Korean Students in US: An Overview

Posted by Frank Gogol

Korea is one of the main sources of international students to the US, coming in 3rd behind India and China. Graduates of American schools have some of the best employment opportunities in Korea, and there are a number of exchange programs that Korean students can apply for.

If you are a Korean student planning to study in the US, one of the most important steps is figuring out what you should study. We put together this article as a guide to help you figure out what your major should be. Learn about the top majors for Korean students and the jobs in highest demand.

Korean Students in the U.S., an Overview

The U.S. Department of State says that over 60,000 Korean students study in the US each year. Korean students comprise 6.5% of all foreign enrollments in US universities, though this number has trended downward for several years. This influx of Korean students adds $2.3 billion to the US economy each year, including to Korean businesses like grocery stores.

The allure of American education to Korean students is largely in the prestigious STEM programs that many American universities offer. STEM programs remain the most popular for Korean students, with 31% of Korean students in the US studying STEM subjects (business/management is 2nd at 16.7%). However, more Korean students also study the arts in the US than any other nation besides Taiwan.

South Korea remains one of the hubs of global technological innovation, so STEM degrees are among the most in-demand by South Korean companies. While many South Korean universities offer high-quality STEM programs, a STEM degree from a renowned US university (Stanford, for instance) carries great value and prestige in the job market. Furthermore, the opportunity to gain work experience in the US is also very appealing for many Korean students and can help open up more opportunities back home.

Top 5 Majors of Korean Students

We put together this list based on the demands of the job market, potential employment opportunities, and more. Keep in mind that several of these degrees are also considered among the most challenging, so don’t commit to one unless you are highly determined.

1. Computer Science

Computer science degrees are the most sought-after for Korean students in the US because they are extremely in-demand among top global companies and also well compensated. Courses will cover a wide range of subjects including computer language, data structures, and operating systems. Korean students with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science can get work as software developers, programmers, database administrators, and much more.

2. Economics

Economics is another of the most popular degrees for Korean students in US. This degree covers the management of resources in scarcity and how societies organize and allocate these resources. Economics degrees are prized because they can be applied in business, finance, statistics, and much more.

3. Biology

Biology degrees serve as a sound basis for a number of graduate degrees, including medical school. In biology, you will study organisms and life. This includes fields like physiology, biochemistry, ecology, and more. The most prestigious jobs that a biology degree can lead to are ones in biochemistry and biotechnology. Korean students majoring in biology often seek employment with pharmaceutical companies.

4. Business Management

Business management is another versatile degree which can be applied in a number of fields like marketing management or financial analysis. One of the benefits of business management degrees for Korean students in the US is that these programs often include coursework specifically on global business. Students are taught how to work across international lines, which is a skill that pairs well with foreign education experience.

5. Math

The modern economy relies on data, and this makes math degrees particularly valuable to many employers. Math degrees cover subjects like calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, and more. Math degrees can lead to employment in a diverse range of fields, including:

  • Consumer analysis
  • Economics
  • Financial analysis
  • Accounting
  • Tea

Top 5 Jobs for Korean Students in the U.S.

Many Korean students in the US also wish to gain work experience in the US, either during school or after they graduate. There are a number of exchange programs that allow you to work, though typically only full-time during the summer and part-time during school. Here are 5 of the top jobs for Korean students in the US.

1. Software Engineer

Since STEM degrees are the most desired for Korean students in the US — and computer science in particular — it’s no surprise that software engineer is the top job for Korean students in the US. Software engineers develop, study, test, and deploy information systems and software solutions. This can be anything from designing software specifications to writing code. Software engineers have to stay up on the latest technology, programming techniques, equipment,  and more. But software engineering is also one of the highest employed and most well-compensated fields in STEM.

2. Project Engineer

A project engineer prepares, coordinates, and designs engineering projects, for instance the design of a manufacturing facility. The project engineer masters technical disciplines in the relevant field and works with teams across multiple disciplines to complete tasks and ultimately see the project realized. This type of job is perfect for Korean students in the US looking for something that is technically challenging but also team-oriented.

3. Teaching Assistant

Many Korean students in the US get work experience during their education as a teaching assistant. Teaching assistants help the instructor grade, create lessons, facilitate learning, and tutor. These types of jobs are easily available on college campuses and they fit the requirements of most US exchange visas (they are part-time during the school year).

4. Fashion Designer

Korean students in the US frequently study the arts, and one area of applied arts that is popular is fashion design. Fashion designers design and create clothes, whether for retail sale, theater productions, or fashion runways. Fashion designers create designs and then ultimately prototypes using skills like weaving and sewing. There’s lots of opportunity in fashion for Korean students in the US, both at home and abroad.

5. Procurement Manager

A procurement manager works with buyers and suppliers to ensure that a business has all the relevant resources, tools, and materials necessary. This job is logistical in nature and requires exceptional organizational skills along with attention to detail. Besides STEM, Korean students in the US most frequently study business, and procurement manager is one application of a business degree.

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Most of the popular majors and jobs for Korean students in the US fall into the areas of STEM, business, or the arts. STEM careers typically have the highest employment rate and best compensation, closely followed by business. There are plenty of employment opportunities in all these fields, both in the US and Korea.

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