The University of Tartu is Estonia’s leading research and development institution with more than 1100 doctoral students conducting reseach at the university each year.

  • The University of Tartu belongs to¬†the top 1.2% of the world’s best universities¬†(QS World University Rankings 2020).
  • More than 125¬†doctoral degrees are defended annually at the University of Tartu¬†(more than half of the total number in Estonia).
  • UT belongs to the¬†top 1% of the world’s most-cited universities¬†and research institutions in the fields of Clinical Medicine, Plant and Animal Science, Chemistry, Environment/Ecology, Social Sciences (general), Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biology and Biochemistry, Psychiatry and Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior, Geosciences, Pharmacology and Toxicology (ISI Web of Science 2020).
  • A total of¬†62 UT scientists¬†belong to the top 1% of most-cited scientists in the world (ESI Web of Science 2020).
  • Doctoral schools¬†at the UT facilitate special projects, foster international collaboration and bring extra funding and support for PhD studies, including international seminars and practical skills training.

A  PhD programme lasts for 4 years and requires 240 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) to be earned for completion. Read more about regulations and organisation of PhD studies at the University of Tartu. Admission is regulated by the document Admission rules in Doctoral Studies.

Application process for international students

The following information applies to international students who have aquired the previous study level outside Estonia.

HideHideStep 1 | Before applying

Who can apply?



A master’s degree or equivalent is a prerequisite for admission to doctoral studies. You can apply to the programme if you are eligible to doctoral studies in the education system the master’ s level qualification is awarded. However, there might be differences between higher education systems and access requirements to PhD programmes in different countries. To apply to the University of Tartu, your qualification should correspond to the master’ degree in Estonian higher education system. We will assess your qualification during the application period and may send your educational documents to the Estonian ENIC/NARIC (Academic Recognition Information Centre) for evaluation.

Make sure you also meet our language requirements and manage to submit all the required documents by the application deadline.

Which programme to choose?

Read about our PhD programmes and specific requirements on the programme website. On the programme website, you can also find the curriculum overview and link to the website of the respective institute/school, where you can learn more about their research groups/labs.

Try to find out which programme best meets your research interests and academic background. If it is not specified on the programme website, your master¬īs degree could theoretically be in another field, but you should be able to prove you have enough knowledge and experience in the field of intended studies.

When can I apply?

There are four application periods:

  1. 1‚Äď15 February, admission information announced by 15 January
  2. 1‚Äď15 May, admission information announced by 15 April
  3. 15‚Äď30 September, admission information announced by 1 September
  4. 15‚Äď30 November, admission information announced by 1 November

The May intake is the main period, where admission takes place for most programmes. In other periods, the admission is open only for a limited number of programmes. Admission is announced on the programme website.

How to find a prospective supervisor?

For most programmes, finding a supervisor is not compulsory but advisable. Finding a supervisor is the applicant¬īs responsibility. The aim is to make sure that your proposed thesis topic is researched at the University of Tartu and there is competency in the academic unit to supervise this topic.

To find a supervisor, visit the institute website to find out more about them. Browse through the academic staff list on the institute website. Institute websites are linked to at the bottom of each programme website. Look at the publications written by your potential supervisor as well as the projects and supervised dissertations via ETIS.

When contacting any supervisors, please attach your CV and describe your proposed research topic. Please note that potential supervisors get a lot of emails from applicants. If you want to get your email noticed, present the information in the email quickly, clearly and professionally.

Each programme website includes programme-specific suggestions, as the detailed requirements may differ. For example, some programmes announce their own research topics that applicants must choose from, so applicants might not be expected to suggest their topics during the application round.

Am I eligible for scholarship/health insurance?

There is no tuition fee for PhD studies at the University of Tartu. Full-time PhD students receive a doctoral allowance of 660 euros per month plus an additional performance stipend of 400 euros per month, regardless of their citizenship. Both are tax-free payments and there is no separate application for receiving them, it is taken care of automatically. The stipends are renewed periodically based on the outcomes of PhD progress reviews. More information on the doctoral allowance.

All PhD students who receive a doctoral allowance get Estonian national health insurance (Haigekassa). Doctoral allowance can be paid as soon as the student has obtained temporary residence permit (non-EU students) or temporary right of residence (EU students). Health insurance coverage is available for the full standard period of PhD studies (four years).

HideHideStep 2 | Submitting the online application

Submit the following electronic documents via DreamApply by the application deadline:

  1. online application
  2. doctoral thesis project/motivation letter (depending on the programme requirements)
  3. official copy of the diploma and diploma supplement (transcript/mark sheet) of the preceding study levels (both bachelor’s and master’s) in the original language (must include the description of the grading scale)
  4. official translation of the diplomas and diploma supplements into English
  5. proof of English language proficiency
  6. proof of Russian language proficiency for Russian and Slavonic Philology programme
  7. copy of the passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
  8. curriculum vitae (example form)

Incomplete applications or those submitted by e-mail will not be considered. Please be aware that according to the Admission Rules of the University of Tartu you can apply to only one PhD programme. If you add a second one, only the one listed first will be considered. The second will be eliminated.

