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Best universities in South Korea 2023

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

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October 14 2022
Best universities in South Korea

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Top 10 universities in South Korea

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in South Korea

South Korea Rank 2023 World University Rank 2023  University City
1 56 Seoul National University Seoul
2 78 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) Seoul
3 =91 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon
4 =163 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) Pohang
5 =170 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) Seoul
6 174 Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) Ulsan
7 201–250 Korea University Seoul
=8 251–300 Kyung Hee University Seoul
=8 251–300 Sejong University Seoul
10 401–500 Hanyang University Seoul

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.

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More and more students are choosing to study in South Korea, and the country has recently seen dramatic increases in international 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 2023.

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 2023

5. 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 other universities 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.

4. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Founded in 1986 in the south-eastern port city of Pohang, POSTECH is a research-focused university.

The university admits only a small number of students every year and customises teaching to fit individuals based on their interests and study priorities.

Academic and research activities are focused around science and engineering, with more than 70 research institutes. POSTECH has its own bilingual campus, and students and faculty hail from all over the world.


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3. 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.

The university is based in the central city of Daejeon.

It is possible that your smartphone, laptop or car was designed by a KAIST graduate, and the teaching and 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 implemented 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.

2. Yonsei University (Seoul campus)

Yonsei University, which started life in the late 1800s, was founded by Horace Grant Underwood, a Christian missionary.

The university operated under many different identities before becoming Yonhi University in 1946 and then taking on its current name in the late 1950s.

Yonsei University is a member of SKY universities, a term for the three institutions widely regarded as the most prestigious in the country.

Alumni include Han Seung-su, former prime minister of South Korea, who also served as the president of the United Nations General Assembly. Professional golfer Ryu So-yeon won the United States Women’s Open Championship while a student at Yonsei.

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.

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 Organisation. Academic staff include Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Fields Medal winner Hironaka Heisuke.


Top universities in South Korea 2023

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2023 results

South Korea Rank 2023 World University Rank 2023  University City
1  56  Seoul National University Seoul
2  78  Yonsei University (Seoul campus) Seoul
3  =91  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon
4  =163  Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) Pohang
5  =170  Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) Seoul
6  174  Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) Ulsan
7  201–250  Korea University Seoul
=8  251–300  Kyung Hee University Seoul
=8  251–300  Sejong University Seoul
10  401–500  Hanyang University Seoul
11  501–600  Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) Gwangju
=12  601–800  Ajou University Suwon
=12  601–800  Chung-Ang University Seoul
=12  601–800  Konkuk University Seoul
=12  601–800  University of Ulsan Ulsan
=16  801–1000  Ewha Womans University Seoul
=16  801–1000  Kyungpook National University Daegu
=16  801–1000  Yeungnam University Gyeongsan
=19  1001–1200  Chonnam National University Gwangju
=19  1001–1200  Inha University Incheon
=19  1001–1200  Jeonbuk National University Jeonju
=19  1001–1200  Pusan National University Busan
=19  1001–1200  Sogang University Seoul
=24  1201–1500  The Catholic University of Korea Seoul
=24  1201–1500  Chosun University Gwangju
=24  1201–1500  Chungbuk National University Cheongju
=24  1201–1500  Chungnam National University Daejeon
=24  1201–1500  Gyeongsang National University Jinju
=24  1201–1500  Hallym University Chuncheon
=24  1201–1500  Incheon National University Incheon
=24  1201–1500  Jeju National University Jeju
=24  1201–1500  Kangwon National University Chuncheon
=24  1201–1500  University of Seoul Seoul
=24  1201–1500  Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SeoulTech) Seoul
=24  1201–1500  Soonchunhyang University Asan
=24  1201–1500  Soongsil University Seoul
=37  1501+  Kookmin University Seoul

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