SKY (universities)

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Locations of 'SKY' universities in Seoul, South Korea

SKY is an unofficial grouping and acronym for the three most prestigious and academically competitive universities located in Seoul, South Korea. It includes Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University.[1]

The term is widely used in South Korea, both in the media and by the universities themselves.[2][3] Being admitted to one of the SKY universities is frequently seen as important to one's career and social position in the country. [4][5] The acronym also implies that the universities are extremely difficult to get into (i.e., students are reaching for the sky).


Institution Type Location Established Academic staff Undergraduate enrollment Postgraduate enrollment Rankings
QS World (2024)[6] ARWU World (2023)[7] THE World (2023)[8] THE Asia (2023)[9] QS Asia (2023)[10]
Seoul National University Public (National) Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 1946 2,278
41 94 56 11 17
Korea University Private Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 1905 1,511
79 201–300 201–250 27 15
Yonsei University Private Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 1885 1,712
76 201–300 78 13 12


Yonsei University[edit]

Seoul National University[edit]

  • 1895: Former Institute of Seoul National University College of Law was established.
  • 1924: Headquarters and preparatory departments of Keijō Imperial University was founded by Japan. This university is the main predecessor to Seoul National University.
  • 1926: Three departments (namely the departments of Law, Medical Sciences, and Human Sciences) of Keijō Imperial University were opened by Japan. These were the first official higher education institution during the colonial period. This university was the only university in Korea at the time due to oppression by Japan. The Japanese government did not approve the establishment of any university except Keijō Imperial University.
  • 1946 August: Seoul National University founded by merging several Japanese institutions of higher education around Seoul, including Keijō Imperial University

Korea University[edit]

National recognition[edit]

In 2010, it was reported that 46.3% of high government officials and 50% of CEOs of major financial industries were graduates of SKY universities.[14] Also, over 60% of the students who passed the 2010 Korean Bar examination were graduates of SKY universities.[15] Being admitted in one of these universities typically requires students to be within the top 1% of the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test[citation needed].


There have been a number of SKY university students who have dropped out of school to protest against South Korea's overheated academic elitism.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

  • SKY Castle, a 2018–2019 JTBC Friday-Saturday prime time drama, explores the employment of coordinators by parents who wish their children to enter one of the three colleges, which sometimes does not come without consequences.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News". December 4, 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-12-04.
  2. ^ * [1] Archived 2007-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ * "QS Top Universities: Korean international postgraduate study - a dramatic transformation". Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  4. ^ New York Times, "A Taste of Failure Fuels an Appetite for Success at South Korea’s Cram Schools" [10] Archived 2020-11-15 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ *"Life and death exams in South Korea" by James Card, Asia Times Online, November 30, 2005, retrieved December 18, 2005.
  6. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2024". Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2023". Archived from the original on 29 August 2023. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  8. ^ "World University Rankings 2023". 12 October 2022. Archived from the original on 25 February 2023. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Asia University Rankings 2023". 22 June 2023. Archived from the original on 6 July 2023. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  10. ^ "QS Asia University Rankings 2023". Archived from the original on 26 March 2023. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  11. ^ a b c "Facts". Seoul National University. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "About KU". Korea University. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  13. ^ a b c "Yonsei at a Glance". Yonsei University. Archived from the original on November 28, 2022. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  14. ^ "금융권 CEO 출신대학..서울대>고려대>연세대 順". Naver News. Archived from the original on 2019-10-13. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  15. ^ "사법시험 로스쿨 행외시 수험의 동반자". Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  16. ^ Kim, Gyeong-su (2011-11-17). 명문대 줄잇는 ‘공개 자퇴’ 왜?. The Financial News (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2011-11-20.

Further reading[edit]