In the past few decades, South Korea has shot onto the global stage with world-leading industries in tech, fashion, beauty, and more. The world now listens to K-Pop, relies on Korean gadgets, eats kimchi, and swears by Korean skincare. It’s no wonder, then, that so many students are turning their thoughts towards the skyscrapers of Seoul and Busan.

But by studying abroad in South Korea, you'll see much more than its neon-lit cities and its trendsetting influence. It’s a country with a long, rich history, seen in its shrines, temples, and local markets. It’s a place of breathtaking natural beauty, with soaring mountain ranges hovering just outside of every city. It’s also home to a fun-loving population that truly enjoys what their country has to offer.

South Korea welcomes international students with open arms. Universities offer reasonable tuition fees and plenty of scholarships, which has created vibrant and diverse student communities in all of the country’s major cities.

Most people have only ever heard of Seoul, but there are plenty of other exciting and beautiful cities to consider when studying abroad in South Korea.

Busan

Korea’s second-largest city is a colorful port town and a thriving cultural hub. You’ll find great city beaches, cool boutiques, countless bars and restaurants, and the best fish markets in the country. Busan is nestled in the mountains, which also makes it a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. It is home to several universities and lively student hubs, making it a great place to study abroad in South Korea.

Seoul

Whether you want to study for a summer, semester, or year, you can find a program in Seoul. It's the beating heart of the country and home to about half of the country’s population. It's easily one of the coolest cities in Asia: expect dizzying modernity at a non-stop pace, but keep an eye out for quiet glimpses of the city’s rich history. It is also an incredibly student-friendly city, ranked within the top 10 student cities in the world according to QS rankings. Foreign students can take courses in arts, East Asian and Korean Studies, Korean language, engineering, computer science, and more at Yonsei University with CIEE.

Daegu

Unlike constantly changing Seoul, Daegu still has very strong links to its traditions, as seen in the city's love of oriental medicine and traditional markets. A large student population keeps the place feeling youthful and modern, with a lovely low-key vibe. It is especially popular with exchange students and ex-pats, making it a very easy place to settle into for foreigners.

Daejeon

If you want to learn about a scientific subject in South Korea, look for study abroad programs in Daejeon. It's home to KAIST, which is commonly called the “MIT of South Korea,” as well as several other prestigious scientific institutions. It is a forward-thinking, innovation-driven city, and it’s also a suburb of Seoul, so the buzz of the big city is never too far away.

South Korea is a popular study abroad destination, so the infrastructure to help international students settle in is already in place. Students can count on support from their university as well as from the large foreign student populations in the big cities.

How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in South Korea

One way to choose a Korean study abroad program is to simply ask yourself what you look for in a city. If you want non-stop energy (or you’re really, really into K-Pop), Seoul is the obvious choice for you. If you want to enjoy South Korea’s more traditional side, pick student-friendly Daegu. Nature lovers will be satisfied with living and learning in just about any major city in South Korea -- a mountain is never too far away.

You could also choose the best university for your chosen area of study. For instance, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon is the best place for science students, while Seoul has the best business schools.

Housing

Many universities in South Korea have on-campus dorms, and international students often get priority. If you can’t get a room in one of these, other options include:

  • Dorm-style buildings with shared facilities and private rooms (Goshiwon) - $200-$400 a month, utilities included
  • Studio apartment in Seoul - from $800 a month, plus utilities ($100 minimum)
  • “Officetel” apartment (modern office + hotel city building) - from $500, plus utilities ($100 minimum)
  • Shared housing in an apartment or house - $300 - $500 a month depending on location, utilities are sometimes included

42Share is a great website for finding house shares (as well as some studio apartments) in Seoul.

Visas

International students require a D-2 student visa to study in South Korea. This can be arranged at your closest Korean Embassy or Consulate, once you have received your admission letter from the university. If you need any support during the process, your university should be able to help.

Social Life & Student Culture

South Korea has a fun and lively student culture, with plenty of drinking and eating out. Universities have many student associations, which are very much focused on getting their members to socialize.

Korean culture is very hierarchical: elders are always to be respected. At university, this manifests itself in the relationship between sunbaes (upperclassmen) and hubaes (underclassmen). Subaes treat their hubaes to meals and nights out, taking on a mentorship role of sorts, and you are expected to pass this on to your hubaes later on.

There are a lot of rigid customs surrounding table manners and other parts of everyday life, but as a foreigner, you will be given the benefit of the doubt as you settle in. Stay respectful and observant, and you will eventually get the hang of things.

Health & Safety

South Korea is an incredibly safe country, so only the usual precautions apply. In particular, watch out for pickpockets in central areas of big cities.

Healthcare is generally very good. The only thing to bear in mind is that English-speaking doctors can be difficult to find outside of International Clinics, where the consultation alone costs $35-70. Make sure you know what kind of care your insurance covers, and that it allows for upfront payment.

Studying abroad in South Korea is quite affordable, especially if you’re coming from the U.S. or Europe. Tuition fees and housing costs are reasonable, as are daily expenses like food.

