Which TEFL Course Should I Take to Teach in Korea for EPIK?

Which TEFL Course Should I Take to Teach in Korea for EPIK?

Unless you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Education OR a teaching license you will need to become TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified to qualify for the Teach in Korea program. On the EPIK (English Program in Korea) application you will be asked about your TEFL certification, and as you will find out, not all certifications are created equal. Below is what the TEFL part of the EPIK application looks like, and as you can see they will ask you how many of your hours are “in-class” and how many are “online.”

Doc2EPIK requires that you take a course of at least 100 hours total, but they HIGHLY prefer that you have some “in-class” hours to list on the application. They are looking for those who have at least 20 hours of “in-class” hours listed on their application. Positions in Seoul and Gyeognam require at least 20 hours and positions in Busan require at least 50 hours.

Those with in-class hours are considered to have stronger applications and are likely to have better chances at acceptance to the program.

This past round, 90% of applicants were asked to make major revisions on their lesson plans which immensely slowed down their application. Many applicants were told that they should wait to make a new lesson plan until after they had completed their TEFL certification to ensure a fun, interactive and well-organized lesson. The reason that EPIK has now put the lesson plans under a microscope is because the local Ministry of Education offices around the country are mostly concentrating on how well a teacher can make a lesson plan when deciding if they want to hire a teacher or not.

It is highly encouraged that you start a TEFL course now if you are even thinking about teaching in Korea so that you have the skills and knowledge to put together an amazing lesson plan! Enter your information here for a guideline of what EPIK is now expecting of lesson plans.

What should you be looking for when signing up for a course? Here are the best options, in order:

1. In-person TEFL course

If you can take a course in-person and not online, this is considered the best kind of TEFL certification by EPIK (and around the world), for many reasons. You will be learning in an actual classroom, instead of behind a computer and you will have actual teaching experience as part of your course. These certifications are typically the strongest and prepare teachers the most for teaching ESL.

You can check out all of Greenheart Travel’s in-country TEFL program destinations here.

These courses are full time, usually for 1 full month abroad, so if you have a full-time job they can be impossible to complete before you go. If that’s the case, your next best option is…

2. Online course with “practicum” or “in-class” hours included 

Many online courses have begun to include practicum hours in their certifications, to give their students experience in the classroom or tutoring ESL in person. The majority of your study hours will be online, but you will also tutor or teach for 20 hours during your course. These hours can be done in your hometown (or wherever you live) but must be done as a part of your online course. You will have a supervisor sign off on your hours, and your course will certify you for them.

Greenheart Travel offers an online TEFL course that will certify you for a total of 170 hours, 150 online and 20 in-person. This online course takes 11 weeks and will meet all of the requirements to teach with EPIK and give you the best shot at being accepted if you do a course online.

3. Completely online course

An online course would be considered the least attractive choice when it comes to TEFL courses and will not set you apart from other applicants. More and more provinces are now requiring applicants to have at least 20 in-class hours included in their certification, so not having any hours drastically reduces your marketability and narrows your options for placement preferences. Currently, 20 practicum/in-class hours are needed for Seoul and Gyeongnam and 50 hours are needed for Busan but it’s possible that more provinces will decide to require this as well for this round.

A completely online course also does not prepare you as well as the courses mentioned above, which is something EPIK realizes. We really recommend taking a course with at least some in-person hours, and for this reason, we don’t offer any fully online TEFL certifications.

What are my next steps?

If you want to teach in South Korea, Greenheart Travel will need your proof of a TEFL certification by your assigned application deadline. Please keep in mind that hiring Offices of Education highly prefer applicants with completed TEFL certifications and well-organized lesson plans over those who are still taking the course. Our advice would be to aim to finish your course as soon as possible. Our online course runs 11 weeks, so get started now if you can.

