Education in Thailand: preschool, secondary, higher education

Education in Thailand: preschool, secondary, higher education

The education system in Thailand consists of three levels: pre-primary, primary and secondary. In this post, we have collected the most detailed information for those who are thinking about moving with the whole family and are busy with education planning in Thailand or want to enrol in a Thai university themselves.


Education system: from pre-primary schooling to university

Foreigners who have already moved to the country with children or are just planning to relocate have two main questions: how to buy an apartment in Thailand and how Thai schools work. The education system here may be different from the one in your country.

In the kingdom, there is such a thing as “basic education”. It is provided free of charge and includes six years of primary school and three years of secondary school (secondary school lasts longer, but only the first three years are included in basic education).

The full cycle of education, including higher education, is 15 years. Free education for this period is guaranteed by the Constitution of the state. Below we will give you more detail about each stage in the kingdom's education system.

Preschool education in Thailand

Parents can take their toddlers to nurseries. There are free preschools in Thailand at educational institutions, or you can take your child to private ones. In the nursery, teachers look after the children, play with them and engage in developmental programs.

From three to five years old, children go to kindergarten. It provides more than just child care since at this age, children begin to learn various skills, including:

  • Basic English
  • reading
  • writing
  • drawing

In addition, children begin to be examined in kindergarten and they also get homework. The education system in Thailand provides for active work from the first years of life. This has its advantages, as self-study and discipline skills are developed at a high level.

Education in Thailand: preschool, secondary, higher education

What schools are there in Thailand?

Schools in Thailand usually include three levels:

  • Elementary education
  • Lower secondary education
  • Upper secondary education

As a rule, children go to school from the age of six. If a child receives complete secondary education in Thailand, they graduate at approximately 17-18 years of age.

There are regular comprehensive and secondary schools in Thailand, Christian schools (for religious families), international schools as well as academic and vocational upper secondary schools that help prepare for enrolling in universities. Public schools are supervised by the government, but there are also private institutions that you can send your children to. If you want your children to attend an upper secondary school then they have to pass an entrance exam.

In public schools, all lessons (except foreign languages) are taught in Thai, while in private schools (there are about 150 in the kingdom, most of which are located in Bangkok) lessons can be taught in English, French, German, Chinese or Japanese.

Parents should keep in mind that their children will only be taught free of charge in a public school if at least one of the parents is a citizen of the kingdom. For all other children, there is a tuition fee.

Therefore, we recommend considering private schools in Thailand for foreigners. They allow you to choose a more in-depth program. Several schools offer full boarding schooling which means students can live right there during their studies.

In addition, the equipment in private schools is often much better than in public schools. For instance, you can find an option with a swimming pool, a gym as well as a variety of school clubs where every student can choose an interesting leisure activity.

School system

Education is not taught in terms, as in many countries, but in semesters. This allows children to immediately get used to the rhythm that awaits them later when receiving higher education. This system has a direct impact on when the school year begins in Thailand:

  • The first semester in schools lasts from May to October
  • followed by a month of vacation
  • The second semester runs from November to March;
  • Then students have another vacation until the start of the new school year

At the start of their studies, school children only study basic subjects:

  • Thai
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Foreign Languages
  • Art
  • Physical Education

Towards the end of school, studying in Thailand involves several special disciplines (electives), for which students will have exams. Some of the most popular areas of study are advanced language, mathematics and science programs.

Innovations in Thai schools in 2023

Education in Thailand is focused on automating processes and introducing new technologies that are accessible to a wide range of users. In 2023, the Ministry of Education in Thailand introduced a single virtual cloud that has led to a new way of doing coursework. Students now upload their coursework to the cloud, making it available to students and other teachers.

The grading system is also changing, as artificial intelligence is being actively introduced. The use of innovative technologies directly depends on the budget of a particular educational institution. The adoption of AI enables faster assessments, personalised learning, intelligent content delivery and access to the programs students need.

Is homeschooling legal in Thailand?

If for some reason the nearest school in Thailand is not suitable, or there are serious problems with the language, homeschooling may be the solution. This format has been permitted since 2004 and every family has the right to choose distance learning.

You can attach to a specific school or use individual training programs that are easy to find on the websites of the relevant organizations. The only real requirements for homeschooling in Thailand are applying and passing an annual assessment.

Vocational schools in Thailand

Colleges in Thailand offer vocational upper secondary education. You can study to become a technical professional, a cook, a cyber-specialist or attend other programs. In addition to classroom learning, vocational schools in Thailand offer foreigners distance learning with courses and certification exams.

Education in Thailand: preschool, secondary, higher education

Higher education in Thailand

Higher education in Thailand for foreigners is offered by public and private institutions. There are more than 160 of them in the country and the quality of the education is quite high.

In addition, public universities receive financial support from the government. Therefore, studying with them can be cheaper.

However, enrolling in university is not easy as the selection criteria are especially strict at state institutions and you will also have to withstand competition with other applicants. Typically, as an entrance exam, prospective students are asked to pass a math test and write an essay.

The most popular directions for higher education in Thailand are:

  • Marketing
  • International Business and Affairs
  • Management

If students have a property in Thailand, and it is close to the university where they study, they do not need to think about accommodation. If you do not have your own home, you will have to consider renting an apartment.

As for working, foreigners are prohibited from working in the kingdom on a student visa. However, there are some options:

  • Students are allowed to work 20 hours a week on campus - for employment, you should contact your academic advisor and they will help you get a position as a teaching assistant or tutor (for example, in English). However, the wage will be small - around USD 141-225.
  • You can change your student visa to a business visa category B with a work permit - then you can count on a more competitive wage.

Education in Thailand for foreigners can be one of the ways to further legalise residence in the kingdom. So, if following a student visa you obtain a work visa and officially find employment in the country, you may get a chance to obtain citizenship after a few years.

To obtain Thai citizenship you need:

  • To have resided in the country for at least five years at the time of application
  • For this entire period you must stay in the kingdom on the visa that you have at the time of submitting your application
  • have no criminal record
  • have a job with an income of at least USD 2,255 per month
  • speak Thai
  • know the Thai anthem
  • be of legal age

There are quite a few professions in the country in which personnel are constantly required: these are within the areas of IT, real estate, marketing and international affairs. If you manage to get a job in a sought-after specialty there should be no problems with the required threshold for obtaining citizenship.

Admission requirements for university and other higher education institutions

To enrol in a college or university in Thailand, you must:

  • speak English
  • have a certificate of completed upper secondary education

A tuition fee for a Bachelor's degree starts at approximately USD 1,500 per year (the maximum amount it can reach is USD 3,500).

To enrol in a Master's program you will need:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Optionally, the university may request a letter of recommendation and motivation
  • pass entrance examinations: this can take the form of an interview or testing

The cost of studying for a Master's degree starts at USD 4,000 per year and the maximum cost can reach USD 10,000 or more.

If the applicant is not a resident of Thailand, they must obtain a student visa. To apply for this visa you must provide papers confirming your enrollment in the university, for classroom learning and also pay at least 50% of the total cost of the program. A student visa is issued for a period of 90 days to one year.

Buying property in Thailand for relocation and studying

You will find a wide range of housing options on our ultimate real estate platform. Here are the options for sale from trusted developers, real estate agencies and individual sellers.

We offer all types of housing from an apartment to a penthouse to a villa. All you have to do is make a choice that matches your goals and budget. Experts are ready to advise on all issues related to buying real estate, tell you when the school year begins in Thailand and which schools to choose. Check out our property database and we will make sure that buying an apartment or villa in Thailand is easy!

Subscribe to newsletter