How to get scholarship to Korea – via Professor Job Posting

Introduction

In this article, I would like to share how to win Korean professor MS/Ph.D studentship via Professor’s open job posting. I  will discuss several aspects in the recruitment and how to best prepare for the interview and the process beforehand.

Korea is the best place to study

Korea has been the best place to study. Especially, if you aspire to be a productive researcher or successful practitioner. I am not kidding, Korea provides all you need about it: great professors and hard-work atmosphere. It is easy to see many academia reach full professorships, even at their very young age.

I observed some professors are really geeked in their fields and very publication-oriented. Not to mention, some professors who have a strong connection with Korean Companies. This can help you to get a job in Korea after graduation both in academia or industry environments. I got some Chinese friends landed in Samsung and LG by having their professor recommendations. Also, I got some friends to become Professors in their national universities after graduation.

Therefore, these two combinations: great professor and hard-work atmosphere can be so rewarding towards your future career.

Korea in Google Map
Korea in the Northeast Asia

 

The problem that many students ask is how to reach Korea. How to study there and get the best benefit it provides. I have been three years in Korea when I pursued my master’s degree. I pass one-year Korean language training and two-year master course.

During my master course, I successfully recommended four students to study in Korea and my Professor satisfies with their performances. After I come back to Indonesia (my home country), not only my professor who ask my help to recruit students, but also other professors.

From that side I have been arranged various interview sessions for MS/PhD student recruitment in Indonesia by Pusan National University’s professor. Therefore, I do believe that I am entitled to answer how to proceed with your education in Korea.

General Overview of scholarships in Korea

OK let me do it in short. There is a lot of ways to continue study to Korea. But basically, there are two general options: via Korean Agency or via Professor’s project. In terms of Korean agency, you can go for the Korean Government Scholarship (Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology) or for KOICA Fellowship Program.

This type of scholarship usually requires its awardee to pass Korean Language Training before entering MS/Ph.D program (if you do not pass, then you cannot go). Also, the number of scholarship awardee is very limited, even though the study field is somehow broader. 

Another option that you choose is by joining Professor’s project. Korean professors are usually under pressures to produce high-quality journals and Industrial patents. For this reason, many professors seek funding both from the Government and Industry to support their research.

Luckily, the Korean Government provides a lot of research schemes that a professor could apply and win. Many industries also do the same as what Government does to improve their operations. As a result, many professors can recruit more and more students to support their researches.

In my humble opinion, having a scholarship by joining professor project is much simpler in terms of administration process rather than via Korean Agency. As a professor agrees to supervise a student in doing a project, then the student will be eligible for getting financial support until he/she graduates.

At this point, a student does not need to pass a perquisite time-consuming Korean Language Training before entering his/her MS/PhD course.

How to deal with a scholarship with job vacancy?

Korean professors are rarely publishing their MS/Ph.D job vacancies. Sad but true. Many professors still rely on their interns to recommend a new MS/PhD student. I do not know why, but this is common practice in South Korea. As a former intern, it is a common pressure for an intern if we are recommending someone to enter his/her lab.

One reason is that the incoming MS/Ph.D student may not adjust his/her working habits with the Korean environment; hence reducing his/her working productivity. This could be devastating since Professors have a very tight timeline for their projects. Therefore, many interns would recommend a new student who shares his/her home origin or share his/her educational backgrounds.

As internationalization becomes high necessities in South Korea, I saw a major shift in this practice. I know some professors are recruiting not because of their potential student’s citizenship but because of their previous professional/academic track records. These professors advertise their vacancy over social media and hoping could get more and more good students.

In this article may I help you outline what you should do in dealing with Job vacancy

Check your eligibility

I encounter many applicants that do not read their eligibility. They just submit their application based on randomness and hope for luckiness. Believe me this will not work. I have found some applicants having very different backgrounds applying for the position they suppose not to apply.

For example, I once ran a vacancy for an Industrial Engineering professor. It requires someone who can program and having solid background in mathematics. Instead of having someone with Computer Science or Industrial Engineering backgrounds, I have a biology-graduate applicant.

