Educational System

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The school system in Korea follows a 6-3-3-4 ladder pattern which consists of elementary school (6 yrs./1st to 6th grades), middle school (3 yrs./7th to 9th grades), high school (3 yrs./10th to 12th grades) and university (4 yrs.) or college (2-3 yrs.).

Universities have courses for masters (2-3 yrs.) and doctorate (2-3 yrs.) degree programs

Education track in Korea
Age Grade Level Name of Course
General Education Course Special Education Course
3 Pre-schools Kindergarten Special Schools
6 1 Elementary Education Elementary Schools Special Schools
7 2
8 3
9 4
10 5
11 6
12 7 Secondary Education Middle Schools Special Schools, Civic Schools and
Other Schools
13 8
14 9
15 10 High Schools Special Schools, Air & Correspondence High Schools, Technical Schools and Other Schools
16 11
17 12
19 13 Post-secondary Education Universities offering Bachelor Degrees Colleges, Industry Universities, Universities of Education, Technical Schools, Distance Education Schools Air and Correspondence Colleges
20 14
21 15
22 16
23 17 Graduate Schools offering Master Degrees
24 18
25 19 Doctorate Degrees
26 20
27 21

Education System

In Korea, the school year begins in March with summer vacation during July through August, and the second semester beginning in September. The long winter vacation lasts from December to February.
  • Start of Year : March
  • First Semester : From March to August
  • Second Semester : From August, to February
Elementary Schools
Primary education in Korea, which provides people with very basic knowledge necessary to live as a citizen, is compulsory and tuition free. In most cases children go to preschools when they are 3-5 years old. Though children become eligible for primary school from the age of 5, it is a usual practice for them to enter primary school when they turn 6. Most primary schools are public schools with 6 year programs. There is not much difference between public and private school curriculums.
Middle Schools
Korea’s middle schools provide students with a secondary education based on their educational foundation from elementary schools. Competitive entrance examinations at the middle-school level were abolished in 1968. Since then, students have been assigned to secondary institutions by computer in accordance with locations within the boundaries of the school district. Middle school is free and compulsory, with 3 years of education. The number of private schools is more than that of public schools. Their education programs are almost the same.
High Schools
High school education is designed to provide upper secondary education or basic vocational training building upon middle school education. High schools are divided into academic schools, specialty schools, and special purpose schools (foreign language, arts & sports, science). High schools have 3 year programs and tuition must be paid. A student can choose his/her own specialty school or special purpose school, but academic schools are assigned to each student by home-school distance based lottery just like middle schools.

※ There is no limitation for foreign students in attending schools (elementary, middle and high school) in Korea. Under the Education Act, the admission of foreign students depends on school regulations. For those who want to attend a Korean school, they may visit the school and follow the regulations on foreign students.

Colleges provide tertiary education upon the completion of secondary education. Korea has 138 colleges nationwide, 9 of which are public, and the rest private. Many of them provide boarding houses within their campus and their tuition fees are cheaper than universities. A college education nurtures students as medium skilled technicians equipped with solid technological skill and knowledge. Those who graduate from college can get jobs or enter into university.
There are 243 universities in Korea offering 4-year bachelor's degree programs. Universities for medical, oriental medicine and dentistry are 6-year courses. Korean universities have various courses and their own regulations on credits, prerequisite credits for graduation, maximum credits per semester and how to acquire credits and special credits. Universities are divided into national, public and private. Most universities are private.

※ Universities have their own conditions for admission but there are little differences among them. For those entering into universities and colleges, language will not be a barrier as they offer Korean language courses for foreign students.

  • Program for full time semester : Full-time program
  • Programs for exchange students : Exchange students according to an exchange agreement with the foreign universities with which they set up a sister school relationship
  • Programs for season session : Basic educational programs during vacations, Korean language courses, and others
Master or Doctorate Degrees
University graduate schools have courses for students desiring to obtain their Master’s Degrees (2 to 3 years) and Doctorate Degrees (2 to 3 years). Graduate schools are divided into schools for basic theory and academy research, professional graduate schools for adaptation of practical theory and research and development, along with special graduate schools that provide education to business people through night classes.

Division in Charge : Innovative Education Division, Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education

Contact : +82-62-380-4342