Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) Programs in Korea

Category : International Students
Nov 28, 2014

 Many of Korea’s major universities now have Graduate Schools of International Studies. These schools, known to most as “GSIS”s, have different program focus areas and international opportunities, varying largely on the individual universities. Majors range from International Commerce to Korean Studies, to International Development and Peace & Security Studies, among many others. Most schools require international students to select their major at the time of application – if they want to change it during the program, it’s necessary to go through the entire application process again. Upon completion of the two-year program, students receive a Master’s Degree in International Studies, with a major in whatever field they selected. Most schools also offer international and domestic internship programs, giving students the opportunity to network and apply their skills outside of the classroom.



Unique Opportunities

Korean GSIS programs generally have broad academic focuses and small class sizes. This allows students to have a more intimate and interactive experience. As well, most Korean graduate schools require that their faculty hold degrees from only the best universities in the world. Most GSIS professors have graduated from top universities abroad and have a wealth of academic and professional experience under their belt.


It’s true that many international students find Korean graduate schools to be far less academically intense than their foreign counterparts. The trade-off is that students have access to more networking opportunities, smaller class sizes, and the chance to learn in an global environment, as most GSIS students come from international backgrounds. As well, if their field of interest is directly related to Northeast Asian culture, economics, politics, or languages, the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom are truly countless.


A Global Experience

Students can even take the concept of global education one step further, and apply for the dual degree programs offered by Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Korea University, or Ewha Womans University. These allow students to gain two separate Master’s Degrees: one from the Korean university and another from the overseas university. This dual degree option would be particularly advantageous for students who are interested in studying in Korea, but are concerned about the lack of global brand recognition most Korean universities have. This option allows students to gain an additional degree from a more internationally-recognized university (ex: New York University and Korea University’s partnership or George Washington University and Ewha Womans University partnership) while still reaping the benefits of doing their Master’s in Korea.



Korean GSIS programs are affordable compared to most international student tuition fees for Master’s Degree programs in foreign institutions. In Korea, most schools charge domestic and international students the same tuition rate, although some charge international students less. The average GSIS tuition fee in Korea is 8,450USD per year. Pusan National University is the cheapest at 3,750USD, and Ewha Womans University is the priciest at 12,500USD.





















Financial aid is also widely available for international students, with nearly every school offering entrance scholarships. Some schools, like Ajou or Chung-Ang, offer students the opportunity to volunteer on campus as Teaching Assistants in exchange for a monthly stipend. Other schools offer free perks to international students (for example, Sogang offers tuition waivers for foreign students at their Korean language institute).


Cost of living in Korea is cheap. For example, Korea University’s dorm rent ranges between 200USD to 500USD per month depending on room type, and other schools in Korea have similar fees. Some dorms have strict nightly curfews for students (the violation of which can end in dormitory expulsion). To learn more about curfews and other parts of Korean university life, read this article on International Student Life in Korea.


Application Process

Application procedures vary based on the individual school, but students can generally expect to submit a letter of intent, academic and/or personal references, a Bachelor’s Degree transcript, passport photocopies, and certification of Korean or English proficiency. In order to attend a graduate school in Korea, students need to obtain a D-2 visa.


The following nine schools are the only ones in Korea that offer GSIS programs. Each of them are recognized around Korea for their level of academics. Included in their descriptions are their international rankings, as found on the internationally-recognized QS World University Ranking system. Ajou University is the one exception, as while it does have a GSIS program, it does not place on the QS World University Ranking system. The other universities have been listed according to their international ranking.


Seoul National University/서울대학교

International Rank: #37

Nickname: SNU

The School

Seoul National University is regarded as Korea’s top school, being famous in the areas of science, engineering, and politics. SNU is a public university, located in the south-eastern Gwanak area of Seoul. Many of SNU’s graduates have gone on to become high-ranking diplomats, politicians, and business executives.


The GSIS Program

SNU’s GSIS program provides a good balance of academics and real-world experience, using a multi-disciplinary approach with its curriculum. It aims to prepare students for employment at the world’s governmental and non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, universities, media outlets, and multi-national corporations. Nearly all of SNU’s GSIS faculty are from Korea, but gained their PhDs at American or European universities. In most classes, 50% of the students have international backgrounds.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 6,650,000KRW ($6,250 USD)
  2. Length: A minimum of 45 credits is required for graduation (one class = three credits). Most students take four classes per semester and finish in two years.
  3. Possible Majors: International Commerce, International Cooperation, International Area Studies, Korean Studies, and International Development Policy.
  4. Course Focus: Multi-disciplinary, with real-world application heavily stressed.
  5. Program Strength: EU Studies (SNU was the first Korean university to have a Center for EU Commission-approved Center for Studies).
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: An online career opportunities board is available for students.
  7. International Opportunities: Students can participate in a variety of summer study abroad programs at several Ivy League universities, including: Yale, Columbia, Stanford, UPenn, Harvard, and Duke. A dual-degree program with ESSEC Business School in Paris is also available.
  8. Fun Facts/Perks: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was a graduate of SNU.


