South Korea is officially known as the Republic of Korea. It is located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It shares a land border with North Korea and oversea borders with Japan and China. South Korea’s terrain is comprised mostly of mountains with some coastal plains, rolling hills, river basins, and valleys. It has a humid continental and subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. South Korea has 31 universities in the overall Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.  The highest-ranking university in South Korea is Seoul National University.


The Academic Year in Korea begins in March, although many universities enroll students twice a year- in March and September. Application deadlines are in September-November and May-June. Education is divided into two semesters with a break in between them; summer break (July-August) and winter break (December-February).

Knowledge of Korean might be an advantage for an applicant or affect scholarship; however, it is not a prerequisite for admission. About 30% of programs in South Korea are taught in English. When submitting documents, international students must confirm the level of language proficiency in which the training will be conducted by providing the results of the corresponding exam: English – TOEFL or IELTS, Korean – TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) conducted by the Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) and KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test) by the Korean Language Society. TOPIK offers two kinds of tests: S-TOPIK (Standard Korean) and B-TOPIK (Business Korean). Each is evaluated in four main sections vocabulary, grammar, writing, listening and reading.

TOPIK exam can be taken in more than 82 countries. The exam is held 6 times a year (January, March, April, July, October and November). Specific dates are published on the exam site at the beginning of the year. The exam costs 40000 KRW to take. Korean language levels are divided into elementary (1-2) and advanced (3-6). Upon admission, level 3 or higher is required. In order to graduate from a university, a student will need to demonstrate at least level 4. For programs taught in English, the requirement for the level of proficiency at all stages of instruction is at least TOEFL 80 / IELTS 6.0, and less often IELTS 5.5 (for undergraduate studies).

Many universities offer one year Korean Language Training Program for the students, who don’t have required language proficiency level, after the successful completion of Korean Language Training Program they will join Higher Education at the same university. This pathway program is gaining popularity among the students who want to pursue higher education in South Korea but don’t have required language proficiency level. It means IELTS, TOEFL or TOPIK is not mandatory to study in South Korea, but student will not get scholarship for Korean Language Training Program, once they join higher education they will be automatically eligible for merit based scholarship.

Why Study in South Korea

Living and studying in South Korea provide students an opportunity to explore a beautiful and vibrant country. Study in South Korea is a once in a lifetime opportunity, whether exploring South Korea’s large and bustling capital city, Seoul, or exploring the country’s lush coast lands and countryside, students are sure to enjoy a variety of interesting sights and gorgeous views. Students are also likely to enjoy South Korea’s rich and dynamic culture.

South Korea’s government aims to increase foreign enrollment to 200,000 by 2032, and has been stepping up its efforts to attract more international students to its shores, including offering more scholarships to international students.

Why do many international students choose South Korea as a higher study destination?

1. Cheap Cost Of Living

Tuition fees and living in South Korea, on average, is very cheaper in comparison to other study destination like Australia, the USA, and the UK. It means students at South Korea get world recognized quality education at cheapest tuition fees and living cost.

Accommodation, transportation and eating outing are all extremely cheap. Even Seoul, which many expect to be expensive like other capital cities, can be enjoyed on a budget by students who are worried about the financial implications of studying abroad. For instance, a student living in the U.S. could expect to spend around $20,000-$25,000 per year on tuition fees, whereas expense for a foreign student studying in Korea is only $6,500 a year.

2. Excellent Education Institutions

South Korea is renowned for its universities. The three largest world-recognized universities are Seoul National UniversityKorea University and Yonsei University, offering students the chance to study at a leading university while in a location brimming with opportunities. Universities all have high postgraduate employment rates and excellent reputations, meaning that any student choosing to study in South Korea can expect to reap the rewards of a high-quality and globally respected education.

3. Cutting-edge Research

For international students who fancy themselves as the designers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the world-leading research and development that South Korea can offer is key. Most of the South Korean Universities invest huge fund for research and development embodies the spirit embodies the spirit of innovation through the promotion of global exchange, and support of path-breaking research in all fields of knowledge.

As an international student studying at South Korean universities, individuals are exposed to a wide variety of new and break-through technologies, giving them a considerable edge over other students when entering a modern work force.

