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KAIST (formerly known as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, or 한국과학기술원 in Korean) is a research university located in Daedeok Science Town, Daejeon, South Korea. KAIST was established in 1971 as the nation's first graduate school specializing in science and engineering education and research. It is regarded as one of the top science and technology universities in South Korea along with Seoul National University and POSTECH.


KAIST was founded with government funding and was initially staffed with a number of Korean engineering and science talents educated in the United States. From the onset, the emphasis has been in theoretical as well as applied research. KAIST continues to be Korea’s foremost center of strategic R&D projects. The University helped pioneer the establishment of competitive graduate school programs in Korea.

The University’s some 400 faculty conducts research in cooperation with academics and industries all over the world. KAIST offers grants and fellowships to international students.

The President of KAIST, Nam Pyo Suh, is an authority in axiomatic design technology. Soon-Heung Chang, a nuclear scientist, serves as Provost and Ji-won Yang, a chemical engineer, as Vice President for external affairs.

The University has for many decades, recruited faculty from overseas. The current KAIST President Nam Pyo Suh taught for many years at MIT. His predecessor, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel Prize laureate and a physics professor from Stanford University, was the first foreigner to head a Korean university. Professor Emeritus Cho Jang Hee, was a dual professor at both Columbia, New York, and KAIS, and played major role in the development of the PET scanning technology.

The vast majority of professors come from US higher education institutions. The school engages in many international programs with leading European and Asian universities. The university is a member of LAOTSE, an international network of universities in Europe and Asia. It is also a member of the Association of East Asian Research Universities.

KAIST was established under the name of Korea Advanced Institute of Science (KAIS) under a special law in February 16, 1971, as the first research oriented graduate school in science and engineering in Korea. In 1989, KAIST established the education/research system of special talents in science and engineering fields in bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Students accepted into the extrodinarly competitive program, were exempt from military duty, but required to remain in Korea for 5 years following graduation, to prevent brain drain. All other Koreans, of college age, are required to do military duty, unless they are in college, then they must report for military duty soon afterward.

KAIST has led other colleges and research institutions in Korea and was verified by the ABET assessment (graduate course is within 10% of top US college level) in 1992, assessment of nationwide colleges by Joongang Ilbo (1995, 1998 ~ 2001, 2006 : First position, and assessment of Asian colleges by Asiaweek (1999 ~ 2000: Number one in science and technology), The Times of England (2006 : 37th of Top 100 world university in Technology) and others.

For the past 30 years, KAIST has produced 8,453 bachelors, 17,762 masters, 6,726 doctorate holders (doctors under 30 years of age were 2,920, 43.4%) giving a total of 32,941 alumni. The thesis published in SCI (US, Science and Technology Quotation Thesis Search) journals reached approximately 4 articles per each faculty member, and the commissioned research grant was approximately 200 million won per each facility, which is world-class level. The famous scientific publications such as「Nature」 (GB, July 1993) and 「Science」 (USA, October 1993) have assessed that, “KAIST has the potential to be the world best level education institution.”

It founded the National Nano Lab in 2002 and established the KAIST Institute in 2006.

The first act of President Suh upon his inauguration in July 2006 was to lay out the KAIST Development Plan. The ‘KAIST Development Five-Year Plan’ was finalized on February 5, 2007 by KAIST Steering Committee after a thorough examination. The goals of KAIST set by Suh are to become one of the best science and technology universities in the world, and to become one of the top-10 universities by 2011.

In January 2008, the university dropped its full name, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and changed its official name to only KAIST.[1]

Academic Program

4 colleges, 7 School, 21 departments and 11 interdisciplinary programs

Governed by a special law, KAIST has an autonomous and flexible academic system. Other South Korean colleges and universities are required to abide by the government-directed admissions and curriculum requirements. Undergraduate students can join the school through an “open major system” that allows students to take classes for three terms and choose a discipline that suits their aptitude. In addition, undergraduate students are free to change their major anytime.

With Korea’s first test-free admissions system, the overall grades, the math and science grades, recommendation letters from the teachers, study plan, personal statements, and other data that show the excellence of potential students are evaluated for admission.

KAIST has produced many doctors through the Integrated Master’s and Doctoral program and Early Completion System. Students must publish their papers in globally renowned academic journals.

