Studying in South Korea

Why study in South Korea?

South Korea is a constitutional democracy state with a very high standard of living. As Asia's fourth largest economy it is one of the world's leading international financial centres.

  • As one of the Asian tigers it has enjoyed rapid economic growth and avoided the worst effects of the recession of the post-2008 period. Unemployment is low and public services such as transport are cutting edge. The proportion on non-Koreans in the population is increasing rapidly. English is widely taught and spoken.
  • There are 43 national and almost 180 private universities and universities.
  • Undergraduate programmes normally last four years (six years for medicine and dentistry).
  • In 2010 there were 83,842 foreign students from 171 countries studying in South Korea.
  • Compared with the US, Canada, and UK, Korea has lower tuition and living costs. International students do not have to pay higher fees and there are many scholarship programmes to assist international students financially.
  • The Korean government has recently announced substantial support and deregulation for foreign students in areas such as scholarships, dormitory provision, part time jobs, and employment after graduation.

Entry and visa regulations

A visa is required but the application process is straightforward.

  • Applicants must be able to prove that they will be able to pay tuition fees, living expenses for his/her maintenance and accommodation without working and without recourse to public funds.

Language requirements

Most international students who study abroad in Korea take courses offered in English.

  • Many universities offer courses in certain subjects and majors in English, with some schools offering nearly a third of their courses in the language. English-language courses are more common at graduate level.
  • Overseas students who want to study in English or Korean must to prove their language proficiency, if the language is not their native tongue. Schools differ on types of language exam scores they accept, so it is important to check with individual schools about their requirements.

The university system

South Korea has a large and diversified higher education system with many private universities.

  • Most undergraduate degrees are four year courses and many are taught in English.
  • The academic year starts in March, but many universities admit new students twice a year, in March and September. The academic year is divided into two semesters, with a summer break from July to August, and winter break from December to February
  • Generally, for applications by international students, the deadline for spring semester (March entry) is usually from September to November, and for autumn semester (September entry) from May to June. There is some variation between individual universities so check first.
  • Applicants may print out an application form and send it by mail or courier service or apply online if available.
  • Applicants who do not have English as their first language should take TOEFL, IELTS or other acceptable English language tests to prove their English proficiency.

Tuition fees and funding your study

  • Tuition fees range from £1,275 to £3,800 a semester for undergraduates, and from £1,600–4,460 a semester for postgraduates.
  • Many scholarships are available. Check listings at www.ied.go.kr as a starting point.

Student accommodation

  • Dormitory accommodation is the most convenient and economic place to live in.
  • There are alternatives and universities provide help to find a place to stay and to understand the contract conditions.
  • Students have to decide where to stay in Korea before arriving in the country.

Costs of living

Prices in Seoul are relatively high. If studying in Seoul, boarding or renting is much more expensive than in small and medium sized cities.

Typical costs in South Korea (GBP, March 2015) are:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £251 - £431 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £3.57
  • Meal at McDonalds: £3.57
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £1.79
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.98
  • Cappuccino: £2.65
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.81
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.49
  • Loaf of bread: £1.45
  • Cigarettes: £1.79
  • One-way ticket local transport: £0.66
  • Cinema ticket: £5.36

Working while studying

Since the 2008–09 academic year, student visa holders in degree courses of more than one year's duration at tertiary institutions may take up short-term internships that are study/curriculum-related (and be arranged or endorsed by their university), and up to one year’s duration with no restriction on the nature of work, level of salary, location, number of working hours and employers.

  • Students may alternatively take up part-time on-campus employment for up to 20 hours per week throughout the year or summer jobs (1 June to 31 August) with no limit on work hours and location.
  • Graduates from a Hong Kong university may apply to stay or return to work.

Health and safety

Foreigners living in South Korea are registered with the National Health Insurance Corporation.

  • High quality healthcare is available in South Korea in general hospitals, oriental hospitals (which use traditional eastern medical practices), public health centres and private hospitals. There is a three tier provision of medical facilities, depending on the size and the number of departments.
  • Korea’s National Health Insurance Corporation provides health insurance for foreign students who stay in Korea for more than a year on the same basis as Korean nationals. Applicants must submit a copy of their alien registration card and verification of the purpose of stay at an office of the Corporation.
  • South Korea is an extremely safe country, although theft, assault and hotel burglary might occur in larger cities. Care should be taken in known tourist areas and only legitimate taxis used. Security is monitored strictly in Korea, so crime is really rare and it is uncommon to have any big problems. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Republic of Korea can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, heavy fines, and deportation at the end of their sentence.

Helpful links

International Rankings

University Rankings 2018–19

University QS
QS World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). QS ranks institutions by the following key indicators; academic peer review, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, recruiter review, international orientation.

See the QS World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

THE World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by the Times Higher Education (THE). THE ranks institutions by performance in the following categories; Industry Income, Teaching, Research and Citations.

See THE World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology) 40 -
Korea University 86 -
Seoul National University 36 63
Sungkyunkwan University 100 82

Business School Rankings 2019

Business School Financial Times
Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2019

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by the Financial Times. MBA programmes are ranked by a number of key indicators including salary increase, value for money, career progression. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

The Economist
The Economist Which MBA? Ranking 2018

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by The Economist. MBA programmes are ranked by the following categories; career opportunities, personal development, salary increase and potential to network. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

More about the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation here.

Association of MBA

More about the Association of MBA (AMBA) accreditation here.

European Quality Improvement System

More about the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation here.

Audencia Nantes School of Management - 90 Y Y Y
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad 47 87 Y
University of California, Davis - Graduate School of Management - 54 Y