Seoul National University GSIS Inquiries

Ms. Eunsik Yang: Head of Administration Office

  1. Phone: +82 2 880 8947
  2. GSIS Website
  3. Main Website


Yonsei University/연세대학교

International Rank: #112

Nickname: Yeon-Dae/연대

The School

Yonsei is the oldest private university in Korea. Its famous long-lived rivalry with Korea University is known throughout the country. Yon-Dae is located near three other universities, Ehwa Womans University, Sogang University and Hongik University, in Seoul’s most popular college area, Shinchon. Yonsei’s campus experience offers a good balance of nightlife and nature. Recently CNN described Yonsei as having “one of the most beautiful campuses in the world”.


The GSIS Program

Yonsei’s GSIS program offers students the opportunity to specialize in three different fields. Yonsei also gives students the opportunity to gain a dual degree at one of its partner universities located from the Middle East to North America and Europe. Students can also get a discount of up to 50% on their tuition if they work on campus at the GSIS library.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 14,766,000KRW ($12,000USD)
  2. Length: Two years (48 credits or 42 credits + Master’s Thesis)
  3. Possible Majors: Korean Studies, International Cooperation, and International Trade, Finance & Management.
  4. Course Focus: Varies based on major. Korean Studies = Korean Area Studies and Language, International Cooperation = Development, and International Trade, Financial and Management = Economics.
  5. Program Strength: Politics and Security Studies.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Students are eligible to work at the GSIS Library for up to 50% of their tuition fee waived. 20 professor-coordinated research assistantship positions, paying roughly 3,636USD, are available for Masters and PhD students.
  7. International Opportunities: Dual degree programs available at: University of Geneva, Keio University, University of Chicago, University of St. Gallen, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kimep University, and the Lauder School at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.


Yonsei GSIS Inquiries

Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University

  1. Phone: +82 2 2123 3291 ~4
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Korea University/고려대학교

International Rank: #137

Nickname: KU or Go-Dae/고대

The School

Known for its extremely competitive admissions process, KU only accepts about 6% of applicants into its programs. Its Law school is particularly well-known. KU’s international student population of 8,300 is one of the largest in the country.


The GSIS Program

KU’s GSIS program aims to train students in the areas of economic, political, social, developmental, and environmental issues. It also offers several summer study abroad opportunities in New York City, Macao, Paris, Beijing, and Vienna. The focus for KU’s GSIS program varies on the individual student’s specializations.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 11,974,000KRW ($11,250USD)
  2. Length: 50 credits (most courses are three credits).
  3. Possible Majors: International Commerce (IC), International Peace and Security (IPS), International Development & Cooperation (IDC), and Regional Studies (RS).
  4. Course Focus: IC: Trade, Finance, Business and Marketing; IPS: World Politics, International Negotiation, Comparative Foreign Policy, History, North-South Korea Relations, and International Law & Human Rights; IDC: Multilateral& Regional Cooperation for Economic Development, International Development Organizations, Water & Development in East Asia, and Sustainable & International Development; RS: European Studies and East Asian Studies.
  5. Program Strength: Business and Economics
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Several programs are offered in conjunction with the Korea International and Cooperation Agency, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. As well, academic credit for internships over two months can be gained.
  7. International Opportunities: Exchange programs with: NYU, Waseda University, Nagoya University, American University, and the State University of New York. Dual-degree programs are also available at NYU (New York City) and American University (Washington, DC).
  8. Fun Facts/Perks: KU also offers non-degree programs in Anti-Corruption and Global Business.


Korea University GSIS Inquiries

Ms. Eunsik Yang: Head of Administration Office

  1. Phone: +82 2 3290 1391
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Hanyang University한양대학교

International Rank: #249

The School

Hanyang University, located in eastern-central Seoul, is one of Korea’s top schools. It’s particularly well-known for its business program. Hanyang is currently trying to increase its international reputation.


