Consult Compendium

Thailand Flag


Last updated in 2020

Chapter 1: Higher Education System

Section 1.1.: Schematic Description of the Higher Education System


Section 1.2: Description of Higher Education System

Higher education at the diploma, associate degree, and degree levels is provided in universities, colleges, community colleges, and other types of institutions.

Associate Degree or Diploma Level

  • Associate degree or diploma is attained after two years of study. It is a level of qualification between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree.

Degree Level

  • Bachelor’s degree is attained after four years of study. Five years of study are required in the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, graphic arts, and pharmacy as well as six years required for medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science. In some of these fields, additional study is required to allow for a practicum before professional qualifications are awarded
  • Advanced study of at least one but generally two years, combined with a thesis, leads to the award of a master’s degree
  • A doctorate, requiring an additional three years of study following the master’s degree. The result of original research project of a doctoral thesis is published or presented to the public.


Section 1.3: Number of Higher Education Institutions

Under the supervision of Ministry of Education, there are 82 public universities, 72 private universities/colleges and 1 community college. In addition, there are other specialised institutions under the supervision of other ministries and agencies.


Section 1.4 Number of Students in Higher Education

  • General number of students: 1,854,770
  • Number of students divided by type of degree:
    • Diploma: 12,349
    • Bachelor’s degree: 1,686,384
    • Master’s degree: 131,576
    • Doctorate: 24461
  • Number of students divided by type of institution:
    • Autonomous universities: 544,082
    • Public universities: 1,035,537
    • Private universities/colleges: 255,037
    • Community college: 20,114


Section 1.5: Structure of Academic Year

Thai academic year comprises 2 sixteen-week semesters. The first semester runs from August to December, and the second semester from January to May. Universities are closed from June to July.


Section 1.6: National Qualifications Framework (or Similar)

The Qualifications Framework for Thailand’s higher education system is designed to support implementation of the educational guidelines set out in the National Education Act, to ensure consistency in both standards and award titles for higher education qualifications, and to make clear the equivalence of academic awards with those granted by higher education institutions in other parts of the world.

The Framework provides appropriate points of comparison in academic standards for institutions in their planning and internal quality assurance processes, for evaluators involved in external reviews, and for employers, in understanding the skills and capabilities of graduates they may employ. The framework describes the expected increasing levels of knowledge and skills in such areas for each qualification.

 Qualification Levels School Sector Technical and Vocational Education Sector Higher Education Sector 
 8  Doctoral Degree
 7  Master’s Degree
 6  Bachelor Degree
 5 Higher Vocational Certificate  Associate Degree
 3  Vocational Certificate
 2 Upper Secondary
 1 Lower Secondary


Section 1.7: Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

According to the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education in Thailand, there are 5 domains of learning which are:

1) Ethical and moral development

Learning outcomes for ethical and moral development are expected to apply at the level described for all learners, though there are also some field specific items of knowledge that should be known by students in those fields such as codes of ethical practice for medical doctors, accountants, lawyers, etc.

2) Knowledge and cognitive skills

Learning outcomes in the domains of knowledge and cognitive skills are directly related to the field of study undertaken and details of the knowledge and skill appropriate to those fields should be specified in program and course specifications.

4) Interpersonal skills and responsibility

Learning outcomes for interpersonal skills and responsibility are intended to apply to all students at the level described regardless of field of study.

5) Analytical and communication skills.

Learning outcomes for analytical and communication skills are generic descriptions that should apply to all students regardless of field of study. However when the main focus of a student’s field of study is in one of these areas a much higher level of performance is expected


Section 1.8: Admission Requirements to Higher Education

Applicants for undergraduate programs must complete their upper secondary education or equivalent to grade 12 in order to apply for study at a bachelor’s degree.

In some fields of study such as medicine, nursing, and health science, the examination is required and followed by an interview, a physical examination or an aptitude test with may differ from one institution to another.

Applicants for graduate programs must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Besides officially required document, applicants of some business schools may be requested to take such additional graduate examination such as the GRE General Test or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The process may also include an interview.


Section 1.9: Grading System

Thai higher education uses a letter grading system in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Grade point
Very good
Fairly good
Very poor
Withdrawn because of failure
Audit (Study which leads to no credit)

Two or more tests including mid-term and final examinations are given during the examination schedule each semester.


Section 1.10: Tuition Fee System for International Students

The tuition and other fees vary from university to university depending on programme or course selections:

  Tuition fees  Other Fees  Other expenses 
 Public Universities
Undergraduate 25-50 USD/credit hour
Master: 1,000-2,000 USD/year
Doctoral: 5,000 USD/year
Undergraduate: 100-250 USD/year
Graduate: 100-250 USD/year
Undergraduate: 25-150 USD/year
Graduate: 25-150 USD/year
Private Universities/Institutions
Undergraduate: 30-90 USD/credit hour
Graduate: 75-125 USD/credit hour
Undergraduate: 250 USD/year
Graduate: 250 USD/year
Undergraduate: 75-150 USD/year
Graduate: 75-150 USD/year

*Other fees are charged for student activities and health care services.
**Other expenses include student registration, student I.D. card, and graduation fee.


