The basics
South Korea: Applying to University - Must read

The South Korean higher education system explained

Not sure how higher education works in South Korea? Here’s everything you need to know about how the system is organised...


With over 1,100 English-taught programmes featured on our website alone, it is easy to see how focused South Korea is on offering international students a global education. Like Japan and China, the Korean government has shown it is committed to making the country accessible and welcoming for international students. If you have ever thought of studying abroad in South Korea, now is the time to do so! Here we tell you all you need to know about the higher education system.


Quick Facts

  • There are more than 370 higher education institutions in South Korea
  • The adult literacy rate in South Korea is over 97%
  • Over 99% of school age children attend school in South Korea, due to the emphasis that the government and families put on education
  • While most Bachelor courses last four years, medicine, dentistry and oriental medicine degrees usually last for six years


Types of universities
There are two different types of institutions:

  1. Private universities
  2. Public and National universities


1. Private universities
These institutions are run by incorporated Educational Institutions. Sometimes, tuition can be higher at these universities so it's always worth researching that beforehand. Popular private universities include Yonsei University, Korea University, Ewha Womans University and the Pohang University of Science and Technology.

2. Public and National universities
These institutions are run by local governments or the national Korean government and are often cheaper than private universities. Popular public and national institutions include Seoul National University, KAIST, Pusan National University and the Korea University of Science and Technology.


Because of the range of universities in South Korea, many private, public and national universities are comparable in size and course offerings so you are bound to find something to suit your needs. 


Now that you know about the higher education system, why not check out some of the courses available in South Korea by using our handy search tool below?!

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About Author

Ella Frazer is a student at the University of Puget Sound studying English Literature and Religion. She is currently studying abroad in London and is busy enjoying the collection of museums, constantly losing her way, and being of legal drinking age. When she is not writing for Hotcourses Abroad, you can usually find her searching for manuscripts at the British Library.