information for global expats

Universities for Expats in Thailand

Submitted: August 2014

There are over 140  higher education facilities in Thailand, ranging from universities and colleges to polytechnics. This site shows how Thai universities rank globally, and you can find another page here showing ranking within Thailand. There is a mixture of public and private institutions, but it is the public ones that have the highest reputations and fiercest competition for available places. Over half of the universities and polytechnics are public, and these are supported by the State.

Public universities do charge tuition fees, however they are relatively cheap by UK standards, at around £1,200 to £5,000 per year depending on the course. Tuition fees are calculated on a credit/hour basis, so fees may vary from term to term depending on workload and contact hours. 

In addition to tuition fees it is likely that you will have to pay various other expenses, including health services and textbooks. It is best to check with individual universities as to what is included in the basic tuition fees and what you will have to pay extra for.

In order to gain a place at a university, students must generally sit three admission exams:

  • The Ordinary National Education Test (O-NET) which tests the students in all of the compulsory subjects studied at Upper level.
  • The General Aptitude Test (GAT), which tests the students’ English and reasoning abilities.
  • The Professional Aptitude Test (PAT, which tests the students in mathematics, science, engineering, teaching, architecture, fine and applied arts and a second foreign language other than English.

Admission to university depends on the weighted results of the student’s GPA at secondary school (20%), GAT and PAT (25% each) and the O-NET (30%). Students are allowed to choose five different universities via the Central University Admission System, similar to the UCAS system in the UK.

For an expat, admission can generally be gained using relevant qualifications gained in your home country. Thai universities will usually have a stated admission policy regarding foreign students on their website; there is an example here. A list of universities in Thailand offering international degrees can be found here, with those that provide these courses highlighted in bold.

Undergraduate degrees  at Thai universities and polytechnics take from two to six years to complete, depending on the subject chosen. There are four types:

  • Associate Degrees take two years to complete, and are available in a range of subjects. Once a student has an Associate degree, it is possible for this to be used to upgrade to a Bachelor degrees with two more years of study.
  • Bachelor Degrees take a total of four years to complete, and are available in a range of subjects.
  • The Diploma of Vocational/Technical Education is a two year course which is offered by polytechnics in a range of vocational subjects, and can lead on to a Bachelor degree or a Higher Diploma in Technical Education with two more years of study.
  • The Higher Diploma in Technical Education generally takes four years in total to complete. It is aimed at providing the student with a range of skills suitable for a specific non-academic, hands-on type of career; which could be anything from jewellery design to irrigation engineering. 

Postgraduate courses  at Thai universities take from one to four years to complete, depending on the type of degree and the subject chosen. There are three types:

  • Masters Degrees are generally two year courses designed to augment undergraduate degrees already gained by students. Typically they involve the teaching of specialist knowledge within a student’s chosen field, and improve the chances of getting a job in that field.
  • The Higher Graduate Diplomas (postgrad), which is generally only available in mainly medical subjects.
  • PhD courses are primarily designed for students interested in a career in academia, and generally take between two and five years to complete.



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