4. Information and Communication Technology

Korea’s information and communication technology is considered as one of the best in the world. Korea is especially notable for its expertise in IT and Robotics. As an international student studying in Korea, you will be exposed to this technology, giving you a considerable edge over other students when you enter the work force. Additionally, this makes Korea a great place for international students with an interest in technology to study.

5. Work while studying

During studies at the universities of South Korea, a foreign student with a D-2 visa can get a part-time job, no more than 20 hours a week for undergraduate level and no more than 30 hours a week for postgraduate level during a semester and full-time during the break. To do this, you must study at the university for at least 6 months (one semester) and obtain the appropriate permission. The student will also be required to provide the employer with a valid student visa and a letter of recommendation from the school.

6. Employment Opportunities

Studying in South Korea will open up a wide range of employment opportunities for you. Graduates from Korean universities are highly sought after by employers all over the world. In addition, the South Korean economy is extremely stable, assuring you a financially secure future following graduation.

7. Generous Scholarships

Like most other countries, South Korea offers over 200 scholarships for international students. But the most notable is the Korean Government Scholarship Program which is known as KGSP, set up by the Korean government for foreign students who have applied for an undergraduate program or Master’s or for Post Graduate Degrees. This scholarship provides a tuition fee exemption with a round-trip economy class ticket and much more.



The South Korean government provides significant support to students and graduates of Korean universities, without imposing insurmountable visa restrictions on them. All this creates more than favorable conditions for employment in the country.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Korea is, of course, high technology, which is reflected in the largest industries: automobile manufacturing, chemical industry, electronics, shipbuilding, metallurgy, mobile telecommunications.

In general, with a Korean diploma, getting a job in Korea is much easier than without it, but the competition for jobs here is extremely high. Most likely it will not do without learning the Korean language. At the same time, the degree obtained in South Korea is not inferior to the American or the European one, and therefore opens up broad prospects for employment not only in Korea but also in many countries of the world.

After graduating from a university and obtaining a degree, a student has a lot of opportunities to stay in South Korea, while changing his visa status. The most common are the following options:

  • E-1-E-7. Type E statuses are available to graduates of Korean universities who have already found work that matches one of the following categories: Professor (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Researcher (E-3), Technician (E-4), Professional (E-5), Artist / Athlete (E-6), Foreign National of Special Ability (E-7). The maximum stay duration varies from 3 to 5 years.
  • Job Seeking (D-10) Visa: Job seeker status is suitable for those who are still looking for work or planning to create a startup. Validity of the visa is 6 months, but it can be extended for up to 2 years.
  • Residence Permit (F-2-7). Resident status (permanent residence) is issued to graduates with a master’s degree and above who are employed in a Korean company. To obtain a residence permit, you need to score at least 80 points out of 120 based on criteria such as age (25), level of education (35), level of Korean language proficiency (20), income (10), payment of taxes (5), volunteer activity (5), etc.


Education System in South Korea

If you are thinking of moving to South Korea for higher education, you will be happy to learn that the country has a reputation for having some of the best universities in Asia.

Higher education in South Korea is provided primarily by universities (Private, Public and National), colleges and various other research institutions. Private universities are run by incorporated educational institutions, and Public and National universities are run by local governments or the national Korean government.

University Education:

  • Undergraduate Programs: All undergraduate (Bachelor’s) level programs last for four years except for medicine, law and dentistry, which requires six years. Students typically major in one or two fields of study in addition to a minor. A bachelor’s degree requires up to 130 to 140 credit hours to complete. After all course requirements are met, the student receives a bachelor’s degree upon graduation.
  • Graduate Program: Master’s degree programs have 24 credit hours of coursework in addition to a thesis that is generally has to be completed within two years. In a master’s degree program, the student must achieve a GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher, pass a comprehensive examination. If any student has a Master’s degree, then they can apply for Doctoral degree. Doctoral programs are sometimes administered in conjunctions with master’s programs.

Vocational Education: Vocational education is another post secondary study option in South Korea. It is an option for those who choose vocational training rather than traditional route of university graduation. Vocational education is offered by industrial universities, junior colleges, open universities and miscellaneous institutions.

