Korea is an East Asian country famous for its high-tech cities and sub-tropical islands. It has a long, rich history that created various traditions, as seen in folk performances and several cultural heritage sites. Korea is known for tech giants like Samsung and automotive industry leaders like Hyundai. Korean popular culture continues to influence the world, too, from music to film to culinary arts.

Despite political unrest, Korea has become a leading force in digital technology. The country also has notable accomplishments in medical technology and medical tourism. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Korea for international students.

Top Universities in South Korea for International Students

1. Seoul National University

Seoul National University is the best university in Korea for international students, which has been setting the standard of academic excellence in the country since 1946. Home to several distinguished personalities, SNU is part of the elite SKY universities, a 3-member league of the most prestigious universities in Korea. It has sixteen colleges offering a wide range of subjects, from humanities to medicine to engineering. Its professional graduate schools provide practical skills in fields like data science and public administration. Over 700 courses are taught in English, and it’s increasing every year. Furthermore, SNU is known for its cutting-edge research, especially in Engineering and Natural Sciences.

SNU has been a leading institution in developing democracy and peace on the Korean peninsula. This vision extends to international collaborations and fostering global talent. SNU has an impressive, modern campus that is available for tours.

2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is the leader in innovations, entrepreneurship, and science & technology in Korea. Established in 1971 by the Korean government, it is the first public research-oriented institution for science and engineering. Interesting and advanced areas like Entertainment Engineering and Eco-Energy are among the focus of its research units.

This top public university in Korea comprises five colleges, seven schools, and 13 graduate schools, all with the vision of creating global value. KAIST is an ethnically diverse institution in Korea, with almost 600 international students admitted every year. Moreover, nearly 80% of courses are taught in English.

3. Sungkyunkwan University

Sungkyunkwan University is one of the best private universities in Korea that traces its roots to Sungkyunkwan, the Joseon dynasty’s primary academic institution. The university remains in its historic site but is presently a leading force in business and technology. The research units of SKKU are sponsored by Hyundai, Samsung, and many government agencies, creating research outputs relevant to industries and society.

SKKU students can realize creative ideas through 3D printers, laser cutters, etc., in the SKKU Learning Factory. Other amenities include sports facilities and a massive library. SKKU’s philosophy comes from the virtues of Confucianism and reflects on its educational goals and academic community.

4. Pohang University of Science and Technology

Pohang University of Science and Technology is a private research university established by the Korean steel company POSCO. POSTECH ranked rapidly and consistently in world university rankings as a young university, especially in science and technology. It trains specialist engineers with its 11 Sci-Tech departments and 73 research centers. POSTECH boasts state-of-the-art facilities such as the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory and the country’s only synchrotron radiation facility.

As one of the leading universities in Korea for international students, POSTECH admits many international students, especially at master’s and doctorate levels. It also has close collaborations with global and local institutions with the same goal of innovation. For instance, POSTECH and KAIST host the annual Science War as a knowledge exchange platform for students.

5. Korea University

Korea University is one of the oldest universities in Korea. It offers high-quality education in almost all study areas with its 81 academic departments. Law education, medicine, and business programs are exceptionally renowned in the institution. In recent subject rankings, KU excelled in Social Sciences and Management, Natural Sciences, and Engineering and Technology. Furthermore, KU instills humanitarian principles in all of its academic work.

KU belongs to the influential SKY universities in Korea. Over 4,000 international students are studying at Korea University and is continuously increasing. The recently established Graduate School of International Studies fosters greater global collaboration.

6. Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology is a young research university for science and technology. This top university in Korea was established in 2007 in response to the growing demand for professionals in Ulsan, Korea’s industrial capital. In just a short time, the university has built an international reputation in many disciplines. UNIST has 13 departments for science and engineering, a business school, and four specialized graduate schools. Its present research focuses on advanced materials and next-generation energy.

UNIST encourages interdisciplinary education wherein students and professors study two areas of concentration. UNIST is actively seeking international students. All their courses are held in English, the only university in Korea to do so.

7. Yonsei University

Yonsei University is the oldest university and one of the most prestigious institutions in Korea. As a SKY university member, it has incredibly competitive admission rates and is known to ace world university rankings. For degree-seeking students who want to apply at Yonsei, they can choose from a wide array of comprehensive graduate and undergraduate programs in almost every discipline. Its 153 research centers conduct interdisciplinary works relevant to current global issues such as climate change and inequality. Yonsei fosters the principles of truth and freedom in its academic community.