The GSIS Program

Hanyang University emphasizes language skills as part of its GSIS program. Aiming to train bilingual professionals to work for NGOs and other international organizations, Hanyang hires international scholars and professors to further the school’s internationalization. Hanyang also encourages its students to go beyond the classroom and gain domestic or international experience through its internship program.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 8,952,000KRW ($8,410USD)
  2. Length: 42 credits over two years (four semesters).
  3. Possible Majors: Chinese, Russian, American, Japanese, and Korean Studies.
  4. Course Focus: Area studies: students must focus on a particular country and study its culture, geography, economics, politics, and language.
  5. Program Strength: Area and Language Studies.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Paid internships are available through the Korea Institute for Economic Policy’s “Central Asia Specialist Program”.
  7. Fun Facts/Perks: International students are eligible to receive an entrance tuition discount of 50% to 100% based on prior academic achievement.


Hanyang GSIS Inquiries

Sung-Chull Lee: Dean, GSIS

  1. Phone: +82 2 22200285
  2. GSIS Website
  3. Main Website


Ewha Womans University/이화여자대학교

International Rank: #341

Nickname: E-Dae/이대


The School

Ewha Womans University is Korea’s top women’s-only school, and is the largest women’s university in the world. However, male international students are permitted to attend. Located in Seoul’s most popular college area Shinchon, Ewha is within a short distance to some of the best restaurants, shops, and clubs in the city.


The GSIS Program

Ewha’s GSIS program has been ranked as the #1 GSIS program in the country by the Korean Ministry of Education. Ewha also ranks #2 in terms of how many graduates are currently employed by international organizations. Current Ewha GSIS graduates work at UN Headquarters, WTO, various international and domestic think tanks, consulting firms, and multinational and domestic corporations. Ewha’s GSIS is also the only Korean school to be accredited by the ISA (International Studies Association). Smal class sizes, competitive internship offerings and intensive language and computer skill training courses help contribute to Ewha’s reputation.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 12,000,000KRW ($12,500USD)
  2. Length: Two years or 1.5 years (IPTD program).
  3. Possible Majors: Regular programs: International Studies (IS) and Korean Studies (KS). Special programs: Ewha-IPTD (Interdisciplinary Program of Technology and Development)
  4. Course Focus: IS: International Trade & Investment, International Business, Development Coordination, International Relations, and Women & Development. KS: Korean Culture and Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language. IPTD: IT, Design, or Health/Environment.
  5. Program Strength: Women’s Studies and International Development.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Credit can be gained for completing an internship in Korea or overseas. While students are responsible for finding an internship placement, the GSIS still provides support and resources.
  7. International Opportunities: Ewha GSIS can earn an additional Master’s Degree from George Washington University (Washington, DC) after completing three semesters at Ewha and two semesters at GWU. A summer study abroad program at Harvard is also available.
  8. Fun Facts/Perks: Global Career Management Centre (GCMC) helps connect graduates with employers.


Ewha Womans University GSIS Inquiries

The Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University

  1. Phone: +82-2-3277-3652, 3953, 3954, 3955, 3956
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Sogang University/서강대학교

International Rank: #391

The School

Sogang is a Catholic university in western-central Seoul, near the popular Hongdae and Sinchon student areas. Sogang offers international students free Korean language classes, as well as a “supporter system”, which matches new students with Korean and international supporters to aid with the housing search, cultural adjustment, and academics.


The GSIS Program

Sogang’s small class sizes are an advantage of its programs. The GSIS program currently hosts 70 students from 30 different countries. As well, Sogang’s GSIS offers the highest percentage of student scholarships. All of Sogang’s faculty hold degrees from American or European institutions. All of the GSIS courses are offered in English.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 7,976,000KRW ($7,500USD)
  2. Length: 15 courses or 13 courses + thesis over two years.
  3. Possible Majors: International Relations (IR), International Trade (IT), International Finance (IF), and Korea & East Asia (KEA).
  4. Course Focus: IR: (optional) National Intelligence & Security specialization; IT: International Business and International Negotiations& Policy Analysis; KEA: China, Japan or Korea.
  5. Program Strength: All courses are conducted in English, and programs’ areas of focus are fairly broad.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Students are given between 500USD to 1,300USD upon completing an internship, depending on the distance and evaluation from their internship supervisor.
  7. International Opportunities: Students can go abroad either through the International Office’s or GSIS’s exchange programs.
  8. Fun Facts/Perks: Weekly Global Executive Forum held on Wednesday afternoons, featuring guest lecturers from the government, embassies, global companies, and NGOs. These discussion and presentation sessions allow students to network, and often put them on the fast track to getting an internship.


