Korea Scholarships

Are You Ready to Take a Trip?

With the advent of globalization, the entire Asian world has flung wide open for American students who are fearlessly jetting off for increasingly foreign destinations. Considering studying abroad in Korea? No problem. Be prepared for a saturated culture, a welcoming people, and of course the effects of years of political turmoil. On the plus side, be prepared to do some groundwork now to get your trip funded, and enjoy the luxury of studying in a new territory with your home country behind you financially and socially every step of the way.

If you are fortunate enough to catch the interest of the federal government in your study abroad plans, you may be eligible for a federally funded scholarship to study in Korea as it has such a high level of political importance to the US. These are often generous, competitive, and come with education-for-work agreements in which the government will pay for your education now if you commit to working for them later, in some cases. Or, as is the case of the Critical Language Scholarship, you commit yourself to a particular course of study and stick to it.

Korea scholarships

The multitude of study abroad programs in such countries as Korea now allows students studying in a broad range of disciplines to gain a more global perspective on the Asian influence by immersing themselves in everything from business and technology, religion, arts and culture, history and the sciences. No matter your field of interest, there are some financial resources available to you from the government and quite a few from private sources specific to Korean study.

Government Scholarships

Recently, the U.S. government has instituted two critically needed scholarship opportunities that have exploded on the college scene in the last couple of years. These scholarships are able to send those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford travel to an exotic locale to study in a new environment and expand the American sphere of influence. Both provide whopping funds for innovative study abroad programs, including those in Korea:

  • The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships offer financially underprivileged undergraduates a once in a lifetime opportunity to study while experiencing a foreign culture. Applicants interested in heading off to Korea must be Pell Grant recipients and possess strong academic scores and personal motivation. Up to $5,000 may be awarded. Over 700 Gilman Scholars are honored annually.
  • An adjunct of the Gilman Scholarships are a couple dozen Critical Needs Language Scholarships that drop another $3,000 on top of the $5,000 to qualified, top-notch students interested in studying Korean or another of a handful of “critical” languages. This scholarship is ideal for the student linguist interest in immersing themselves totally in Korean, and getting paid to do so.
  • The David L. Boren Scholarships sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP) come in an undergraduate and graduate version and are exclusively focused on those applicants who are engaging in studies in non-traditional countries and cultures like Korea. Applicants must be top-notch students and interested in possibly working for the federal government in national security after graduation. The feds use this as a new recruitment tool, so the potential $25,000 comes with strings attached. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic scholarship opportunity if you are comfortable with that commitment and in need of a sizeable chunk of funding to get started.

Private Funding

Academy of Korean Studies

The Academy of Korean Studies in Korea is devoted in large part to expanding Western knowledge and appreciation for the Asian culture, especially that of Korean. To those ends the AKS sponsors the following scholarship and fellowship opportunities:

  • Graduate and Ph.D. students with research to conduct in Korea may be qualified for the unique and generous AKS Fellowship Program for Korean Studies. Preferred applicants are those engaged in or pursuing careers in academia with well-defined research projects that require travel to Korea. Recipients will be required to work on their projects at the Academy. Fellowships are available in Junior, Senior and Pre-Doctoral categories. Eligible candidates may qualify for a year of study at the AKS, which includes travel and living expenses. You will find the application for this program on their website. Remember to be very specific in your desire to go to Korea – the more intentional your reasons, the better chance you have of an outstanding application.
  • The Culture Program for Students and Scholars offers candidates an opportunity to explore the arts and culture of Korea in the context of the country’s history and current affairs. Applicants may be either undergraduate or graduate students and must be well versed in the Korean language to participate. This is a month-long program ideal for the liberal arts student with a pinpointed interest in Korea who wants to get their feet wet but not fully commit themselves to a longer study. See their website for details on applying.

The Freeman Awards for Study in Asia

The Freeman Awards for Study in Asia are some of the more well known scholarships sought by students who wish to study abroad in Korea. This makes them very competitive and equally financially robust. Funded by the Freeman Foundation, the program is designed to allow western students the opportunity to experience an Asian culture they might not have otherwise been able to. Applicants may apply for a summer, semester or year abroad in Korea. Students with the most financial need will be considered first and awards are up to $7,000.

Blakemore Freeman Fellowships

The Blakemore Freeman Fellowships for Advanced Asian Language Study offers funding for language study in Korea and other Asian locales. Eligible applicants must prove an educational or professional requirement for the language. Graduates of the Advanced Language Fellowships may also apply for the Blakemore Refresher Grants. Applicants will undergo a short-term review of language study in Korea in order to stay abreast of the language requirements for their careers. Candidates in either category are required to submit a current resume, a well-defined program of study and a written statement explaining why they require Asian language study in Korea. All fellowships cover travel, living, and tuition costs. This is perfect for the dedicated student of linguistics looking to broaden their knowledge of the Korean language.

And for the art student, there is a related grant. The Francis Blakemore Asian Art Grants have recently been reinstated to support the awareness of Asian, and Korean, art in the US by financing internships and studies at art-related institutions pertinent to the arts of northeast, east, and southeast Asia.

Preparing for Study in Korea

As your plan your Korean adventure, begin by looking over this list of financial aid options that may be available to you. In your applications for these programs, aim to be as specific as possible. Why are you the right student to study politics in Korea? What benefits do you think your time there will offer to their people? What are the factors of history that draw you to Korea on the map?

Be sure to check with other local resources for possible funding options as well. The study abroad office of your school may have other scholarships that are specific to study in Asian countries. Your local political studies center or travel hub may have some funding lying around for inquisitive students, as well, that can supplement your Korean learning experience.


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