2 Korean Studies Graduate Degree Award
Accepted Degree Levels
Grant PeriodFlexible Start
Grant Length12 Months
Fulbright Graduate Degree Grants
Korean Studies Graduate Degree Awards provide up to two years of financial support to academically mature students pursuing a graduate degree (Master's or PhD) in Korean Studies at a Korean university. The objective of the award is to promote the growth of Korean Studies as a field in the United States. As such, awards support individuals who intend to pursue Korean Studies as a core component of their career and thus wish to complete an advanced degree focused primarily on Korea.
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.
Grant support is for two academic years. However, renewal for the second year is contingent upon the grantee achieving academic success (above a 3.0/4.0 GPA or equivalent) during the first year.
The academic year for higher education institutions in Korea officially starts from March 1 with the opening of the spring semester. The spring semester closes with a final exam period in mid- to late June.
Summer break is approximately two months long, with the fall semester starting the end of August or beginning of September. The fall semester closes with a final exam period in mid-December.
Most grantees are anticipated to begin their awards in the spring semester following award notification, to coincide with the official opening of the Korean academic year. However, should the proposed university program offer a fall start date, grantees may begin study during the fall semester following award notification.
Thus, awards will begin late August 2024 or late February 2025. The award end date will coincide with the selected graduate program's final exam schedule.
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 expected to attend any in-country orientation programming required by their host university or the Commission.
The Korean Studies Graduate Degree Program aims to prepare the next generation of Korean Studies faculty for American universities and Korean specialists for the public and private sectors. As such, only candidates who express a specific intent to pursue Korean Studies as a core component of their career will be considered. All candidates must clearly articulate their reasons for pursuing an advanced degree in Korean Studies in the Statement of Grant Purpose. Candidates must also clearly describe their future plans and articulate how earning a Korean Studies graduate degree will contribute to their career path and to the enhancement of the field as a whole.
Graduate students in Korea are expected to study and conduct research on a full-time basis, while maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
- 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
Applicants must select "Korean Studies Grad" in the Award Name field of the application.
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
Candidates with advanced levels of Korean language ability will be given preference. Applicants must show evidence of Korean language ability by:
- Providing transcripts containing at least 5 semesters of Korean language coursework; OR
- Providing TOPIK test results demonstrating Level 3 or higher proficiency; OR
- Providing LTI Korean test results in reading, writing, and listening demonstrating a Level B1 or higher proficiency in each skill.
Candidates will be asked to provide supporting documentation to the Commission at the semi-finalist stage in February 2024.
Language proficiency requirements are also contingent on the graduate degree program selected. As such, candidates should additionally reference the requirements of the degree program in which they intend to enroll.
For information regarding the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean), visit www.topik.go.kr.
For information regarding LTI (Language Testing International) Korean tests, visit www.languagetesting.com. LTI is a licensee of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Test results from LTI should be reported according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which utilizes an A1 to C2 scale.
Fulbright Proposal Types
Letter of acceptance required prior to grant start
No affiliation letter is required at the time of the application deadline. However, candidates must indicate within their application in which graduate program they intend to enroll. Candidates must apply for and receive admission to a Korean Studies graduate degree program independently. Final issuance of the award is contingent upon independent acceptance into an eligible Korean Studies graduate degree program.
Award recipients will recieve up to $15,000 of tuition support each academic year (distributed in KRW). Award recipients will also receive a one-time book & research allowance as well as a monthly living stipend and housing stipend (if housing is not provided by Fulbright Korea).
Selected candidates may request assistance from the Commission in finding housing.
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.
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
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