Monday, April 5, 2010

Should you do grad school in Korea?

A recent Marmot's Hole post got me thinking: just how valuable is a master's? A PhD? The real question is does it matter if one gets it from Korea or America? A question posed to Robert from the post:
According to your bio you went to grad school here, so I was just wondering about the following: 1) What did you study? 2) How was the Korean grad school experience? 3) How useful has your degree been in Korea, and 4) how useful do you think a MA from a Korean university would be outside of the Korea?
Robert's response:
1) Northeast Asian Studies;
2) Interesting;
3) Didn’t get the degree, so couldn’t really say;
4) I think that would depend on what you were studying. If you’re planning to work in a Korea-related field, I’d imagine an MA from a Korean university might help. My own personal opinion is that if you want a purely academic experience, you’re better off studying Korean Studies outside of Korea in someplace like the United States, but if you’re looking for the intangibles you can only learn in-country, Korea’s the place to be.
You can read the rest here. Be sure to read the comments, too. A sample from the comment section includes another's experience:
I did a Master’s at Yonsei GSIS, and…
1) Korean Studies.
2) Very good. The standard of teaching was generally very high, with professors who had almost all got their PhDs from top unis in the US or (occasionally) the UK. Some of them were major authorities in their field.
Although some were harsher in their marking than others, my general impression was that the need to attract more international students took precedence over scrupulous marking, so I’m pretty sure my grades were more generous than they would have been at home (the UK). On the plus side, the need for foreign students also means that there is a fair range of scholarships available, especially if you’re studying Korea-related stuff.
3) I have been working in Korea ever since graduating four years ago, and to be honest, I think the degree was more useful for the contacts I made at GSIS than for any inherent academic (much less vocational) value.
4) As Robert said, it depends what you’re studying. I do know of a few people who got MAs in finance or international relations and got jobs overseas in financial companies or consultancies. If you’re wanting to go on to be an academic about all things Korean, the Master’s courses here can be a good stepping stone, though I’ve been told that the PhDs are next to useless.
Something to think about.


Galinaros said...

Hey Matthew, I just came across your blog a few minutes ago (from Facebook, from the Korean Wiki Project. I think you'd be helpful over at the project ;)), and this post caught my eye.
I am considering 2 years of undergraduate study in Korea, most likely for linguistics. What are your thoughts on this? How would the degree work out (as a bachelor's)?

Thanks, and I'm looking forward to reading some of your posts in the coming weeks. :)

Matthew Smith said...

@ Galinaros - While I'm certainly not an expert, I would say that if your college had an exchange program with a Korean university I would say take the chance. While I didn't study abroad as an exchange student, I did do two summers in Korea on my own dime to study and I found the experience priceless.

Also, I'm not 100% sure that there's any English language undergrad programs here but I could very well be mistaken. If they offer your classes, just make sure the classes transfer and you should be good to go.

Galinaros said...

@Matthew : Thanks for the response. I really appreciate the advice and your opinions.

After a short time looking, I found an undergraduate program conducted by Yonsei University entitled Underwood International College (UIC) in which English is allegedly used throughout the classes. I didn't read fully into this, but it does encourage me to believe that other programs likely exist. I will have to read further into it before making any decisions.

I would have to go as a transfer student (note: not an exchange student) because A) the college to which I will be going next fall does not have any specific international programs with Korea (though it is supported) and B) the costs of that same college are forcing me to consider transferring to avoid monetary problems in the future.

Again, thanks for the advice :)

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