To this point, this type of applicant will be directly eliminated, ever before checking the full resume.

Carefully read the application procedures

One annoying submission is when an applicant does not read the application procedures. Whenever the vacancy tells to do two steps: fill in the google form and submit email to express interest, then an applicant should do this. I

know an applicant that delay his final submission too long after fulfilling the Google Form. He said that he would do it later on as the closing date is very approaching. In my point of view, this perspective is less preferable. A

There is no guarantee that an applicant still remembers that he/she has not finished the application procedure. For the professor point of view, this behavior may lead to confusion when doing recapitulation. When an email is missing, Professor will need to check his/her trash/spam folder to ensure that the applicant’s email does not go there. Overall, do not do this. Finish application once and do not delay.

Submit the demanded documents on time

I observed some applicants submit their documents after the deadline. You know? he/she will not be processed. Even though, there is no error warning in the application or the email he/she sent.

Late applicant indicates an unprofessional action and shows a less responsibility. If you find that the deadline has already passed, then do not apply. Instead, find out whether this professor regularly opens vacant position every period.

If yes, the you can apply in the next period. Otherwise, you can find another professor that fit to yours.

If you are invited for the interview, then join!

Interview? yes, interview. If you passed into the interview stage, then you had better come. Having an interview will far increase your possibility to be accepted. Thus, come and join to the interview. Especially if the interview place is close to your recent living area. 

Even though you are living in a distant place, I would like to recommend you to keep coming. This indicates your strong will and informally put more pressure for professor to thoroughly consider your application. 

If for some reason, you could not join the interview (e.g. you are living in the different country), then you had better contact professor and ask him to have Skype session. in this case, if you are a strong candidate, the professor would not hesitate to give you a Skype session.

Be proactive for your final status.

I have to admit that this is a pain point for many Korean professors recruitment. They only inform successful candidates and not informing the others. Even though we could not generalize all Korean professor to do this, but you still need to be aware of this situation. The best choice is to ask Professor himself whether you have passed or not.

If there is a contact person other than the professor’s name in the vacancy advertisement, I would like to suggest you contact him/her. I do believe that he/she is the most knowledgeable person regarding to the recruitment result. 

What if I am a successful candidate, what should I do?

Congratulation! But be aware this is not the final stage. You still need to undergo several steps. Especially, steps that are related to the administrative process.

To this point, you need to understand that passing the selection does not mean that you are automatically a graduate student. Still, you need to pass the admission process. However, the admission process will be very very easy. Unless you do not submit the necessary documents (e.g. graduate certificates), you would not be a graduate student.

Contact your professor and his staffs immediately. Ask what to do next!

As I indicated earlier, a prospective student needs to pass the admission process. The admission process consists of several steps such as registering your application to  http://apply.jinhakapply.com/. This website is completely in Korean and requires registration payment.

Jinhak website for Korean University admission, all is written in Korean

 

Worse, each university has its own time frame from registration. Accordingly, you may miss your registration schedule. If you are not knowledgeable in Korean, then I would like you to contact your professor or his/her staff to help you in this matter. 

Usually, professors are very aware of this matter. As he/she has a very strict deadline for projects and he/she needs a sustainable workforce, the professor is usually allocating one person (mostly Korean) to perform this jinhak process.

The frequent problems mostly arise from the fact that many Koreans cannot speak English fluently. Even he/she is a Ph.D student. If you submit insufficient documents, then the process may take longer than it suppose to. When I was in Korea, I did this process for many foreign students in my lab. This problem has rarely happened. 

Prepare you documents and their official English translations

Graduate certificate and transcripts are the most common mandatory documents. However, not all universities provide its official English translation. If these documents have no official English translation, then you need to find a sworn translator to perform translation for you. In Indonesia, it usually takes around three to five days to do this translation. 

Another crucial document is a birth certificate, which usually untranslated. The birth certificate is necessary to prove that you are a foreigner and has no Korean Citizenship. Initially, I was wondering why many universities ask this document until I found why.

he straight reason is the Korean internationalization. Korean government tries its best to attract more and more international students. Here, many scholarships or tuition deductions are for International students only. Consequently, if you are Korean, you are not eligible for this benefit.  