Yonsei has notable international collaborations and programs that have served over 4,000 international students. Its campuses are renowned internationally for their beauty and conduciveness, especially the Sinchon campus.

8. Kyung Hee University

Kyung Hee University, one of the best universities in Korea for international students, is part of an academic system that provides education from kindergarten to graduate studies. KHU’s College of Medicine is eminent in traditional Korean medicine and other medical practices in Asia. The Department of Physical Education at KHU is the leading institution in Korea for physical education, sports medicine, coaching, and taekwondo. Hospitality and Leisure Management is the highest-ranking program in the university.

Kyung Hee University has extensive global collaborations. Among others is the United Nations Academic Impact program about human rights and conflict resolution. KHU is in partnership with over 400 sister universities globally.

9. Sejong University

Sejong University is a private university once known as the Kyung Sung Humanities Institute. It was renamed to honor Sejong the Great and his efforts in creating the hangul, the Korean alphabet. Numerous international students enroll at SJU because of its highly recognized study programs like hospitality and tourism management. Animation, dancing, and rhythmic gymnastics are also the institution’s pride. It has nine colleges in varied disciplines like liberal arts, electronics and information engineering, and life sciences.

The university’s research units focus on green energy, climate change science, and astrophysics. Faculty and researchers at SJU have international accomplishments, such as Dr. Jaewoo Lee, the first Korean to use NASA’s Hubble Telescope.

10. Hanyang University

Hanyang University is a leading university in Korea, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It started as an engineering institute in 1939 with a history of leading Korea’s independence movement. Presently, HYU offers graduate and undergraduate programs in diverse study fields. Its engineering programs rank the highest in Korea in many university evaluations.

Hanyang University has several research accomplishments in the STEM field and collaborates with government institutes in various endeavors. HYU has more than 700 university partners globally. It is not difficult to apply at Hanyang University, it admits more than 3,000 international students and assists Korean students who want to be a part of an exchange program.

11. Kyungpook National University

Kyungpook National University is a private institution located in Daegu, South Korea. It was first established in 1946 as Kyungpook National College of Education and has grown to become one of the most distinguished universities in South Korea.

Kyungpook National University has a good reputation among international students because it offers them many opportunities to study abroad or exchange programs. The campus gives students a natural and comfortable feeling as it offers a friendly environment. Students have the chance to enjoy the university’s well-built places as they study here.

12. Chonnam National University

Chonnam National University, also known as CNU, is a public university and one of the best universities in South Korea. It has been ranked as one of the top 100 universities worldwide by Quacquarelli Symonds for its internationalization and research potential. The university has more than 12,000 students from all over the world studying on campus or online.

Chonnam National University offers a wide range of English-taught courses designed for international students. The school also provides many resources to help students succeed, such as tutoring services, career counseling services, and support groups for international students who may need extra guidance adjusting to life abroad.

13. Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology

The Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology is South Korea’s leading research university and one of Asia’s best technological universities. It was established to develop students who can contribute to the development of science and technology and promote academic exchange between domestic and foreign universities.

The Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology has three campuses: Gwangju Campus, Sauna Campus, and Dong-cheon Campus, located in Gwangju City, Gyeonggi-do Province. The university offers a wide range of programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. International students in the university are also eligible for the university’s scholarships and other services.

14. Yeungnam University

Yeungnam University is a private university in Daegu, South Korea. For international students, the college offers a wide range of services to ensure that your transition to the campus is smooth and hassle-free. From orientation programs and academic counseling to dining options and student clubs, they have everything you need to help you succeed in your studies. The university has about 15,000 students enrolled each year.

The YNU Libraries contain over one million volumes and are widely regarded as one of the best in South Korea. The library system includes six different libraries on the main campus and three separate libraries on the satellite campus.

15. Chung Ang University

Founded in 1946, Chung Ang University is a private research institution in South Korea. It is the first Christian university in the country. The campus is located on the south bank of the Han River in Seoul’s Guui-dong neighborhood, consisting of 14 buildings and 35 classrooms.

The school offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and 60 graduate programs. It also has an international exchange program with 23 universities worldwide, including New York University, Yale University, and the University of Melbourne.

