13 Open Study/Research Award
Accepted Degree Levels
Grant PeriodAugust Start
Grant Length10 Months
Open Study/Research Awards provide the opportunity for academically mature students to complete independent research projects in Korea through 10 months of grant support. Student researchers are sought in all academic fields and from all degree levels (Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral), with the broad requirement that student researchers must pursue a distinctive research project relevant to Korea that can be reasonably accomplished within the Open Study/Research Award's 10-month time frame.
South Korea holds a unique position geopolitically as it balances relationships with the U.S., China, North Korea, and other countries in East Asia. It is also in a unique position historically as it becomes increasingly multicultural and addresses issues of demographic change and technological advancement. Additionally, with the spread in popularity of Korean culture, language, and arts worldwide, popularly known as the “Hallyu Wave,” South Korea has taken its place on the world stage as a major influencer of global culture and trends. The vibrancy of Korea’s growing music and film scenes, reflected in the worldwide fame of BTS, Parasite, and Squid Game, are equally matched by a vibrancy and uniqueness of history extending back to the mythical foundation of Korea with the Gojoseon Dynasty in 2333 BC. South Korea boasts 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including monasteries, temples, and tombs; palaces, villages, and fortress complexes. The cultural atmosphere of these sites is reflected in the traditions of dress, dwelling, and daily living still seen in the gracefulness of Hanbok and Hanok, tasted in the savoriness of Kimchi and Korean barbeque, and heard in the strains of Pansori and Samul Nori.
As with the rest of the country, Korea’s higher education system has seen rapid growth since the cessation of the Korean War in 1953 through an armistice agreement. Today, Korea has over 400 higher education institutions. (For more information on higher education in Korea, visit the Korean Ministry of Education's Study in Korea website.) This emphasis on strong academics is matched by a strong interest in research and development (R&D) as, per the OECD, Korea has one of the world’s highest levels of R&D expenditure.
With its strong focus on growth and development, and its emphasis on maintaining tradition and history, South Korea is an excellent place to study and to research topics spanning a multitude of fields and issues.
Grants will start on August 19, 2024, and end on June 18, 2025 (dates to be confirmed).
Alternate start dates will not be considered, except under the most extraordinary circumstances.
A virtual pre-departure orientation session will be offered by the Commission during the spring/summer of 2024 prior to grantee arrival in Korea.
Grantees are also required to attend an in-country orientation in the capital of Seoul shortly after their arrival in Korea.
Applicants at all degree levels will be considered. Ideal applicants should propose a distinctive research project relevant to Korea that can be reasonably accomplished in 10 months. Applicants possessing appropriate language facility and previous cross-cultural experience will find their research more effectively accomplished and their Fulbright experience enhanced. Applicants whose research projects illustrate a specific knowledge of Korean and/or East Asian history, politics, culture, or religions, for example, will have a better grasp of research possibilities. Applicants must clearly articulate their future plans and express a compelling reason for coming to Korea for their research, as opposed to any other country. Applicants must also clearly specify the wider impact of their project and how it will enhance the relationship between the two countries.
Due to the hands-off nature of independent research in Korea, undergraduates/recent graduates proposing independent research must have the academic maturity, rigor, and depth of knowledge to work independently without close guidance from their host supervisor. They must exhibit a high level of subject knowledge and personal/academic initiative. Applicants must also articulate a clear plan and outcome for their research. It is still important that grantees have strong project support from their host institution and supervisor.
- Candidates with dual U.S.-Republic of Korea nationality/citizenship will not be considered. (See section on Visa Requirements/Dual Nationality below.)
- Candidates currently residing in Korea (or those who will be residing there during the 2023-2024 academic year) will not be considered. As a tourist visa in Korea is for 90 days, residency is considered to be a cumulative stay of 3 months or more.
- Candidates who have already received a PhD degree by the grant start date are not eligible for consideration. (They should instead apply for a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award.)
Accepted Degree Levels
Special Application Instructions
As part of the selection process, semi-finalist candidates who are recommended for final review by the Fulbright Commission in Korea (KAEC) may be contacted for interviews via video call or phone. An invitation to an interview is a further step in the selection process and not a guarantee that the semi-finalist will be selected for a grant in Korea.
