Best universities in South Korea 2021

Explore the best universities in South Korea determined by data collected by Times Higher Education

September 10 2020
Best universities in South Korea

South Korea is known as one of the four “Asian tiger” economies, with an economy based on its fast-growing education, technology and tourism sectors.

More and more students are choosing to study in South Korea, and the country has recently seen dramatic increases in foreign enrolments. The government announced a plan to increase foreign enrolments to 200,000 by 2032 and is working hard to encourage even more students from the US, Europe and Asia to study abroad in South Korea. If you’re considering studying in South Korea, these are the best universities, according to the?Times Higher Education?World University Rankings 2021.

A falling birth rate and a projected shortfall in the number of domestic applicants, combined with a desire to foster strong international ties, are behind the government’s efforts. The government hopes to entice even more young people to study abroad in South Korea by offering a range of financial incentives to institutions and individuals, streamlining student visa applications and providing employment support for those who have studied in South Korea and wish to stay on and work.

The Incheon Global Campus outside Seoul is a partnership with universities from around the world, offering degrees from the home university taught by faculty members based on-site in South Korea. By some estimates, almost a third of university courses in South Korea are now taught in English, and many universities offer new, dedicated international campuses.


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Top 5 universities in South Korea

1. Seoul National University

Considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in South Korea, Seoul National University offers students a chance to study in the heart of the country’s bustling capital city. Seoul frequently ranks as one of the best cities in the world for higher education, and the university sits comfortably among the top universities in Asia.

The university has 16 colleges, a graduate school and 10 professional graduate schools offering hundreds of undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD courses.

The main campus, Gwanak, is based in southern Seoul and consists of more than 200 buildings catering to thousands of students and staff. The site is served by its own subway station. The university’s Yongon campus, based just north of the Han River, is home to the main branch of the Seoul National University Hospital and the medical, nursing and dental schools.

A little way outside town, the Pyeongchang campus includes the Graduate School of International Agricultural Technology as well as the Institutes of Green Bio Science and Technology and the university’s own farm complex.

Famous alumni include former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, former president of the International Criminal Court Song Sang-hyun, and Lee Jong-wook, who used to head the World Health Organization.?Academic staff include Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Fields Medal winner Hironaka Heisuke.

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

Set up by the government in 1971 with help from US advisers, KAIST was South Korea’s first research-led science and technology university. Based in the central city of Daejeon, the university was set up “in recognition of the nation’s need for elite human resources in science and technology”, and it has stayed true to its founding philosophy.

The university is highly esteemed: it is possible that your smartphone, laptop or car was designed by a KAIST graduate, and the excellent teaching and cutting-edge research conducted at the university?have been crucial in developing South Korea’s?reputation?for high-tech prowess.

The university has an innovative academic system and is allowed to operate autonomously, outside the government curriculum and admissions rules applied at other universities. KAIST boasts South Korea’s first test-free admissions system (admissions instead being based on grades, letters of recommendation from teachers and personal statements). Undergraduates may try courses before choosing their major and may switch their major at any time. More than 80?per cent of courses at KAIST are taught in English.

3.?Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

Sungkyunkwan University was founded more than 600 years ago and is the oldest university in East Asia.

The university has two campuses: the humanities and social sciences campus in Seoul, and the natural sciences campus in Suwon.

The university has academic exchange programmes and partnerships with 653 universities in 73 countries. It is also aiming to expand its dual-degree programmes with many prestigious universities all around the world. The university currently runs 33 dual-degree programmes with partners including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Schools of Engineering and Business, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Fudan University, Peking University and the University of Birmingham.

It also offers the first fully English-taught MBA programme in South Korea.


Student experience in South Korea

Studying at POSTECH, South Korea
POSTECH is one of the world’s best small universities
Seoul named one of the best university cities
The most innovative universities in the Asia-Pacific region
International perspective: a British student in South Korea


4. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Founded in 1986 in the south-eastern port city of Pohang, this research-focused university is a powerhouse turning out excellent graduates, producing world-class research and fostering close ties with partners in industry and commerce.

A relatively new, privately run institution, POSTECH has risen up the rankings at an impressive rate, earning recognition from the academic community around the world. The university has taken an innovative, student-centred approach – admitting small numbers of the best and brightest and customising teaching to fit individuals in order to nurture the next generation of world-leading innovators.

Academic and research activities are focused around science and engineering, and the university boasts some of the best facilities and more than 70 research institutes. POSTECH has its own bilingual campus, and students and faculty hail from all over the world. POSTECH aims to continue breaking new ground, both in terms of the research it does and in the way it teaches students.

5. Korea University

Founded in 1905, Korea University is one of the country’s oldest and largest universities.

There are many clubs and associations for students, including a ping-pong club,?an acoustic guitar club, an environmental preservation club and a Korean checkers club.

The university is well known for developing international education programmes. There are global campuses located around the world and many partnerships to facilitate student exchanges. In addition to sending more than 1,200 students abroad on student exchanges each year, the university welcomes 4,500 international students, consisting of short-term visiting students as well as 2,000 degree-seeking students.


Top universities in South Korea 2021

Click each institution to view its full?World University Rankings 2021?results

?World University Rank 2021? South Korea Rank 2021 University City
?60? 1 Seoul National University Seoul
?96? 2 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon
?=101? 3 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) Seoul
?151? 4 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) Pohang
?=167? 5 Korea University Seoul
?=176? 6 Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) Ulsan
?=187? 7 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) Seoul
?251–300? 8 Kyung Hee University Seoul
?301–350? 9 Sejong University Seoul
?351–400? 10 Hanyang University Seoul
?501–600? 11 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology Gwangju
?601–800? =12 Ajou University Suwon
?601–800? =12 Chung-Ang University Seoul
?601–800? =12 Ewha Womans University Seoul
?601–800? =12 Konkuk University Seoul
?601–800? =12 University of Ulsan Ulsan
?801–1000? =17 Chonnam National University Gwangju
?801–1000? =17 Inha University Incheon
?801–1000? =17 Kyungpook National University Daegu
?801–1000? =17 Pusan National University Busan
?801–1000? =17 Sogang University Seoul
?801–1000? =17 Yeungnam University Gyeongsan
?1001+? =23 The Catholic University of Korea Seoul
?1001+? =23 Chungbuk National University Cheongju
?1001+? =23 Chungnam National University Daejeon
?1001+? =23 Gyeongsang National University Jinju
?1001+? =23 Hallym University Chuncheon
?1001+? =23 Incheon National University Incheon
?1001+? =23 Jeju National University Jeju
?1001+? =23 Jeonbuk National University Jeonju
?1001+? =23 Kangwon National University Chuncheon
?1001+? =23 Kookmin University Seoul
?1001+? =23 University of Seoul Seoul
?1001+? =23 Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SeoulTech) Seoul
?1001+? =23 Soongsil University Seoul

Read more:?Best universities in Asia?

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