Study in South Korea: All you need to know

Studying and living in South Korea can be a lifetime experience for international students. They can enjoy the country’s rich and dynamic culture. With exploring the country’s lush coastlands and countryside, students can enjoy a variety of interesting sights and gorgeous views too.

After getting separated from North Korea in 1948 into a separately governed country, South Korea has over the period of time emerged as an Asian powerhouse in the fields of technology, education and tourism.

Embracing both tradition and modernity, this ‘Asian Tiger’ has many things in offer for international students. Several universities in South Korea, including Yonsei University, are opening new international campuses to meet growing demand of international students, while five universities have opened branch campuses at the Incheon Global Campus (IGC), including the State University of New York (SUNY).

Are you getting excited to pursue your higher studies in South Korea? But, you need to keep in mind some crucial points before going ahead with your decision.

Why study in South Korea

As an international student, you have many reasons to study in South Korea. The degrees offered by the universities in South Korea are well-respected throughout the world, especially in technical areas such as Engineering and Information Technology. Many master’s programs are also taught in English. Many Korean schools are specialized in offering notable research programs, distinguished faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. Another interesting fact about South Krea is that six Korean universities were rated in the top 400 world universities, according to the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

South Korea treats national and international students in the same manner in terms of tution fees. The master’s degrees that are offered in this country are more affordable than those in English-speaking countries. The Korean government, Korean universities, and several private foundations offer many scholarship programs specifically designated for international students.

Top universities in South Korea

Home to many reputed universities — 179 traditional universities, 40 graduate schools, 20 cyber universities, 11 industrial universities and 10 universities of education – South Korea welcomes both national and international students. Recent government reforms have made it much easier for international students to afford studying and working in South Korea. Some of the top universitis in South Korea include Seoul National University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, Pohang University of Science and Technolog, Sungkyunkwan University, Hanyang University, Ewha Womans University, and Kyung Hee University.

Scholarship opportunities

To ease the financial burden of international students, the Korean government and universities offer a number of scholarships to them. Korean Government Scholarship is among many such scholarships. Some scholarships need Korean language proficiency to be eligible, where other scholarships provide Korean language training (about one year) as part of the scholarship. Scholarships are also available for English-taught programs.

Tuition fee in South Korea

Annual tuition fees vary by program from university to univerisity, but generally averages about $4,000 to $8,000. The tuition fees at national and public schools is just half of the tution fees at the private schools. The academic year begins with spring semester in late February to early March. Each semester is 16 weeks long. Spring semester runs through June. Fall semester begins in early August and runs through the end of January.

Cost of living in South Korea

The cost of living in South Korea depends on where one lives. Purchase prices of groceries, clothing, private transportation, and apartments, however, are typically higher in South Korea than in the US and other countries. Public transportation, utilities, and restaurants are typically less expensive in South Korea. Overall, the cost of living in the country is slightly higher than the US and other countires. The national currency of South Korea is the “won”. In October of 2013, 1061 won was equivalent to 1 US dollar.

Visa application procedure

To study in any university in South Korea, international students need a D-2 visa, which can be issued to students in regular or research programs at colleges, universities, graduate schools, or research institutes. Once a student has been admitted to a qualified Korean school, they can apply for a visa from the Korean Embassy or Consulate in their home country. To apply for a student visa, they need to submit their passport, a letter from the student’s school confirming admission, a certificate from the student’s most recent school of graduation or enrollment, and verification that the student has the equivalent of $10,000 (US) or more in an account.

Health Insurance

Every international student, willing to study in a Korean university, needs to have health insurance purchased in person from the National Health Insurance Corporation. The insurance costs about $40 (US) per month and is effective from the date on the student’s alien registration certificate.