Yonsei University

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Yonsei University
Yonsei University

Motto 진리가 너희를 자유케 하리라
The truth will make you free.
(John 8:32EU)[1]
Foundation 1957
Sponsorship private
Location Seoul, South Korea
President Seoung-hwan Suh
Students 28.148 (2011)[2]
21,480 Non-graduates
6,668 Postgraduates
Employees 4.416 (scientific staff, 2011)[2]
thereof professors 2.973 (2011)[2]
Annual budget US$2.8 billion (2011)[2]
Korean spelling
Korean alphabet: 연세대학교
Hanja: 延世大學校
Revised Romanization: Yeonse Daehakgyo
McCune-Reischauer: Yŏnse Taehakkyo

Coordinates 37° 33′ 37″ N, 126° 56′ 13″ E
Yonsei University is a private, elite Christian university[3] in Seoul, South Korea.

The university originated from a medical school founded in 1885. In its current form, Yonsei University was founded in 1957 through the merger of two colleges, Yonhi University and Severance Medical College.

The university consists of 22 colleges, 21 graduate schools, and 155 research institutes.[2] The university facilities are located on the main campus in Seoul’s Sinchon district. In addition, the university has another campus in Wonju and the new International Campus in Songdo, Incheon.

In South Korea, Yonsei University is one of the three most prestigious universities in South Korea, together with Seoul National University and University of Korea, also known as SKY.[4] It is also the oldest private university in South Korea.[5] The university has partnerships and collaborations with some of the top universities worldwide, including Harvard University.[6]


Yonsei University originated from two colleges, Yonhi University and Severance Medical College. Severance Medical College originated from the first hospital in Korea founded in 1885.[7] Yonhi University grew out of a Christian college founded in 1915.[8]

Severance Medical College

The Gwanghyewon Hospital in the Sinchon Campus, built in 1885

In 1885, King Gojong commissioned royal court physician Horace Newton Allen – an American missionary of the Presbyterian Church (American Northern Presbyterian Church) – to build Korea’s first modern hospital.[9] In April 1885, the Kwanghyewon Hospital (kor. 광혜원, 廣惠院; Eng. House of the Extension of Grace).

On March 29, 1886, 16 selected students were accepted at the hospital, which by then was named Jejungwon(제중원, 濟衆院; House for the Salvation of the People’s Mass), and began their medical training.[10][11] This medical school is the origin of Yonsei University and the first modern medical training institution in Korea.

In 1904, after Canadian O. R. Avison, previously a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, took charge of the hospital, he established a new hospital named Sebeuranseu Byeongwon(세브란스 병원, 세브란스 醫院; Severance Hospital) with a donation from American L. H. Severance and, at the same time, the teaching institution Sebeuranseu Euihak Jeonmunhakgyo(세브란스 의학전문학교; Severance Medical School).[7] In 1908, the first seven students were awarded Korea’s first doctorates and medical licenses. In the following years, the name changed several times: in 1909 to Sarib Sebeuranseu Uihakgyo(사립 세브란스 의학교, Private Severance Medical School), in 1913 to Sarib Sebeuranseu Yeonhab Uihakgyo(사립 세브란스 연합의학교; Private United Severance Medical School), and in 1917 to Sebeuranseu Yeonhab Uihak Jeonmunhakgyo(세브란스 연합의학전문학교; United Severance Medical School).

As early as September 1906, a professional nursing school was established within Severance Hospital. The first nurses completed their training in 1910.[10]

In 1942, the college was renamed Asahi Igakku Senmongakkō (jap. 旭醫學專門學校; 아사히 의학전문학교; Asahi Medical College) at the behest of the Chōsen Governorate General. The name was retained until Chōsen’s independence from Japan in 1945.[10] In 1947, the school received approval for a six-year medical college called Sebeuranseu Uigwadaehak(세브란스 의과대학; Severance Medical College).