Here are the upcoming dates to qualify you for the program on our 170 hour online + 20 hour practicum course:

2020 Courses  Availability 
January 13, 2020 10 spots left
January 27, 2020 21 spots left
February 10, 2020 34 spots left
February 24, 2020 Open
March 9, 2020 Open
March 23, 2020 Open
April 6, 2020 Open
April 20, 2020 Open
May 4, 2020 Ideal for EPIK Spring 2021
May 18, 2020 Last date for EPIK Fall 2020
June 1, 2020 Open
June 15, 2020 Open
July 1, 2019 Open
July 15, 2019 Open
July 27, 2020 Open
August 10, 2020 Open
August 24, 22020 Open
September 7, 2020 Open
September 21, 2020 Open
October 5, 2020 Open
October 19, 2020 Open
November 2, 2020 Open
November 16, 2020 Last date for EPIK Spring 2021
November 30, 2020 Open
December 14, 2020 Open
December 28, 2020 Open

Applying as early as possible is the best thing you can do to increase your chances of being accepted for this very competitive teaching opportunity in South Korea. By focusing on each stage of the application and getting TEFL certified by a reputable program you are on your way to living and working in South Korea!


Photo provided by Jennifer Meunier who taught in Daegu.

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74 thoughts on "Which TEFL Course Should I Take to Teach in Korea for EPIK?"

  1. Jane says:

    Would virtual classroom hours count towards in-class hours?

    1. Shannon Pedersen says:

      Hi Jane,
      If you’re already TESOL certified or have teaching credentials, you should be good to go! You can check out our website for more information: https://greenhearttravel.org/program/adult/teach/tesol-south-korea#/tab/costs

  2. LissetteLissie says:

    I will graduate with a Bachelors Degree in English Creative Writing by 2022. I hope to apply for February 2023. I would like to know if there is an age limit to be hired. I will be 49 (looking like 30) by then. My dream is to move to South Korea to teach English, and write English Language Learning Textbooks and Novels in South Korea. I’m extremely worried about being turned away because of my age. I never see any older Epik Applicants anywhere. Do you have any?

  3. Jeannie Capaldi says:

    Glad I noticed this on google .

  4. Mai says:

    Will a 10hr practicum work in covid times for tefl cert to work in Korea? With covid it’s pretty hard to get into a classroom or local community and teach. Are there other options?

    1. Ana Mirzashvili says:

      Hello Mai, 20 hours of student teaching is a requirement to teach in the public schools in Korea.

  5. peggy says:


    What if I am already taking an 120 hr tesol course and it is already accelerated? Would that work? Also, how long do we have to commit to working hours? Are there any 1-2 weeks working commitments?

    1. Ana Mirzashvili says:

      Hello Peggy, does your TESOL course include practicum? Our placements are in private schools, therefore it requires 40 hours/week dedication. Since these are private schools, hours will be in the second half of the day and weekends.

  6. Oveya says:

    i am from India, I have completed B.A.,M.A.,M.Phil, (English). I have 2 years English teaching experience with University level Students. Can i get English teaching job in South Korea?

    1. Haldis Toppen says:

      Hello! Sorry for the delay. For more information on our programs, please reach out to our email travelabroad@greenheart.org. Cheers, Greenheart Travel

  7. Pavitra Rai says:

    Hello Pavitra here,
    I have a bachelors degree as well a masters degree in Management and I am also in the teaching industry working as a lecturer
    Do I qualify for the above?
    And also do I need to know Korean language in order to work there?

    Please get back

    Thank you

    1. Haldis Toppen says:

      Hello! Sorry for the delay. For more information on our programs, please reach out to our email travelabroad@greenheart.org. Cheers, Greenheart Travel

  8. Benjamin says:


    I am interested in teaching English in South Korea by 01/2021. I have an Associate’s Degree from United States. My main concern is do I still need a BA degree along with TEFL in order to teach in Korea?

    Thank you.

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      A BA is required to teach in South Korea, sorry!

    2. LissetteLissie says:

      You can apply to the Talk Program in South Korea with an Associates Degree. But you must continue to study there until you have a BA in order to work for Epik. One year of working at Talkis equivalent to a 100 hour Tefl. It would be nice if GreenHeart worked with them too.