Industrial Universities: Industrial universities in South Korea are also known as Polytechnics. These institutions were established in 1982 as an alternative route to higher education for people already in the workforce. Industrial universities offer both diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

Junior Colleges: Junior Colleges, also known as Junior Vocational Colleges offer professional certifications in trades or technical careers and programs related to the liberal arts, early childhood education, home economics, business administration, technology, engineering, agriculture, fisheries, radiation, clinical pathology, navigation, and nursing. Most of the programs take two to three years to finish. Admission criteria to a junior college are the same as a four-year university though it is less competitive. When successfully completed, junior college graduates are awarded a diploma or an associate degree. Junior college graduates may choose to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university to further their studies.

Miscellaneous institutions: Highly specialized programs are offered by miscellaneous institutions which grant two year diplomas or four year bachelor’s degrees. 



The most famous government grant is the Global Korea Scholarship (GKS). It fully covers the expenses of students for travel, accommodation, training, medical insurance, training materials, and other needs. The program also includes one-year language courses before starting the main program. Each year, scholarships are given to 170 students of undergraduate level (bachelor’s, associate’s) and 700 students of graduate level (master’s, doctoral).
The main selection criteria are age (up to 25 and 40, respectively) and GPA at the previous stage of education (more than 75% for admission to associate’s and more than 80% for other programs). Applications for GKS are accepted by Korean embassies in participating countries and universities accredited by the National Institute for International Education.
There is also a scholarship program for self-financed undergraduate students. Full-time students who have studied at a Korean college or university for at least two semesters and demonstrate good knowledge of Korean at the minimum of level 4, according to the results of TOPIK, can apply. Annually the Korean government selects 200 students who receive the scholarship for 12 months. Many universities provide foreign applicants who have a high academic performance with a discount of 30-100% of the total tuition cost.


Area of Study

  • Art & Humanities
  • Business
  • Computing & Information Technology
  • Engineering
  • Health & Medicine
  • Tourism


Fee & Living Expenses

How much does it cost to study in South Korea for international students? That depends on the school and diploma level you hope to receive. Generally, annual tuition for an undergraduate degree will range between US$ 1,620.00 to US$ 5,500.00. For postgraduate, tuition will be between US$ 2,025.00 to US$ 6,500.00.

The course cost of Korean Language Training Program is about $4,500 per year.  The average cost of living in South Korea for a student is around US$ 5,000.00 to US$ 7,000.00 per year that includes accommodation, food, transport, library bills, Internet, Medical Insurance and other expenses.


Types of Student Visas

Student visas to Korea can be of two types:

  • Student (D-2) Visa: Long-term visa for bachelor’s, masters or doctoral studies, as well as participation in research projects at colleges, universities and professional schools.
  • General training (D-4). Short-term visa for taking language courses on the basis of a university or other training in organizations that do not fall under the first category.

At Valley International Education Consultancy we deal with D-2 visas which are further classified below:

D-2-1 Associate Degree    
D-2-2 Bachelor’s Degree    
D-2-3 Master’s Degree    
D-2-4 Doctoral Degree    
D-2-5 Research Study    
D-2-6 Exchange Student    
D-2-7 Student Invited by the Korean Government

Rules & Regulations

  • Foreign nationals with a visa that lasts for longer than 90 days shall apply for an Alien Registration Card (ARC)at the Immigration Office in Korea. Apply within your first 90 days in the country to avoid fines, the cost of which is 10,000.00 KRW (US$ 8.10).
  • If you are a Student (D-2) visa (D-4-1) visa holder and confirmed by the person-in-charge of the international students of your school, you may apply for a part-time job permit to the immigration (branch) office and engage in the job once granted the permit.
  • International student must submit the ‘Arrival Report” & ‘Proof of ARC’ to the Admission Office of Graduate School in person.
  • All international students are obligated to report changes in their personal information to the immigration office in Korea. Neglecting such duties may lead to unexpected disadvantages in regard to one’s stay and status in Korea.
  • All international students need to purchase an insurance (21000 KRW/month i.e. US$ 17.01/month) that provides access to all medical facilities in South Korea.
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