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. 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 international or foreign schools.
Most international and foreign schools 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. International and Foreign Schools in Korea are of 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 amongst students.
International School vs Foreign School
Looking through the list of school 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 number of expats/foreigners 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 country of citizenship, amount of time spent overseas, and nationality of parents/guardians. However, even with these limitations, most international and foreign schools 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, international and foreign schools 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.
Here’s our list of the top international schools and foreign schools around the Seoul, South Korea in no particular order from pre-k through to grade 12!
Dwight School Seoul believes in finding and encouraging the “spark of genius” that exists in every child. The 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.
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 over 700 expatriate students aged 3 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 Korea’s most competitive international schools.
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.
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.
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 located in Bundang, a suburban residential area right outside of 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.
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) in the city. Offering a distinctly British curriculum in a truly international context, the SFBS curriculum has been adapted to reflect an international community of students.
The school 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.
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 keep up to pace with its educational development with significant on-going 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.