Studying in South Korea: everything you need to know

Are you drawn to Korean language and culture? What if you went to study in South Korea? A dynamic and modern country in Asia, South Korea attracts international students who come to learn Korean and benefit from high-quality education.

To best prepare yourself for this unique academic experience, we have compiled everything you need to know about studying in South Korea.

University in South Korea

The Korean university system is known to be strict, and one must work quite hard to succeed. If you wish to combine studies with exploring the country, it is better to arrive early to enjoy time before the start of classes, or stay a little longer once the academic year is over.

Higher education in South Korea is divided into three levels:

  • Haksa, which lasts 4 years (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree)
  • Seoksa, which lasts 2 years (equivalent to a master’s degree)
  • Paksa, which lasts 3 years (equivalent to a doctoral degree)

Note that in South Korea, the academic year starts in March and ends in December, with a break between June and September.

Where to study in South Korea? (University in Seoul, Busan…)

The first city that comes to mind for most international students is undoubtedly Seoul. The capital of South Korea is home to the best Korean universities. Some examples include Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University.

Consider other cities like Busan, the second largest city in South Korea. Located by the sea, it is a bit quieter than Seoul and prices are more affordable there.

How to study in South Korea? (Student visa, exchange program…)

Before applying for a visa, you must first enroll in a Korean university.

The application process depends on the chosen institution. Generally, you need to provide the application form, your diplomas, language certificates, academic CV, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

For more information, don’t hesitate to consult the information portal of the Korean government for international students.

Have you been admitted to a Korean university? Congratulations! Now, you will need to apply for a student visa in South Korea. You must provide the letter of admission to your Korean university, as well as other documents such as your passport, a passport-sized photo, or a bank statement with a minimum of $10,000.

There are two types of student visas: D-2 for attending university and D-4 for participating in a Korean language program.

What is the student budget for studying in South Korea? (Costs, scholarships…)

The cost of studying in South Korea is quite high, especially if you come from a country where tuition fees are low (such as France). However, tuition fees are still lower than in the United States. Expect to pay around 4,000 euros per trimester in tuition fees, although fees vary depending on the institution. Consider applying for a scholarship to finance your studies, such as the Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP), which is aimed at international students.

The cost of living in South Korea is higher in Seoul than in other cities. Expect to spend an average of 900€ per month.

What language proficiency is required to study in South Korea?

The required language proficiency level depends on the chosen program. When preparing your application, you will be asked to provide language certifications: TOEFL for English proficiency and TOPIK for Korean proficiency.

If you do not speak Korean, it is still possible to study in South Korea, provided that you take language courses locally before the start of your university program (usually one year of language courses).

Student health insurance in South Korea

As a student, you will need to take out health insurance with the Korean National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC). It costs approximately €33 per month and covers a portion of medical expenses.

We recommend taking out additional private health insurance for better coverage and medical repatriation.

Student housing in South Korea

There are several types of student housing options in South Korea.

The most affordable option is to live on campus. However, due to the fairly strict rules that apply in dormitories, this may not necessarily be the most suitable solution for you.

For more freedom, you can opt for a goshiwon (a mini studio) or a sharehouse (shared accommodation).

Finally, it is possible to rent a private apartment. However, this option is more expensive and the lease will be for a minimum of 2 years, with a high deposit.

Student life in South Korea

Studying in South Korea will allow you to immerse yourself in Korean culture. Seoul is a very dynamic and modern city. You will find many bars, clubs, and karaoke bars and will be able to establish connections with many international students. If you choose another city, you will benefit from a quieter environment. Moreover, South Korea is a safe country.

So, are you ready to embark on the adventure in South Korea?

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