Education structure of Thailand

Category: Study Destinations
Posted on September 30, 2019

The Thai education system

Ministries of Education, Interior, and local municipalities oversee and supervise the Public educational schools. Private schools are under the supervision of the Private Education Commission. Selective public universities are under the control of the Ministry of University Affairs.

Let us look at the Educational genres in Thailand:

  • There are 44,903 preprimary schools out of which 6,619 are private in Thailand.
  • Public primary schools and lower secondary is 31,129 in numbers.
  • Public lower and upper secondary schools are 2,660.
  • There are 409 public vocational schools (including upper secondary and postsecondary-certificate levels)
  • 42 international schools and colleges
  • 36 Rajabhat Institutes
  • 50 Rajamangala Institutes of Technology
  • 13 special science schools
  • 13 colleges of physical education
  • Six sports schools
  • 15 colleges of fine arts
  • Two Buddhist universities
  • Eleven original public selective universities
  • Eight recent new public universities
  • Two open public universities
  • 49 private universities

Education is free and compulsory for all Thai citizens who are in the age group of six and fifteen in Thailand. Most of the kids between three and five years old attend nursery and preschool.

Did you know?

In ancient times, Buddhist monks were among the top teachers and would provide education in Thailand, but only boys would get a chance. However, the Thai government provides education in Thailand in recent times, so both the genders get equal opportunities.


The two types of education in Thailand:

  1. Formal education
  2. Informal education

Formal - Formal education is the education one receives in a classroom, and the examples of formal education include:

  • Early year education
  • Basic education
  • Vocational education
  • Higher education.

Informal education - Education received outside the classroom. For example:

  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Educational TV programs
  • Special radio programs and many other forms.

Early year education - Preschool Education

Early year education starts from the age of two or three and goes on till the age of five in Thailand. The sub-divisions of Preschool education are as follows:

Preschool playgroup-students starts at the age of three, and they  learn:

  • How to speak
  • Draw and identify colors.

Kindergarten-Kids aged three to five go to kindergarten and the teaching focusses on:

  • Numbers
  • Alphabets
  • Colors
  • Rhymes and other necessary skills.


Basic education

1. Primary school Education

After preschool, children start their basic education in primary schools that has six years of education. Children remain in the primary section until they are eleven years old. The six years in Primary level has different sub-levels; they are:

  • Prathom 1
  • Prathom 2
  • Prathom 3
  • Prathom 4
  • Prathom 5
  • Prathom 6.

2. Secondary school Education

Children get their place in secondary school after completion of primary school without moving to a new school. Secondary school education mainly focuses on in-depth subjects like:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Language subjects.


Secondary school education is also for six years and, have different levels like:

  • Matthayom 1
  • Matthayom 2
  • Matthayom 3
  • Matthayom 4
  • Matthayom 5
  • Matthayom 6.


Vocational Education

Thai vocational education system indoctrinates in high school where students may prefer to adopt this more effective form of education. Some students aspire to get two levels of qualification, which is also a certificate program in vocational education. It is also a higher diploma that prepares to achieve a university degree and a technical diploma.


Higher Education

Higher education is optional, and it usually refers to a college or university level of education.

The following are the forms of higher education:

Bachelor’s Education - Bachelor’s degree courses span for three to five years, depending upon the discipline opted by students. Government or private institutions generally provide this level of education.


Master’s Education - Master’s degree program is a higher level of education which is chosen by students after the completion of a bachelor’s education. Pupils specialize in the subject of a graduation, which generally lasts for two years.


Students choose certificate courses - Certificate courses or professional courses instead of pursuing bachelors or Master’s education.  Universities do not award with a degree, but it offers diploma or certificates on successful completion of the certificate programs.


Ph.D. Education - Aspiring students who have completed a Master’s education choose to study higher up and aim for doctoral degrees which are also known as Ph.D. This course is the highest level of education, and it is very reputable. Upon completion of Ph.D. education, one receives the title of a ‘Doctor or Dr.’


Tests and Entrances

Students after the obligatory M3 level will have to pass the O-NET test, which is the Ordinary National Educational Test with one or two elective courses. The elective courses have:

  • Science programs
  • Mathematics programs,
  • Foreign language programs
  • Social science programs.

To graduate after M6 level, students have to pass the A-NET test, which is the Advanced National Educational Test. This diploma is similar to British A levels (International Baccalaureate or the US- high school diploma).

For attending a university after graduating from M6 level, students have to pass the CUAS test that is the Central University Admission System. It relies on the scores of the O-NET and the A-NET. Students also have to appear for the admission test at Universities.

For your reference: Secondary school levels are M1 – M6 which is called Mattayorn in Thai.


The Grading System in Thailand

  • Percentage    Grade    Comment
  • 88 - 100         A           Excellent
  • 84 - 87           B+        Very good
  • 76 - 83           B           Good
  • 71 - 74           C+         Above average
  • 62 - 70           C           Average
  • 58 - 61           D+         Below average
  • 51 - 57           D           Poor
  • 0 - 50             F           Fail

International Students

Students can apply directly to the university of their choice without any restrictions on international students enrolling in a Thai university. Make sure to read the following documentation:

  • High School Certificate or equivalent
  • Academic records of previous education
  • Non-immigrant - ED visa


The academic year in Thailand

The academic year lasts from June to March of the following year in Thailand. There are two semesters with a break of two or three weeks in September. Moreover, the long summer break is during the traditional Thai new-year celebrations, which is Songkran.

We hope that the information provided will be helpful to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to move up in your career. All the Best.

Bhumika Sharma
Bhumika Sharma

Bhumika has more than 4 years of experience as a software engineer. Having done MCA from Dayananda sagar Institutions, Bangalore and BCA from Sikkim Manipal University, Sikkim, she found her calling as the head researcher at PlanAll. In her free time, her 5 year old daughter, Mishka, keeps her busy and happy.

Ashish Kapoor
October 07, 2019 - 08:34am
Ashish Kapoor October 07, 2019 - 08:34am

Nice blog....keep it up.

Girija Muknak
October 04, 2019 - 10:41am
Girija Muknak October 04, 2019 - 10:41am

Really nice blog.....Keep it up. Thanks again.

Imran Patel
October 01, 2019 - 10:40am
Imran Patel October 01, 2019 - 10:40am

Thanks for sharing. Looking more forward to read.

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