With the rise of the “Hallyu Wave” over the past few years, Korea has seen an immense rise in popularity. Not only is it a forerunner of contemporary pop culture, but it is also a dream destination to study for an undergraduate degree for international students. It is also home where technological advancement and extraordinary history can coincide. Korea is a curious mix of the ancient and modern worlds—a cultural hotspot that anybody would feel right at home in.

As a global nation, Korea frequently invites international students to come study for bachelor’s at any of their acclaimed universities. Korea is one of the friendlier countries to study in as an international student! If you’re looking to apply as an undergraduate student, the following information will be very helpful for you.

Admission Requirements When Applying for a Bachelor’s Degree

The following is a list of general university admission requirements in Korea. Depending on which university you’re applying for, the complete set of requirements may be shorter or longer than the list here. Each university is different and has its own set of prerequisites and requirements for admission.

1. Application Form

The application form is the most important document in your application. It contains your personal information, educational background, chosen study program, and other important details that let the university know who you are. All universities have an application form required for the students to apply for a bachelor’s in Korea that is unique to them, and a PDF version of it can usually be found on their school websites.

2. High School Documents (Certificate of Graduation and Academic Transcript)

These documents serve as proof that you are both qualified to take up a bachelor’s degree in Korea (at least 12 years of schooling) and qualified to study at a particular university. A certificate of graduation certifies that you have completed secondary school, while academic transcripts contain a list of your classes and their corresponding grades. To ensure academic excellence, most universities have a minimum GPA required to apply for admission.

As an international student, you may be asked to provide a grading key if your grading system is different from that of Korea.

3. Recommendation Letter

This is a reference letter usually written by a teacher, principal, or guidance counselor from your high school. A recommendation letter is another essential requirement for international students to obtain an undergraduate degree in Korea. It usually contains questions about a student’s character, study habits, extracurricular activities, and more. Most Korean universities will need two or more of these.

4. Proof of Nationality

As an international student, you will be asked to submit proof of your nationality. This can be in the form of a certificate of nationality or the biometrics page of your passport. If you possess dual citizenship, you will be asked to submit proof of both.

5. Personal Statement

This document helps the university gauge who you are on a personal level and is especially important if the competition is intense. A personal statement usually includes reasons for studying for an undergraduate degree in Korea along with your course, why you’re particularly deserving of a slot, your future career plans, and other pertinent information. Each university will have its word count limit and may even allow you to write it in a language other than Korean.

Check Also: Undergraduate Programs for International Students

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Bachelor’s Programs

Aside from the previous documents, international students will usually also be asked for proof of Korean language proficiency.

Korean is the primary language of instruction in Korea. While some universities may advertise English-taught courses, there are usually also Korean-taught classes required in the curriculum. Additionally, living in Korea without speaking the language can be extremely difficult. Thus, it is highly recommended that you enroll in a Korean Language Institute (KLI) before applying for a bachelor’s degree in any Korean university.

Korean language proficiency is measured by TOPIK or the Test of Proficiency in Korean. It was designed to measure a person’s reading, writing, and listening skills in the Korean language. There are three stages (i.e., beginner, intermediate, and advanced) of the test, and each stage will have two levels each for a total of six levels. The test is held several times a year in different locations in Korea and across the globe.

Most Korean universities require a minimum of TOPIK Level 3. You will need to submit a copy of your test results as part of your admission documents. Generally, each level will take around 10 weeks of studies at the KLI, so a TOPIK Level 3 can be achieved within 7 months or so. However, we recommend that you study for at least one year before enrolment or even more—not only will this ensure you’re well within the required proficiency level, but some universities like Kyung Hee University and Ewha Women’s University offer tuition fee reductions the higher your TOPIK Level is!

If your preferred course is taught in English, you will be required to send proof of English language proficiency (e.g., IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL). If you come from a country whose first language is English, you do not need to submit this.

Steps to Apply for Bachelor’s Degree in South Korea

University admissions usually open twice a year—the first a few months before the spring semester and the other a few months before the fall semester. Both options are viable for any international student wishing to study bachelors in Korea. However, there are no set dates when it comes to the application process—as was already mentioned, each Korean university is different. Naturally, their timelines and deadlines would be different as well!

Step 1.  Visit official university websites

With that in mind, you should start planning your applications by visiting official university websites. There, you will find comprehensive guidelines in English on how to apply as an undergraduate including timelines, requirements, and prerequisites. You should also check available study programs, what cities they’re located in, and how competitive it is. Consider applying to more than one university to increase your chances of getting admitted.

At this stage, you should also be checking the application processes various universities have. Always remember that all universities will have their unique process. Take the following universities as examples: Seoul National University, Hanyang University, Sejong University, Yonsei University, and Korea University.

As you can see, these universities differ greatly when it comes to their admissions process. Some are shorter or longer than others, some have more requirements, some require online or physical copies and so much more. This is why you must do your research for each university before applying.

Step 2. Fill up your application form

The next stage is starting the application process itself. Start by downloading the university application form and completing it. Here is where you can add in your general information and desired courses, and pay the application fee (if applicable).

Step 3. Upload application documents

If you have completed the online application, you will then be required to upload scanned copies of your application documents, submit hard copies by mail, or even both. University websites will usually tell you if they require original copies or scanned copies, and if they will be returning your documents to you after the application period.

Step 4. Take necessary exams and/or interviews

Other plausible stages are taking a Korean language proficiency exam, attending an interview, and taking a performance test. Again, this will be indicated in the university’s application process. They will usually inform you when and where these tests or interviews will be taking place as well. Applicants should always be alert for the announcements of schedules especially with the tests or interviews as they are a significant part of the requirements in applying for bachelors in Korea.

All these steps are commonly required for admission but can happen in no particular order or not at all. Thankfully, most application processes in Korea are very straightforward, so pursuing a bachelor’s degree there should be a breeze!


We hope this article highlighted the important aspects to help you pursue your bachelor’s in South Korea. Make sure to also check out our Open Courses and Study in Korea to explore your study options.

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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