South Korea is a modern country with cultural sites set amidst tall skyscrapers. A beautiful mix of the old and the new, the East Asian nation is widely regarded for its high quality of education. After all, a variety of its institutions are deemed the best in the world. With such a distinction, South Korea is perfect for foreign students in search of a world-class education. In this article, we will be looking at the top universities in Korea for international students.
How happy are international students studying in South Korea?
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 86% of international students are satisfied with the Korean educational system.
What are the most popular study programs in South Korea for international students?
The top 3 favorite programs amongst foreign students are Arts & Literature, Business, and Economics.
How many foreign students are enrolled in South Korean universities?
More than 160,000 foreigners are studying in South Korea.
What is the most prestigious university in South Korea?
Seoul National University is considered the best university in South Korea by several ranking bodies.
Best Universities in South Korea for International Students
1. Seoul National University
Seoul National University (SNU) is a national research university based in the country’s capital. It is considered the best university in the South Korea by both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Shanghai Rankings. It’s also the tenth-best in Asia and the 64th best in the entire world.
SNU has 15 colleges that offer 83 undergraduate programs. It also has 12 graduate schools that administer 99 post-graduate degrees.
As the most prestigious university in South Korea, admission to SNU can be quite competitive. Apart from the usual requirements, Fine Arts and Physical Education programs require performance tests as well.
2. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)
SKKU is a private university that traces its roots back to 1398. As the Joseon Dynasty’s highest educational institution, it offered courses in Confucian canon and Chinese classics. Apart from being the oldest university in East Asia, it is also regarded as one of the best institutions in the region.
SKKU has campuses in central Seoul (Humanities & Social Science) and Suwon (Natural Sciences).
Due to its high number of foreign students, SKKU offers special programs such as the International Summer Semester and Winter International Student Experience. It also offers a Global MBA, which is the nation’s first MBA program to be taught in English. There are many international students attending this university, hence the reason we’ve included Sungkyunkwan University as one of the best Korean universities for international students.
3. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
KAIST was established in 1971 as the country’s first research-oriented science and engineering institution. Based in Daejeon, its academic scheme was designed by Frederick Terman (Stanford University) and Chung Geum-mo (Polytechnic Institution of Brooklyn).
KAIST is home to 6 colleges specializing in the Natural Sciences, Life Science & Bioengineering, Engineering, Liberal Arts & Convergence Science, and Business.
KAIST bases its competitive admission through overall grades, math/science grades, recommendation letters, personal statements, study plans, and other pertinent data. Despite this, foreign applicants enjoy an almost-similar acceptance rate of 13.2% compared to the locals’ 14.9%.
4. Yonsei University
Yonsei University is the Y in South Korea’s prestigious SKY universities. While it traces its beginnings back to 1885, it was only formally founded in 1957 with the merger of Yonhi College and the Severance Union Medical College.
The top university in Korea for international students offers undergraduate programs in Liberal Arts, Commerce, Business, Engineering, Life Science, Theology, Social Science, Law, Music, Human Ecology, Education, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, and Pharmacy.
It also offers post-graduate degrees in Theology, International Studies, Communication, Social Welfare, Business Administration, Education, Public Administration, Engineering, Journalism, Law, and Economics, to name a few.
As with many of South Korea’s prestigious universities, the admission rate to Yonsei is a little under 5%.
5. Korea University
Korea University is one of the top-ranked private universities in Seoul, South Korea. Founded in 1905, it is the K in the SKY – the acronym given to 3 of the country’s most prestigious institutions. A true educational pioneer, it was the first university to offer law, journalism, and economics courses in the country.
Korea University has 17 colleges and schools specializing in Law, Business, Liberal Arts, Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Political Science & Economics, Science, Engineering, Medicine, Education, Nursing, Informatics, Health Science, Art & Design, International Studies, Media & Communication, Mechatronics, and Interdisciplinary Studies.
As a highly-selective school, the admission rate to Korea University is only a little above 5%.
6. Pohang University of Science and Technology
Next on our list of top Korean universities for international students is POSTECH, a private research university that specializes in science and technology courses. Even if it was only established recently (1986), it has been regarded as the best university under 50 by Times Higher Education (2012 to 2014).
As with most South Korean universities, admission to POSTECH is quite competitive. But through its recruitment efforts, the university has managed to widen its foreign graduate student pool through its full-tuition fellowships. It also offers a $1,500 one-time settlement grant to all international graduate students during the first semester.
7. Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology
UNIST is one of the four institutions dedicated to science and technology research. It was founded in 2007 to satisfy the growing need for higher education in Ulsan, which is South Korea’s industrial capital.
Despite only being a few years old, UNIST is considered as one of the best in the country. 10 years after its opening, it was already placed in the 201-250 bracket of the World University Rankings. To date, it’s recognized as the 20th best young university in the world.
The university has undergraduate schools specializing in multiple Engineering specialties, as well as Life Science, Natural Science, and Business Administration. It also has graduate schools geared towards Creative Design Engineering, Technology & Innovation Management, and Interdisciplinary Management.
8. Kyung Hee University
Kyung Hee University is a private educational institution founded in 1949. Heralded as one of Korea’s best universities for international students, it has sprawling campuses in Seoul and Suwon.
Its undergraduate colleges specialize in the fields of Humanities, Law, Politics, Management, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Music, Fine Arts, Dance, Engineering, International Studies, Foreign Language, and Physical Education, among many others.
It also has 16 graduate schools that offer masters and doctorate courses.
9. Sejong University
Sejong University is a private educational institution known for its tourism, dancing, and animation studies. Founded in 1947, it is named after Sejong the Noteworthy, the Joseon King who founded the Hangul alphabet.
Foreign students can enroll in any of the school’s 9 colleges. These are the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Social Science, Business Administration, Hospitality Management, Natural Science, Life Science, Electronics & Information Engineering, Engineering, and Arts & Physical Education.
The Seoul-based university also offers graduate courses in the fields of Business, Public Policy, Education, Tourism, Industry, and Interdisciplinary Arts.
10. Hanyang University
We end our list of best universities in Korea with Hanyang University, a private institution named after the former Joseon capital. Founded in 1939, it has campuses in Seoul and Ansan (ERICA).
Hanyang specializes in Engineering, among other related disciplines. Apart from this, its Seoul campus also offers programs in Medicine, Humanities, Policy, Economics, Business, Education, Music, Performing Arts, Music, Nursing, and International Studies.
Its ERICA Campus, on the other hand, handles Engineering, Pharmacy, Science, Language, Communication, Business, Design, Sports & Arts, and programs.
Hanyang also offers various international programs, including the ‘Global G2’ (Chinese-English) scheme and the ‘Global 3.0 Project Connects the World’.
I hope that this article on the top universities in Korea for international students was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Korea Scholarships Page!
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé