Explore Courses

Study in Korea for Free: Top Scholarships in South Korea

Updated on 08 November, 2023

Pragya Sharma

Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor

Once in your life, you might have watched a K-drama that would have intrigued you or had a friend obsessed with K-pop songs. Being home to a booming film and music industry has made Korea a popular destination. But many remain unaware that Korea is known not only for amazing K-dramas but also as a popular educational hub, extending study opportunities for students from worldwide. As of 2021, there were 152,281 international students enrolled in Korean universities to pursue higher education. But did you know you can pursue your education in the country for free too? Read the complete article to find out how to study in Korea for free.

South Korea for International Students

If you are wondering whether South Korea is a good study option, here are a few points that could help you to make a decision.

1.Internationally recognized degrees

The country offers world-class education to students with its internationally recognized degrees. In terms of academic achievement and competitiveness, South Korea ranks among the top countries. It also has six universities ranked among the world’s top 100 by QS WUR 2023.

2.Affordable cost of living

Compared to other countries, South Korea is less expensive. You can study in Korea without breaking the bank; there are tuition-free universities in South Korea for international students, and the average cost of living is also low, making the overall cost of studying there affordable.

3.Attractive career prospects

Career opportunities are one of the major benefits that draw students to international universities. And as a growing economy, Korea offers international students a wide array of career opportunities. Infact, the employment rate in South Korea has continuously risen since 2021.  So much so that in July 2022, the employment rate increased by 3% as in July 2021.

4.Good quality of life

Along with providing high-quality education with state-of-the-art facilities, the country enhances the standard of living of the students. Over the years, Korea has gained prominence for being an exquisite place to study, travel and live, especially for youngsters.

5.Safe and student-friendly country

The crime rate in Korea is comparatively low, and so known as a safe country. Moreover, there are excellent healthcare and transportation facilities in the nation.  It even has a city (Seoul) ranked as the second most student-friendly city in the world by QS Rankings 2023.

6.Wide range of programs and courses

Whether you are looking for an undergraduate degree or a master's program, Korean universities have it all. From an MBA to a research program in advanced science, you can easily pursue any course of your interest from here. 

Popular Fields of Study in Korea

How to Study in Korea for Free

The answer to how international students can study in South Korea for free lies in its various fully-funded government scholarships. 

Let’s take a look at some of these top Korean government scholarships. 

Global Korea Scholarships (GKS) by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED)

It is one of the most popular scholarships which provides international students with numerous benefits. The GKS program has five scholarship categories for international students, providing students ample opportunities to reduce their study costs in Korea substantially. Its two most sought-after scholarship programs are as under:

1.GKS Degree Program

This fully funded scholarship covers your tuition fees and other expenses such as flight costs, medical insurance, language training course fee, research support fee, thesis printing fee/ degree completion grants, settlement allowance, etc. This scholarship is for all international students pursuing postgraduate or graduate degrees in Korea. 

For master’s degree & doctoral programs, the scholarship period is one year of Language Courses plus the degree duration (i.e., two years in the case of the master’s program and three years in the doctoral program)

2.GKS Invitation Program for Overseas students

The scholarship aims to attract and invite international students to the country. It offers a grant of ₩5,000,000 per month, a health insurance premium, and a settlement allowance of ₩200,000 upon arrival. It is provided to undergraduate students for one or two semesters. Approximately 400 international students are selected from partnered universities in ODA countries. The students are required to have at least 80% on a 100 scale.

Other Ways to Study for Free in Korea

Along with the free scholarships to study in South Korea, students also have the option to earn while studying through part-time work options or choose universities that are not much hefty on the pockets.

Part-time work options in South Korea: 

There are part-time work opportunities that help students cover their living expenses. Many jobs like teaching a foreign language, cashiers, and sales assistants at festivals, camps, and events related to international students' native languages, are a few alternate ways to gain free education in South Korea for international students. The part-time working hours vary depending on the student’s study year and TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) level. For instance, a student in the 1st – 2nd year with TOPIK level 3 or above can work for 25 hours on weekdays and without any limit on weekends, holidays, and vacations in a week. Any student who does not have the required TOPIK level can work 10 hours weekly (including Weekends, holidays and vacations).

Affordable Universities in South Korea: 

While top Korean universities like Seoul National University may be costly to study (with an annual average tuition fee of ₩7,888,000 - ₩17,080,000, many other universities that facilitate quality education programs at a comparatively lower tuition fee. Listed below are a few universities that provide affordable study option to students: 

1.Pusan National University: 

Along with providing various financial scholarships that provide students an opportunity to reduce their study costs, the PNU has an average annual tuition fee of ₩2,558,000 - ₩5,072,000. 