Note! Applicants who graduate in 2021¬†and have their diplomas issued after the application deadline should electronically submit their most recent official Transcript of Records by the required deadline along with the rest of the required documents. Please note that you must have graduated from your master¬īs studies by 1 August 2021 and submit the graduation documents by 5 August. This applies to the February and May intakes only: when applying in September or November, you must have graduated by the application deadline.

Guide to submitting electonic application on DreamApply.

HideHideStep 3 | Evaluation and announcement of admission results

After the application period, you will receive feedback on your application in DreamApply. Please note that applications with deficiencies will be rejected. The decisions on applications will be made based on the electronic copies added to DreamApply.

If you have uploaded all the required documents in DreamApply by the deadline and meet our admission requirements, your application will be forwarded to the admissions commission who evaluates your thesis proposal/motivation letter (depending on the programme requirements). If you score at least 51 points for the thesis proposal/motivation letter, you will be invited to the entrance interview. The respective institute will send you the exact time of the interview a few days before the interview date.

The admission results of the May intake will be announced by 15 July at the latest. Admitted candidates have seven days to accept or decline the offer. The university may withdraw the admission offer if the admitted student fails to inform the university of his or her decision by the stipulated deadline

The admission offers are conditional. This means that the applicant needs to fulfil certain conditions to be admitted (e.g. sending application documents by post; obtaining the required level of education). If the conditions are not met, the admission offer can be withdrawn.

The university reserves the right to withdraw or amend any offer or revoke the matriculation of a student if it becomes evident that the application contains fraudulent information, the qualification does not provide access to the chosen study programme or the student is found to have omitted key information from the application. Should such circumstances occur, the university will not be liable for any material or immaterial loss which the student may suffer as a result.

The University of Tartu may send educational certificates to the Estonian ENIC/NARIC Centre for evaluation of qualification. The evaluation can take 1-2 months. If the evaluation is negative and your qualification does not give access to PhD studies in Estonia, the university must withdraw the admission offer.

HideHideStep 4 | Sending the documents by post

All admitted students are required to send the application documents by post to: Student Admissions, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18-132, Tartu 50090, ESTONIA. The package is expected to include a signed application form, official copies of degree certificates and transcripts, a copy of passport and a proof of English language proficiency.

You may send the hard copies of the application documents by the application deadline. This allows us to process the documents earlier, and if you get admitted, the following process will be smoother.

However, you can also prepare the documents and postpone mailing them until you receive the conditional admission offer. If you get admitted, send the documents in the fastest possible way (by courier), making sure they arrive in two weeks. If you choose that option, please prepare the certified copies already now, so that you can send them out at once, if necessary. Getting your documents properly certified can take quite a bit of time. If the documents do not arrive on time, the university has a right to withdraw the admission offer.

Applicants will be informed when their documents have arrived. Please note that the documents are first delivered to the university¬īs Postal Service and are taken to our office once a day. If you see that your documents have reached the University of Tartu, it does not necessarily mean we have already started processing your documents. Please be patient and wait until you receive a notification via DreamApply, confirming that we have started processing your documents.¬†Please note that the application documents will not be returned.¬†

Requirements for educational documents

All copies of educational documents (diplomas and Diploma Supplements/transcripts) must be officially certified. Certified copies should bear an original signature and seal of the authority certifying that these are true copies of the original. The documents can be certified either:

  1. by an authorised official of the issuing institution
  2. by a notary
  3. with an Apostille attached

Please note that the university does not accept simple copies of original documents or copies of certified copies.
Some country-specific requirements also specify the way documents must be certified.

HideHideStep 5 | Receiving the official admission letter

The official admission letter will be sent to admitted students via DreamApply only after reviewing hard copies of the application documents. The admission letter sent electronically is sufficient for non-EU students to apply for visa/residence permit at an Estonian embassy.

HideHideStep 6 | Welcome to the UT!

Once the admission letter has been issued, admitted students may proceed with arranging their arrival. All non-EU students should first consult information on the process of visa and temporary residence permit application to know where and when to apply for the relevant documents. Note that housing at the UT dormitories can be applied during a limited period, unless specified otherwise on the website. When preparing for travel to Estonia, check the relevant information on the UT Welcome Web.

Based upon common queries, we have compiled a pre-arrival information leaflet available on the UT Getting Started website.

At the beginning of the academic year, PhD students are required to sign a PhD study agreement and draw up an individual study plan.¬†More information…


Note! International applicants who have completed their previous study level in Estonia or who are about to graduate from an institution in Estonia may apply via SAIS. NB! You can access SAIS only with valid Estonian ID-Card or residence card. Applicants holding Estonian citizenship, please read the information in Estonian.

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