Sogang University GSIS Inquiries

Sogang University GSIS

  1. Phone: +82 2 705 8753
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Pusan National University/부산대학교

International Rank: #401-450

Nickname: PNU

The School

While Pusan National University is not one of the country’s top universities, its coastal location in southwestern Korea provides a sunny alternative to studying outside of Seoul, where nearly all of the major universities are located. Currently, just over 9,000 graduate students study at SNU. The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), held every fall, attracts some of Korea’s biggest stars.


The GSIS Program

Pusan’s location on Korea’s southwestern coast as a port city gives it a unique perspective in its GSIS. Students can major in International Logistics & Port Management, for example. PNU’s GSIS aims to provide students with a balance of academic and real-world experience. A special emphasis is put on international trade.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 4,000KRW ($3,750USD)
  2. Length: Two years.
  3. Possible Majors: International Trade, EU Studies, International Logistics& Port Management, Korean Studies, International & Area Studies, EU Studies.
  4. Course Focus: Varies depending on major. Most courses have international trade focus.
  5. Program Strength: International Trade and Management.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: An online internship board, accessible only to students, is available for job seekers and employers.
  7. International Opportunities: PNU does not currently have any international agreements at the GSIS level.


Pusan National University GSIS Inquiries

PNU Graduate School of International Studies

  1. Phone: +82 051 510 1663
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Chung-Ang University/중앙대학교

International Rank: #551-600

The School

Chung-Ang University is one of Korea’s top schools. Known mainly for its programs in Cinema Studies, Pharmacy, Journalism and Traditional Music, CAU offers a wide range of programs and around 500 courses in English. Located in south-central Seoul, CAU is a short bus ride away from downtown Seoul, and is situated between the popular nightlife areas of Gangnam and Hongdae.


The GSIS Program

CAU’s GSIS program is split up into three main areas: Global Affairs & Trade, Global Business & Finance, and Advanced Interpretation and Translation. Most students in the GSIS courses have international backgrounds, and the class sizes are fairly small.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 12,000,000KRW ($11,280USD)
  2. Length: 42 major credits + 4 foreign language credits over two years.
  3. Possible Majors: International Studies (ISP), and Advanced Interpretation and Translation Program (AITP)
  4. Course Focus: ISP: Global Affairs and Trade or Global Affairs and Finance. AITP: Korean-English, Korean-Chinese, or Korean-Russian.
  5. Program Strength: Trade and Finance.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: Students can work as Teaching Assistants and receive a monthly stipend.
  7. Fun Facts/Perks: Applicants who are fluent in Japanese and Chinese (in addition to English) will be given special consideration.


Chung-Ang University GSIS Contact Inquiries

Chung-Ang University Graduate School of International Studies

  1. Phone: +82 2 820 5624
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website


Ajou University/아주대학교

International Rank: Not ranked

The School

Located in Suwon, about a one-hour subway ride away from Seoul, Ajou University is home to around 14,000 students (3,500 of which are graduates). Ajou admits roughly 750 international students a year from 200 universities in 58 countries.


The GSIS Program

Ajou has a very diverse GSIS student population, with over 95% of students coming from countries outside of Korea. From these, the majority are from Asia, followed by Europe and Africa. Ajou’s GSIS also has a variety of scholarship opportunities for international students. Some are based solely on academics, while others require students to volunteer as a Teaching or Administrative Assistant during their studies.


Program Outline

  1. Annual Tuition: 8,800,000KRW ($8,000 USD)
  2. Length: 36 credits or 30 credits + thesis over two years
  3. Possible Majors: International Development and Cooperation (IDC), NGO Studies (NGOS), International Trade (IT), International Business (IB), and Korean Studies (KS),
  4. Course Focus: IDC: multidisciplinary approach, including political, economic, social and environmental perspectives; NGOS: NGO & Civil Society, NGO & Global Governance, NGO & Policy, and NGO Management; IT: no specializations mentioned; IB: no specializations mentioned; KS: Language & Literature, Korean Studies & Culture, General Issue Studies (Politics, Education and Business)
  5. Program Strength: the only Korean GSIS with an NGO Studies program.
  6. Internships and Co-Ops: A competitive internship program is open to foreign students who want to work for Korean companies or government offices
  7. International Opportunities: International Symposium is held annually on campus. Students from across the GSIS present and debate several different issues. Student exchange programs are also available.
  8. Fun Facts/Perks: Students with a minimum 3.5/4.5 GPA can receive a scholarship from the GSIS. These range from 50% of the student’s tuition fee waived, to free tuition + free dormitory accommodation.


Ajou University GSIS Inquiries

Ajou Graduate School of International Studies

  1. Phone: +82 2 880 8947
  2. Email:
  3. GSIS Website
  4. Main Website



Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at