KGSP Application ~ Required Documents (Part Two)

There is a word in Japanese 職業病 (shokugyoubyou). Shokugyou means “profession/occupation” and byou means disease. Originally it is a disease or affliction that people in certain professions are particularly susceptible to. These days, however, it is commonly used to refer to quirks or habits acquired due to one’s profession that overflow into private life and may seem odd to people outside of that profession. For example, soldiers walking in line and in step when going home drunk from a night on the town.

In my case, I used to be a coordinator for international exchange programs, so now, even when I’ve switched to the student side, I see things from the coordinator’s perspective, and feel the need to explain and be helpful. I’m sure I can be rather wordy, but hopefully some people will find it helpful.

So without further ado… here are the remaining documents you will need for your application. See my previous post for information on the forms that are included with the application. The following are additional documents that you will have to prepare on your own.

But first a general note about notarization. For the following documents, there will be ones that you need to have officially notarized. In the application information it says “confirmation of collation should be indicated in the photocopied documents.” I, personally, had never heard “collation” used in this particular way, but maybe that’s just me. In any case, it means that if there are documents you cannot send an original of (like your diploma or passport), you should have the photocopy notarized. You will also need notarization for translations of documents not in English or Korean. It is best to get an official Apostille (or the equivalent). An Apostille is the international form of notary, but it will only be available in countries that have joined the Hague Convention of 1961. You can find information about Apostilles at the official site for Apostille along with the list of contracting states. If your country is NOT a member of the convention, then I would try to contact the Korean Embassy in your country. Sometimes they can authenticate your documents, and if they can’t they can probably tell you where else to go. Before getting an Apostille or Embassy authentication, you may need to get your document notarized locally, according to the laws of your country. Please check about this process, and the process for Apostille/Authentication in your own country.

7. Diploma or Certificate of Graduation from Undergraduate Institution
If you will have already graduated by the application deadline then you should send an official copy of your diploma. DO NOT send your actual diploma unless you are specifically requested to by your embassy, and they have specifically stated that they will return it. The general guidelines do state that no documents will be returned, and you do not want to give away the one and only original copy of your diploma. There are two possible solutions. The first is to get an official copy of your diploma from your university. Many will provide a substitute document for this purpose. The other is to have a photocopy officially notarized (see above). Make sure that you submit a “certificate” form of proof. For a variety of reasons, I originally submitted a letter from my university stating when I had graduated, but was told to resubmit a “certificate.” However, if you have not graduated yet (but will do so before August 31 of your applying year) then you may submit a letter from your university that states your expected date of graduation. If any of these documents are not available in English or Korean, you will need a translation. (Despite going to a university in the USA, my diploma was in Latin (“old school” you could say) and I did include a translation.)

8. Official Transcripts and Student Records from Undergraduate Institution
If you are a current student, request a transcript after the last term to finish before the deadline. For example, if you have grades that will be available in February then wait for those. My university gave me my transcripts in a sealed envelope, with a signature (or stamp) across the seal. I did not open the envelope, and submitted it just like that. They seem to be quite concerned with tampering and faked credentials, so anything you can do to alleviate these fears will help. In my case, transcripts were free so I just asked for four copies (one for each set of documents you are asked to submit), but you can also include just one with the original set of documents and ask the embassy/university to copy that part for you. As mentioned in my previous post, if your university does not grade on a 4.0-5.0 scale, then you should also have your transcript officially converted. If your university provides this service, that is probably easiest, but if not you should ask around for suitable services. (I’m sorry, this is not something I dealt with, but if I learn anything I will update you.) You should also ask for an English version of your transcript, or have it translated.

9. Diploma or Certificate of Graduation from Graduate Institution
This is only for people who are applying for a PhD, or perhaps if you have received a Master’s degree in another subject and are applying for a second Master’s. The instructions are the same as for the undergraduate degree above. (And note, if you are applying for a PhD then you will need to submit both undergraduate and graduate documents.)

10. Official Transcripts and Student Record from Graduate Institution
Again, just for PhD/additional Master’s candidates.

11. Certificate of Korean Language Proficiency (original copy of TOPIK), if applicable
Like the diploma, do not send the score certificate you received in the mail. You can request official copies from the organization that administers the TOPIK in your country.

12. Certificate of TOEFL or IELTS (original copy), if applicable
I have no experience of these exams, so I am not sure what is available. When possible order an official report to send with your application.

13. Published papers, if applicable
If you listed papers in your personal information, then include copies.

14. Awards, if applicable
If you listed awards in your personal information, then include copies. For me, I did not have award certificates from my awards, only the program from the award ceremony. I just included copies of those, and didn’t actually bother to have them notarized. I figured the awards were just a “plus alpha” and if they trusted that then great, and if not then hopefully the rest of my application would speak for itself. Of course, the more official you can be, the better.

15. Copy of Passport
I personally didn’t have this notarized either, but if you are getting notarizations for other things, then definitely do it. (And even if you aren’t. I took a chance that worked out, but it’s better not to risk it.)

16. Certificate of Citizenship for applicant and parents
I also included a copy of my birth certificate, and copies of my parents’ passports. They want to make sure that you cannot claim Korean citizenship because Korean citizens are not eligible for the scholarship. Anything that shows your parents citizenship (birth certificate/national ID card/passport/etc) will do. Your birth certificate will show that your parents are your parents. If one or both of your parents were Korean citizens you may need to show proof of expatriation (proof they gave up Korean citizenship).

17. Adoption documents
This is for Korean adoptees only. (Although I suppose if you were an adoptee from elsewhere, you might want to show proof that your parents are legally your parents as part of the above proof of citizenship.)

** Possible Additional Documents **

There may be other things you need to submit depending on your particular situation.

1. Study abroad related
As mentioned in my previous post, the current KGSP guidelines state that people who have studied in Korea on a D-2 visa previously are ineligible for the scholarship. (This seems to exclude people who did language study on a D-4 or tourist visa.) But, there is the exception for situations where such study abroad was a requirement of their degree at their home university. If this exception applies to you, then I would include proof of this from your university.

2. Additional University specific documents
You should read the KGSP application instructions carefully for the universities that you choose. Some may require additional documents, such as an additional recommendation or the online application. If you are applying through a designated university, you should include these documents with your original application. If you are applying through a Korean embassy, then you may be requested by the university to send these documents later (after NIIED has selected you and sent your application to the three universities). At this point, there will not be much time to prepare these documents, so you should prepare them ahead of time. The only university I have noticed that does this is Yonsei (online application and 1 additional recommendation), but read the university information carefully to make sure whether it applies to you or not.

I have not noted it everywhere, but remember to have everything translated into either Korean or English if they are in another language, and have the translations notarized.

You will need to send one set of original documents (or original notarized documents), and three sets of photocopied documents. This is true whether you apply through a university or an embassy.

Make sure you send your application with a tracking number so that you can confirm it has arrived. And make sure that you send it with plenty of time to arrive before the deadline. It is a good idea to research ahead of time how long mail will take to your first selection institution. The deadline is the deadline for arrival, not for sending (as is often the case with universities in the US).

And good luck with your application!

KGSP Application ~ Required Documents

**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.

So…

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.