Scholarships are given to all students in the bachelor, master and doctorate courses, and doctoral students are given military-exemption benefits. On campus dormitories are provided to all those who wish to use them.

College of Natural Science

The College of Natural Sciences consists of 5 departments: Physics, Biological Sciences, Mathematics (Division of Mathematics and Division of Applied Mathematics), and Chemistry. The College of Natural Sciences also holds the Natural Science Research Institute as an annexed research institute.

College of Engineering

The College of Engineering consists of two schools, seven departments and four divisions

College of Cultural Science

The College of Culture and Science is composed of two Departments: School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Graduate School of Culture Technology. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has about 75 faculty members (3 professors emeriti, 18 full-time faculties, 13 visiting professors, 1 research professor, 40 lecturers), the Graduate School of Culture Technology also has 4 full-time faculties, 5 visiting professors, 7 adjunct professors, and 89 master students and 36 doctoral students. The Graduate School established the Humanities and Social Science Research Center and the Culture Technology Research Center.

College of Interdisciplinary Studies

The interdisciplinary major program at KAIST was founded on September 1, 2003. With the subsequent establishment of auxiliary organizations, the program was launched in earnest in April 2004.

Business School

KAIST established the Graduate School of Management in March, 1996. In 2006, The Graduate School of Management joined with the Graduate School of Finance and the Graduate School of Information & Media Management to form KAIST Business School.


KAIST is located in the Daedeok Research Complex in the city of Daejeon, 150 kilometers south of the capital Seoul. Daedeok is also home to some 50 public and private research institutes, universities and high-tech venture capital companies.

KAIST has total twenty nine dormitories where all students wishing to reside can stay. Twenty three dormitories for male students and four dormitories for female students are located on the outskirts of the campus, and two apartments for married students are located outside the campus.

Seoul Campus is the home of Business Faculty of the university. Graduate school of finance, management and information & media management is located there. The total area of Seoul Campus is 413,346 m2. Its primary goal is to achieve an optimal combination of engineering and business studies which will make engineers more effective at their craft.

Digital Science Library

KAIST digital science library was established in 1971 as KAIS library, and it went through a merge and separation process with KIST library. It merged with KIT in March 1990. A contemporary 5 story building was constructed as the main library, and it is being operated with an annex library. The library uses the American LC Classification Schedule.


Seven KAIST Institutes (KIs) have been set up: the KI for the BioCentury, the KI for Information Technology Convergence, the KI for the Design of Complex Systems, the KI for Entertainment Engineering, the KI for the NanoCentury, the KI for Eco-Energy, and the KI for Urban Space and Systems. Each KI is operated as an independent research center at the level of a college, receiving support in terms of finance and facilities. KAIST is currently conducting research planned by the government and private businesses that are worth mounts as much as 100 billion won. In terms of ownership of intellectual property rights, KAIST holds 1,591 domestic patents and 500 international patents so far.

KAIST Institute (KI)

Academic rankings

In the 2007 THES - QS World University Rankings - Technology, the University was placed 48th in the world and 1st in Korea.[2] In the 2008 THES - QS World University Rankings, KAIST was placed 95th overall, 34th in Natural Science, and 46th in Technology.[3] KAIST was again recognized as a number one University in Korea by Joong Angh Ill Bo Review. KAIST has also been listed in the top 60 Design Schools by Business Week.[4]


Over the last 36 years, KAIST has educated 33,380 scientists and engineers, 6,867 PhD graduates, 17,911 master’s degree holders and 8,602 bachelor’s degree holders. KAIST is home to young doctorate degree holders who are in their twenties, with 43 percent, or 2,920 out of 6,726 doctoral graduates, in their twenties upon graduation. KAIST graduates are working in universities, businesses and research institutes as well as in some of the most prestigious schools abroad.

Universities include MIT, UCLA, Harvard University and Pennsylvania State University, among others; business sectors include Samsung, SK Telecom, LG, Hyundai, NHN and others; research institutes include the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) and many others.


  1. 'KAIST' Decides Not to Use Original Full Name, KAIST announcement, January 10, 2008.
  2. THES - QS World University Rankings 2007 - Technology. Retrieved on 2008-02-01.
  3. THES-QS World University Rankings 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
  4. D-Schools: The Global List. Retrieved on 2008-12-13.