South Korea is well known for the quality of its higher education. Indeed, there are plenty of Korean universities that are considered world-class or are prominent all over Asia. Additionally, two Korean universities are among the top 100 in World University Rankings and more may join soon as institutions strive to exceed global standards.

Thus, studying in Korea is a dream of many students. However, it can be costly. Fortunately, there are several options for international students to study in Korea for free. This article will introduce you to them, so read on and discover how to start your education at Korean universities in the most affordable fashion.

How to Study in South Korea for Free

1. Prepare admission application documents

Preparing the documents for your desired program is the first step to a successful admission application to Korean universities. This part of the process may take time, so it is of great importance to make a list of the documents beforehand and obtain them before the application period. Some supplementary documents include language proficiency certificates, standardized examination scores, proofs of academic achievement, and more.

The application period can be different for each Korean university. Generally, there are two intakes per year: Spring and Fall. If you want to apply for the spring intake, you should prepare and submit the required documents by October or November. Similarly, for the fall intake, you are to submit your application in May or June, depending on the application deadlines of the university.

Lastly, please note that international students with higher scores in the Korean Proficiency Exam (e.g., TOPIK) may have higher chances of receiving scholarships in Korea, such as Global Korea Scholarships. These scholarship offers allow international students with excellent Korean language skills to have additional stipends for study costs, along with tuition fees and living allowances.

2. Submit an application for scholarships

There are several Korean scholarship programs for international students and they are the most common ways to study for free in South Korea. They come in the form of tuition waivers, student grants, or fully funded scholarships that could exempt students from paying tuition fees. Recipients are selected based on their academic skills, financial needs, language proficiency in English or Korean, and the degree program they’re applying to.

The most common fully funded scholarships at Korean universities for international students are the Global Korea Scholarships, which cover full tuition fees, airplane tickets, resettlement allowance, health insurance, and a stipend to study the Korean language. Thus, the student is practically studying for free! They are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate programs and the duration of the scholarship depends on the duration of the degree program.

Besides Global Korea Scholarships, there are several other scholarship options, including Korea University Scholarships, which are 50% or 100% tuition waivers. There is also the Ewha Global Partnership Program, which offers a 100% tuition waiver, dormitory placement, and a living stipend.

3. Choose inexpensive universities

There is a variety of university options in Korea, and some of them are highly expensive. On the other hand, many low-tuition universities, such as Pusan National University, cost only $3,000 per academic year. Studying at more affordable universities in Korea will make it easier for international students to be financially stable during their education.

There are a couple of affordable Korean universities offering quality education for international students. They include Kangwon National University with a tuition fee of ₩1,470,000 ($1,120) to ₩3,400,000 ($2,600) for undergraduates and ₩2,261,000 ($1,700) to ₩4,403,000 ($3,400) for postgraduate programs.

Tuition-free Options for Undergraduate Studies

Several universities and external scholarships offer undergraduate international students the chance to study in Korea for free. However, tuition-free scholarships depend heavily on the type of bachelor’s degree program you’re enrolled in. Still, it’s important you know about them.

Tuition-free programs at the undergraduate level include Global Korea Scholarships, Yonsei University Underwood International College Admissions Scholarship, and Korea University Global Leader Scholarships. Undergraduate international students are selected based on their merits or needs. Also, each scholarship application has its admission criteria for international students. For the best advice and most recent details, visit the scholarship page of the university or home institution.

Tuition-free Options for Master’s Studies

Besides bachelor’s studies, there are several tuition-free scholarship options for international master’s students. Very notable organizations or universities have generous offers for successful international students pursuing master’s education in Korea.

Some of the most prestigious tuition-free programs in Korea for master’s students include Global Korea Scholarships and Kyungpook National University International Graduate Scholarship. For more information about scholarship offers, eligibility, and the application process, you may inquire with your institution or the organization funding the scholarship.

Tuition-free Options for Ph.D. Studies

Lastly, there are many options for prospective Ph.D. students to study in Korea for free and pursue their research activities. Most doctoral scholarships include full tuition and living expenses. However, for the most accurate information, it’s important to contact the admissions office regarding the application requirements and scholarship grants.

Some of the most notable tuition-free Ph.D. programs include the SNU President Fellowship Program, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology Scholarships, and Chung-Ang University Young Scientist Scholarships.

The chance to study for free in Korea, especially in the country’s most prestigious universities, will open doors for you. Thus, don’t forget to apply for the scholarships above when you apply for admission!

Are there Opportunities for International Students to Study in Korea for Free?

Yes, international students have several opportunities to study for free in South Korea. These opportunities include scholarships and low-tuition universities. When these opportunities are then stacked upon each other, it may be revealed that the student is already studying for free.

Since the international student population is increasing in Korea, the number of tuition-free opportunities has risen to attract skillful and determined students from all over the world. The important step for foreign learners is to be aware of the opportunities they could take advantage of and apply to the programs that can provide financial assistance. They can also be a bridge to help find scholarship options for the student.

How Much is the Annual Academic Cost in Korea?

The annual academic cost at Korean universities differs depending on the university or program. For instance, studying an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at a public university in Korea has an average annual cost of ₩8,000,000 ($6,000), whereas, for private universities, the fees can go up to ₩13,000,000 ($10,000) per academic year.

However, many prestigious universities have below-average annual tuition fees. An example is the Seoul National University, which has a minimum annual tuition fee of ₩2,442,000 ($1,860) for undergraduates and ₩6,556,000 ($5,000) for postgraduate programs.


We hope this article has given you many ideas on how to receive a Korean education for free. Now, if you need more information relating to studying in Korea, check out these Study in Korea articles and currently Open Courses in the country!

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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  1. Anonymous - Reply

    Can I visit south Korea

  2. Victoria - Reply

    Are there any scholarships for highschool students?

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      Hi, here are scholarships for graduating high school students who are incoming freshman, but not for high school students who are not graduating.

  3. Anonymous - Reply

    How much will it cost for graduation in korea

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      It depends. If you get a good scholarships like Korean Government Scholarships, then the government pays you to study in Korea. If you are full pay, then probably $20,000 a year including tuition and living cost. Multiply that amount by 4 for undergraduate and 2 for Master’s.

  4. Sara - Reply

    I really want to visit korea and attend Hanlim arts high school.

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      Hello, for high school, you probably need to be accompanied by your parents, especially if you are a minor.

  5. Confidence mmesoma - Reply

    Hello, I want to come to Korea after my final year in high school. How do I go about it?

  6. Anonymous - Reply

    Hi, I am a science student. After 12th, can I study at SNU with scholarship?

  7. Inna - Reply

    Hi, is it possible to study Korean in Korea with any scholarship? Anyway it’s better for free coz I have a limited budget.

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      Hi, there are full scholarships for full degree programs, but I’m not aware of full scholarships for Korean language study. I did see some partial scholarships though; our article on Korean Language Schools is a good place to start looking at the Korean language programs if you are interested.

  8. Anonymous - Reply

    Hey I’m completed my 12th grade and I’m studying in degree 1st year now. How can I apply for the GKS scholarship? Also, I can study for free with GKS scholarship, right? I would like to pursue BA in English.

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      Hello, regarding Global Korea Scholarships, please see the Scholarship Page for more instruction. Yes, GKS is fully funded and you can study for free in Korea with GKS. You do need to check that the Korean universities offer BA in English or not however.

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