**UPDATE** This blog post is from 2014. While much of the advice may still be valid, NIIED has changed some of the guidelines and requirements. For 2017 updates see this new blog post. And always be sure to read each year’s new guidelines thoroughly before preparing your application.
Okay, so in the 2014 facebook group for KGSP, a lot of people have asked about the required documents for the application.
(I say “a lot,” but it is probably less than 10. It just seems like more when they all ask the same question.)
First of all, you can find past and current year application information at the Study In Korea website. They publish the new graduate info at the beginning of February each year (and undergraduate at the beginning of September – be careful not to confuse the two). If they haven’t released the information for the year in which you plan to apply, then you can look back at previous years. The basic process has not changed all that much.
In the graduate program guidelines you will find a handy checklist of all of the documents that you will need to submit, so I really could just stop here, but I will try to add a few pointers regarding each one.
1. Personal Data (Attachment #1)
You will find this in the same file, right after the checklist. There is one set of forms for University applicants, and one set for Embassy applicants. The majority is the same, but some parts are different (for example the Embassy application has space to write your three chosen universities, but the University application does not).
Most of it is self explanatory, but…
- English Proficiency/Korean Proficiency – If you have IELTS/TOEFL or TOPIK scores you can write them here. For me, under English proficiency I wrote “Native Speaker” just to make it obvious. NIIED says that these are optional, but if you are not a native speaker of either English or Korean, I would include at least one of them if you can. It’s important to show them and the universities that you will be able to study in either English or Korean.
- Published papers – If you are applying for a PhD then you likely have some papers published from your Master’s Degree. I recommend including one or two of your best. More is not necessarily better, they only have time to read so much. If you are applying for a Master’s degree, then you may not have any published papers, and that’s okay. Don’t stress about it. But if you have published then go ahead and list them.
- Awards – If you received academic awards, public service awards, etc then list them here. I recommend choosing recent awards (don’t go back to high school). Ultimately the choice is yours as to what you want to present to the selection committees.
- University choice(s) – The application asks for University/Faculty/Department/Major, but the university information lists University/Division/Department/Field of Study. These are the same things, so you can write it as you see it in the university information. (For example “Ajou University/College of Engineering/Molecular Science and Technology/Medical Science”)
- Grades/GPA – If your university grades on a 4.0/4.3/4.5/5.0 scale, then you are good to go. Input your term averages as listed in your transcript, then look at the table provided in the application materials to convert to a percentage. If your university uses a different scale (like 20), you will probably want to have your grades officially converted to one of the scales above. The problem is mostly that you also have to convert to a percentage (out of 100) and this is not always easy with different grading systems. (Simple division may lead to a much lower percentage than you actually deserve.) If your university will do the conversion, that is easiest and best. If not, you will probably need to submit your transcript to a grade conversion service.
- Previous visits to Korea – Write down the dates of previous visits and why you were there. If you have ever come to Korea on a student visa (specifically D-2), you are theoretically ineligible for a scholarship (unless that rule changes). There are two exceptions. If you studied in Korea as a mandatory part of your degree program, and can get a letter from your university indicating that, then you will be eligible. Also, if you are a current or past KGSP scholar (undergrad or Master’s) and have at least TOPIK 4 you may apply again for a higher degree.
2. Self Introduction (Attachment #2)
This is pretty self explanatory. You’ll want to give them an idea of who you are and what makes you tick. Illustrate the things that lead you to your field of study, relevant academic, work or volunteer experience, and what is bringing you to Korea. The space is limited (only one page), so try to stay away from things they can find easily in other parts of your application. For example, stay away from listing every related course you took in university – they can find those in your transcript. Talk instead about particular aspects that really interest and inspire you. Leave your specific study plan and future plans for the next attachment below. Also, if you got into Korea because of dramas and k-pop, you can mention that (as something you know about Korea), but try to find something else you admire about the country, something with more substance. And if you have traveled or lived abroad, you might want to discuss what these experiences meant to you. And finally, if there are any question marks in your background (a particularly bad semester, and unfinished class, etc) that might need explaining, then you should explain them here. Short and sweet, don’t dwell and give them more importance than they deserve.
3. Study Plan (Attachment #3)
There are actually two sections here, with a half page for each. They are “Goal of Study & Study Plan” and “Future Plan After Study.” Be as detailed as you need to be about your study and future plans. You want to show knowledge of issues in your field, and how they can be applied to the real world.
4. Letter of Recommendation (Attachment #4)
You only need to submit one of these with your application. It should be an academic reference, not a work reference… Even if you graduated ten years ago (like me). Some people recommend getting high status people (like the school president or department head) to write your recommendation, but personally I would recommend having someone who knows you well (like an advisor or someone you took multiple courses with). Sometimes you can get the best of both worlds, an advisor to write it and the president to sign it. But, unless you went to a very small school where the president knows everyone, or you are the most standout student ever then don’t just have the president (or more likely some random person in an administrative office) write it. They’ll just create a nice form letter with generalities gleaned from your transcript. It should go without saying that you should choose someone you got along well with, and who can say good things about you.
Your recommendation should be in a sealed envelope with your professors signature or stamp over the seal. Do not open the recommendation to make copies. You can either ask your professor to give you four sealed copies of the recommendation (one for each set of documents you need to send), or you can ask your first selection institution (university or embassy) to copy it for you. (I put a post-it on the outside just to remind them.) This also means that you will not be able to have your professor email you their letter of recommendation. If you are not currently at your university, you should allow enough time for your professor to send you the recommendation, and then for you to send the application. Make sure your professor knows that the recommendation should be printed out and sealed, and that they know when you plan to send your application.
5. Pledge (Attachment #5)
Read and sign.
6. Personal Medical Assessment (Attachment #6)
You do not need to go to a doctor because this is a self-reported medical assessment. But, be honest because there will be actual medical exams later on. Primarily, they are looking that you are not involved in illegal activity (drugs), that you are physically able to complete a degree (which does not discount physical disabilities as long as they don’t severely inhibit your studies), and that you will not bring infectious diseases into Korea (or if you do that they are recorded and controlled). Korea has had travel bans for persons with HIV/AIDS, which apparently have been eased for some, but I am not sure of the current policies regarding students. For your sake (regardless of the scholarship) I hope this is not an issue for you.
And this is the end of the forms (attachments) included in the application packet. As this has gotten quite long, I will continue with the other documents you should gather at a later time.