South Koreans take their higher education very seriously and hence the quality of academic institutions the country possesses is exceptional. Thirty-one of its total universities are ranked in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Its highly modern cities along with their deep roots in its cultural heritage give students a great platform to learn and thrive in their respective fields.

To study in any of the South Korean universities, an international student is required to take a standardized English language test. Most of these universities take into consideration TEPS, TOEFL, and IELTS scores.

In the article, we’ll be focussing on the IELTS band requirements for some of the best universities in the country. IELTS band scores represent levels of English language ability on a scale of 1-9, 1 being a non-user and 9 being an expert user. The required scores for these universities are somewhere between 5 and 7.

Do Universities in South Korea Require IELTS?

The answer is yes. Due to the rise in popularity through venues such as K-drama and K-pop, many international students have been flocking to academic institutions in South Korea. To meet the demand placed by international applicants, many classes in Korean institutions are taught in English, which means that you need to have a certain skill in English if you want to gain admission into an institution. 

If you are applying to courses taught in English, you need to show your English proficiency, and this is where IELTS comes in. However, if you want to study entirely in Korean, then you are welcome to do so by taking introductory courses in the Korean language. 

IELTS Band Requirements for Universities in South Korea

1. Seoul National University

Seoul National University (SNU) is one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. SNU is a national research university established in 1946 with 3 campuses in Gwanak, Pyeongchang, and Daechangno. It operates 16 different colleges, 1 graduate school, and 9 professional schools for over 28,000 students from all across the globe.

Currently, the university has MoUs with more than 700 academic institutions across 40 countries to provide the best possible education and exposure to its students. Thomson Reuters also ranked it the 31st most innovative university in the world.

Some of the notable alumni of SNU include Ban Ki-Moon, former secretary-general of the UN, Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-Hyun, and former International Criminal Court president Song Sang-Hyun.

International students applying to SNU need to submit their TOEFL, TEPS, or IELTS scores to be eligible for undergraduate and graduate courses. This university in South Korea requires students to have at least an IELTS Band of 6 or above.

2. Korea University

Korea University is a private research university based in the capital city, Seoul. Founded in 1905, it was ranked the best private university in the country for three consecutive years. Housing over 29000 students across its 19 graduate schools with a total of 81 departments, the university is best known for its higher education courses.

Its College of Law is considered to be the best law school in the country. Notable alumni of the institution include the 10th President of the Republic of South Korea Lee Myung-Bak.

Korea University has a very hospitable environment for its international students. At any given point in time, there are more than 1000 international students from various parts of the world forming a part of its total student body.

International students from non-English speaking countries need to submit any of their TOEFL, IELTS, or TEPS scores. Applicants who have completed their degree program in an English-speaking country are exempted from these English proficiency tests.

3. Yonsei University

Yonsei University is the second oldest university on this list and traces back its history to 1885. The university was founded on the principles of Christianity by American Protestant Christian missionaries. It is also a part of the SKY Universities, the top three universities in South Korea, the other two being Seoul National University and Korea University.

The University has over 30000 students studying across its 19 undergraduate and 16 graduate schools. You will be required to have at least an IELTS Band of 6.5 to attend this university in Korea. This school was ranked 24th in social policy and administration by QS World University Rankings.

Yonsei’s International Summer School, which started in 1985, brings more than 1300 international students to its campus in Seoul from 30 different countries. International applicants aspiring to study at Yonsei need to submit their IELTS or TOEFL scores as proof of their English proficiency.

4. Hanyang University

Hanyang University was established as an engineering college in 1939 during the Japanese occupation of South Korea. The university is known for having a diverse pool of students from across the globe; enrolling more than 3000 international students in its courses every year.

It has two campuses; one each in Seoul and Ansan, with 60 departments in its 15 different colleges. With such a diverse pool of student body, Hanyang University has made a name for itself as one of the best educational institutes in the country, especially in the field of engineering and related research.

International applicants are required to submit their IELTS, TOEFL, or TOEIC scores as proof of English proficiency while applying for admission.

5. Sung Kyun Kwan University (SKKU)

The roots of Sungkyunkwan originate from the Joseon Dynasties, which was a Korean kingdom for more than five centuries. It was established as the foremost academic institution of this country in 1398 and also had the first library in the country.

Today, SKKU provides courses in collaboration with MIT, UC Berkeley, and Indiana University. This university in South Korea requires students to have at least an IELTS Band of 5.5. It has over 25,000 students and about 1500 academic faculties mastering various fields. The university gives heavy importance to research in development and has close ties with Samsung and Hyundai.

International students applying to SKKU need to submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores. Students with nationalities that use English as an official language just need to submit their high school completion certificate.


Pohang University of Science and Technology, commonly abbreviated to POSTECH, is another private research university based in Pohang. It was founded by POSCO to provide advanced education to young budding engineers in the 80s. Since its inception, POSTECH has made a concrete position for itself as one of the leading universities in the world; it was ranked first by Times Higher Education in its 100 Under 50 Young Universities Rankings.

POSTECH offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs across 22 departments to 3500 students. It has a low student intake, which makes it one of the most competitive universities to get into on this list. Its 400-acre campus is built on smart technology with student boarding facilities, a gymnasium, and sports complexes for international students.

International students from non-English speaking countries have to submit their TOEFL, TEPS, IELTS, or TOEIC scores. Students from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Ireland, and Great Britain are exceptions to the English proficiency policy of the college.

7. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Our last university on our list of universities in Korea and their IELTS Band requirements is KAIST, which is South Korea’s first fully research-oriented university in the field of science and engineering. It has two campuses, one each in Daejeon and Seoul. KAIST provides programs across its 6 colleges comprising 33 departments. In 2016 and 2017, it was ranked as the 6th most innovative university and 21st best university for IT and Engineering in the world.

International applicants at KAIST have to prove their efficiency in English by taking IELTS, TOELF, TOEIC, or TEPS.


The above-mentioned universities are some of the best academic institutions that have opened their doors to international students. Korean universities usually use Korean or English as a medium of imparting education to students at the college level.

Not every course is available for English English-speaking crowd hence making it sometimes difficult for an international student to take up a course at a particular university.

However, with the advent of globalization, universities in Korea have become aware of the importance of having diversity in classrooms which has gradually led to a high influx of international students into the country.


IELTS is just one of the many English language exams accepted in South Korean universities. You can find other options on our English Language Proficiency Exam page.


We hope that this article on IELTS Band Requirements in South Korea was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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