Since the year 1949, the medical preparatory courses were no longer held in Severance Medical College, but in the College of Science and Engineering of Yonhi University.[11]

During the Korean War, Severance Medical College and Hospital was moved to Busan in 1951 and a humanitarian hospital was established to provide medical care for refugees.[10] After the war ended in 1952, Severance Medical College and Hospital moved back to Seoul.[11]

In 1968, the School of Nursing, founded in 1906, was upgraded to a college.[10]

Yonhi University

Underwood Hall

In March 1915, Chōsen Kirisutokyō Gakkō(朝鮮基督教学校; 조선기독교학교; Chōsen Christian School) opened, the first private college in Chōsen Province. The founder of the college was H. G. Underwood. The foundation was supported jointly by a Presbyterian congregation in New York, a Methodist mission group, and a Presbyterian mission group from Canada. The college was located in the YMCA building in Seoul and consisted of five departments: Humanities, Theology, Economics, Mathematics and Physics, and Agriculture.[8]

In April 1917, the college was renamed Shiritsu Enki Senmongakkō(私立延禧專門学校; 사립 연희전문학교; Private Technical College Enki); The Japanese kanji of the name “Enki”(延禧) is pronounced Yonhi in Korean, giving rise to the part of the name that remains today. Applied chemistry was added to the five departments.[7] That same year, with the help of a donation from John T. Underwood, brother of H. G. Underwood, the site of the present Keijō campus was purchased.[7] One of the first buildings, Stimson Hall, was constructed with the estate of Charles Stimson. The first graduates left the college in 1919.[8] In 1923, a new decree in education policy modernized the name to Enki Senmongakkō(延禧專門学校; 연희전문학교; Enki Technical School).

In April 1944, the college was dissolved at the behest of the Chōsens General Government, as it was “property of the enemy.” The Korean staff and professors were dismissed and the college was renamed Keijō Kougyō Keiei Senmongakkō(京城工業經營專門學校; 경성공업경영전문학교; Keijō College of Industrial and Management Sciences) and continued to operate as such.

After Chōsen’s independence from Japan, preparations were made for its expansion into a comprehensive university. On Independence Day 1946, Yonhi Daehakgyo(연희대학교, 延禧大學校, Yonhi University) opened with four departments (humanities, economics, natural sciences, and theology) and eleven departments.[8] Study at Yonhi University was open to both men and women, making it the first mixed South Korean university.

Beginning in 1949, the preparatory courses of Severance Medical College were held at Yonhi University. The first graduates left Yonhi University in 1950. Also in 1950, the departments were converted to colleges. Law, education, biology, electrical engineering, industrial chemistry, and a medical preparatory course were added to the curriculum, bringing the total to 17 majors, and a graduate school was established.[8]

During the Korean War, it was moved to Busan. In 1953, the university moved back to Seoul.[11]

Yonhi University was constantly expanding: in 1954 a new College of Political Science and Law was established. In 1955, a Department of Church Music was established in the College of Theology.

Yonsei University

The Yonsei University Observatory

In the year, the board members of the foundations of both colleges Severance Medical College and Yonhi University agreed to form a joint corporation. On January 5, 1957, the two colleges merged and chose Yonsei University(연세대학교, 延世大學校) as the new name of the university.

In 1959, the Korean Language Institute was founded making it the first university to offer Korean language programs.[12] As a result, Yonsei’s Korean programs and textbooks enjoy a high reputation. In 1977, the second campus was opened in Wonju. In the same year, Korea’s largest telescope was built at Yonsei University. In 1981, the Wonju campus was expanded into Wonju College with 10 departments, and Korea’s first graduate school for international studies opened in 1986.[11]

During a student demonstration in 1987, a student was killed by a tear gas shell fired by police. This accident triggered the June Democracy Movement, which ended with President Roh Tae-woo agreeing to a direct presidential election.

In 2003, the Kim Dae Jung Library opened, named after the eighth president of the country.