  9. Darqell Shearer says:

    Hi am I able to get a job teaching english in korea if I don’t have a university degree? After I get a TEFL/TESOL certificate am I able to get a job in korea, after gaining this qualification? I am an australian citizen and a native english speaker.

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      A BA is required to teach in South Korea, sorry!

      1. Namira says:

        is BA compulsory…i have a b.com degree…can i apply for this?

        1. Haldis Toppen says:

          Hello! Sorry for the delay. For more information on our programs, please reach out to our email travelabroad@greenheart.org. Cheers, Greenheart Travel

  10. Valentine says:

    I am currently finishing my Bachelor degree as a primary teacher at the end of August 2019.
    That’s why I’d like to know if I apply this year for a summer teaching experience in South Korea, I won’t be able to show you my certificate.
    Do I need to follow a TEFL course in this case ?

    With kind regards,

    1. Savannah says:

      Hi Valentina! South Korea requires a full year commitment, we have lots of other great summer options. You can read up on those here: https://greenhearttravel.org/programs/adult/summer-programs

      Feel free to email me at smcdermott@greenheart.org with any further questions!

  11. Max says:

    Hello My Name is Max I’m 18 years old and have a Diploma but am going to college for Cosmetology right now. But when i was in High School i was in Dual Credit Courses for English such as (English 7-8) Can I still be eligible to get a TEFL Certification and Teach English in Korea with just my certification? Or do I need a degree?

    1. Chase Chisholm says:

      Please visit https://greenhearttravel.org/program/adult/work/teach-in-south-korea to learn about eligibility requirements!

  12. Kerry Baptiste says:

    Hi! I’m currently working as a Co-teacher in London. I have been for over a year now. I’m doing a TEFL online course at the moment. Would this be counted as in class experience?
    Thank you! 🙂

  13. Alexis says:

    Hi! I have a BA in Psychology and I am interested in receiving an English as Second Language certificate from a nearby state university. The school says that this can be used for people who want to teach abroad but will I still need to take TEFL courses if I have this certificate? Thank you!

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Yes, you are required to take a TEFL certification unless you majored in Education specifically.

  14. Beatrice says:


    I have a BA Degree and by the time I send in my application I will have taught English in a University for at least 3 semesters ( an equivalent of 300 + hours teaching in class) . I was wondering if, with this experience, I would have to do the extra 20-50 in-class hours to accompany my online TEFL course?

    Thanks in advance for the response.

  15. Ana Alves says:

    I’ve been looking into your website and, although I do not qualify for a E2 type visa in Korea since I am a Brazilian, I have a BA in English teaching and some years of teaching experience. I’m currently living and teaching in China, but I would like to move to Korea, so I’d like to know if you guys have any type of guidance for a non-native speaker or which kind of position I might apply for if I happen to choose to take one of your courses. Thank you in advance.

  16. Sathyabama says:

    I’m a master’s degree holder in English but I do not hold any teaching certificate. However, I also hold a bachelor’s degree in Education with 22 years of teaching experience. Still I am not a native speaker. I live in India and I like to teach in Korea. What should I do ? Could somebody guide me in this regard?

  17. Rhia says:


    I am currently waiting to begin university in England, and I have 7 months in which I am trying to find things to do to further my passion for teaching and get me accepted to traveling overseas to teach in Korea. I was wondering if it makes more sense to do the TEFL course before I begin my bachelors degree or after? Does doing either effect my chances of getting accepted?
    I have heard from online forums that the closer you do the TEFL to you actually moving overseas the better, as the lessons you have learnt are fresher in your mind and mean that you are up to date with current teaching methods and ideas… is this true?

    1. Kara Menini says:

      Hi Rhia!

      As long as you have both a TEFL and a BA by the time you apply for your visa to teach in Korea, that’s all that matters in the eyes of your employer. I do agree that you may want to wait to do your TEFL so that it is more fresh in your mind, but this is up to you!


  18. Una says:

    Is a Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Education the same as Bachelors of Education? Would I have a better chance of being accepted if I also take the TEFL course even though I majored in Education?

  19. Chynna Daniels says:

    Will the EPIK program accept a bachelor degree that is obtained only online?

