To study in Korea, it is enough to have a good GPA and know the language — Korean or English. You will also need references and a motivation letter. Read more about the requirements and cost of training.

We discuss higher education and universities in Korea in separate articles.

Tuition fees in South Korea

Type of programAgeDurationMin. costAvg. cost
Language courses16+20-40 weeks1,246 USD/session158 USD/week
College18+2-3 years2,932 USD/year6,597 USD/year
Bachelor’s18+4-6 years3,298 USD/year10,628 USD/year
Master’s21+2 years4,105 USD/year13,193 USD/year
Doctorate21+3-4 years3,811 USD/year14,293 USD/year
Additional expenses

ExpensesAverage cost
University applications77 USD
Language exams29 USD or 220 USD
Flights344 USD
Accommodation (student residence)220 USD/month
Accommodation (rental)1,832 USD/month
Accommodation (boarding house)366 USD/month
Study materials513 USD
Internet23 USD/month
Transportation44 USD/month
Food258 USD/month
Medical insurance15 USD/month

More about universities

Options for admission to South Korean universities

Options for admission to South Korean universities

How to choose a university

If you have been eyeing Korean education for a long time, then you most likely know about SKY, the top three universities in South Korea. However, we do not recommend applying only to these schools — they are highly competitive, and there are other good universities in the country. To begin the process, you must decide on your purpose for studying and desired field. Of the additional criteria, we recommend paying attention to:

  • Ratings. There are more than 200 universities in South Korea, ten of which are in the top 500 best universities in the world according to THE. For example, Seoul National University is in 54th place, and KAIST is in 99th place. Once again, you should not rely only on prestige. If your goal is to get a high-quality education that is in demand, focus on ratings in specific fields. More so, evaluate the curriculum, workload, and the availability of internships in large companies.
  • Prices. Education in South Korea costs money for both citizens of the country and foreigners. The price is the same for everyone. However, the minimum tuition fee can be different and depends on the university. For example, at Gyeongbuk University, prices start at 4,000 USD/year, and at Korea University — from 8,000 USD/year.
  • Language. Knowledge of Korean is optional. About 30% of programs in South Korea are in English. When submitting documents, foreign students must confirm their proficiency in the chosen language of study. For English, you need to pass the TOEFL or IELTS exam, for Korean — TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean).
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UniPage specialists have been working with Korean universities for many years. Our students study at Seoul University, Korea University, Ewha Women's University, and others. We help select universities and programs based on the abilities and interests of our clients. We know everything about foreign education and will not miss a single detail when preparing documents and writing a motivation letter.
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Requirements for admission to Korea

You can apply to Korean universities after 11th grade. Your documents must be recognized with an apostille and translated into English or Korean. Universities also require proof of foreign origin. For this, copies of the parents' passports are requested. Other requirements include:

  • Motivation letter. A free form essay elaborating on your interests, reasons for enrollment, and achievements. You can learn how to write the perfect motivation letter in this article.
  • Recommendations. The referee himself should write and send the recommendation to the university. To do this, there is a special form on the websites of universities that a teacher, professor, or employer must fill out. If the form is not available, it must be sent in PDF format by email.
  • Average score. The minimum eligible GPA is 2.8 out of 4.5[1], though a 3.5-4.0 GPA is encouraged. High achievers may be eligible for scholarships with partial or full tuition coverage.
  • Language. For English-language programs, you will need to score at least an 80 on the TOEFL exam or a 6.0 on IELTS (rarely, 5.5). To study in Korean, you need to attain a level 3 or higher on the TOPIK. In order to graduate from the university, a student will eventually need to demonstrate at least a level 4.
  • Achievements. Here, all of the various school awards you have received — including for competitions and volunteering — will come in handy. They will demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are a socially active student.
The TOPIK can be taken in 82 countries. The exam is held 6 times a year (in January, March, April, July, October, and November). Specific dates are published on the exam website at the beginning of the year. The test costs 29 USD. Korean language levels are divided into elementary (1-2) and advanced (3-6).

Recognition of education in South Korea

In order for your education to be recognized in a Korean university, it is enough to affix an apostille on the relevant document (school certificate or diploma). This must be done in your country. The procedure takes anywhere from 5 to 30 days.

Recognition by means of an apostille is only available to parties included in the Hague Convention. You can check whether your country is covered on this site.

To pass the apostille procedure, you will need:

  • Passport
  • Diploma/certificate
  • Check for payment of state duty
  • Proxy form if you are receiving the service through a representative

How to apply for a bachelor's degree

You need to apply directly to the university. In the application, specify your personal data, results from language certificates, and information about previous education (grades, number of hours/credits, school name, and address). There are ready-made application forms on the websites of universities. Before submitting, you need to pay a registration fee — 60-100 USD.

Submission deadlines are August-October and February-March. Exact dates should be checked on the websites of universities. Education is divided into two semesters with a break for holidays: summer (July-August) and winter (December-February).

All documents will require translations into the language of the program (English or Korean). In the absence of valid passports of the student and/or his parents, it is necessary to provide copies of other documents indicating citizenship.

