Moving to a new country is difficult enough without the added stress of endlessly researching for the best schooling available to you and your family. Foreigners can go to school in Korea, but choosing the best school may be difficult if you don’t know where to start looking. Local Korean schools are an option, but depending on the age of the student, might not be plausible due to language barriers and curriculum differences between countries. Most expats end up opting for foreign or international schools in Seoul or anywhere in Korea.
Most foreign and international schools in Seoul are geared towards English speakers, offering American or British academic curriculums – though there are also schools that teach in and follow British, German, Chinese, and Japanese curriculums.
It should come as no surprise to incoming expats that Koreans take education very seriously. Foreign and International Schools in Seoul are no exception. Education and proper schooling are held in the highest regard for Koreans, and this pressure to succeed academically might be difficult to adjust to for students who aren’t used to longer school hours and intense academic competition amongst students.
Korea International School vs Foreign School
Looking through the list of schools available in Korea, one might wonder if there is a difference between an “international” school and a “foreign” one. The difference between the two lies in the ex-pats to foreigners ratio that the school is required to have in their student demographic at all given times.
“Foreign schools” are required to limit their ethnically Korean demographic to a small percentage of the student demographic, while “International schools” have no such limitations.
Each school has a slightly different interpretation of what it means to be a “foreigner,” with conditions that range from the country of citizenship, the amount of time spent overseas, to the nationality of parents/guardians. However, even with these limitations, most foreign and international schools in Seoul or anywhere in Korea have an extremely high ethnically Korean population.
Admissions & Documents to Prepare Before Coming to Korea
Each school has different documents and paperwork that it requires in the application process. Typically, foreign and international schools in Seoul will require copies of the student’s passport, transcript, birth certificate, and standardized test scores. In addition, the enrollment process might differ a great deal based on the age of the student.
For example, while a sophomore in high school will have to send in their academic transcript, a first grader might not have to undergo the same requirement. Some schools also require an on-site test and interview before officially admitting their students. Waiting lists are also common amongst well-established and more competitive schools.
How Much is International School in Seoul?
The cost of international schools in Seoul differs depending on each school’s application fees, tuition fees, the option for transportation to and from the school, and what grade a student is in. You can expect international boarding schools in South Korea to be drastically more expensive than the average international school for the added cost of accommodation. International schools in Korea can be a bit more expensive than Korean private, national, or public schools. The annual cost of attending an international school in Seoul can range anywhere from ₩17,000,000 to ₩30,000,000.
Best International Schools in Seoul
Here’s our list of the top foreign schools and international schools in Seoul, South Korea in 2021 in no particular order from pre-k through to grade 12!
Korea International School is a co-educational international school for students K-12. Established in 2000, KIS has slowly grown and expanded to presently include three campuses, including one in Gaepo (southern Seoul) and Jeju Island.
Its main campus is located in Bundang, a suburban residential area right outside of Seoul. As one of the top international schools in Seoul, KIS offers an American-based curriculum to its students and offers a high-quality, university preparatory education in which English is the medium of instruction.
Situated on a purpose-designed city campus just south of the Han River in the centrally located Seocho District, Dulwich College Seoul offers an exemplary British-style international education for 700 expatriate students aged 4 years to 18 years from over 40 different countries.
It is built upon the history of Dulwich College London, one of Britain’s most prestigious independent schools, originated in 1619. The College maintains a close relationship with Dulwich College London and the Dulwich Colleges in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Yangon, and Singapore.
The curriculum follows the best practice of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and Enhanced English National Curriculum. With the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) accreditation, Dulwich College Seoul offers the IGCSE programme and its International Baccalaureate World School status enables students to proceed thereafter with the IB Diploma programme.
Yongsan International School is an international Christian school for students K-12. Located in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, in the heart of the foreign community in Seoul, YISS is one of the smaller international schools in South Korea (with a student population of around 1000 students) but remains one of the most competitive international schools in Seoul.
Fully accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and recognized by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), the school aims to instill in each student a passion for truth, a commitment to excellence, and an appreciation for diversity. Its facilities include a modern auditorium, music room, gymnasium, weight training room, indoor swimming pool, playground, soccer field, and basement parking facilities.
YISS won the 10 Magazine Best of Seoul 2018 readers choice competition in the category of Best International School making it worthy to be on our list of the top international schools in Seoul.
Unlike other international schools in Seoul, Seoul Foreign School is the only international school in Seoul to offer a diverse, and complete Pre-K to Grade 12 educational experience by providing both the English National Curriculum or an American curriculum, culminating in a high school offering both the IGCSEs and IB Diploma.
The 7th oldest International School in the world, and the oldest British International School in Korea, Seoul Foreign School has a proven legacy spanning more than 100 years. A not-for-profit institution, SFS equips students with a well-rounded education where they are part of a diverse student body in a unique learning environment nestled on a spacious 26 acres. This hilltop campus rich in history provides a welcoming sanctuary from the bustling city below.
British Education Korea, formerly known as EtonHouse Prep Seoul, offers a British, independent, co-educational preparatory education for pupils aged 2 -13 set in the heart of the vibrant and dynamic city of Seoul.
Opened in August 2013, the school celebrates a diverse cohort of pupils, parents and educators brought together by a distinctive education based closely on the British preparatory education system. In addition, elements of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) joined with lessons in Korean heritage, culture and language create a noteworthy international learning experience.
Seoul Foreign British School (SFBS) is the oldest British curriculum school in Seoul, and the only international school to hold a registration number with the UK Department for Education (DfE) which sets it apart from other international schools in Seoul. Offering a distinctly British curriculum in a truly international context, the SFBS curriculum has been adapted to reflect an international community of students.
As one of the top international schools in Seoul, SFBS emphasizes quality, motivation, and enthusiasm through a holistic approach to learning that integrates the academic, creative, physical, and spiritual well-being of students. SFBS’ facilities enable the school to offer a wide range of extracurricular activities to ensure a well-rounded education both within the curriculum and in the extensive after-school activities program.
Dwight School Seoul believes in finding and encouraging the “spark of genius” that exists in every child. As one of the top international schools in Seoul, this school strives to nurture and cultivate this spark through their “Three Pillars” of education: global vision, personalized learning, and community.
With a rich curriculum that inspires a sense of wonder and discovery in classrooms, Dwight School Seoul meets international standards, benchmarks, and the global needs of an international student population. As an authorized IB World School, Dwight School seeks to encourage students to take intellectual risks while communicating and working effectively with others.
Seoul International School is a private K-12 academic institution founded in 1973. Located just outside of Seoul in Gyeonggi-do, SIS aims to provide a challenging U.S. curriculum to meet the primary and secondary educational needs of international students living in Korea.
SIS is a member of the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference and offers tennis, cross country, and swimming, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, and soccer to its students. SIS provides a safe and secure learning environment for its students and keeps up to pace with its educational development with significant ongoing renovations to its facilities.
Chadwick is a Pre-K to Grade 12 school, dedicated to the “development of academic excellence, exemplary character, and self-discovery through experience”. The school offers a well-rounded educational experience to students, encouraging them to leave the bounds of their comfort zone through a well-rounded curriculum.
Opportunities include creative learning through performing and visual arts, as well as experiential education, through extracurricular and outdoor opportunities to provide depth to the learning experience. Students also have the opportunity to take part in service-learning where they will discover the complexity and diversity of the world, whilst simultaneously discovering their own passions and interests. Ultimately, the school’s global community helps students to develop cross-cultural competence.
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