Study in Korea: The Lowdown

Samuel Clennett

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get great quality teaching, as well as experiencing a totally different way of life, you might be considering taking a course in Korea. Korean culture is increasingly taking its place on the global stage, and the heady blend of ancient traditions, modern economic successes, delicious cuisine and of course K-Pop make it a popular place for students from all around the world.

Korea is home to hundreds of higher education institutions, including some top ranked universities, and many courses are offered in English. Tuition fees can vary between institutions, but may come in cheaper than the equivalent course in Australia. There are also scholarships available to international students to encourage applications.

That said, living abroad is never cheap, as you’ll need to pay extra for travel, accommodation and living expenses. You’ll probably also want to invest in some Korean language classes to help you get by, away from campus.

If you’re planning on studying in Korea, you could save money on the cost in international payments and currency conversion, with Wise. This guide will cover how you might be better off paying your tuition and living expenses using Wise, as well as touching on the multi-currency borderless account from Wise, which can make day to day life easier and cheaper.

More on that - and a full review of the costs of studying in Korea - later.

Studying in Korea

Korea offers a high level of education and student experience - in fact Seoul was voted number 10 in the world in a ranking of best cities for students, in 2018¹. The government and other institutions also award scholarships to international students in Korea, to increase diversity and encourage foreigners to consider taking a course there. To support this, many universities now offer programs in English, allowing international students to choose between an exchange program, a short course during the summer/winter break, or even a full degree program²,³.

Higher education courses in Korea can come with lower tuition fees compared to Australian universities - although the prices vary according to the course you’re interested in and the institution you choose. To give an example, the indicative cost for a domestic student taking a Bachelor of Science course at the University of Sydney will be in the region of AUD9,500 in fees for the first year. The same course in Korea is likely to cost between AUD2,600 and AUD12,300 per annum, depending on the specific course chosen and the year of study⁴,⁵.

If you’re considering the cost of studying in Korea, you’ll also need to take into account accommodation, travel, and daily life⁶. It’s also worth thinking carefully about some of the likely challenges associated with getting settled into a new life overseas. While Korean universities offer English language courses, and welcome international students, you may find that away from the campus people speak much less English. Learning Korean would be a definite advantage.

Universities in Korea are also known to have strict policies on attendance, which mean that simply missing one or two classes could result in a deduction in points or even lead to you failing the course. Getting into specific courses is also competitive, so to keep your university place, you’ll be expected to hit certain GPA scores throughout⁷. Invest some time in reading the university and course rules before you commit.

Study Visa

Before you can enter Korea, you’ll need to get a student visa or study permit from the Korean Embassy or Consulate closest to your home in Australia. If you’re applying for an exchange program or degree course, you’ll probably need a D2 type visa, while those attending for a shorter course - to study Korean language for example - may be eligible for a D4 type visa⁸.

To apply for your visa you’ll need to pay a fee and provide a set of documents. These may vary depending on your situation, but are likely to include:

  • Photocopy of your passport with additional passport sized photos
  • Completed application form
  • Acceptance letter showing the course you’re planning to take
  • Proof of the educational institution’s registration
  • Evidence you can pay your fees and daily costs
  • Information about your family, if your parents are liable for your fee payment or are helping to cover your living expenses

Visas are likely to be issued for 2 years.

Cost of studying in Korea

The price of studying in Korea will vary depending on where you choose to live, and the course you’re interested in pursuing. Associate degrees are cheaper in most cases than bachelor or graduate degrees. If you want to take up a specialist subject - for example if you choose to study medicine in Korea -you’ll pay extra.

Not only do tuition fees vary from place to place, the price of accommodation, food and transport is dependant on the city you choose. Here are some of the key costs you’ll want to think about.

Tuition fees

Course typeIndicative fee per annum⁴
Associate degree - science subjectsAUD2,600 - AUD9,200
Associate degree - art subjectsAUD2,500 - AUD10,700
Undergraduate degree - science subjectsAUD2,600 - AUD12,300
Undergraduate degree - art subjectsAUD2,800 - AUD12,400
Undergraduate degree - medicineAUD6.300 - AUD15,800
Graduate degree - science subjectsAUD2,200 - AUD12,600
Graduate degree - art subjectsAUD2,200 - AUD9,400
Graduate degree - medicineAUD3,400 - AUD15,500

Accommodation and other costs

The Korean government provides lots of helpful information about the extra costs you’ll need to consider, on the Study in Korea website. Here you’ll find indicative costs of accommodation and meals taken on campus, as well as transport fees.

The prices are given in US dollars and Korean won, so here we have converted them to AUD for ease. However, as both costs and exchange rates change all the time, you’ll need to do your own research to check the most up to date costings available before you apply to study in Korea.

Type of costCost example (AUD)⁴,⁶
AccommodationDormitory room (shared with 4 people) - $900 - $1,300 per semester Dormitory room (shared with 2 people) - $1,300 - $2,000 per semester Boarding house (including meals) - $400 - $700 per month in Seoul
Korean language lessons10 week course from $1,900
FoodFrom around $440 per month to eat in the campus canteen
TransportVariable - from around $60 per month for local public transport

Universities in Korea

There are 370 official higher education institutions in Korea, including 29 which are listed in the 2019 global rankings as top universities in the world⁹. Here are some of the highest rated institutions to consider when researching the right course for you:

  • Seoul National University
  • KAIST - Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
  • Korea University
  • SungKyunKwan University
  • Yonsei University
  • Hanyang University
  • Kyung Hee University

Cut the costs of studying abroad with Wise

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity - but it’s not going to be cheap. Not only do you need to factor in additional transport costs, you’ll also need to find a cheap, safe and efficient way to convert your currency from Australian dollars to Korean won. If you are looking for a way to send money to South Korea, Wise could be an option.

Wise can help. Sending money overseas with Wise is simple, and all currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with no hidden fees. You’ll just pay a transparent charge per transaction, which can be much cheaper than using your normal bank.

You could benefit even more with the multi-currency borderless account from Wise. This new account lets you hold money in dozens of different currencies and convert between them easily whenever you like. You can receive payments into the account for free in dollars, and then switch to Korean won when you need to, using the mid-market rate. You’ll also get a linked debit Mastercard to make day to day spending straightforward.

Ready to take the plunge and study in Korea? See how much you could save with Wise.


  1. Best Student Cities
  2. Overseas Student Info
  3. Education System Korea
  4. Tuition Fees
  5. Education Australia
  6. Life In Korea
  7. Pros and Cons of student life in Korea
  8. Visa Info
  9. Guide to South Korean Universities

All sources accurate as 06/12/2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location