South Korea has a reputation for being a global powerhouse in terms of education. The country ranks highly in international education rankings, with 7 of the top 100 universities in the world located there.

Among the top institutions are public universities, meaning they receive support from the Korean government. It makes them more affordable, hence a better choice for international students looking for both quality and affordable education in South Korea.

If you want to study at a public university in South Korea, check out this list of the seven best public universities in South Korea for International students.

Top Public Universities in South Korea

If you are an international student looking for an excellent university experience in South Korea, the seven public universities listed below are worth checking out. You will find them in various cities across South Korea, hence getting a taste of the country’s culture from different perspectives.

1. Seoul National University

Seoul National University is the number one public university in South Korea and is often ranked high in global university rankings. It also offers some of the best programs, with subjects like Oncology, Material Science, Clinical Medicine, and Physics.

International students can study at SNU by applying for a full-time study program or a six-week intensive International Summer Program.

International students can benefit from language classes, cultural exchange opportunities, career guidance, and internships with local companies. They can also take advantage of various scholarship opportunities, like the Graduate Scholarship For Excellent Foreign Students.

2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is one of the top universities in South Korea for international students. KAIST is a highly competitive university that attracts students worldwide to its renowned engineering and science programs. International students can enroll at KAIST if they meet the eligibility requirements.

The official language of verbal and written communication is English, making it easier for international students to take classes easily. However, you can still learn Korean through the KAIST Language Center or the Language Exchange Program for courses in Korean.

Furthermore, KAIST offers international students with excellent research outputs the chance to receive Korean citizenship or permanent residency.

3. Incheon National University

Incheon National University is a good choice for international students looking for quality education in South Korea. It is considered one of the most innovative institutions in Korea and the world.

With a graduation rate of 96%, you will likely complete your degree program at Incheon. INU offers a range of programs taught in English, which makes it ideal for international students who are unable to communicate in Korean.

Additionally, the institution provides various support services for international students, including language courses, assistance with visa and accommodation, and programs like the School for Northeast Trade Studies, which focuses on teaching international students about the Korean Trade and Commerce industry.

4. Kangwon National University

Kangwon National University is a reputable public university in Chuncheon, South Korea, with other campuses in Samcheok and Dogye. KNU offers quality programs, particularly in engineering and technology.

The institution has a diverse student body, with over 1,000 international students from various countries worldwide, which provides an ideal environment for cultural exchange and learning. Furthermore, students can enjoy the scenic and peaceful environment comprising beautiful mountains in the Gangwon Province.

Additionally, it has various scholarship opportunities, including those awarded to new international students who have obtained TOPIK Level 4 or higher with outstanding academic records and the Government of Korea scholarships.

5. Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology is a highly-ranked research-oriented university in Ulsan, South Korea. Established in 2007, it has quickly become one of the top universities in science, engineering, and technology. UNIST intends to be among the top 10 science and technology universities by 2030.

All academic courses at UNIST are conducted in English, making it conducive for international students not proficient in Korean. The UNIST Multi-disciplinary Institute provides research centers in various fields, including the Center for Future Mobility, the Center for International Energy Trading (GIET), and the Center for Smart Healthcare.

Ulsan provides an ideal study location, home to several large industrial complexes and top global companies like Hyundai Motors and Samsung SDS.

6. Pusan National University

Located in Busan City, Pusan National University is one of the top universities in South Korea. The institution offers English-taught programs and courses, with over 1,500 international students from over 80 countries enrolled in various degree programs.

Some top programs at Pusan University include Mechanical Engineering, Polymer Science, and Condensed Matter Physics. The university has Special Support Programs designed for international students, including academic and student life support programs.

Furthermore, there are various scholarship opportunities for international students who meet the set criteria and plenty of opportunities for international students to gain valuable hands-on experience through internships at well-known companies or research projects at the university.

7. Pukyong National University

Pukyong National University is a top public research university in Busan, South Korea. It has several top-quality programs like Material Sciences and Maritime Studies. It also boasts several notable alumni like Heize, an accomplished singer and actor, and Jea-Chul Kim, the founder of Dong-won Group.

The Office of International Affairs at Pukyong University ensures that international students receive support regarding admission, immigration services, and scholarship opportunities like the Global Korea Scholarship Program and the Korean Language Program.

Additionally, there is an international summer school where international students can learn about Korea’s unique culture through classroom lectures and other fun cultural activities.

FAQs about Studying in Public Universities in South Korea

Can International Students Enroll in Public Universities in South Korea?

Yes, international students can enroll in several universities across South Korea. Admission is subject to passing the eligibility criteria, like proving your proficiency in the Korean or English language. If you apply for a program offered in Korean, you will have to take the Test of Proficiency in Korean test (TOPIK).

In addition to having a valid visa, you should have the relevant certified documentation to support your application, like bank statements, academic transcripts, and letters of reference.

Some public universities in South Korea accepting international students include Pusan National University and Seoul National University.


South Korea offers an outstanding destination for international students, thanks to top-ranking universities, unique culture, stunning landscapes, and student support opportunities. From Seoul National University to Pukyong University, you have a variety of quality public universities to choose from. With preparation and appropriate knowledge, studying at one of these top seven public universities can be an opportunity of a lifetime.


We hope this article on the top public universities in South Korea has been informative. For more information about studying abroad, check out our Open Courses and Study in Korea to explore your study options.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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