Read this first.
Different cultures do things differently.
Cost of Living is very affordable on an international scale, and so is cost of study (tuition fee) at most Thai universities. Thailand is not really a 'cheap' country, however. As it is anywhere else, you get what you pay for. Prices vary widely, and so does quality, from 'Asian style' (rote textbook learning) to 'western style' (developing understanding and skills). This Web site aims to be your guide to making a qualified decision independent of whether you want to study a degree program, just spend one semester abroad as an exchange student, or take continuing education in the friendliest country in Asia. By the way, any foreign student is called an 'exchange student'. It does not need a formal exchange agreement with your university back home to study one semester abroad in Thailand: Free movers are welcome everywhere!
Degree programs in English cover a wide range of academic fields, such as accounting, architecture, arts, business administration (marketing, finance & banking, general management, hotel & tourism, international business, and more majors at business schools and colleges), applied chemistry, economics, education, engineering (e.g., nano, aerospace, automotive, or manufacturing engineering), information technology, law, mass communication and journalism, medicine, music, nursing science, risk management, science and technology, and many more.
The degrees follow the US system with Bachelor (B.A., B.B.A., B.Ed., B.Eng., B.Sc. etc.) in undergraduate studies, Master (M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed., M.Eng., M.Sc., LL.M. etc.), and doctoral degrees (D.B.A., D.Eng., E.D., LL.D., Ph.D. etc.) on undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate level.
The terms 'international college' and 'international graduate school' are not clearly defined in Thailand. Some international colleges only offer graduate studies. 'International program' and 'English program' are often used synonymously. That is misleading, since some universities offer international studies in a 'Chinese program', conducted in Chinese (Mandarin), or even in Arabic language or German language. 'Graduate school' and 'business school' are also term that are not clearly defined.
The most popular fields of study among foreign students are business administration, marketing, business English, general management, and international business management on undergraduate and graduate level.
Please note that you will often find Thai MBA students who graduated from a BBA program – thus studying the same stuff again on graduate level, often with the same professors from the same books. Western HR departments would smile about such an education and, most likely, reject the job application. Such students may influence your experience in class since they are not much interested in learning anything new.
This is likely caused by one of two reasons. On the one hand, MBA programs are highly profitable for universities, and getting BBA graduates into them increases the quote of those who pass (and the MBA ex-BBA students don't need to fear failing very much - they basically study a very similar content again). On the other hand, you find plenty of civil servants in such programs. For a civil servant, any graduate degree leads to a rise in salary. The content, field, capability, or skills are not considered in such an automatic process.
The MBA program (weekend programs are often called Executive MBA or EMBA) may serve you as an example for a general advice. Don't choose your degree program or your university for a student exchange only after brochures or university Web sites. If any possible, pay them a visit yourself and meet the students who study the program that you would like to join. That way, you will quickly experience whether a particular program is the right thing for you, or whether you should better look at another program. Eventually, it is your fellow students you learn the most from.
Every country knows the phenomenon of the 'best university'. In many countries that are universities within the top-200 global rankings. In other countries like Thailand, the ‘best’ is the result of cultural biases and not based on the future one has after graduating from there. In Thailand, Chulalongkorn University is often mentioned as the best university (may be it is, but is it the best for you?). As a foreigner, you will pay at Chula, as it is called in short, generally about double that much as Thai students do. Whether Chula is academically the best one or not is a question we cannot answer. Chula is, however, the preferred way to become a Thai civil servant, a status that comes with plenty of benefits for a Thai and thus highly desirable. But please note – no foreigner will become a Thai civil servant, so make your choice according to your goals.
University Rankings is another topic you may want to consider. On this Web site, you find a ranking compiled by a very serious research body in Spain. It doesn't consider too much the academic research quality (that would affect you only in your doctoral studies anyway). It focuses much more on the appearance of a particular university on the Internet: Information offered (including rich files which might be a hint about the modernity of the education at that institution), how well the best institutions globally link towards that university, and so on. University rankings are a complex thing, but well worth thinking about them before you make your decision after them. The same is certainly valid for MBA rankings, nationally or globally.
One of the most important factors in degree studies in Thailand is the immersion into everyday life in a different culture. That is what will affect you and your skills the most, and that is also what international employers value the most. Whether you study marketing or accounting, media or management, obtaining a degree in Thailand is a strong asset in your CV. Less so, but still very interesting, is an exchange semester (everybody does one these days) or, on a different level, a Summer School that runs usually only a few weeks while the semester runs 5 months in Thailand.
Will a Thai degree be accepted outside Thailand? Yes, it will. There are two aspects to it, the legal one and the cultural one. Legally, any degree from a university accredited with the Royal Thai Ministry of Education is to be accepted by any other United Nations member country. Thailand is a UN member state since 1948.
The cultural aspect appears more relevant if you target a career in international companies. Ulrich Werner, the author of this Web site, teaches Thai and foreign students since 2002, and he gets a lot of feedback. Just recently, in September 2016, a German graduate informed him that he got a job at Accenture, the leading consultancy, because a degree earned in a different culture is seen as something very valuable. On the other hand, a U.S. American student reported that – while international organizations may appreciate a degree earned in a different culture – most SMEs in the U.S. appreciate degrees earned in the U.S. So, decide yourself: Where do you want to go next after graduating?
Don't worry that your English language skills might not be sufficient for studying in an international study abroad program in Thailand! Our experience shows that every student has a quite impressive passive knowledge and just lacks speaking English language. The more English becomes your everyday language, the faster you will master it. It's a matter of weeks, rather than months!
We are looking forward to welcoming you in Thailand, be it just for a semester abroad or for a full degree program!
Your Ulrich Werner