South Korea is a great destination for those looking to study at top universities and in an extremely culturally rich place with a good quality of life. The country is very open to international students and the number of foreign students there is increasing every year. In this text you will find out which are the best universities in South Korea and will stay on top of everything you need to know to start organizing to study there.
About South Korea
According to COUNTRYAAH, South Korea is officially known as the Republic of Korea and is located in the southern part of the Korean peninsula in eastern Asia. Investment in quality education and research is at the forefront of the country’s development. Today, South Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia, known as one of the four “Asian Tigers”, along with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Why should you consider South Korea as an exchange destination?
Studying in South Korea is a wonderful experience. The country has been the dream of countless foreign students around the world, especially admirers of Korean culture, with its manga, series and world famous musical groups. The country is also home to some of the best universities in Asia, in addition to having one of the best qualities of life on the continent.
How much does it cost to study in South Korea?
An undergraduate course at a public university costs, on average, between R $ 10,000 and R $ 23,000 per semester (the enrollment rate in humanities courses is lower and in medical courses is higher). The average annual cost of the 10 best ranked Korean universities is around R $ 35,000. The average tuition fee at a private university can cost up to R $ 36,000.
Keep in mind that there are two semesters in each academic year when calculating the total cost and degree programs in South Korea generally last four years (or six years for courses such as medicine and dentistry).
These values are rather salty, but the country’s universities, especially the public ones, offer several scholarships for international students.
What are South Korea’s SKY universities?
SKY is an acronym used to refer to the three most prestigious universities in South Korea: Seoul National University (public), Korea University (private) and Yonsei University (private). This is a term widely used there, both in the media and in the universities themselves.
In South Korea, admission to one of the SKY universities is widely considered to be a determining factor for key job positions and social status. Many of the country’s most influential politicians, lawyers, doctors, engineers, journalists, scientists and professors graduated from one of these universities.
How many public universities are there in South Korea?
In total, there are 43 national universities and almost 180 private universities. In 2010, in the last major survey, more than 83,000 foreign students from 171 countries studied at one of these institutions.
What are South Korea’s national universities?
South Korea’s national universities were established by the South Korean government to provide higher education with the central aim of helping the country’s development. There are 15 major national universities that have been created to play a leading role in the development of each region. Among all national universities in Korea, the most prestigious is Seoul National University.
What are the best universities in South Korea for international students?
Check now the list of the best universities in South Korea for international students. All of them have a high standard of education and are recognized worldwide.
The classification factor used in this list is mainly due to the acceptance rate of each institution, since most of these schools have strict and competitive possibilities of offering admission, especially for international students. Let’s start with SKY universities:
Seoul National University
Considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in South Korea, Seoul National University (SNU) ranks first among South Korea’s top universities for international students and still offers its students the opportunity to study in the heart of bustling capital of the country.
Seoul is often ranked as one of the best cities in the world for university students and SNU is comfortably among the best universities in Asia. The institution has 16 colleges and 11 graduate schools offering hundreds of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral courses.
The main campus, Gwanak, is located in southern Seoul and consists of more than 200 buildings that serve thousands of students and staff. The location is served by its own metro station. The Yongon University campus, located north of the Han River, houses the main branch of Seoul National University Hospital and schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry. A little outside the city, the Pyeong Chang campus includes the Graduate School of International Agriculture, the Bio Verde Science and Technology Institute and the university’s agricultural complex.
Famous alumni include former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon; former President of the International Criminal Court, Song Sang-Hyun and Lee Jong-Wook, who previously led the World Health Organization. Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen and Fields Medal winner Hironaka Heisuke also passed through the institution.
Acceptance rate: 10%.
Founded in 1905, the University of Korea is one of the largest and oldest educational institutions in the country and one of the best universities in South Korea for international students. There are many clubs and student associations there, including a ping pong club, a guitar club, an environmental preservation club and a Korean women’s club.
The university is known for developing international education programs, so it has global campuses located around the world and many associations to facilitate student exchanges. In addition to sending more than 1,200 Korean students abroad each year, the university receives 4,500 international students on academic mobility and a further 2000 for full courses.
