Higher education system and teaching language in South Korea

In the previous article, we had talked about the top 10 universities in South Korea. In this article, we will look at the Korean higher education system and the teaching language that are used to teach curricula in South Korea.

Higher education institutions in South Korea

In the South Korean higher education system, there are 3 types of institutions, namely:

Junior Colleges

Junior college’s program period lasts between 2 and 3 years, and 4 years if you study nursing. These are institutions which focus is on practical education. To graduate from a junior college in Korea, you need to complete a minimum of 80 to 120 credits or apply for up to 24 credits per semester. 

Universities and Colleges

Korean universities offer degree programs that last for 4 to 6 years, which are taught either in Korean or in English. Universities and colleges focus on theoretical education in subjects that are useful for the development of the nation.

Graduate schools

Graduate schools in Korea offer either academic research programs or practical-oriented studies. Education programs require 2 or more years of study, followed by a qualification exam and submission of their master’s thesis. Those studying for a doctorate degree need to complete at least 3 more years of study. Graduate schools also provide post-doctoral programs for those who want to pursue research after their doctorate degree.

Moreover, Korea has started in the past few years to implement the distant learning policy by paying much attention to the technology system as well as developing it through accredited electronic universities.

Korean universities

There are 3 types of universities:

1) National universities: They are under the administrationand supervision of the central government.

2) Public universities: They are under the management andsupervision of the local government.

3) Private universities: They are under the management andsupervision of private, non-governmental bodies.

General information about the Korean education system

Course Registration

Students must register every year before starting to study in South Korea. Furthermore, to find out how to register and apply at a Korean university, follow the upcoming articles.

Learn about the admission and application process in Korean universities.

Course Evaluation

Students must evaluate and comment on the course that was studied at the end of each semester.

Study programs available in English

Like most South Korean universities, international students from all over the world are interested in studying in Korea.

There are universities where study programs are available in the English language by 30%, in addition to some universities that offer full study programs in English only.

Study courses using Korean language

Many Korean universities offer Korean language courses. Short-term courses range from 3-4 weeks and aim to develop communication skills in Korean. On the other hand, long-term courses range from 10-40 weeks.

Seasonal classes (summer / winter)

Students are permitted to study during summer and winter holidays for one month only.

Leave permission

Once getting a leave permission from the university, the student must leave Korea within two weeks of the date after the issuance of the permit.


The student must apply to register again to start studying after the leave permission has ended.

Dual study: The student has the option to study another major of study during his principal studies as long as he has the necessary qualifications for that. For example: studying civil engineering along with studying applied art.

Academic Warning

The student receives an academic warning letter when his grade is less than 5 points out of a total of 4 points (the ratio may vary from university to another in Korea).

Moreover, the student is dismissed after receiving 3 warning letters (dismissal from the university may cause problems related to the extension of the residency visa).

We will also talk about how to obtain a residence visa in detail in the following articles.

Korean Language

Obviously, studying the Korean language at the Korean Language Institute is the preferred method for students there.

The study of the language takes a period ranging between 10-12 weeks. Moreover, the tuition fee is about 950,000 Korean won.

On the other hand, some study courses require visits to archeological sites in addition to local places in South Korea.

1 US $ =1,391.03 Korean won.

Examples of documents required to study the Korean language

  • Fill out the application form to study the Korean language.
  • A copy of the passport.
  • Photograph.
  • A bank document showing your bank credit.
  • Application fee.

Some levels of the Korean language

  • Beginner level A1: It teaches the Korean alphabet, as well as some simple basic words. Besides, it teaches the student how to express him/herself in Korean.
  • Elementary Level 1: This level teaches simple sentences that are used in everyday life in South Korea, such as salutation, shopping and ordering food.

Additionally, there are other levels such as elementary level 2, intermediate level 1, intermediate level 2, advanced level 1, advanced level 2 as well as the last level (the level of enrollment). In this level, you’ll become fully qualified to use the Korean language as the teaching language during your study, in addition to qualifying you to get a job as well. Indeed, this also gives you the opportunity to engage in the Korean society more closely.

Read also about:

How to get student accommodation in South Korea

The cost of studying and living in South Korea

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