In 2006, the land in the free economic zone was acquired by the city of Incheon. The new International Campus opened in 2010 with the construction of the College of Pharmacy.

The university library consists of the central library in the Sinchon campus and three other departmental libraries. The collection in Sinchon comprises 2 million individual volumes.

Academic institution

As in all South Korean universities, studies at Yonsei University are based on the Anglo-Saxon three-cycle system and thus offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

The academic institution is divided into two levels, undergraduate and postgraduate. The undergraduate studies (Bachelor’s degree) are offered by the colleges. Graduate schools are responsible for the higher academic degrees or postgraduate studies (master’s and doctoral programs).

Yonsei University operates three campuses. Since the campuses carry out independent student selection procedures, they have independent academic structures.

Undergraduate study

A college in the South Korean higher education system is roughly equivalent to a German faculty. Within the colleges are the departments organizing the Bachelor’s programs. There are a total of 95 departments at Yonsei University.

The current colleges of Yonsei University are as follows:

Sinchon Campus has an extensive academic structure.

  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Business & Economics
  • School of business
  • College of Science
  • College of engineering
  • College of Life Science & Biotechnology
  • College of Theology
  • College of Social Sciences
  • College of law
  • College of music
  • College of Human Ecology
  • College of Sciences in Education
  • University college
  • Underwood International College
  • College of Medicine
  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Nursing

The new International Campus in Songdo focuses on the medical and engineering fields.

  • University college
  • Underwood International College
  • College of Medicine
  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Pharmacy
  • School of Integrated Technology
  • College of engineering
  • Global Program – Pre-Major Program

The Wonju Campus has study facilities in basic sciences such as humanities and natural sciences with some specialized facilities such as business administration and medicine.

  • College of Humanities & Arts
  • College of Science & Technology
  • College of Government & Business
  • College of Health Sciences
  • EastAsia Intl. College
  • Wonju College of Medicine

Postgraduate studies

The first graduate school was established in Yonhi University in 1950.[13] The first doctoral students were admitted in 1961. Like the rest of Yonsei University, graduate school education is based on Christian values. In the graduate schools, Korea’s future leaders are to be educated with the goal of serving the world community. They are to learn “creative academic outcomes through scientific and critical research methods”[13] …through scientific and critical research methods. Since its founding, Yonsei University’s graduate schools have awarded approximately 6,000 doctoral degrees and 26,000 master’s degrees.

Graduate School

The Graduate School or General Graduate School is the traditional institution responsible for general master’s and doctoral programs.

In a total of 99 study programmes, almost all Bachelor’s programmes are continued. The Master’s programmes in the Graduate School are consecutive and therefore correspond for the most part with the Bachelor’s programmes organised by the colleges. The Master’s programmes are designed as their academically in-depth programmes.

The Graduate School is divided into 77 departments. Since the Graduate School is administratively equivalent to the College, there is no intermediate level between the Graduate School and the Department. However, in order to keep track of this multitude of departments, they are unofficially divided into six academic areas (analogous to the colleges):

  • Liberal Arts and Social Science
  • Natural science
  • Engineering
  • Art and Physical Education
  • Medical science
  • (Interdisciplinary Studies)

In addition to the 77 standardized degree programs, the Graduate School offers 23 interdisciplinary degree programs and 24 programs in cooperation with other South Korean research institutes.

Special Graduate Schools

In addition to the traditional Graduate School, there are nine Professional Graduate Schools and eleven Special Graduate Schools, which have been established for specific purposes.