2.Chonnam National University: 

This university is among most affordable ones in Korea, with an average annual tuition fee of USD 3000 - USD 5000 (approximately ₩3,901,140 - ₩6,489,275). 

3.Yonsei University: 

The average tuition fee for an international student at Yonsei university is USD 3150 - USD 6300 (approximately ₩4,093,614 - ₩8,176,486) annually. 

4.Korea National University of Arts: 

The university has an average tuition fee of ₩4,800,000 annually. As per the university’s official website generally 56% of K-Arts students benefit from scholarships and financial aid.

Scholarships Offered by Korean Universities for International Students 

ScholarshipAwarded By/ Details /Key Highlights
KNU International Graduate Scholarship Kyunpook National University 

100% or 50% of tuition fees waived.

  • Available for both doctoral and master’s programs.
  • 70 new students and 210 enrolled students are selected.
Hanyang International Excellence AwardsHanyang University 
  • It waives 70%, 50%, or 30% tuition fees based on the evaluation results.
  • It is awarded for one semester.

DAEWOONG Foundation Scholarship


Seoul National University
  • It is provided to international students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs and offers the selected students a one-time award of 2,000,000 KRW.
  • Awardees of this scholarship can also get the upper hand when applying for a job at Daewoong.
  • Students from all across the world can apply for this scholarship.

Challenge Scholarship

Bright Futures Scholarship

Korea University
  • Covers 30-50% of tuition fees for next semester. 
  • The university also provides scholarships for which students do not have to apply separately and are automatically eligible. This includes Excellence Scholarship A/B and High Achievers Scholarship for enrolled students and Global Leader Scholarship A/B for new students.
Hankuk University scholarship in Korea Hankuk University 
  • The university offers numerous scholarships for master’s degree students and research scholars, along with various specialized scholarships.

Source: Respective university’s official website

How to Apply for Korean Scholarships

It is advisable to check for regulations associated with the particular scholarship. However, the two common ways of applying for a scholarship in Korea are:

For the GKS program:

Eligible students can apply for the GKS programs through the Korean embassy in their countries. The embassy and the university selects candidates and recommends further.

For the university-specific scholarships which require a separate application:

Visit the particular university’s website. Search for the Scholarship Application tab. Select the scholarship type. Submit the duly-filled application form along with the required documents.


  • The applicant must not be a Korean citizen. 
  • The applicant must not be more than 40 years of age for a master’s program, while for an undergraduate program, the candidate must be below 25.
  • Excellent academic scores, generally 80% or above on a scale of 100.
  • If you wish to apply for a master’s program, a bachelor’s degree is mandatory.

Documents Required 

Selection Procedure for Korean Scholarships 

Although the selection procedure of the candidate is dependent upon the scholarship and its criteria, the general selection procedure looks as follows: 

For the GKS program:

  • NIIED provides its criteria for the selection standards of each representative institution (Korean Embassy or University). 
  • Each embassy and university selects successful candidates among the applicants based on NIIED’s selection criteria.
  • Next, the NIIED Selection Committee chooses the most eligible and successful candidates from the pool of applicants who cleared the first selection.

For the university-specific scholarships which require a separate application:

  • The first step is document screening and ensuring all eligibility criteria are met. The selection committee then makes a decision.
  • Some universities may also take an interview as a second round of selection.
  • The list of selected candidates is usually announced on the official university website. Also, only the selected recipients are notified by email.


Choosing to study in Korea for free can be a life-altering decision. From an excellent education system to cultural enrichment, Korea is the perfect destination for pursuing higher studies. So, start exploring your options and take the first step towards an exciting and rewarding educational experience in South Korea.

Disclaimer: All fees and costs are indicative and subject to change at any time.

Read more about study in Korea:


What is the average tuition fee in Korea for international students?

The cost of education in Korea is relatively affordable compared to other countries. The average tuition fee for international students in Korea can range from ₩4,000,000 - ₩6,500,000 per semester. 

What is the average salary in Korea?

The average salary in south Korea amounts to ₩3,680,000 - ₩5,800,000, per Salary Explorer. The number differs as per the industry and job profile. 

Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor

Pragya Sharma is a content developer and marketer with 6.5+ years of experience in the education industry. She started her career as a social media copywriter for NIELIT, Ministry of Electronics & IT, and has now scaled up as a 360-degree content professional well-versed with the intricacies of digital marketing and different forms of content used to drive and hook the target audience. She is also a co-author of 2 stories in an anthology based on the theme- women empowerment.

See More

Refer Your Friend & Earn upto ₹15000

Help your friend upgrade to a Global Career and earn rewards together.