There are approximately 430 higher education institutions in the Republic of Korea, more commonly known as South Korea. These are a combination of public universities, private universities and technical institutes which offer a limited range of degrees based on their specialization, and military academies. Six universities are ranked in the top 20 universities in Asia in 2019. Moreover, Seoul National University is ranked 36th worldwide. In total, approximately 13% of the student body is composed of international students. For more information, please refer to the official government website: http://english.moe.go.kr/sub/info.do?m=020105&s=english.
The educational structure in South Korea follows the traditional path of a Bachelor’s, followed by a Master’s and then a Doctorate. Bachelor’s degrees take four year to complete. However, architectural, pharmaceutical, and medical degrees take between five to six years to complete. Moreover, South Korea has an ‘Academic Credit Bank System’ wherein older adults who have not been able to complete a degree, may combine their credit units earned at various institutions to receive a full undergraduate degree. Moreover, for international students, foreign high school diplomas, such as the International Baccalaureate or the Swiss Maturity, are accepted. Master’s programs take two years to complete and students are required to have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, as well as passing an interview. Doctoral degrees take at least three years to complete and require a Master’s.
There is no centralized body of administration for application to HEIs in South Korea, meaning that students are required to apply directly via the university website. All students who want to study in higher education institutions in South Korea are required to pass the University College Scholastic Ability test (CSAT), known as Suneung. Depending on which subject students want to study in the future, students choose a variety of nine subjects corresponding to that degree. Students are then allowed to apply to a maximum of three universities at a time. However, the CSAT is not the only requirement which universities base their requirements on. Most also consider high school grade point averages, admissions tests, essays and interviews.
Fees for domestic and international students are the same. Undergraduate courses in public universities on average cost 4’350$ per semester, whereas in private universities fees are between 5’800$-6’500$ per semester. Scholarships are available for local and international students.
Information for International Students
Most courses are taught in Korean; however, many courses are now taught in English. Therefore, non-native speakers of English and Korean must take a proficiency test in order to be accepted, such as the TOEFL or the TOPIK for Korean. International students are required to acquire a student visa in order to study in South Korea. The most common housing location for international students is student accommodation which is offered by the university and is the most economic place to live in. Moreover, students are covered by the National Health Insurance Corporation once they are registered as students.