    1. Chase Chisholm says:

      If it’s a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited institution, yes!

  20. leena says:

    Hi, I have a diploma for graphic design, do I still have a chance at teaching in south korea? Or do I need a bachelor’s degree?

    1. Jill GHT says:

      Hi Leena, you will need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to apply to teach in South Korea.

  21. Cara Evans says:

    Hi there. I have a Bachelors degree; Psychology and Education Studies.
    Would this be sufficient or would I have to complete the additional course?

    1. Kara Menini says:

      Hey Cara! If your degree says “Education” on it, it should be sufficient without a TEFL certification 🙂

  22. Amanda Hilliard says:

    Can you do a completely online TEFL program so after you get your certificate do volunteer hours teaching elsewhere to get the 20-50 hour requirement?

    1. Kara Menini says:

      Hey Amanda, EPIK will only accept in-class hours if they are part of a TEFL curriculum. You’re welcome to volunteer extra hours if you’d like more classroom experience, but EPIK will only count the hours that are listed on your TEFL certificate. So, if your course has 20 in-class hours and you volunteer an extra 30 hours, you still won’t be eligible for a position in Busan.

  23. Amanda Hilliard says:

    Can you do a completely online TEFL program and after you get your certificate do volunteer hours teaching elsewhere to get the 20-50 hour requirement?

    1. Kara Menini says:

      Hey Amanda! EPIK will only count “in class hours” if they were included in the TEFL course curriculum. So, unfortunately, you can’t take a fully online course and then volunteer teach on the side – you’ll have to provide a letter from your TEFL course provider along with your other documents stating how many in class hours were included in the course you took.

      If you decide to stay with a fully online course, you’re still eligible for most placements!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I’m currently getting a degree in secondary ed mathematics. My college requires practicing hours throughout the major courses. When I decide to get this certification, should I take more practical hours after I’ve already completed nearly 80hrs through my university’a program?

  25. Czarina says:


    I currently studying a Linguistic degree in my University in New Zealand. However, I was thinking of doing a gap year/time-off University. I have volunteered in my old school for teaching my first language & English during summer. The teacher in-charge of that program suggested that I take CELTA if I want to teach English abroad and learn other culture & different world perspective.

    I did some research and inquiries and found out that CELTA is recognised in different countries. If I get a CELTA would I still need to do a TEFL? or should I just do TEFL if I want to teach in Korea?

    thank you

    1. Kara Menini says:

      Hey Czarina!

      CELTA, TEFL and TESOL are all more similar than the are different- they all teach you the tools and skills to be an effective English teacher abroad. The biggest difference between a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is that CELTA is specifically for teaching adults, where TEFL/TESOL will have units on teaching adults as well as children. So, unless you’re absolutely sure you only want to teach adults, it may be best to consider a TEFL or TESOL as opposed to a CELTA.

      The biggest things to look for when signing up for a certification is how many hours the course work is, if the course includes live practice with real ESL students, and if the course is accredited. If a course is accredited and meets or exceeds international standards of accreditation, it will be accepted by schools around the globe.

      Here’s a blog with some more information on how to find a quality TEFL course: https://greenhearttravel.org/tefl/how-to-find-a-quality-tefl-course-to-teach-abroad

      Please feel free to email me with any questions you have (kmenini@greenhearttravel.org) 🙂

  26. Shannon says:


    I will be graduating with a Bachelor’s in education. I was just on Korvia’s recruiting site and saw that they posted that it is now mandatory that all candidates take a TEFL course to teach in public schools. Is this true only for applying through Korvia recruiting or is this a new policy that is true to teach in general?


  27. Lisa says:

    Hey there, I am currently a Primary School (5-11 year olds) teacher in England (about to go into my third year as a qualified teacher). I’ve just started looking into the possibility of teaching in South Korea. I did a 3 year University Degree in joint Education Studies and English and then completed a 1 Year Primary Education PGCE. With My experience as a teacher and my University Qualifications would I still need to take a TEFL course? I am interested in taking a course but find them to either be too time consuming for my current job constraints or too expensive.

