Higher education institutions 2-6 years

Higher education is available for high school graduates or individuals with equivalent academic credentials approved by relevant laws in Korea. However, admission to higher education instit utions is determined by multiple factors such as the College Scholastic Ability Test scores, school records, etc. Higher education institutions come in various forms, including regular four-year comprehensive universities, universities of education for pre-service elementary school teachers, open university and cyber colleges for distance education and online learning, industrial colleges for lifelong education, junior colleges, intra-company universities established by companies to educate their employees, and polytechnic colleges for job-related skills training.

As of 2022, there are 134 junior colleges, 9 of which are national public institutions. They provide post-secondary education programs that aim to cultivate mid-level technicians with a solid foundation in both theory and practical skills. Upon gradua- tion, students can enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university. There are about 200 four-year comprehensive universities in Korea that offer bachelor's degree programs. The majority of these institutions are private with their own academic regulations. In addition, colleges of medicine, Korean medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy provide a six-year program for specialized skills and knowledge.

Graduate schools 3-5 years

Graduate schools offer advanced research and education, providing specialized training for individuals seeking to expand their knowledge and expertise in a particular field. There are three types of graduate schools: general, professional, and specialized. General graduate schools primarily focus on academic research, while professional graduate schools aim to cultivate talents in the professional field. Specialized graduate schools offer continuing education or professional development opportunities for working professionals and adult learners to further their education and professional development. Since the establishment of the Graduate School of Public Administration and the Graduate School of Public Health at Seoul National University in 1959, the number of professional and specialized graduate schools has increased exponentially. Today, specialized graduate schools offer a wide-range of programs, including education, business administration, industry, theology, international, environment, interpretation, medicine, finance, and law. As of 2022, 1,167 graduate schools are in operation nationwide.

Korea has a relatively high completion rate for higher education of adults aged 25 to 64, which stands at 51.7% in 2021, surpassing the OECD average. In particular, the higher education completion rate for young people aged 25 to34 is 69.3%, which is significantly higher than the OECD average of 46.9%, with Korea being ranked first among OECD member countries.

Graduate schools 3-5 years: Reference Year, Division, Aged 25-64, Aged 25-34
Reference Year Division Aged 25-64 Aged 25-34
2021 Korea 51.7% 69.3%
OECD Average 41.1% 46.9%

Source : 2023 Education in Korea