After submitting your application, you will have to take an entrance test. The exam schedule is published on the websites of universities in advance. Most often, interviews or tests are conducted to check your language proficiency.

List of required documents

  • Diploma and transcript with an attached translation
  • Apostille
  • TOEFL iBT 80, IELTS 5.5 — for studying in English, TOPIK 3 — in Korean
  • Motivation letter
  • Passport of the student and his parents
  • Document confirming the familial relationship
  • Portfolio (for creative specialties)
  • Individual achievements
  • Recommendation letters (1-2)
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How to enroll in a master's program

First, fill out an application on the university website and pay the registration fee (60-100 USD), then attach the rest of the documents translated into Korean or English.

At the master's level, a motivation letter (personal statement) for Korean universities is often combined with a study plan. As a rule of thumb, it usually contains a specific list of questions about your education, learning goals, interests, and accomplishments. At prestigious universities, it also includes an essay on a given topic. The study plan should describe the courses you plan to study at the university. Sometimes an introductory part of a planned dissertation is required.

Deadlines for the submission of documents are in August-September/March-April. Upon admission, the average GPA, language proficiency, and motivation letter are evaluated. After checking and evaluating the documents, you will be invited for an interview.

List of required documents

  • Passport of the student and his parents, or other documents confirming foreign citizenship
  • Bachelor's degree with a transcript of grades
  • Apostille
  • TOEFL iBT 80, IELTS 6.0 — for studying in English, TOPIK 3 — in Korean
  • Motivation letter with a short summary of the study plan
  • Recommendation letters from professors, teachers, and/or employers (1-2 pieces)
  • Portfolio (for creative specialties)
  • Additional materials — individual achievements, publications, dissertation introduction (optional)
Korea University

How to apply for a doctorate program

In South Korea, there are two types of doctorate programs:

  • Independent programs. Three years of study, two of which are devoted to grasping the curriculum (36 credits). You can apply for such a program with a master's degree in a related field.
  • Integrated PhD. A bachelor's degree is enough here. The duration of this program is four years of study, and at least 60 credits are required.

Upon admission, the following is taken into account:

  • Average score of the diploma (at least a 3.0 GPA)
  • Publications
  • Research proposal
  • Resume, as well as knowledge of foreign languages ​​(depending on the program, it can be Japanese, English, Korean, French, and others)

First, fill out an application on the website of the university. Here, you will need to write a motivation letter and draw up a study plan. Attach language certificates along with the rest of the documents.

At some universities, you need to choose a research topic and form an agreement with a supervisor in advance, even before the interview with the admissions committee.

List of required documents

  • Passport of the student and his parents, or other documents confirming foreign citizenship
  • Master's degree and grade transcript with a translation
  • Apostille
  • TOEFL iBT 80, IELTS 6.0 — for studying in English, TOPIK 3 — in Korean
  • Motivation letter with a summary of the study plan
  • Recommendation letters from professors, teachers, and/or employers (1-2 pieces)
  • Resume
  • Publications
  • Research proposal

Scholarships and grants

The largest scholarship is the Global Korea Scholarship (GKS), which is issued by the South Korean government. It fully covers the student's expenses for flights, accommodation, tuition, medical insurance, study materials, and other needs. The program also includes a year of language courses before the start of the main course.

The main selection criteria are: age (up to 25 and 40, respectively) and grade point average. Applications for the GKS are accepted by Korean embassies in the participating countries of the program and universities accredited by the National Institute for International Education.

There is also a scholarship program for self-financed undergraduate students. Students who have studied at a Korean college/university for at least two semesters and demonstrate a level 4 language proficiency according to the TOPIK results can apply[2]. Every year, the Korean government selects 200 students who receive scholarships for 12 months.

Many universities provide a discount of 30-100% of the tuition fee to foreign applicants with a high academic performance[3].

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Student visas to South Korea

Student visas to Korea can be of two types:

  • Overseas Study (D-2). A long-term visa for undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral studies, as well as participation in research projects at colleges, universities, and professional schools.
  • General training (D-4). A short-stay visa for university-based language courses or other studies in organizations that do not fall under the first category.

To obtain a D-2 visa, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Passport valid for the entire course of study
  • Completed visa application form
  • Registration fee payment of 50 USD for a single entry or 80 USD for multiple entries into the country
  • Confirmation of admission to the university
  • Copy of the previous diploma (translated into the language of instruction and notarized)
  • Proof of financial solvency

The latter may be in the form of a bank statement (no less than 8,713 USD) or proof of a grant/scholarship/third party financial support. The above list of documents is not always final, in some cases additional documents are required.

The D-2 visa is initially issued for up to two years, and is then extended. Engineering students can apply for the D-2-7 category, which allows international students to stay in South Korea after graduation to look for work.

Within 90 days after arrival in the country, the student must visit the regional migration office to receive an Alien Registration Card, the cost of which is 7 USD. Additionally, you will need to purchase insurance (15 USD/month), which provides access to all medical institutions in South Korea.

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