University symbol

The symbol of Yonsei University

The emblem of Yonsei University consists of a circle with a shield depicted in the center. The shield features a circle (“ㅇ”) at the top, a bar (“-“) in the middle, and a roof (“ㅅ”) at the bottom. The characters “ㅇ” and “ㅅ” are taken from the initial characters of the two syllables of the university name 연세. Here, the circle “ㅇ” symbolizes the ideal of a person who is perfect in character and versatile. The roof “ㅅ” represents the upward pursuit of scientific excellence. In addition to these meanings, the “ㅇ” symbolizes the sky, the “-” symbolizes the horizon, and the “ㅅ” symbolizes man, in reference to the Chinese character . To the left of the “ㅇ” is an open book, representing truth. To the right of the “ㅇ” is a torch, standing for freedom. The shield on which all the symbols are shown protects these core principles of Yonsei University. Around the shield, in a circle, is the name of the university in English and Korean.

In addition to the emblem, Yonsei University has a flying eagle as its logo.[14]

Academic reputation

The ranking in the well-known international rankings of the last years looks as follows:

Year QS THE Shanghai
2011 129.[15] 226.–250.[16] 201.–300.[17]
2012 112.[18] 183.[19] 201.–300.[20]
2013 114.[21] 190.[22] 201.–300.[23]
2014 106.[24] 201.–225.[25] 201.–300.[26]

Among Asian universities, Yonsei University is ranked as follows:

2011 18.[27] 25.–29.[28]
2012 16.[29] 20.[30]
2013 16.[31] 17.[32]
2014 16.[33]

Web links

Commons: Yonsei University– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Yonsei University, Spirits & Philosophy.Retrieved 24 August 2011 (English).
  2. a b c d e Yonsei University (ed.): Statistics. 2011, p. 24 (
  3. Gregg A. Brazinsky: Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy. University of North Carolina Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4696-0486-2, doi:10.5149/9780807867792_brazinsky/upso-9780807831205 [ ] [accessed 19 December 2019]).
  4. James Card:Life and death exams in South Korea.5 November 2005, retrieved 2 September 2011 (English).
  5. Yonsei University.In: TheComplete University Guide. Retrieved 30 September 2018 (English).
  6. International Exchange – Harvard-Yenching Program.Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  7. a b c d Yonsei University (ed.): Yonsei Songdo Global Academix Complex. 2009, p. 7.
  8. a b c d e Yonsei University, Chronicle: Yonhi College.Retrieved August 25, 2011 (English).
  9. Yonsei University (ed.): 2011 Yonsei University – Create Your Dreams. 2011, p. 12 (
  10. a b c d e Yonsei University, Chronicle: History of Severance Medical School.Retrieved August 24, 2011 (English).
  11. a b c d e Yonsei University, Chronicle: Yonsei University Chronology.Retrieved August 24, 2011 (English).
  12. Non-degree.In: YonseiUniversity. Retrieved 30 September 2018 (English).
  13. a b Graduate School of YONSEI University: About Graduate School.(No longer available online.) Archived from.Original28August 2011; retrieved 26 August 2011 (English).
  14. Yonsei University, Symbol.(No longer available online.) Archived from.Original5 May2015; retrieved 28 August 2011 (English).
  15. QS World University Rankings 2011.Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  16. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011.Times Higher Education, retrieved 20 June 2013.
  17. Academic Ranking of World Universities 2011Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  18. QS World University Rankings 2012.Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  19. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012.Times Higher Education, retrieved 20 June 2013.
  20. Academic Ranking of World Universities 2012Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  21. QS World University Rankings 2013.Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  22. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14.Times Higher Education, retrieved 27 November 2014.
  23. Academic Ranking of World Universities 2013Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  24. QS World University Rankings 2014/15.Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  25. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-15.Times Higher Education, retrieved 9 May 2015.
  26. Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  27. QS Asian University Rankings 2011.Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  28. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011.Times Higher Education, retrieved 20 June 2013.
  29. QS Asian University Rankings 2012.Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  30. Times Higher Education Asian University Rankings 2012.Times Higher Education, retrieved 20 June 2013.
  31. QS Asian University Rankings 2013.Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  32. Times Higher Education Asian University Rankings 2013-14Times Higher Education. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  33. QS Asian University Rankings: Asia 2014.Retrieved 27 November 2014.