StudyLink logo
Students on a university campus

Study in South Korea

Since their split from North Korea in 1948, South Korea has created its own path. Considerably different to its northern neighbour, South Korea is now a meeting point of modernity and tradition. The government has made it a priority to invest heavily in the higher education system, welcoming international students with open arms.

Why study in South Korea

The South Korean government has set a target of attracting 200,000 international students by 2020, meaning that they have had to make universities more accessible. This has also lead to a steady climbing of international rankings. You will find 17 of South Korea’s universities in the 2023 QS World University Rankings top 500. The highest ranked of these is Seoul National University, which is placed in 29th. The next highest ranked is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which is placed in =42nd.

With a fascinating mixture of ancient temples and modern architecture, South Korea has something to offer everyone. The country specialises in the innovation of science and technology, but also has impressive pedigree in the arts. There are many public and private universities, all offering a wide variety of degrees.

About South Korea

Officially the Republic of Korea, South Korea is a country located in South East Asia and is home to over 51.4 million people. There is archaeological evidence that the Korean Peninsula was inhabited by early humans from the Lower Paleolithic period. Since that time, the country has experienced a long and turbulent history, including wars and occupations. In 1948, an election was held in the US occupied area of Korea, and this led to the creation of the Republic of Korea. The border between South and North Korea remains the most heavily fortified in the world.

Today, South Korea is a developed country, with a high income economy. It is a global leader in the technological and industrial sectors, and has an export driven economy. The country is a member of the United Nations, G20 and OECD. Society in South Korea sees higher education as a high priority, as it holds cultural importance and helps cement a person’s socioeconomic position. The South Korean educational system is extremely competitive, and students are encouraged to work hard. If you choose to go to university in South Korea, you will be getting a high quality educational experience.

Costs of studying and living in South Korea

South Korea uses the South Korean Won (KRW) as its currency.

If you choose to study at a South Korean university as an international student, you will pay the same tuition fees as domestic students. However, tuition fees vary from institution to institution. At a public institution, you should expect to pay between $2,000/€1,700 and $4,500/€3,900 per semester. Degrees such as medicine will be on the more expensive side. At a private institution, you should expect to pay between $3,000/€2,600 and $6,000/€5,200 per semester. At one of the top ranked universities, annual fees will be around $6,800/€5,900. There are plenty of scholarships available for international students, these tend to be awarded by individual institutions. These will cover between 30% and 100% of your tuition fees. There are also some scholarships available from the government, which can also cover living costs.

For your living costs, you should budget for minimum of $1,200/€1,000 per month. This covers your accommodation, groceries and travel. If you choose to live in one of the bigger cities, your living costs will be higher. This is also the case if you choose to stay in privately rented accommodation as opposed to university dormitories. If you are studying for a masters degree, you are able to work up to 20 hours per week without a work permit so long as you have a valid visa.

Another cost that international students need to consider is health insurance. If your course will keep you in South Korea for longer than one year, Korea’s National Health Insurance Corporation provides health insurance on the same basis as Korean nationals. To get this, you have to submit a copy of your alien registration card and verification of purpose of stay at an office of the Corporation.

Student visas

To study in Korea, you will need to obtain a D-2 visa. This can be applied for at the South Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. To be accepted for a visa, you will need to provide certain documents. These are your passport, a completed application form, recent educational transcripts, proof of your acceptance into a South Korean institution, proof of sufficient funds and evidence of language proficiency (English or Korean). You will also need to pay a visa application fee, which will depend on what sort of visa you require.


The official languages of South Korea are Korean and Korean Sign Language.

There are many courses taught in English at South Korean universities, at bachelors and masters level. You can also opt to study in Korean if you wish. No matter which language you choose to study in, if it is a non-native language you will need to provide evidence that you have language proficiency. If you do not meet the required standards, you may be able to take a course to help your language skills improve.

Even if you study in English, it is recommended that you make an effort to learn as much Korean as possible. Communicating with the locals and other students is the perfect way to practice. This will not only improve your everyday life, it is also a skill that will look great on your CV/resume!

Student cities in South Korea


Officially the Seoul Special City, Seoul is the capital city of South Korea. As well as this, it is the largest metropolis in the country, and is home to just under 10 million people. Historically, the city was surrounded by a circular stone wall to secure it from wild animals, thieves and attacks. This wall no longer stands, but the gates remain near the downtown district. Until the late 19th century, the gates stayed closed, and the city did not welcome foreigners or attempt to modernise. However, the city is now very modern and a great place for international students.

The city of Seoul hosts the majority of the country’s most prestigious institutions. This includes Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University, among many others. Yonsei University was founded in 1885, and is one of the oldest universities in South Korea.

More information about studying in South Korea

Capital City Seoul
Currency KRW, Korean Republic Won
Language(s) Korean (Pyojuneo), Korean Sign Language
Universities on StudyLink 1 universities
Major Student Cities Pohang, Daejeon

Search for courses in South Korea

Degree courses you may be interested in studying in South Korea

Masters courses you may be interested in studying in South Korea

Highlighted courses in South Korea

Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) BBA

SolBridge International School of Business Korea (the Republic of)

Find out more
View all courses in South Korea

Universities in South Korea

Browse higher education providers in South Korea

Sign up to

Sign up to, the home of quality study abroad advice.

Sign up now
Students with books and test tubes

The latest articles on

The latest articles from study abroad providers and to hep you on your study abroad journey.

See more articles