South Korea has been affectionately dubbed “the Land of the Morning Calm” for its mountainous terrain and quaint scenery that can’t help but draw people in. It is a country proud of its heritage and is unafraid to show it, with the government sponsoring and investing in multiple programs that help boost the country’s cultural presence globally.
Likewise, the cultural phenomenon, the Hallyu wave, was among the results of these efforts and has enabled South Korea to emerge as a major influence in various aspects of society and contemporary culture worldwide.
Aside from being a hub of pop culture and tourism, South Korea all but lacks in its scientific pursuits. In fact, South Korea is one of the most advanced countries in terms of digitalization and is one of the major global leaders in the electronics industry.
A technological powerhouse capable of maintaining the perfect balance between nature and urbanization, it is no wonder South Korea finds itself amongst Asia’s most visited countries.
In this article, we will be narrowing down some of the best scholarships in Korea you can get as an international student.
Living Costs in South Korea for International students
Living costs in South Korea are generally reasonable but not entirely inexpensive either. Dormitory fees can go between ₩490,000 and ₩1,810,000 per semester, depending on room type and the presence of a meal plan. Utilities also cost around ₩82,000 and are usually covered by dormitory fees.
Cafeteria food costs around ₩3,700 per meal, with the Ministry of Education recommending a food budget of at least ₩350,000 to ₩470,000 per month. Public transportation is also relatively expensive, costing around ₩1,100+ to ₩3,000 per trip.
Medical insurance and internet each cost at least ~₩23,500 monthly.
Can international students work in South Korea?
International students can work in South Korea after applying for a part-time job permit from the immigration office. Work restrictions vary by program and Korean language proficiency, ranging from 10 to 35 hours.
All jobs must also only involve low-skilled labor (defined as activities commonly done by students); any international student caught working in the construction industry during their stay are subject to deportation upon the first offense.
Top Universities in South Korea:
Education is an integral part of Korean society. This is reflected in the quality of education South Korea offers, which has been critically acclaimed multiple times for its rigor and role in turning the South Korean economy into what it is today.
Among South Korea’s top academic institutions are the SKY universities, consisting of the Seoul National University (SNU), Korea University, and Yonsei University, which are considered the most prestigious schools in the country. Other top universities include the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Sungkyunkwan University–both internationally recognized for their research contributions.
Best Scholarships in South Korea
1. Global Korea Scholarship (GKS / KGSP)
Perhaps the best amongst all the Korean international scholarship offers is the government-sponsored Global Korea Scholarship. As a matter of fact, the GKS is among the first programs many foreign students look into when considering studying in South Korea.
This is underscored by the fact this scholarship is applicable to a wide range of universities across the country, especially including some of the best institutions South Korea has to offer.
This South Korea scholarship is also among the most generous programs in general, fully funding the studies of around 1,300 scholars every year with budgets set aside for Korean Language lessons when needed.
Other benefits of this program include a ₩200,000 resettlement allowance, a ₩900,000 – ₩1,000,000 living allowance, a one-time completion grant of ₩100,000, and ₩20,000 dispensed monthly for medical insurance fees. This scholarship also provides financial support for research and dissertation printing.
2. POSCO TJ Park Scholarship for Asian Students
The POSCO TJ Park Foundation offers South Korean in-bound scholarships to future Asian leaders every year. This scholarship, also known as the POSCO Asia Fellowship, is awarded to graduate students who have proven themselves as having the potential to positively impact their respective countries and/or the world itself through immersion with Korean society.
This scholarship program in Korea covers tuition fees and includes a living expenses subsidy amounting to ~₩1,000,000 per month over the course of 4 semesters in a master’s or doctoral course.
3. KAIST International Student Scholarship
A major domestic contender against the prestigious SKY trio, KAIST brings in one of the best scholarship programs for its international students. These scholarships in Korea are known for already being generous as is, and are available to both graduate and undergraduates.
The KAIST International Student Scholarship, in brief, is inclusive of a full tuition waiver, a living allowance amounting to ₩350,000 to ₩400,000, and medical insurance. An additional stipend is also available for graduates undertaking research assistantship. This scholarship lasts four (MS) to eight (undergrad, PhD) semesters under the sole condition of maintaining high grades throughout the scholarship term.
4. SNU President Fellowship (SPF)
The SNU President Fellowship is the SNU’s in-bound PhD scholarship program for faculty of major universities in developing countries and is mainly targeted at international students working in either STEM or have exceptional records in their developmental/cultural studies.
This South Korean scholarship fully funds the first three years of its recipients’ PhD programs and is inclusive of a ₩1,500,000 monthly stipend over the course of 4 years. This scholarship also provides Korean language training and covers insurance as well as round-trip airfare to and from South Korea.
Getting into this program is especially competitive as one of the most prestigious scholarships in one of Korea’s most distinguished universities.
5. Samsung Global Sungkyun Scholarship
Sungkyunkwan University is a research-oriented university renowned worldwide for its STEM/Engineering department and its establishment as one of the oldest (and reputed) educational institutes of Korea as a whole, making admission a most coveted affair.
One of the scholarships Sungkyunkwan University offers its newly-admitted students is the Samsung Global Sungkyun Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to exceptional and meritable freshmen each year, which particularly sets itself apart as a program sponsored by the Samsung conglomerate as well as the unique it includes.
Aside from providing the standard goldmine of full-tuition fee coverage and monthly stipend for living expenses (which amount to ₩500,000/month), this scholarship includes access to exclusive counseling and 1:1 mentorship programs with alumni, professors, or experts chosen by its scholars. Scholars will also be given priority slots during dorm assignment and have their accommodation fully funded if successful.
6. Art Major Asian plus Scholarship (AMA-KARTS)
The AMA+ is an initiative of the Korea National University of Arts, established to help promote Asian art by supporting skilled and noteworthy artists full-ride admissions to the institution.
Aside from regular tuition bursaries, recipients of the AMA+ will be given an allowance of ₩800,000/month alongside limited health insurance coverage and a round-trip airfare between their home countries and South Korea. Students will also be subject to a 4-month intensive language training course covered by this South Korea scholarship.
7. SUNY Korea Presidential Scholarship
SUNY Korea is the first ever American university established in Korea and is a popular choice for international students looking to study in Korea.
SUNY Korea provides a wide range of scholarships for international students to choose from. However, the best (and even the most prestigious) among these choices would be the SUNY Korea Presidential Scholarship.
This scholarship in Korea is awarded to the top students of each batch of successful applicants of the university, judged by academic merit and extra-curricular activities. Benefits of this scholarship include coverage of full tuition costs and room/board fees. This scholarship is subject to annual evaluation.