Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Education Services
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Thai students have resumed studying abroad post COVID-19.  Thailand has public, private, and international schools.  Government schools are free and compulsory for nine years.  Preschool is optional, although many Thai children attend kindergarten.  Compulsory education begins at the primary level for six years (Prathom 1-6), then moves to lower secondary school for three years (Matthayom 1-3).  After this, students can go to an upper secondary school (Matthayom 4-6).

As for university, most bachelor’s programs take four years to complete.  Some programs take five years to complete (e.g., architecture, art, graphic art, and pharmacy).  Medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine programs take six years of study.

According to the 2021-2022 Open Doors report, prepared by the Institute of International Education (IIE), in 2022, the total number of Thai students studying in the U.S. increased by 47 students to 5,007 students, compared to 4,960 students the previous year.  Thai students studying in the U.S. included 2,267 undergraduates, 1,772 post-graduates, and 784 Optional Practical Training (OPT) students.

 High School and Undergraduate School

According to the International School Consultancy, there are 170 international institutions in Thailand which comprise international schools and international preschools.  Approximately 66,700 students are enrolled in international schools throughout Thailand.

International schools in Thailand have counselors that help students select schools and guide them through the application process.  Thai schools do not employ such counselors and as a result, Thai students enrolled in such institutions who want to study abroad need help from local educational agents.  Educational agents operate throughout Thailand, but most are based in big cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

The annual tuition fee of international schools at the high school and undergraduate levels in Thailand ranges from USD 4,500 to USD 32,000.  Studying in U.S. for four years either at the high school or undergraduate level is relatively expensive for Thai families, especially when compared to local tuition fees in Thailand.  Year-long exchange programs are popular among Thai high-school students because the costs are much lower than with four-year high school programs.  Moreover, students enjoy the learning experience and discovering if they really want to commit to pursuing educational degrees in the U.S.  Exchange students who have positive experiences during the year-long exchange programs are more likely to return to the U.S. to complete their high school diploma. 

Graduate School

Compared to enrolling in a U.S. high school or undergraduate program, graduate programs are more attractive to Thai students because programs are usually only one or two years long, and therefore seemingly more cost effective.  Thai students aiming to study in the U.S. at this level may apply directly or seek the help of education agents.  Top students hoping to enroll in the most competitive institutions may choose to work with education agents who offer GMAT, GRE, TOEFL or writing courses to improve their test scores.

The Civil Service Commission (CSC)

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is a government agency that manages fully-funded Thai government scholarships from high school to doctorate levels.  In academic year 2021/2022, CSC supervised 615 Thai scholars in the U.S. (12 percent of the total number of Thai students studying in U.S.).  472 out of 615 total scholarships focused on science and technology studies.  These scholarships are given by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and the Institute of Promoting for Teaching Science and Technology.   This is in response to Thailand 4.0, an economic model to serve the future modernization and digitalization.   

Thai students funded by the Thai government are required to return to Thailand and serve in government positions for the length of the study abroad program times two.  For example, if a student studies in U.S. for two years, the student must work for the Government for four years.  As a result, program length is an important consideration for Thai scholars, when choosing universities.

Top Five Receiving States

According to OpenDoors, California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and Washington are the top five receiving States for Thai students. 


Educational agents support academic programs and non-academic programs such as English language-learning programs during long Thai school holidays from the end of February to mid-May.  Educational agents work with schools to recruit groups of students for travel to the U.S. for language study and cultural experiences.

Many Thai students use educational agents to navigate the study abroad process.  Educational agents provide one-stop service from finding the right schools, to helping with application process, providing after sales service, and even booking flights and accommodations.  Thai students prefer to use educational agents because there is no charge to the students, as the educational agents receive commissions from schools.  Aside from partnering with educational agents, U.S. schools may consider introducing themselves to CSC so that CSC can include the school in presentations to their Thai scholars.

Community colleges are still a niche market as students and Thai parents are not familiar with the concept and prefer that their children enroll directly in four-year colleges or universities.  Community college representatives may consider marketing and promotion efforts with local study abroad consultants and partner universities to promote an alternative option for studying in U.S.

Digital Marketing Strategies

Thailand has around 54.50 million Internet users, an increase of 3.4 million (0.2%) between 2021 and 2022.  The most used social media platforms in Thailand are Facebook, YouTube, Line, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Thailand has around 50.05 million Facebook users, 45 million Line users, 42.80 million YouTube users, 18.50 million Instagram users, and 11.45 million Twitter users.

Study abroad agencies use Line Messenger, Facebook, and YouTube to communicate with students by sharing upcoming seminars, workshops, study travel, and cultural programs.  Agencies also use these channels to communicate with students’ parents.  Educational organizers often use Facebook to reach potential students and publish upcoming student fairs. 

Thai students use many technology platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to post activities; Twitter and Line for messaging; and Google and Zoom for meetings.  Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are the top four platforms used by Thai students, and Google remains the most common search tool.  TikTok and YouTube are popular for streaming and sharing video content among peers.

U.S. education institutions and study consortia may consider providing digital promotional materials and working with study abroad consultants, school counselors, and university faculty to share their information with potential student groups.  Topics of interest include scholarship opportunities, academic programs, co-op opportunities, and tuition fees.

Trade shows

Office of the Civil Service Commission International Education Expo 2024
The Thai International Education Consultants Association Study Abroad Fair
EducationUSA Fair