Foreign Language Proficiency
Additional Information: Korean language proficiency is required, not only for the development of the proposed project, but also in order to settle in easily and communicate on a daily basis. Higher level proficiency may be necessary depending on the requirements of the proposed project. In particular, applicants who intend to conduct interviews as a major component of their research methodology should possess higher level proficiency (at minimum, intermediate proficiency but preferably advanced proficiency.) The use of translators to conduct research under Fulbright is discouraged.
All applicants must show evidence of having language proficiency commensurate with the requirements of the proposed project, and the matter of project feasibility in relation to language proficiency should be thoroughly addressed in the Statement of Grant Purpose. In the Fulbright online application, applicants must include a Language Self-Evaluation and a Foreign Language Evaluation by a professional language instructor in relation to their language proficiency.
Open Study/Research awards provide a modest allowance for Korean language study.
Fulbright Proposal Types
Letter required for independent study or research at deadline
Host interest is a key factor in determining who will receive an award. The role of the affiliation in the U.S. Student Program is to provide ongoing and substantive oversight and support to the grantee's project. Grantees will be required to have an affiliation with an appropriate host institution in Korea, such as a college, university, research center, or cultural institute. (See example institutions from past alumni here: U.S. Student Program - Fulbright Korea)
Applicants must initiate contact with the host institution of preference and obtain a formal letter of affiliation between the applicant and the host institution. The letter should state that a host supervisor will be available during the grant year to mentor the applicant and/or supervise the applicant's work on the proposed project. While issuing the letter, the host supervisor must address accurately the following points:
- Origin of the collaboration;
- Role of the host supervisor in the applicant project;
- Project feasibility;
- Plans by the host affiliation to involve the applicant in the institution's activities;
- Access to facilities, equipment, resources, and/or data sets;
- Collaboration with an ongoing project.
If the proposed project entails working with human subjects or human subject data, the project proposal and/or letter of affiliation must also detail how the appropriate ethics/IRB approval will be obtained.
Although not required, if affiliated with a higher education institution, applicants are encouraged to discuss with their affiliation the possibility of auditing courses for the purpose of enhancing their Fulbright experience and research.
Please be mindful that July and August are the traditional summer vacation months in South Korea and thus responses to inquiries about letters of affiliation may be delayed. Applicants are advised to contact Korean host institutions well ahead of time to solicit an affiliation letter for their application.
Applicants who clear the U.S. selection process should be aware that their hosts may be contacted by the Fulbright commission in South Korea for additional feedback and a reaffirmation of their commitment to host the grantee.
Awards are sufficient to cover a grantee’s living expenses in Korea, but not much more. Please note that no additional funding is provided for translators, lab fees, equipment, supplies, or travel for fieldwork.
Grantees applying in music and the arts should also note that personal funds may be required to cover costs for private lessons, practice facilities, studio space, purchase of materials, etc.
Fulbright grantees are responsible for arranging their own housing in South Korea. Korean universities are not obligated to find housing. However, they may be able to offer some support or advice toward finding a studio apartment or university housing (a dorm room on campus) for rent. Host institutions may also have an international office that assists foreign students and researchers in identifying housing options.
The Commission will provide selected grantees with a list of resources for finding housing prior to arrival. That being said, grantees should begin considering their housing options very early and allow ample time to secure housing before departing for South Korea.
The Commission provides limited dependent support to offset the costs of those accompanying dependents who reside in South Korea for 80 percent of the grant duration.
Visa sponsorship of dependents is available. However, please note that visas available through the Commission cannot be used by dependents to obtain employment in Korea. Thus, if a dependent wants to work in Korea, they should seek other visa sponsorship.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Clearance
For all levels and types of projects, if the proposed research project entails "human subject" issues, applicants should be aware that gaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval after arrival in Korea is difficult, time-consuming, and, in some cases, not possible. As such, applicants should discuss this issue with their host supervisor well in advance of their arrival in Korea and explore obtaining IRB approval from their current university if at all possible. The project proposal and/or letter of affiliation should detail how the appropriate ethics/IRB approval will be obtained.
Visa Requirements/Dual Nationality
Note: The Korean Government utilizes the words “national/nationality” as opposed to “citizen/citizenship” in most official documentation in English. These words can be viewed as interchangeable for the purposes of this advisory.
All Fulbright U.S. Student awardees to Korea MUST obtain an A-3 visa and enter the country on a U.S. passport.
