Chungbuk National University1001
Dongguk University494
Dankook University751
University of Seoul801
Seoul National University of Science & Technology1001

top universities in korea 2021

These universities in South Korea have been numerically ranked based on their positions in the overall Best Global Universities rankings. Schools were evaluated based on their research performance and their ratings by members of the academic community around the world and within Asia. These are the top global universities in South Korea. 

Here are the best global universities in South Korea

  • Seoul National University.
  • Sungkyunkwan University.
  • Korea University.
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
  • Yonsei University.
  • Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.
  • Pohang University of Science and Technology.
  • Hanyang University.

korea university acceptance rate

Korea University is very hard for Korean students to get admission. You need to be at least top 1% of all the students in Korea to get accepted into Korea University.

However, for international students, it is a completely different story. While thousands of Korean students desperately want to go to Korea University, fewer international students want to go there.

So, it is estimated that the undergraduate international students’ acceptance rate is around 25% for Korea University. For graduate students, it is estimated that around 50% of the students get accepted.

Why such a high acceptance rate for international students? One of the reasons is that professors do not have to spend much money to get international students into their labs.

Many international students receive scholarships, so that’s why professors pick international graduate students. 

Korea University Acceptance Rate

seoul national university acceptance rate

Seoul National University is among the largest universities that educates more then 27 thousand students. Foreign applicants are not excluded from the admission process. 7% of all students are foreigners.

Acceptance rate & Admissions

Acceptance Rate15%
Admissions RequirementsGraduation from high school or teachers’ college, or equivalent qualification recognized by the Ministry of Education in Korea, and entrance examination
Academic CalendarMarch to February (March – June; September-February)
Full time employee5,315
Student:staff ratio5:1
seoul-national-university-11 - Seoul Metropolitan Government

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