So the new guidelines for 2015’s graduate scholarship have been released. You can find the info here:
The first thing you need to check is what kinds of quota’s your country has this year, and decide which one to use for your application, either University or Embassy.
Next, please go to that University or Embassy’s website and check for their information about the scholarship. They will be the ones to tell you about the deadline for sending your application. It WILL be different depending on the country or the university, so if you can’t find it for any reason, contact them to ask. Don’t just assume it will be the same as someplace else. Most of the deadlines will be in early to mid-March, so you actually don’t have much time to get everything together, especially if you need to send documents to Korea.
You’ll find the quotas and the application forms all in the first document entitled “01. GKS Graduate Program Guidelines(English-Korean).doc”
I, personally, copied the application forms into a separate Word document and worked with that.
There appear to be a couple of differences between the 2014 and 2015 programs.
The first thing I noticed is that they have taken out the part about starting your degree program in March if you achieve TOPIK 5 or 6 in September-January. There is still the possibility of starting your degree program right away if you have TOPIK 5 or 6 when you apply (and if you submit your score then it is mandatory, not optional to start your Master’s or PhD in September 2015). I’m not sure what the deadline is to submit a score. I have several classmates who got TOPIK 5 in the April 2014 test (results announced in early June?), who were not allowed to start early. I don’t know if this was because of some problem with how they reported it, or if it was just too late. If this is something that concerns you, you can check directly with NIIED about this issue. (EDIT: There is a check box in the application for starting in September, which means you should already have TOPIK 5 or 6 when you apply. So in other words it is already too late if you don’t have it yet. But again if this is something that is important to you, you might want to check with NIIED anyway. If you do come back and comment here, to let me know how it went.)
I’m not 100% sure if it will be impossible to start in March if you fulfill the requirements, or just a different process from this year. Again if this was something you were hoping to do, and affects whether you apply/accept the scholarship, then please ask for yourself.
The second change is a new university quota for “Designated Regional Universities” for people applying in Natural Science and Engineering Fields. You can read more about this in the information, but basically they are trying to attract Natural Science and Engineering students to the regional universities (in other words outside of Seoul). The quota per university has been increased, so that they can accept more NS&E students for the scholarship, which can increase your chances of getting in. There is also a special quota within the university quota for some countries just for NS&E students applying to these regional universities, so it means at the second round (NIIED selection) you are competing against fewer students from your country. If you are a Natural Science or Engineering major (and your country has this option) then this may be a good way to apply.
Some things about this new category:
- You can apply for a Natural Science or Engineering major at any of the 66 available universities, but only the 35 Designated Regional Universities (as listed in the info) will be available for this special quota.
- Some countries with a university quota only have a “General” quota, and not a “Regional” quota. This doesn’t mean that you cannot apply to one of the regional universities under the university quota, it just means that your application will be considered with other “general” applicants to the university instead of under this quota, and at NIIED your application will be considered with all scholars from your country regardless of major. (Of course you can apply to these universities under the Embassy quota as well).
- You do not have to apply to these 35 Designated Regional Universities with a Natural Science or Engineering major. You can choose from any of the majors listed in the University information. But again, if you choose another major you will be compared with a different group of students.
**In the application forms there are two versions of “Attachment #1: Personal Data.” One is for Embassy and one is for University. Obviously, you should choose the correct one. In the University version, under “Type of Recommendation” (which on my computer is labeled 1, but should be 2) there is only a check box for “General.” If you are applying for this Designated Regional University quota, then I would probably add a check box for that, so there is no confusion over which quota you are applying with.**
The third change, is a special category for Research Programs. These appear to vary in length from one month to a year, and do not include Korean Language Study. If this is something that applies to you, then you know who you are and what to do, if you’re not sure where to start, then it probably doesn’t apply to you.
Those are the major changes that I noticed. As usual there are probably some changes to the countries and what kind of quotas they have, and also to the list of universities. If you were making plans using last year’s information make sure you double check that your country and universities are still there.
Also, make sure you check the University Information. If you have been looking directly at university websites, then it is possible you found departments and majors that aren’t available to KGSP students. The University Information lists only those majors that are theoretically available to KGSP applicants. By “theoretically” I mean that not all departments will consider foreign applicants who don’t have sufficient Korean skills when they apply, even if those departments are listed in the University Information. If you are concerned, contact the department to ask.
On the personal front, this is my last week of Korean class and next month I will be moving on to my graduate program. Personally, I am ready to leave. The language study has been fun, and I’ve learned so much, but if I had to stay for another 6 months, I think I’d go crazy. That’s just me though. If you start at the beginning or intermediate level, then you’ll constantly be challenged (though you’ll still probably experience some lows, culture shock is par for the course). If you’re at a high-intermediate/advanced level now, and they really won’t let you go in March, then I’d consider all options before applying. Frankly, my language university hadn’t (in recent memory) had a level 6 class, let alone programs for people after that, so it remains to be seen what people in my class who don’t get level 5 or 6 will do for the next 6 months. Being in Korea is great, learning Korean is great, but being tied to a program that really doesn’t know what to do with you can be difficult. If it is true that anyone who doesn’t have TOPIK 5 or 6 right now will need to study in a language program for a year, then for some people it might be better to stay home and get money and/or work experience and apply in 2016 with TOPIK 5/6 already under your belt (that is if you feel confident about getting it in the next year). Either way you’d be starting the graduate program in Sept 2016, and there might be a more productive way of spending the next year. If you’re planning on doing a graduate program in Korean (like the lectures are in Korean, not that you are studying Korean Language/Literature) though, then that year of preparation might not be a bad idea, even if they don’t know what to do with you in your language program for 3, 6, or 9 months. (My degree program is in English, so while Korean is useful, it’s not totally necessary.)