Higher education being a stepping stone for a prosperous career of an individual is given superior importance. Many nations have moved towards innovative research programs and the latest study program to provide a degree that is world-recognized. In this regard, South Korea is among the top performers that provide a high-quality and reliable education system.

Korean universities and educational institutes are globally acclaimed and provide the latest amenities for international students. The country’s education system ranks among the top nine in the world with most of its institutes accredited by the Korea Council for University Education (KCUE).

The formulation, implementation, and regulation of educational policies in Korea are governed by The Ministry of Education (MOE), which provides a standard accepted by global organizations. Foreign students may find this country an attractive study-abroad destination because its universities offer degrees focused on theory as well as research.

There is a diverse range of courses available in Korea with a focus on technology and development. Moreover, the recent massive scholarships offered in the country are a huge financial advantage for overseas students. 

To better understand the Korean education system with its perks and disadvantages, we have created for our readers an all-inclusive article below.

Pros / Advantages of the Education System in South Korea

1. Quality Education

A high volume of research publications and patents are strong outputs of the Korean institutes that make them top facilities globally for research. Prestigious institutes in Korea, such as KAIST, Seoul National Univerity, and POSTECH, have faculty that are well-regarded in the academic sector along with innovative programs. The Korean government spends far more money on the progression of their institutes than other countries, which in turn promotes quality education.

2. International Collaboration

Another advantage of the Korean education system is that their universities promote internationalization. They frequently collaborate with global corporations and other renowned institutes. As a result of this, joint programs and exchange programs are being offered to students. It provides an opportunity for students to gain international exposure that can enhance their career prospects.

3. Specialized Programs

Specialized programs in the fields of business, technology, and science are a specialty of Korean universities. One such program is the Master of Business Administration from Seoul National University, comprising comprehensive studies in economics, finance, and operations management. To guarantee that their curricula meet the demands of the industry and provide students with marketable skills, universities collaborate with prominent businesses. Both fields are working together to close the gap between scientific knowledge and practical benefits.

4. Affordable Tuition Fees

Compared to other countries, South Korea offers affordable tuition fees to international students. Since their government places a high value on education, they provide cheaper educational fees open to local and international students. In addition, there are also numerous Korean government scholarships offered to all deserving students. In this country, you can get a high-quality education without costing a lot. 

5. Job Placement and Career Opportunities

Having a strong industrial foundation and connections with Korean universities, they facilitate job placement for their graduating students. Most of its universities boast an employment rate of over 85% overall which is a defining factor to get admission in these institutes. The universities help student in a smooth transition to the job market after their graduation which is a great advantage.

Cons / Drawbacks of the Education System in South Korea

1. Overemphasis on Test-centric Degrees

The first drawback of the Korean education system we would like to mention is the institute’s pressure on students to perform in standardized tests. The exam system in the country is crucial compared to other modern nations where there is visible flexibility in the testing area. They focus on dividing marks based on the practical research and projects conducted by the student. Korean universities rely on the testing system, which puts extra pressure on the students.

2. High Fees in Private Universities

Another big disadvantage is that apart from their great public institutes, Korean private universities demand heavy fees for all their degree programs. A strong financial background is required for the student to take advantage of any course in these institutes. Alongside, they have strict deadlines to pay the fee otherwise they will have to face penalties and fines.

3. Lack of Work-Life Balance

While studying in Korea, a student can face trouble balancing long university hours with their work life. If they are working part-time, then the institutes here leave no room for leisure with their academic workload. Other developed countries have a limited number of university hours, giving students enough freedom to enjoy life and explore the country’s culture more.

4. Limited Course Choices

If the international student has opted for one major in a specific field then he cannot select other courses outside of his field. This limits their approach to building a well-rounded academic profile for their benefit. It hinders their capacity to explore other minor subjects to gain extra knowledge on the side. While in the USA and UK, the student has complete freedom to choose a variety of courses along with their major, making this education limited.

FAQs about Studying in South Korea

How Is the Korean Education System Different from Other Countries?

A strong blend of a rigorous curriculum, standardized testing practices, and a centralized approach makes the Korean education system stand out. Its success in academic achievement worldwide stems from its emphasis on education.

The country focuses strongly on STEM fields like science, technology, and engineering in mathematics. The government here prioritizes research for which they allocate high-value funds and grants to the institutes and students.

However, unlike other countries like the UK, Canada, and the USA, Korean universities have less autonomy to control or modify their curriculum or admission process. Blended learning models are also being introduced in Korean universities but it is not as advanced as in other countries.

Do International Students Face Extreme Challenges While Studying in Korea?

Due to the language barrier and limited flexibility international students might encounter some challenges while studying in Korea. As Korean is widely spoken in Korea, students may find it hard to navigate life outside of the university. This is even if they are enrolled in an English-taught program offered by the university.

There are also a limited number of universities that offer courses in English which can be difficult for international students. It can be hard for them to understand context-based discussions if the professor and their classmates use the local language instead of English.

The pressure to learn Korean adds to the academic stress and overall living as well. Students may find it difficult to look for affordable accommodation in the country, especially in major cities like Seoul. Managing living expenses can also come in the way.

Apart from this, the tests conducted within the degree programs are strict and uniform offering minimal flexibility. Demanding workloads and adjusting to the social norms of Korea can also be challenging but there are many student counselling options available.

The students should opt for additional language classes to reduce the language barrier and last but not least stay strong If faced with such difficulties.


Korea is a leading provider of a world-class education with its reformed courses and experts teaching the programs. Apart from having benefits like research-led education and international exposure, there are certain limitations to Korean higher education as well. Although public Korean institutes offer various scholarships, private education here is expensive and the language barrier is hard to handle.


We hope this article describes all the aspects of the Korean education system for international students so that you can make an informed decision. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students and Study in Korea pages!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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