About Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) was established in 1971 as the nation’s first graduate school specializing in science and engineering education and research. The school’s founding was a catalyst for Korea’s rapid rise from a producer of light industry goods to a world leader in high-technology industries. The political leadership in the 1960s and 1970s singled out education, work ethics and technological advancement as the means of transforming Korea from an underdeveloped agrarian society into an emerging economy equipped with technological and industrial competitiveness. KAIST was founded under a special law with government funding and initially staffed with a number of Korean engineering and science faculty educated in the United States.
Research emphasis from the outset has been put on both theoretical and applied studies. KAIST continues to be Korea’s foremost center for mid- to long-term strategic R&D projects with national and international significance. The University has pioneered the establishment of competitive graduate school programs in Korea.
KAIST is located in the Daedeok Research Complex in the city of Daejeon, 150 kilometers south of the capital city, Seoul. Daedeok complex is the nation’s R&D capital and home to some 50 public and private research institutes, universities and high-tech and venture capital companies. KAIST’s Daedeok and Seoul campuses house six colleges (Natural Science, Life Science & Bioengineering, Engineering, Information Science & Engineering, Business, and Cultural Science with 20 departments), eight research institutes and five affiliate schools. For the 2009 academic year, over 8,000 students are enrolled; 3,452 in the bachelor’s, 2,197 in the master’s, and 2,357 in the doctorate programs. International students number 389 and account for approximately 5 percent of all students, with 124 in the bachelor’s, 134 in the master’s, 22 in the joint M.S.-Ph.D., and 109 in the doctoral programs. KAIST has 842 professors and 334 staff members as of January 2009.
KAIST has a unique, autonomous and flexible academic system. Other Korean colleges and universities are required to abide by government-directed admissions and curriculum requirements. KAIST’s “open major system” for the undergraduate program allows a student to take classes for three terms before choosing a discipline that suits their aptitude and interest. In addition, undergraduate students are free to change their major at anytime.
With its test-free admission system, first in Korea, KAIST recruits students on the basis of their overall high-school grades, math and science grades, teacher recommendations, study plan, personal statement, and other data that demonstrate their excellence. Scores from the state-run scholastic aptitude test are not considered. KAIST is currently making changes in the admissions policy with special emphasis on personality, responsibility, and creativity. This multi-pronged and flexible admission procedure enables KAIST to recruit students of well-rounded personality.