The South Korean academic year is divided into a spring and an autumn Semester. Your Masters course may start in either.
For entry onto a course starting in March, you will need to apply between September and November. For entry onto a course commencing in September the application period runs from May to June.
You will usually apply directly to your chosen university, but the Korean government also offers an online service for overseas students who register at its StudyinKorea website.
The requirements of individual institutions may vary, but you should hold a good undergraduate degree (or expect to receive one before you start your Masters programme).
South Korea's education culture is highly competitive. Admission to some courses (particularly those at top domestic universities) may require a first class undergraduate degree.
Basic admission standards for all universities are set up by the South Korean government, but individual institutions have a lot of freedom to evaluate candidates according to their own criteria. Most institutions will require you to submit the following materials as part of your application:
- A completed copy of your institution's application form.
- A personal introduction and outline of your study plan.
- A letter of recommendation, typically provided by a faculty member where you did your undergraduate degree.
- Documentation of your existing academic record, confirming (if necessary) that you are expected to receive a Bachelors degree (or equivalent) of the required standard.
- Proof of your nationality (a photocopy of your passport will usually suffice).
- Proof of proficiency in English and / or Korean (as required by your course).
You’ll also need to provide proof of financial sufficient funds, to cover you tuition and livng costs. The Korean government stipulates evidence of a bank balance of ₩19,905,586 (USD $15,000) for students who will be studying in the capital region, or ₩17,251,508 (USD $13,000) for those studying anywhere else in Korea. If you will be supported by a sponsor, you may need to provide evidence of their employment or other means.
Practical courses (such as those in creative arts or physical education disciplines) may also require a portfolio or other proof of your competence.
South Korea is keen to internationalise its higher education, and many courses are now taught wholly or partly in English. This is especially likely to be the case in graduate schools. However, some courses may still require knowledge of Korean. You should confirm in advance what (if any) the language requirements there are for your Masters programme. Where necessary you may be asked to take a Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK). The normal requirement in these cases is a score of Level 3 or above.
South Korea itself has a strong Anglophone tradition, and English is taught as a compulsory secondary language in schools. You will therefore find that many of the people you meet speak English at some level. However, gaining experience with a new language is a valuable opportunity to enhance your CV while studying a Masters abroad.
You will probably find that your university offers language education for international students. These usually take the form of intensive three-week courses or longer ten-week programmes.