Candidates who are nationals of Korea will NOT be permitted to undertake Fulbright awards to Korea.
Individuals of Korean heritage may have dual U.S.-ROK nationality unbeknownst to them or their family.
In April 2010, the Republic of Korea passed legislation that allows dual nationality, with differing rules for men and women. If one of an applicant’s parents is or was a Korean national, the applicant may automatically inherit Korean nationality via Korea’s “jus sanguinis” laws. In order to confirm their Korean nationality status, applicants of Korean heritage MUST contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Korean Consulate PRIOR TO submitting a Fulbright application.
Applicants in the following circumstances are considered by the Republic of Korea to be Korean nationals:
- An individual whose father was still a Korean national at the time of the individual’s birth (if born before or on June 13, 1998)
- An individual whose father or mother was still a Korean national at the time of the individual’s birth (if born on or after June 14, 1998)
- An individual whose father was a Korean national and was deceased at the time of the individual’s birth
Applicants who fall under any of the categories listed above must contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Korean Consulate immediately to learn more about these regulations and the suggested procedures for filing for renunciation/loss of Korean nationality.
Applicants who were born in Korea and received American citizenship through naturalization should have lost their Korean nationality automatically at the time of their naturalization. However, official renunciation documentation (국적상실신고) must still be submitted to the Korean Government in order to formalize a citizenship status change. Per the Korean Consulate in Houston, “Failure to formally renounce one’s citizenship after being naturalized in another country may cause issues when applying for visas, marriage or birth registry, and legal matters.” As such, those from Korea naturalized as American citizens must contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate to ensure that their loss of Korean nationality has been formally recognized.
Applicants who were born in Korea and received American citizenship through adoption should have lost their Korean nationality automatically six months after American citizenship was granted. However, it has come to Fulbright Korea's attention that Korean nationality renunciation has not always been finalized for adoptees. As such, those adopted from Korea also must contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate prior to submitting a Fulbright application to confirm their Korean nationality status.
It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to determine whether they have dual nationality and how it impacts their eligibility for a Fulbright award.
In order to avoid withdrawal of a Fulbright award, Fulbright Korea requires all American applicants of Korean heritage to provide written proof that they do not have Korean nationality before they accept their Fulbright award. From the time a candidate is offered an award, they have approximately two weeks to return a decision and submit written verification that they do not have Korean nationality/citizenship. Failure to provide written verification before the award acceptance deadline is grounds for award withdrawal. Additionally, at the time of or after award acceptance, if any individual is found 1) to have failed to disclose they are of Korean heritage or 2) to have dual nationality with Korea, their award offer will be withdrawn.
To obtain written verification of NOT having Korean nationality/citizenship, those of Korean heritage must contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate, or the ROK Ministry of Justice.
Written verification may take the form of:
- Family records such as a “basic certificate” (기본증명서), “family relations/register certificate” (가족관계증명서), etc.
- Loss or renunciation of Korean nationality records such as a “loss of nationality notice” (국적상실 허가 통지서), “renunciation of nationality notice” (국적이탈 허가 통지서), etc.
In all instances, documentation must clearly indicate that the applicant does not have Korean nationality in order for it to be accepted as written proof.
As an individual’s Korean nationality status is contingent upon specific personal and family history, all applicants of Korean heritage should contact the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate as early as possible once they have established their interest in the Fulbright Program in Korea in order to confirm their Korean nationality status and acquire appropriate documentation.
More information about Korean nationality law can be found at:
- www.hikorea.go.kr (Immigration website run by the Korean Government)
- overseas.mofa.go.kr/us-houston-en/index.do (Website of the Korean Consulate in Houston; has a good section on “Nationality/Naturalization” under "Consular/Visa Service")
General questions regarding this requirement may be addressed to the Korean-American Educational Commission (Fulbright Korea) via email. Fulbright Korea is not a U.S. or R.O.K. government or immigration agency and thus cannot answer specific inquiries.
Fulbright Program Management Contact
Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy Website
Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy Contact
Additional Online Resources
U.S. Embassy and Consulate in South Korea : https://kr.usembassy.gov/
State Department Country Information : https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/SouthKorea.html
Study in Korea : https://studyinkorea.go.kr/ko/main.do
Visit Korea : https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto