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Studying a Masters in Estonia represents a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the country’s advanced technological infrastructure and its position as one of Europe’s hottest start-up locations.
With excellent universities, lots of postgraduate programmes taught in English and a famous ‘digital society’, Estonia is a genuinely unique place to study a Masters. This page offers advice on the country’s higher education system, tuition fees and funding, application process and student visas.
As the home of Skype and countless other tech companies, Estonia is rightfully proud of its reputation for innovation. Back in 1997, the Estonian government began investing in digital solutions for its citizens, eventually becoming the first country to allow ‘i-Voting’ in a national election – and this is just one example of the ways in which information technology is at the heart of Estonian society.
That forward-thinking attitude is reflected in the quality of Estonia’s universities, which offer internationally-recognised qualifications, a great environment for entrepreneurship and world-class research opportunities.
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider Estonia for a Masters:
|Masters Study in Estonia - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Tartu (1632)|
|Course Length||1-2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||€1,660 - €7,500|
|Academic Year||September to June|
There are two main types of higher education institution in Estonia: universities and universities of applied science (also known as professional higher education institutions). Public and private establishments exist in both spheres.
Estonian universities are typically focussed on research and its applications. They follow the three-cycle framework established by the Bologna Process: Bachelors (three years), Masters (two years), PhD (four years). This means that your Masters will take place within a standardised system and will be internationally recognised. Estonia also uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), which allows for a smoother exchange of study programmes between universities across Europe.
Courses offered by professional higher education institutions (rakenduskõrgkoolid in Estonian) are generally vocational in nature, with syllabuses tending to be more practical than those of a traditional research university. Universities of applied science typically focus on the needs of the labour market, aiming to equip students with the professional skills needed to succeed in business. As such, they often foster close links with local companies and organisations.
Despite being a country of only 1.3 million people, Estonia has two distinct higher education hubs: the capital city Tallinn and the traditional academic centre Tartu. Combining high-tech architecture with a quaint, cobbled Old Town, Tallinn is home to several higher education institutions. As the epicentre of Estonian commerce and entrepreneurial spirit, it makes for an excellent place to start a business.
By contrast, Tartu has a more scholarly atmosphere, as befitting the location of Estonia’s oldest university. The second largest city in Estonia, Tartu punches above its weight when it comes to cultural offerings.
Masters programmes in Estonia generally last between one and two years, consisting of 60-120 ECTS credits – much in line with the rest of Europe. Depending on the subject, postgraduate courses at Estonian universities can award a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc).
Teaching methods typically combine lectures, project work and case studies. As you’d expect from a country that has pioneered technological solutions in many fields, e-learning methods have been developed at Estonian universities and feature prominently on some courses. For example, you might take exams electronically or use video conferencing for educational purposes.
As in other countries, an Estonian Masters degree normally ends with a thesis or a similar extended individual project, which you may need to publicly defend as part of an oral examination. This usually involves introducing your argument and then answering questions from an examiner, a committee and a public audience. It can also be great preparation for PhD study!
Tuition fees in Estonia can vary quite significantly between programmes and institutions, with English-language Masters generally incurring a cost. For example, if you choose to study a Humanities-based Masters, you might pay between €1,600 and €3,600 per year. By contrast, tuition fees for Computing Masters are normally higher, at around €6,000 per year. If you’re an international student (i.e. non-EU/EEA), you’ll pay the same level of tuition fees as a domestic student or European national.
However, if you choose to study in Estonian, a Masters is completely free!
There are several funding options for foreign students in Estonia:
You might be eligible to receive support through the Erasmus+ scheme, which provides funding for selected programmes like Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, as well as Erasmus loans for students who want to study abroad.
Application deadlines in Estonia differ from university to university and could be as early as January or as late as August. As such, it’s always worth checking in advance with your institution of choice and making sure that you begin your application with plenty of time to spare. If you want a rough idea of when most deadlines are, check StudyinEstonia.ee for a list of the dates for English-taught programmes in Estonia.
All university applications in Estonia are handled through DreamApply, a website that allows you to browse courses and apply to several universities at once.
Once you’ve decided which programmes you want to apply for, you can use DreamApply to check the admissions requirements. Depending on the nature of the course, you may need to provide evidence of your proficiency in Estonian or English. Usually you’ll also need to supply a verified copy of the credit transcripts from your previous studies. If this isn’t in Estonian or English, you’ll have to provide an official translation (as well as a copy of the original certificate).
If your application has been successful, your university will send your acceptance documents, which non-EU students will need when applying for a residence permit in Estonia.
Estonia is a full member of the EU, which means that its visa requirements distinguish between EU/EEA nationals and those from outside the European Union.
If you’re an EU/EEA national, you need to get a temporary right of residence in Estonia within three months of your arrival in the country. You can do this by registering your Estonian address at your local government authority.
You’ll also need to apply to the Migration Bureau for an Estonian ID card within one month of gaining temporary right of residence. For more information on ID cards, please visit the Estonian government’s website.
If you’re a non-EU/EEA national, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit for study (TRP) at your nearest Estonian embassy. As this can be a lengthy process – around three months – it’s recommended that you begin your application well in advance of your arrival in Estonia. If it’s fewer than three months until your studies begin, Estonian universities typically advise that you apply for a long term (D) visa that allows you to arrive in Estonia, where you can then continue your application for a TRP.
Once you’ve received your TRP, you need to register your address with the local government authority within a month.
For more information, please visit the University of Tartu’s useful page on visas and residency for international students in Estonia.
If you’re an EU/EEA national, you should make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you arrive in Estonia. This entitles you to the same level of healthcare as an Estonian citizen and means that you’ll pay the same rates as a local.
However, the EHIC isn’t an alternative to travel insurance and won’t cover all eventualities, such as a flight home or private healthcare. As such, it’s advisable to take out your own insurance policy.
If you’re a non-EU/EEA national, you need to make sure you’re covered by a private insurance policy for the duration of your studies – this is a strict condition of your residence permit. You then need to provide proof of the policy to the Estonian Policy and Border Guard Board.
The Estonian government is keen to keep talented postgraduates in the country, and non-EU/EEA students are allowed to stay in Estonia for six months after graduation in order to find a job and apply for a temporary residence permit for work. Of course, EU/EEA nationals are already free to live and work in Estonia, a full member of the European Union.
Estonia’s dynamic start-up culture means that there should be plenty of demand for tech-savvy individuals in the job market. Similarly, the country’s entrepreneurial spirit is fostered by several state-run and private initiatives, which could be perfect if you want to create a business of your own in Estonia.
Even if you don’t decide to stay in Estonia, you can be sure that an Estonian Masters will be internationally-recognised and a worthy addition to your CV.
Last updated - 17/12/2018