Yonsei University | Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Yonsei University | Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Education In South Korea

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Yonsei University

Yonsei is one of Korea’s top three prestigious universities, known as SKY (Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei University). Admissions into Yonsei University are very competitive (acceptance rate is below 5%), and according to most South Koreans, admission into Yonsei University can be life changing in terms of career and social status.

Yonsei maintains an extensive international network of partner institutions and continues to rank consecutively in the QS World University Rankings.

Located in central Seoul, Yonsei University offers nearly 1,000 courses taught in English and a graduate school of international studies (GSIS) program that is dedicated exclusively to global affairs.

History of Yonsei University

The roots of Yonsei University as we know it today, can first be traced to April 10th, 1885, as Korea’s first modern hospital and royal medical institution “Gwanghyewon”.

Yonsei University was officially established as an institution of higher education in January 1957 through the union of Yonhi College and Severance Union Medical College. This union of colleges stemmed from the lasting bilateral cooperation and agreement between the two starting in the 1920s.

The two institutions were the first of their kinds in the country. Yonhi College was regarded as one of the first modern colleges (est. as Chosun Christian College) and Severance Union Medical College had ties to Gwanghyewon hospital. In tribute to the history of the two, the name “Yonsei” was created by taking the first two syllables of the two institutions.

Since then, Yonsei University has taken many strides in developing higher education in South Korea and bore responsibility in modernizing the country after the Korean War.


Yonsei University is founded in Christian principles. This is apparent from the school’s history as the two institutions that joined as Yonsei were founded by American Protestant missionaries.

The school motto of Yonsei, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32), is also taken from the bible. It was recorded that as of 2009, a student does not have to be an active Christian to attend the university. 

Historic Rivalry

Yonsei University is also famous for its long standing rivalry with another SKY university, Korea University. Yonsei and Korea University’s rivalry stems from the two both claiming to be the country’s best private university.

As a result of this rivalry, since 1925, an annual sports competition between the two universities is held, bringing out the student body and school spirit of the two schools. This sports competition is known as YonKo Jeon to students attending Yonsei and KoYeon Jeon to students attending Korea University. 


Yonsei offers a variety of colleges and programs for international students interested in attending Yonsei at the undergraduate, masters, and PhD levels. Applicants also have the opportunity to attend Yonsei’s Korean Language Institute if they would like to develop or further develop their Korean language abilities.

Fluency in Korean is not required for non-degree seeking programs or for the english language degree programs, but intensive Korean language classes are required to enter the Global Leadership Division (undergraduate degree-seeking program).

Applicants can also enter into Yonsei’s regular degree seeking programs if they hold a certain level of Korean proficiency. 


  • Colleges
  • Underwood International College (UIC)*
  • Global Leadership Division


  • Yonsei University Graduate School
  • Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS)*
  • Global MBA*
  • Graduate Institute of Theology (GIT)*

Non-Degree Seeking

  • Exchange/Visiting Student Program*
  • Yonsei International Summer School (YISS)*
  • Winter Abroad at Yonsei (WAY)*
  • Korean Language Institute (KLI)

* Programs taught entirely in English