16. Ajou University

Ajou University is considered one of the best universities in South Korea and globally. It has many different departments, including business, humanities, engineering, and law. This university’s primary purpose was to provide students with a high-quality education that would prepare them for the future.

Ajou University provides housing for international students through its Office of International Affairs. International students can choose from several housing options, including traditional Korean-style rooms shared with other roommates or apartments with private bathrooms and kitchens. In addition, the university offers online classes so students can study at home or anywhere else they prefer.

17. Inha University

The Inha University is a private university in Incheon, South Korea. It was established in 1948 as the Inha Technical College by Dr. Chae Changho, a renowned educator and founder of Korea’s modern education system. The university has since become one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Korea and has grown from an initial enrollment of 114 students to over 25,000 students today.

Inha University offers programs at four levels: undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and postgraduate degrees for both full-time and part-time students. There are currently six schools at the college. For the past years, this excellent university in South Korea has produced many local and international graduates in the field, proving their high-quality teaching and research.

18. Catholic University of Korea

The Catholic University of Korea is the only international university in South Korea that was founded by the Vatican, and it has a Catholic character. The university opened its doors in 1951 and currently has two campuses: one in Seoul and another in Busan.

International students at the Catholic University of Korea can expect to receive a world-class education while gaining real-world experience in a culturally diverse environment. They have a vast number of international students from 88 countries, and they offer them a variety of programs and opportunities that will help students develop their skills as they prepare for their future careers. Students can also participate in exchange programs with other universities in Asia and Europe.

19. Konkuk University

Konkuk University was established in 1946 as a college of education but has evolved into a comprehensive research university with a distinctive liberal arts curriculum. The campus is located in the city center, close to Seoul National University and Yonsei University. The school buildings are modern, but the campus itself is very green and lush with trees.

In terms of internationalization, Konkuk University has a growing global connection. They have various partnerships with foreign universities.

20. Sogang University

Sogang University is a private university located in the heart of South Korea. It has been ranked as one of the best universities in South Korea by several Korean universities, including Joongang Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo, and Kyunghyang Shinmun.

Sogang University was founded by Dr. Lee Sang-Yun and Dr. Lee Sang-Hoon. The global village at the college is a place for all international students to meet and make friends. Its goal is to help you feel at home, even if you’re far away from your own country. The global village will have regular events like movie nights and language exchanges. You can also find help looking for resources on campus, such as academic support or housing information.

FAQs about Studying in South Korea

Is Korea a Good Place to Study for International Students?

Korea is one of the most popular study destinations in Asia and the world. Universities in Korea consistently ranked in several world-renowned university rankings. Study options available for international students are Korean language programs, study-abroad semesters, or full degree programs. Most of these courses are in Korean and are increasingly taught in English.

The tuition for international and domestic students is the same, ranging from 4,000 – 20,000 USD. Universities and government institutions regularly provide scholarships and research funds too. Living costs in Korea are relatively lower than in other developed countries. It offers inexpensive internet and mobile services, affordable accommodation, and vibrant culture. Modern Korea still exhibits Confucianism through its generous social conduct.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Can International Students Work in Korea While Studying?

International students in Korea have either a D-2 visa (full study term) or a D-4 visa (language study or training activities with a 6-month duration). Both D-2 and D-4 visa holders can have part-time jobs after receiving permission from their institution. They may apply for a part-time job permit from the immigration office in their area.

The allowed working hours depend on your Korean language ability and type of degree. Students in an associate or a bachelor’s program can work 10 – 20 hours, while those in a master’s and doctoral program can work up to 30 hours on weekdays. There is no working hour limit on weekends or school breaks.

Can International Students Stay in Korea After Graduation?

After completing your studies, you need to change your visa to a D-10 or Job-Seeking Visa. It is for individuals seeking employment in a Korean company or institution. It is also required for the following: participants in paid internships, activities related to intellectual property, and preparation for a start-up. A D-10 Visa is valid for six months. After getting hired, you can upgrade to an E-7 or Specific-Job Visa valid for two years.

If your work area falls in academic work or other particular occupations, you need an E-1 to E-6 visa. These occupations include a professor, researcher, technical or foreign language instructor, professional, artist, athlete, or a field designated by the Minister of Justice.


We hope this list will encourage you to enroll in one of Korea’s top-notch universities. To learn more about Korea, check out the  Study in Korea for more articles and educational opportunities! You can also visit the Available Programs for International Students for 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.