Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) was officially established by Royal Charter on 5 September 1978 as Thailand's eleventh state university. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) graciously bestowed the university its name in honor of King Prajadhipok (King Rama VII), who once held the title "Prince Sukhothai Thammaracha", before his accession to the throne.
On 24 October 1978, His Majesty issued royal mandates appointing the first University Council and Professor Dr. Wichit Srisa-an as the first president of the university. After two years, on 1 December 1980, STOU delivered its first academic courses. Three schools were founded: The School of Educational Studies, The School of Liberal Arts and The School of Management Science. STOU was the first Open University in Southeast Asia to use distance education as the main learning system.
STOU School of Communication Arts was founded in 1984. In this year, the first distance learning Bachelor of Arts in Communication program was offered. The School recognizes the important role of Communication to achieve the goals set by the ASEAN Community and has developed in 2014, together with expert international faculty members, the first distance learning M.A. in Communication Arts for ASEAN.
The university crest features three arrows placed horizontally beneath a crown framed by the pinnacle of a cone-shaped stupa. The three arrows are taken from the official seal of King Rama VII, while the stupa is the symbol of the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, granted permission for the symbol to be used as the university's official crest.
The university colors are green and gold. Green is the color Thais traditionally associate with Wednesday, the day on which King Rama VII was born, while gold represents good fortune.
Parichat or Tong Lang Lai / Variegated Tiger Claw or Variegated Coral (Erythrina variegata) was chosen as the university tree because the leaves are dark green with gold-colored veins.