  28. MJ del Mundo says:

    Hi! I am very much interested in applying in public or private school in South Korea. I am from Philippines, I have my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and I also have a master’s degree.If I enrol to get a TEFL certificate, Is there a chance that I can teach in your country? thank you

  29. Shirley Lim says:

    Hello! I was wondering if you had any TEFL courses that would match the criteria of Busan, Korea’s expectation of 50 hours of in-class experience? I am located in NYC, what would be my best option?

    1. Sara Dorsey says:

      Hi Shirley! Most online courses won’t offer the 50 hours you need to be eligible for a placement in Busan, so its usually best to take a fully in-person course to get those hours.

      However, placements in Busan are not regularly available each round and fill up quickly when they are available. I would highly suggest considering another placement location near Busan like Ulsan (located just north of Busan) or another major city located on the KTX (bullet train line) like Daegu where you would have easy access to Busan on the weekends.

      The likelihood of receiving your preferred placement if you list Ulsan or Daegu are much higher than they would be if you listed Busan, and you aren’t required to have the 50 in-class hours 🙂

  30. Cynthia Oliva says:

    Hello! I have a quick question. My university has a TESL minor program. I am starting my 100 clinical hours in the fall 2016. I asked the professor if after completing the minor program if they give us a certificate. She told me that they dont give us a certificate of completion, but she can write me a letter that states that u completed the program and the 100 clinicals hours. Can I use the letter or do i have to have an actual TESL certificate. Thank you

  31. Isaac Nsiah says:

    Please am Isaac in Ghana pursuing Bachelor of Psychology and Foundations of Education in Mathematics. How can I obtain a TEFL certificate to teach in South Korea where I love to work most?

  32. Sumaya Ducale says:

    Since I have competed for the TEFL course with a good grade, I would like to move on finding a job in South Korea. However, I personally do not have a university degree, so is there an opportunity for me to teach in south Korea

  33. Yaritza says:

    Hello. I am very interested in teaching in South Korea and I read one of the requirements is to be a native English speaker. Since I am from Puerto Rico, I was wondering if you think this could pose a problem because both Spanish and English are spoken here. I am just not sure if I would be eligible for the program.

  34. Rosellin says:

    Hello, I am from India. I want to be in South Korea by May 2017 so what shall I do? Can you please suggest me the procedures?
    And regarding TEFL Certification, is it guaranteed? that we will be hired with all the job benefits once we are certified?
    Please do reply and help me with my queries. Thank You!!

    1. Jill GHT says:

      Hi Rosellin, that is great you are looking into Teaching in South Korea for next year! Unfortunately, our partner we work with requires our applicants to be from U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa without exceptions. However, you could check on job board sites like eslcafe.com or gooverseas.com for jobs in South Korea that don’t have this restriction. The TEFL certification does not guarantee a placement. Since this is a paid job opening, all applicants are interviewed and reviewed based on their submitted documents, qualifications and interview process. Hope that helps a bit!

  35. Hello! I am an aspiring English teacher. I am roughly six months away from earning my Pennsylvania ESL Certificate through Temple University and I will already have my bachelor’s in Secondary Education and English as well as my Pennsylvania certification for ELA (grades 7-12).
    My question to you is, will my degree and certifications be enough? Do I still need TEFL courses? And if so, would I have to take the full course or could I save money and opt out of some of it?

    1. Jill GHT says:

      Hi Amber! As long as you have a degree and transcripts that say you majored in Education and have an ESL Certificate through your school, then you won’t need to get TEFL certified unless you want to. You may need to get a letter from your school as extra proof of your ESL training, but that is a case by case basis. Hope that helps!

  36. Scott says:

    The TEFL courses I’m finding seem to me, at least, absurdly expensive. After teaching ESL (in the USA) for more than 5 years for a state program and a small college, and already encumbered with ponderous student loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees, I’m very leery of having to spend even more cash on certificates. This field needs a *very* affordable way for native English speakers who are well credentialed scholastically and who have years of professional experience to transition into teaching quickly and effectively without needing access to an extra mortgage payment. A comprehensive program could be offered at local community colleges for just half a credit, and the practicum could even benefit the school itself, since there are already many ESL courses being taught at community colleges throughout the USA.