Section 1.11: Graduation Requirements and/or Qualification Awarding Requirements

  • To obtain the Bachelor’s Degree, students must study not less than 120 credits and obtain at least 2.0 average grade point.
  • To obtain the Master’s Degree, students must study not less than 36 credits and obtain at least 3.0 average grade point.
  • Applicants for this level of study holding Masters has to earn at least 48 credits to complete degree. Applicants holding Bachelor has to earn at least 72 credits to complete degree.
  • doctoral degree student must publish his/her thesis in an international peer-reviewed journal as a requirement for completion of a doctoral degree.


Section 1.12: Relevant Current and Prospective Reforms in Higher Education

The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) is a new Thai government agency officially established on May 2, 2019 and was formed through the merging of the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Its key responsibilities include overseeing higher education and encouraging its development to keep up with global change, taking into account administrative and academic freedom; producing high quality human resources in response to the country’s needs; and facilitating the conduct of research and creation of innovation to help improve the community, society, and nation.


Chapter 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Section 2.1: Quality Assurance Body in Higher Education

Thailand encourages full-fledged quality assurance systems within all public and private HEIs by providing policy guidelines, supporting knowledge sharing activities, and implementing related international projects. The External Quality Assurance (EQA) is conducted by the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA), while the Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) is conducted in the form of self-study report. MHESI serves as a link between HEIs and ONESQA by providing IQA guidelines to HEIs and follows up on further actions to be done by HEIs after external assessment.


Section 2.2: Quality Assurance System

Study programme
Further explanation 
4-5 years
4-5 years



The National Education Act of 1999 (2nd Amendment in 2002) requires all higher education institutions to establish their own IQA system and conducting IQA by coordinating with the external governing agency. The current IQA practice involves three levels of assessment: institutional level, faculty level and program of study level.

ONESQA is responsible for developing of EQA criteria and methods and conducting the external quality assessment of all educational institutions regularly, at least once in every 5 years. The external quality assessment is performed through analysis of annual reports and other quality assurance documentation, including reports on key performance indicators, as well as institutional visits or site visits by a team of external assessors who are selected and trained from ONESQA. For more information, please visit


Chapter 3: Credit System in Higher Education

Section 3.1: Description of Credit System

A system of credit points is used to describe the amount or volume of learning expected for qualifications at each level. Thirty credit points representing the minimum amount of learning normally expected of undergraduate students in one academic year of study.

The same system of credit points is used for regulations governing major components of study such as the scale of a thesis requirement, the amount of general studies required in an undergraduate program, and equivalent credits for formal instruction, laboratory work or field work. The length of programs (and the number of credit points given) may differ for programs with the same or similar titles. For example a bachelor degree may be four or five (or even six) years in length depending on the amount of learning expected at the level of complexity expected for bachelor degree studies. A similar period of study in different programs could lead to a bachelor and a master degree, but only if the study for the master degree component was taken at the more advanced level required for that degree.

The title is based on the level or complexity of learning rather than the time taken, though there are minimum credit requirements.


Section 3.2: Credit Transfer System(s)

  • AUN – ACTS (AUN ASEAN Credit transfer System)
  • UMAP – UCTS (University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific Credit Transfer Scheme)


Section 3.3: Additional Information

In general, Thai HEIs have their own regulations related to credit transfer system. Those who implement the student exchange programme should have agreements at the institutional level whereby the credits for study undertaken while on exchange at the host university are to be accepted by the home university.

Thai universities participating in the UMAP can apply the UMAP UCTS in order to facilitate credit transfer between host and home universities.
Thai universities who are members of ASEAN University Network (AUN) have also used the AUN-ACTS (ASEAN Credit Transfer System) for facilitating academic and student mobility in ASEAN.


Section 3.4: Application of Credit System in Higher Education Institutions Obligatory?



Section 3.5: Number of Credits per Academic Year/Semester

A student’s course load may vary from semester to semester.

  • For undergraduate students, the minimum course load is 12 credit hours per semester and the maximum is six 18 credit hours per semester.
  • For graduate students, the minimum course load is 9 credit hours per semester.


Section 3.6: Number of Credits per Higher Education Cycle

  • Advanced Diploma, with a minimum of 90 credits;
  • Bachelor, with a minimum of 120/150/180 credits;
  • Graduate Diploma, with a minimum of 24 credits;
  • Master, with a minimum of 36 credits;
  • Higher Graduate Diploma, with a minimum of 24 credits;
  • Doctor, with a minimum of 48 credits.


Section 3.7: Description of Credit Unit

Credit calculation – one credit is equal to:

  • 45 hours per semester for theoretical course
  • 30 hours per semester for laboratory course
  • 45 hours per semester for internship/project
  • 45 hours per semester for independent study/thesis/dissertation


The learning outcomes are linked with the credits earned by university students. Each degree programme has to cover all five domains of learning and define students’ workload and credits based on them.



Download country page