It's Better Abroad

TEFL Courses for Teaching English in the EPIK Program

Everything you need to know about TEFL certification courses and how they effect your eligibility for teaching opportunities in the Korean public school system in 2018.

The English Program in Korea (usually referred to in the abbreviated form – EPIK) has been one of the top international English teaching programs since the early 2000’s.  Tens of thousands of university graduates from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa and Australia have secured public school teaching jobs through the EPIK Program during this period.

To the surprise of many, EPIK does not hire and employ native English teachers. EPIK operates as a ‘Program’ but it’s essentially just a branch of the Ministry of Education that is responsible for recruiting, screening and processing foreign teacher applications for the different Education Offices in South Korea.  The Provincial and Metropolitan Offices of Education, which operate independently of EPIK, are the ones who hire and employ all of the teachers (local and foreign) within their respective region.  Basically, in order to land a teaching job at a Korean public school your application needs to go through EPIK, however, your job contract will ultimately come from one of the Education Offices.

Before we offer some TEFL course advice we’ll explain who needs to get TEFL certified and who doesn’t. So, first things first…

Is TEFL really mandatory for securing public school teaching jobs in South Korea?

Yes it is, unless you majored in education, or you possess a valid teaching license or PGCE.  Basically, if you didn’t graduate from university or college with a major in education (such as elementary education, secondary education, etc.) or you didn’t attend teachers college in order to acquire a teaching license, then you will need to get TEFL qualified in order to make yourself eligible for EPIK and the Education Offices, there’s no way around it.  TEFL certifications have actually been mandatory in Korea – for public school teaching – since 2011.

What are the minimum EPIK requirements?

In order to qualify with EPIK you will need to meet 4 simple requirements.

  • Be a native English speaker
  • Have a passport from one of the following countries: USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand
  • Have a bachelors level degree (any major or discipline is fine)
  • Have a TEFL or TESOL certification

How competitive is EPIK and the public school job market for westerners?

EPIK Program Competitivenesshigh

Although the number of public school jobs (for westerners) has dropped substantially over the past 5-6 years, the Korean Education Offices still hire thousands of foreign English teachers every year.  There are roughly 4800 foreign public school teachers in Korea today compared to 8500 back in 2012. Naturally, these positions become more competitive when the total job count drops. Regardless, there are still MANY new jobs each semester in every corner of the country.

What TEFL / TESOL course should I take in order to make my application with EPIK more competitive?

If you didn’t major in education and you don’t have a valid teaching license ~ which is ok, most people who teach in Korea don’t ~ then you’re likely one of two types of applicants. What type of applicant you are will help you determine what type of TEFL certification course you should take in order to maximize your chances of landing a job.

TYPE 1: The first type of applicant has zero English teaching credentials. In short, this just means you don’t have any prior teaching experience and you graduated with a degree in an unrelated field of study such as Geography, Science, History, Psychology, Arts, etc.  If this is you then you’ll want to consider enrolling in a certification course that exceeds the minimum TEFL requirement. Minimum requirements are explained below.

TYPE 2: The second type of applicant has some prior teaching experience and/or a degree in a related field such as English, linguistics, creative writing, etc. EPIK and the Education Offices still require applicants with these credentials to be TEFL certified in order to qualify, however, because they have some relevant credentials, which EPIK will take into consideration during the approval process, they have a much better chance of getting accepted with the minimum TEFL requirement.

EPIK Program requirements for TEFL / TESOL course certification

EPIK and the Korean Education Offices only consider accredited TEFL / TESOL courses that consist of 100 course hours, or more, as a teaching credential so don’t waste your time on a short course that has less than 100hrs because it won’t make you eligible! Furthermore, EPIK has stated on numerous occasions that they give preference to candidates who have a TEFL certification that includes 20 hours worth of teaching practice (i.e. a course that requires some real teaching).

Therefore…this is the important part!

If you’re a TYPE 1 applicant, as explained above, having the bare minimum won’t make your application more competitive, it just makes you eligible (i.e. allows you to apply). As a result, you’ll want to consider enrolling in a course that includes 20 hours of teaching practice (an EPIK preference) or take an online course that exceeds the minimum number of required course hours (i.e. take a 150 hour, or greater, online course instead of a 120 hour course) in order to boost your profile with EPIK.
If you’re a TYPE 2 applicant then taking a 100 – 120 hour online course will likely be enough to make your application competitive, assuming you have a decent GPA (grade point average). Believe it or not but EPIK puts a fair amount of importance on the applicants GPA (EPIK requires official transcripts for verification) and having a low grade point will have an impact on your application. Generally speaking, if your GPA is under 2.7 EPIK will not approve your application. If your GPA is somewhere in the 2.7 – 3.1 range then you may want to consider a more thorough TEFL course.


Here are the TEFL / TESOL courses we recommend for EPIK applicants. Recommendations are based on your related credentials or lack of related credentials.



Who should consider certification courses that include a teaching practice component? All TYPE 1 applicants who want to boost their profile and maximize their application potential with EPIK and the Korean Education Offices. Plus TYPE 2 applicants who want to add a more prominent credential to their profile.


140hr TEFL Certification with TEYL and Live Teaching Practice

  • Live teaching practice
  • ACTDEC accreditation
  • Dedicated tutor support
  • TEYL component

What makes this course great? The location flexibility for the teaching practice component ~ which you can complete from any location worldwide ~ and the reasonable enrollment fee make it an ideal course for many people.

View Course Details




140hr TEFL with TEYL and Virtual Teaching Practice

  • Virtual teaching practice
  • ALAP accreditation
  • TEYL component
  • Dedicated tutor support

What makes this course great? Trainees get to complete the teaching practice element of the course in a virtual classroom setting over Skype ~ a highly convenient way to acquire a TEFL certification that includes teaching practice!

View Course Details



Who should consider certification courses that include course hours above and beyond the minimum? All TYPE 1 applicants who are unable to complete a course that includes teaching practice (the courses we recommended above) but still want to boost their profile and maximize their application potential with a certification that exceeds the minimum requirement. Plus TYPE 2 applicants who want to add a more prominent credential to their profile.


150 Hour Online Masters TEFL Cours

  • 150 hour certification
  • ACCREDITAT accreditation
  • Tutor support
  • 16 modules

What makes this course great? It’s a well designed course with excellent training materials, plus it exceeds the standard 120hrs of course work.

View Course Details



250 Hour Level 5 Advanced TESOL Certification

  • Level 5 certification (highest available)
  • ACTDEC accreditation
  • One-on-one tutor support
  • 6 modules with subcategories

What makes this course great? One of the few courses that allows you to acquire level 5 certification online, the highest TEFL / TESOL qualification available!

View Course Details



This is the minimum requirement, therefore, anyone who wishes to qualify for the EPIK Program with the minimum TEFL qualification.


120 Hour Advanced TEFL Certificate Course

  • 120 hour certification
  • ACTDEC accreditation
  • Trainer support
  • 6 modules with subcategories
View Course Details



120 Hour Professional TEFL Certificate Course

  • 120 hour certification
  • IARC accreditation
  • Trainer support
  • 10 modules
View Course Details


Join Our Newsletter

Join Our Newsletter