Korea is an East Asian country famous for its high-tech cities and sub-tropical islands. It has a long, rich history that created various traditions, as seen in folk performances and several cultural heritage sites. Korea is known for tech giants like Samsung and automotive industry leaders like Hyundai. Korean popular culture continues to influence the world, too, from music to fashion to exciting food choices.
Despite political unrest, Korea has become a leading force in digital technology. The country also has notable accomplishments in medical technology and medical tourism. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Korea for international students.
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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 2021. 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.
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.
Can international students work in Korea while studying?
International students in Korea have either a D-2 visa (full study term) or a D-4 visa (language study or training activities with a 6-month duration). Both D-2 and D-4 visa holders can have part-time jobs after receiving permission from their institution. They may apply for a part-time job permit from the immigration office in their area.
The allowed working hours depend on your Korean language ability and type of degree. Students in an associate or a bachelor’s program can work 10 – 20 hours, while those in a master’s and doctoral program can work up to 30 hours on weekdays. There is no working hour limit on weekends or school breaks. For more details, please see Employment Guidelines for International Students in Korea.
Can international students stay in Korea after graduation?
After completing your studies, you need to change your visa to a D-10 or Job-Seeking Visa. It is for individuals seeking employment in a Korean company or institution. It is also required for the following: participants of paid internships, activities related to intellectual property, and preparation for a start-up. A D-10 Visa is valid for six months. After getting hired, you can upgrade to an E-7 or Specific-Job Visa valid for two years.
If your work area falls in academic work or other particular occupations, you need an E-1 to E-6 visa. These occupations include a professor, researcher, technical or foreign language instructor, professional, artist, athlete, or a field designated by the Minister of Justice. Please review Korea’s Employment Guidelines on these qualifications.
Best Universities in Korea for International Students
1. Seoul National University (SNU)
Seoul National University is the best university in Korea for international students, which is setting the standard of academic excellence in the country since 1946. It is part of the elite SKY universities, a 3-member league of the most prestigious universities in Korea. It has sixteen colleges offering a wide range of subjects, from humanities to medicine to engineering. Its professional graduate schools provide practical skills in fields like data science and public administration. Over 700 courses are taught in English, and it’s increasing every year. Furthermore, SNU is known for its cutting-edge research, especially in Engineering and Natural Sciences.
SNU has been a leading institution in developing democracy and peace on the Korean peninsula. This vision extends to international collaborations and fostering global talent. SNU has an impressive, modern campus that is available for tours.
2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is the leader in innovations, entrepreneurship, and science & technology in Korea. Established in 1971 by the Korean government, it is the first public research-oriented institution for science and engineering. Interesting and advanced areas like Entertainment Engineering and Eco-Energy are among the focus of its research units.
This top university in Korea comprises five colleges, seven schools, and 13 graduate schools, all with the vision of creating global value. KAIST is an ethnically diverse institution in Korea, with almost 600 international students admitted every year. Moreover, nearly 80% of courses are taught in English.
3. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)
Sungkyunkwan University is one of the best private universities in Korea that traces its roots from Sungkyunkwan, the Joseon dynasty’s primary academic institution. The university remains in its historic site but is presently a leading force in business and technology. The research units of SKKU are sponsored by Hyundai, Samsung, and many government agencies, creating research outputs relevant to industries and society.
SKKU students can realize creative ideas through 3D printers, laser cutters, etc., in the SKKU Learning Factory. Other amenities include sports facilities and a massive library. SKKU’s philosophy comes from the virtues of Confucianism and reflects on its educational goals and academic community.
4. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)
Pohang University of Science and Technology is a private research university established by the Korean steel company POSCO. POSTECH ranked rapidly and consistently in world university rankings as a young university, especially in science and technology. It trains specialist engineers with its 11 Sci-Tech departments and 73 research centers. POSTECH boasts state-of-the-art facilities such as the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory and the country’s only synchrotron radiation facility.
As one of the leading universities in Korea for international students, POSTECH admits many international students, especially at masters and doctorate levels. It also has close collaborations with global and local institutions with the same goal of innovation. For instance, POSTECH and KAIST host the annual Science War as a knowledge-exchange platform for students.
5. Korea University (KU)
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Korea University is one of the oldest universities in Korea. It offers high-quality education in almost all study areas with its 81 academic departments. Law education, medicine, and business programs are exceptionally renowned in the institution. In recent subject rankings, KU excelled in Social Sciences & Management, Natural Sciences, and Engineering & Technology. Furthermore, KU instills humanitarian principles in all of its academic work.
KU belongs to the influential SKY universities in Korea. Over 4000 international students are studying at Korea University and is continuously increasing. The recently established Graduate School of International Studies fosters greater global collaboration.
6. Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology is a young research university for science and technology. This top university in Korea was established in 2007 in response to the growing demand for professionals in Ulsan, Korea’s industrial capital. In just a short time, the university has built an international reputation in many disciplines. UNIST has 13 departments for science and engineering, a business school, and four specialized graduate schools. Its present research focuses on advanced materials and next-generation energy.
UNIST encourages interdisciplinary education wherein students and professors study two areas of concentration. UNIST is actively seeking international students. All their courses are held in English, the only university in Korea to do so.
7. Yonsei University
Yonsei University is the oldest university and one of the most prestigious institutions in Korea. As a SKY university member, it has incredibly competitive admission rates and is known to ace world university rankings. Yonsei offers comprehensive graduate and undergraduate programs in almost every discipline. Its 153 research centers conduct interdisciplinary works relevant to current global issues such as climate change and inequality. Yonsei fosters the principles of truth and freedom in its academic community.
Yonsei has notable international collaborations and programs that have served over 4000 international students. Its campuses are renowned internationally for their beauty and conduciveness, especially the Sinchon campus.
8. Kyung Hee University (KHU)
Kyung Hee University, one of the best universities in Korea for international students, is part of an academic system that provides education from kindergarten to graduate studies. KHU’s College of Medicine is eminent in traditional Korean medicine and other medical practices in Asia. The Dept. of Physical Education at KHU is the leading institution in Korea for physical education, sports medicine, coaching, and Taekwondo. Hospitality and Leisure Management is the highest-ranking program in the university.
Kyung Hee University has extensive global collaborations. Among others is the United Nations Academic Impact program about human rights and conflict resolution. KHU is in partnership with over 400 sister universities globally.
9. Sejong University (SJU)
Sejong University is a private university once known as the Kyung Sung Humanities Institue. It was renamed to honor Sejong the Great and his efforts in creating the Hangul, the Korean Alphabet. SJU is highly recognized in hospitality and tourism management. Animation, dancing, and rhythmic gymnastics are also the institution’s pride. It has nine colleges in varied disciplines like liberal arts, electronics, & information engineering, and life sciences.
The university’s research units focus on green energy, climate change science, and astrophysics. Faculty and researchers in SJU have international accomplishments, such as Dr. Jaewoo Lee, the first Korean to use NASA’s Hubble Telescope.
10. Hanyang University (HYU)
Hanyang University is a leading university in Korea, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It started as an engineering institute in 1939 with a history of leading Korea’s independence movement. Presently, HYU offers graduate and undergraduate programs in diverse study fields. Its engineering programs rank the highest in Korea in many university evaluations.
Hanyang University has several research accomplishments in the STEM field and collaborates with government institutes in various endeavors. HYU has more than 700 university partners globally. It admits 3000 international students and assists Korean students to study abroad too.
I hope that this article on the best universities in Korea for international students was helpful. You may also find more information about the universities and scholarship opportunities in Korea on our Korea Scholarships Page!