In many public universities, tuition deduction can reach up to 50% of the tuition fees and around 25% in private universities. This is a substantial amount, let say if you are going for study up to four years (for PhD course)

Prepare for your accommodation 

Housing is another critical thing that a successful candidate needs to think. Particularly, if a candidate is a devout Muslim. Many Korean universities bundle its housing facility with food services. It means that you could not separate your housing order with the food order. You will have a very limited flexibility in food choices. For Muslims, this situation can be very intricate, because there is no guarantee that the food services will include halal foods in their menu.

If you are not a Muslim, this university housing choice is usually very affordable. Food prices in Cafeteria are somehow less expensive than those at the outside given their sizes and menu offers. A student can save a lot of money by eating at Cafeteria. The university-housing heating systems are very very reliable in the winter; it will save your money a lot, especially for maintaining your health. 

Another thing that you need to consider is the housing time. If you are living in university housing, then the housing has a tight time window for its opening and closing. Usually, it will be opened at 6 AM and will be closed at 9 PM. Also, the dormitory has strict rules such as no cooking, no drinking alcohol, etc. 

If you demand more flexibility, then housing beyond campus is a great choice. You can come in and go out as your wish. Also, you can have more options for eating. However, you will face different problems. You need to pay deposit along with your monthly fee and utilities. The deposit amount is varied but the more you put a deposit, then the lower monthly fee you will get.

Another problem is that your house may not as reliable as you though during winter. I once lived in a house beyond campus during the winter. It was suffering since the heating system was frozen; hence not working. For this reason, I spent my time in the lab to avoid the chilling season. It was terrible. 

What if I am an unsuccessful candidate, what should I do?

Don’t give up! 

A professor has a very limited capacity to accept a student. For this reason, it does not mean that you are not capable of doing researches or projects. No, at all. 

I know some professors that regretted a lot to reject some good students. The reason is so simple, their backgrounds are not fit with professors’ project requirements. Hence, the professors need to reject.

Sad but true. But this happens. 

In the other circumstance, I know a professor that recommend his rejected MS/ Ph.D. candidate to another professor. This recommended student has very long experiences in winning an international competition (mostly programming), but his qualification does not fit to his recommending professor’s project requirements. The project requires someone who has a statistics background. I know this student is now struggling to pursue his Ph.D. degree (2018).

Upgrade your research track record

Korean universities target their Korean professors with a high number of publications and patents. The publications itself should be in the journals that are SCI, SCIE, or SSCI indexed. In order to get into those journals, they should be very careful writing the article and ensure its high quality. If a professor has a good student, then this lengthy process becomes easier. 

If you have a good research track or proven to be successful to publish in SCI journals, then your application will be in high priority. If you could not publish in this type of journals, then I would like to suggest you for having more and more publications. it would be better if all your publications are in English because your potential professor could asses your writing quality. 

Upgrade your professional track record  

There are two reasons why professors recruit a student: his academic records and his personal records. Most academics are sucks in terms of applying their concept in the real world situation. I know a PhD student that is recruited not based on his high GPA (his GPA is low), but instead of his ability to develop an operational robot for a factory. His expertise is unique. It does not require a novelty-type paper demanded skill, but simply a practical use of old concepts. 

Open a network with Korean Professors or their students through academic conferences

One good way to get a scholarship is to get a recommendation. Either from the professor him/herself or from a professor’s intern. To this point, you need to make a good relationship with such people. One place that I recommend you to find them is at the academic conferences. If you are successfully entering a high-quality conference, then you probably get a good chance to meet great professors. This is a valuable event to introduce yourself and your recent work. 

Apply to another professor  

I know this is rude, but I guess this suggestion is realistic. Being rejected by a professor does not mean that you are worthless. No, you are not. Korean professors are many. They reside in more than 220 universities (43 public and 180 private). If you have been rejected in one university, there are abundant university professors that are open to apply. 

If you demand a lower competition, then try to apply to third or fourth tier universities in Korea. I know some great professors start their careers there and keep teaching there. So why do not you apply?