Studying in South Korea is a unique and remarkable experience academically and culturally. South Korean universities are now popular with international students searching for possible countries to acquire their master’s degrees. Most students who graduated from the “Land of the Morning Calm”, South Korea’s Western unofficial nickname, generally expressed their satisfaction with spending their time learning in the country.

South Korea’s educational system is one of the best in the world, with universities placing in the top ranks of various international university rankings. South Korean universities excel in various fields such as engineering, medicine, and humanities but are unmatched in information and communication technology.

Quality education in South Korea is not too expensive for international students as local and foreign students pay the same amount for their studies. Master’s programs range from $1,000 – $21,000 per semester, depending on the chosen university and program. The high number of available scholarships in various South Korean universities makes studying in this country even more worthwhile. All of this is made even better by the rich culture and unique student life offered by any chosen city in South Korea.

In this article, we guide you through the process of applying for a master’s in South Korea.

Admission Requirements When Applying for a Master’s Degree

The South Korean government and the universities demand various documents to prepare to successfully study for a master’s degree in the country. Some of the requirements can be processed before being accepted in any South Korean university, while some are processed upon receiving the confirmation. These requirements are generally basic application documents unless the university requests further papers.

The main requirements for studying for a master’s degree in South Korea include copies of your bachelor’s degree diploma, transcript of records, passport, personal statement, and two to three letters of recommendation from previous professors. It also requires language proficiency certifications, depending on the course and the university’s policy. Proof of funds or, if available, scholarship documents that will finance your studies in the country should also be prepared. Some universities also require portfolios or work samples attached to the application; hence, it would be best to check your chosen program’s application guidelines.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Master’s Programs

International students aspiring to study for a regular master’s degree in South Korea are required by the government to submit their Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) scores. The minimum TOPIK score for applying international students is Level three (3) or higher; although, one should always check with the course’s host department as some programs or universities sometimes require a higher TOPIK score. Universities generally require a TOPIK score of Level Four (4) to graduate.

If the chosen program is taught in English, the applicant is required to submit English language proficiency certifications such as TOEFL, IELTS, and TEPS. The score requirements are generally decided by the universities or the departments teaching the courses. The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology requires a TOEFL iBT score of 83 (PBT 560, CBT 220), an IELTS score of 6.5, or a TEPS score of 599 (New TEPS 326). The Seoul National University, on the other hand, requires a lower TOEFL iBT 80, IELTS Academic Overall Band Score of 6.0, or TEPS 298.

Steps to Apply for a Master’s Degree in South Korea

Applying for a master’s degree in South Korea used to be a challenging task for aspiring international students. Fortunately, the South Korean government initiated creating the Study in Korea website as a complete guide for prospective students in South Korea. The government posts and updates the latest requirements one needs to prepare to be admitted to a South Korean university. It should be noted that some universities request additional or varying documents; hence, students should carefully check with their chosen institution.

Step 1. Search your program and university

International students can start their application by searching for a South Korean university that offers their chosen master’s degree program; this can be done online on their own or through connections on the Study in Korea website. Some university websites require creating an applicant account to start the application process. Inquiries can also be made through Korean embassies in the student’s home country.

Step 2. Complete and submit your admission requirements

When applying for a master’s degree in South Korea, one should carefully check and list the admission requirements from their chosen university. Such information can be obtained by checking their university’s website and the Korean Immigration Service website. Application deadlines should also be noted as it is usually different for each university. Fall semester applications are accepted during the May to June period, while Spring semester applications are processed around September to November.

Sejong University, same as other universities in South Korea, requires an application interview on top of the required documents.

Step 3. Look for accommodations

International students should inquire to their institution if they have available slots for a dormitory upon admission. It is best to contact the university as there are application periods and requirements for such accommodations. In the unavailability of a dormitory, shared boarding houses, very small goshiwon rooms, or pricier rented flats are viable options depending on one’s finances and preferences. Information regarding room options is in university postings or legitimate real estate agents.

Step 4. Apply for a student visa

As soon as the university sends the admission confirmation, the prospective master’s students can start processing the South Korean visa application in one of their consulates in the student’s home country. The visa type would depend on the course to be taken at the university. Master’s degree student applicants, in this case, will apply for a D-2 visa.

Step 5. Filling up necessary forms upon arrival in South Korea

International students are required to fill out and register their arrival cards with the Immigration Bureau within 90 days of arrival. If the student stays or passes through one of the “Quarantinable Disease Risk Areas,” they are required to submit their “Health Questionnaire” to their quarantine officer.

Upon receiving state clearance, the student can then proceed to their respective universities for their registration process. Students can also search for accommodations if unavailable yet at the time of arrival to South Korea. Again, legitimate real estate agents are recommended to ensure the safety and legality of transactions.


Hopefully, this article on how to apply for a master’s in South Korea was informative. To know more on topics like this, check out our Open Courses and Study in Korea pages!

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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