Typical Costs to Study Abroad in South Korea

Tuition fees for South Korea programs can differ depending on whether you study abroad through direct enrollment or a program provider. Usually, direct enrollment at a university can be similar to your regular tuition rate at home. Overall, it costs an average of $4,350 per semester for public universities, $5,800 for private ones, and $6,500 for Seoul’s top universities. The cost is the same for domestic students, which is an unusually fair arrangement designed to attract international students.

Funding Options

South Korea is keen to attract international students, so there are actually quite a few scholarships available (see below).

Many students work part-time to supplement their income. You can work up to 20 hours a week on your student visa, although you may struggle to find jobs that don’t require speaking Korean.

Scholarships

The Korean government has an excellent scholarship for international students called Global Korea. This includes your airfare, full tuition fee, resettlement and living allowances, medical insurance, and language courses for one year.

Individual universities also have a range of study abroad scholarships that can apply to your time in South Korea, so have a look at your preferred institution’s website to see what’s available. Alternatively, you can explore scholarship options here.

Study Abroad Programs in South Korea

Displaying 1 - 15 of 17 programs
EF International Language Campuses
EF Language Year Abroad in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea
10 •1 review

The bright lights and buzzing streets of South Korea's capital city...

CIEE
CIEE Arts + Sciences in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea
9.92 •13 reviews

CIEE’s Arts and Sciences program is designed for students to learn at...

CIEE
CIEE Summer Korean Studies in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea
9.75 •4 reviews

Spend your summer exploring the culture, business practices, and...

USAC
Korea: Seoul - Korean and East Asian Studies, Kookmin University
South Korea
10 •2 reviews

Seoul is located in the northwest corner of South Korea and the Han...

USAC
Korea: Seoul - Korean and East Asian Studies, Yonsei University
South Korea
9 •4 reviews

Come study abroad at Yonsei University with USAC in South Korea...

USAC
Korea: Gwangju - Undergraduate Courses
South Korea
10 •1 review

Live and study in Gwangju, the sixth largest city in one of the most...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Study Abroad in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea
9.83 •6 reviews

If you are looking to study in South Korea, ISA has exciting programs...

CIS Abroad
CIS Abroad - Semester in South Korea - Sogang University
South Korea
10 •1 review

On our Semester in South Korea program, you’ll study at Sogang...

153 reviews
Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea: Study Around the World
Multiple Countries
9.75 •153 reviews

Explore multiple countries around the world while earning up to 15...

The Education Abroad Network
TEAN: Study Abroad in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea
10 •13 reviews

Set amongst the foothills of picturesque mountains, Seoul is home to...

Asia Exchange
Study Abroad in Seoul, Korea (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
South Korea
9.33 •3 reviews

Study abroad in South Korea, in the capital city of Seoul, and enjoy...

CIS Abroad
CIS Abroad - Summer in Asia - Japan & South Korea
Multiple Countries

Experience two of the most dynamic, traditional, and modern industrial...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Study Abroad in Busan, South Korea
South Korea

The Business, Global Studies, and Korean Language program at Pusan...

Asia Exchange
Spend a summer in Seoul, South Korea - HUFS International Summer School
South Korea

Study abroad with our partner in Korea, HUFS. We do not only offer a...

ISEP
Study in South Korea with ISEP: Undergraduate Level
South Korea

- Ewha Womans University is the alma mater of the most prominent...

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is living in South Korea expensive?

    Living costs in South Korea are pretty reasonable. To give you a general idea, here are a few cost of living prices: $2.75 for a beer, $6 for a meal at a restaurant, ~$1 per trip for public transportation, and between $350 to $675 USD per month to rent an apartment (depending on if it's rural or in a city).

  • Where can I study abroad in South Korea?

    South Korea has several large cities perfect for study abroad students like Busan, Seoul, Daegu, and Daejeon. Seoul is the capital and the largest city in South Korea, making it one of the best places to further your education overseas.

  • Why study in South Korea?

    South Korea is a leader in many economies including tech, fashion, and beauty. Students can enjoy an international community, an abundance of cultural activities, and an education from some of the top universities with reasonable tuition fees. Plus, it's full of natural beauty and bustling cities waiting to be explored!

  • How much does it cost to study abroad in South Korea?

    South Korean public universities generally cost about $4,350 per semester. Private universities can cost more, starting at $5,800 per semester. Some of the top institutions can cost around $6,500 per semester. These fees may also change depending on if you enroll at a university directly or through a third-party provider. In addition to tuition, consider the costs of flights to South Korea and living expenses such as rent, groceries, utilities, and extracurricular activities.

What People Are Saying

This program is one of the best short term winter programs I have done. Korea University has a beautiful campus and great facilities. The professors were also amazing. I was able to take a class...

Graduation Day: KU (Korea University) had a cute ceremony to commemorate our experience. We got the cap and gown and everything!

I was able to end my last semester of college in the most spectacular way, thanks to my USAC study abroad program in Seoul, South Korea. I attended Yonsei University, one of South Korea's most...

Girl in front of ivy covered school building at Yonsei Univerity

I was able to have the time of my life at Kookmin University in South Korea, the country that is known for their rapid technology innovations and “KPOP” a genre of music that is creating a sensation...

I was able to rent out the Korean Traditional dress and tour around "Gyeongbokgung," a historical palace where kings and royals use to live.

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