Acceptance rate: 25%
Yonsei University is a private institution located in Seoul. Founded in 1885, Yonsei is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country. The modern version of the university was created in 1957, when Yonhi College and Severance Union Medical College merged (Yonsei is the combination of the first letters of the two previous schools).
Classified as one of the best private universities in the country and also among the most prestigious universities, Yonsei continues to build its base to, in the future, become the leader among the best universities in Korea for international students.
Through creative thinking and analytical reasoning, the institution has managed to advance in various fields of science and continues to challenge and inspire its students to think creatively and “outside the box”.
Acceptance rate: 35%
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Another Korean university of international prominence, frequented by the greatest geniuses of mathematics and science in the country, is the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology of Korea (KAIST).
At this university, they focus mainly on forming an elite group of leading scientists and researchers, with a prominence mainly in the areas of Science and Technology, as the name indicates. Currently, one of the main study fronts of the institution is the area of robotic technology.
Created by the government in 1971, with the help of American consultants, KAIST was the first research and science university led by South Korea and quickly gained a great reputation both inside and outside the country.
Headquartered in the central city of Daejeon, the university was created “in recognition of the national need for elite human resources in science and technology” and remained true to its founding philosophy.
The university has an innovative academic system and is allowed to operate autonomously, outside the government curriculum and admission standards applied at other universities.
KAIST has South Korea’s first exam-free admission system (admissions are based on grades, letters of recommendation from teachers and personal statements); and college students can try courses before choosing their specialty, and can change that specialty at any time. More than 80% of the university’s undergraduate, master and doctorate courses are taught in English.
Acceptance rate: 35%
Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)
Sungkyunkwan University was founded more than 600 years ago and is the oldest university in East Asia. The university has two campuses: the human and social sciences in Seoul and the natural sciences in Suwon.
The institution has academic exchange programs and partnerships with 653 universities in 73 countries and is currently expanding its dual degree programs with many prestigious universities around the world. Just to be clear, today the university has 33 dual degree programs with international partners, including the MIT School of Engineering and Business , Indiana University Business School, Fudan University, Peking University and University from Birmingham. In addition, it also offers the first MBA program fully taught in English in South Korea.
Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)
Founded in 1986 in the port city of Pohang, in the south-east of the country, this research-focused university is an inexhaustible source of excellent graduates, promoting the production of world-class research and the creation of close links with industry and trade partners. It is considered one of the best research universities on the Asian continent.
POSTECH is a relatively new private institution and has risen in the ranking of the best universities in the country at an impressive pace, gaining recognition from the academic community around the world.
The university has taken an innovative, student-centered approach, admitting a small number of the best and brightest students and using a more personalized teaching method to adapt to people in order to feed the next generation of innovative world leaders.
Academic and research activities focus on science and engineering, and the university has some of the best facilities in the country and more than 70 research institutes. POSTECH has its own bilingual campus, with students and teachers from all over the world.
Hanyang University also emphasizes research, but mainly in engineering. Located in Seoul, Hanyang University was the first school of architecture and engineering in Korea, and is also affiliated with many famous universities, such as MIT and Cambridge University. A curiosity: “Hanyang” was an old name for Seoul. Founded in 1939, this university is well known in Korea and in academic circles around the world for its excellence in education. It is known as one of the best universities in South Korea for international students.
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)
The Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) is one of Korea’s best universities in science and technology. It is a very young university, founded in 2007, but which has already established a reputation for academic excellence. Located in one of the largest industrial cities in Korea, UNIST consistently appears in the rankings as one of the top ten universities in the country.
Is it mandatory to speak Korean to study in South Korea?
In order to become more competitive internationally, Korean universities have increased the number of courses and programs taught in English and even in other languages.
KAIST and the National University of Seoul top this list as the Korean universities that most offer courses, lectures and programs in English. Other highlights are Yonsei University and Sungkyunkwan University.
It is worth remembering that, in the case of Brazilians, it is necessary to prove proficiency in English through standardized tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS.
But be aware: not all courses are offered in English, even at universities where it is more common to use that language. In some cases you will have to study in Korean and prove your proficiency in that language.
Is South Korea safe for international students?
Although it may be a leap out of your comfort zone, Korea is an extremely safe destination for exchange students. Obviously, every country has its dangers that students should be aware of before moving, but overall, there is nothing to worry about in this regard.