    1. Sara Dorsey says:

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for bringing your concerns TEFL courses to us, I’m happy to talk about why there is such a discrepancy in the price range. As I’m sure you’ve seen in your research, there are many different types of TEFL certifications available to you depending on time and/or financial restraints ranging from $60 online courses to $40,000 Master’s programs. As with most things, you get what you pay for. There is a $60 course on Groupon that would give you the piece of paper you need to technically be qualified but it’s a self-directed course that will basically be a bunch of reading and regurgitating that information onto a test. These courses focus a lot on grammar and lesson plan ideas, but they don’t cover much classroom management which is the most important thing to gain experience with as it’s usually the biggest struggle for teachers.

      The reason our course costs what it does is because it is a structured, 11-week long course that is taught by an instructor who holds at least a Master’s degree and who has taught abroad, and it includes 20 hours of mandatory student teaching real ESL students so our students can practice and observe the skills they’re learning so they feel prepared and confident in their teaching abilities when they start their real teaching job abroad.

      The reason TEFL certifications are required is because these jobs are full-time teaching positions where you have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the students you teach. A lot of students in places like SE Asia, Central and South America have never had access to a native-English speaker, and, unfortunately from personal experience, an unprepared native-English speaking teacher is almost as bad as no teacher at all. We want to ensure that we are sending qualified and dedicated teachers to help make an impact on the communities we work with around the world.

      Most programs will allow you to bypass the TEFL certification if you have a degree in Education or a valid teaching license so based on your current qualifications, it sounds like you may not need a TEFL certification. If you don’t have these qualifications and you have been teaching ESL for the past 5 years, then the $60 course on Groupon might be the best choice for you.

      A TEFL certification should be looked at as an investment in your future students, just as the loans we take out for our degrees were an investment in our futures.

      I’m happy to discuss this in further detail or answer any other questions you may have. Feel free to email me anytime at kmenini@greenhearttravel.org!

  37. awe says:

    Hi, may I know whether the non native english speaker are eligible?

  38. Awe says:

    Hi, is the eligibility only for the native english speakers?

    1. Jill says:

      Thanks for inquiring about the eligibility requirements. To teach in South Korea you do need to be a native English speaker. If you are only interested in getting TEFL certified there is some flexibility, but you might be required to provide additional information to confirm your English fluency. Feel free to fill out or contact form and our program manager can answer your questions! http://greenhearttravel.org/contact

  39. Hellen says:

    Heyyy , I saw your YouTube channel . I was wondering if you could help me Hello, I am planning to teach English in South Korea in next 3-4 years as I’m still in university (first year) but I was wondering if I should start the TEFL course now or wait. If you have any tips at all I’ll be thankful for the response . I’m 18 going on 19 if that helps and live in the uk.

    1. Jill GHT says:

      Hi Hellen, thank you for checking out our YouTube channel and TEFL courses. I’ll pass along your inquiry to my colleague to answer your question. 🙂

  40. pcx says:

    do you need to know the best tefl course?

  41. Kassie says:

    Not so easy to get started right away when you don’t have $1300 sitting around. I want to teach starting in the fall 2016 but it will take me a minimum of 4 months to save up money just for an all-online course that costs less than $700… There is only ONE in-person course in my area and it’s $1300….I don’t know what to do…

  42. ESLinsider says:

    You mean to teach in EPIK? You don’t need a TEFL certificate to teach in Korea. Looks like it might help you in EPIK though. You also do not need to go through EPIK to get a job in public school in Korea.

    1. Ahmed says:

      What is the other way to get a job in public school in Korea?

  43. Fiona says:

    Can I sign up for an in person tefl course in Thailand and apply for the teach in south korea afterwards? I am looking for the application for that option, but am only to find the tefl + Thailand teach option.

    1. Jill GHT says:

      Yes, you can take just the course in Thailand! Email Sara at sdorsey@greenhearttravel.org and she can help get you started 🙂

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