Study in Estonia
Estonia is situated in Northern Europe and neighbours Finland, Latvia, and Russia. It is a country of striking natural beauty and stunning seaside locations, which brings together historical and modern contrasts. Estonia, a 2004 European Union (EU) entrant, has a modern market-based economy and one of the highest per capita income levels in Central Europe and the Baltic region.
Estonia belongs to the Schengen Area and has been a proud member of the euro area as of 2011. Estonia has been booming ever since adopting the euro as official currency.
The economy grew 7.6% in 2011, five times the euro area average and is the only country with a budget surplus in the Eurozone. With these examples, Estonia has become a respected member of the European Union and a role model for other EU countries.
Why study in Estonia?
1. Estonia is an innovation and technology hub
As a prosperous and forward-thinking country, Estonia is known in Europe for its various e-solutions, flat-rate tax system, nationwide e-voting, and its innovative and open approach towards new technologies.
One of the best examples of how far Estonia's modern technology has come is Skype. It took four Estonian software developers to come up with a series of complex programmes to make the idea of free calls anywhere in the world translate to reality! The application, which is now owned by Microsoft, is still partially operated in the capital city of Tallinn.
2. Estonians appreciate and take great care of the environment
As over half of country is covered with forest and with more than 1,000 picturesque island and lakes, Estonia makes you feel closely connected with nature and gives you endless possibilities to enjoy spending time in the clean open air. As proof, WHO (World Health Organization) ranked in 2011 Estonia 1st in worldwide in air quality.
While studying in Estonia you will be living in a modern European country with Nordic values and living standards. As a great bonus, you will find an eco-friendly attitude and breath-taking Nordic nature.
3. Top-quality education
Estonia boasts a long tradition of high-quality higher education, with the first university established in 1632, thus being one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe.
Currently, Estonian universities offer more than 150 recognized degree programmes in English at Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD level with internationally recognized diplomas and scholarship possibilities. Shorter periods of study in Estonia are also available in semester or summer courses.
Estonian universities have facilitated programmes and structural changes in accordance with the European-wide Bologna Process and the creation of a common European higher education area. Local universities also place a strong emphasis on internationalization:
- increasing the number and quality of English taught diploma programmes every year
- designing new degree programmes, which are unique all over the world
- taking part out regular quality control assessments and accreditation processes
- taking part of international cooperation and research projects
- increasing exchange possibilities in Europe, Asia, and the USA
These activities have resulted in:
- growing international student numbers (yearly increase over 20%)
- international faculties
- very renowned international academic and industry partners
- good positions in rankings
- wide international exposure of universities and education in Estonia
Institutions of higher education have made internationalisation a priority. The Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia and the Archimedes Foundation lead the efforts to increase mobility of scholars and research within and outside of Europe.
The Archimedes Foundation is an independent body established by the Estonian government in 1997, with the objective to coordinate and implement international and national projects for training, education, research, technological development, and innovation.
5. Low tuition and living costs
You only need a monthly budget of 300–550 EUR to cover your living costs in Estonia. As for tuition fees, these vary depending on your nationality, what you want to study, and at what level (Bachelor's, Master's, PhD). For example, PhD programmes are free for all internationals.
Most Bachelors and Masters cost between 1,650 and 7,000 EUR per academic year, with the exception of Medicine degrees, which can reach 12,000 EUR per year. Keep in mind that non-EU/EEA students sometimes pay more.
Even so, studying here is much more affordable, especially when you look at tuition rates in the US, Canada, or Australia.
Which universities to attend in Estonia?
These are some of the Estonian universities we recommend:
- Tallinn University
- University of Tartu
- Tallinn University of Technology
- Estonian University of Life Sciences
- Estonian Academy of Arts
What is it like to study in Estonia?
Being such a technologically advanced and digital country, it's not surprising that we can only describe studying here in one word: awesome! You can do almost everything online, from the comfort of your home, including applying to your university, for the student visa (and the extension if necessary), and so on.
Estonia also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, around 99%, and most people speak a foreign language, with English being one of them. It will be very easy to make friends, travel, and explore your surroundings.
What to study in Estonia?
The following are some of the most popular study programmes in Estonia:
Why Study in Estonia?
- Estonia is an e-society, with electronic ID-cards, e-government, etc.
- Estonia was the first country in the world to facilitate online voting nationwide and to use digital signature to conclude an international treaty.
- In 2013, the capital city of Tallinn was chosen among the world's seven most intelligent communities by Intelligentcommunity.org
- Ranked 1st worldwide in air quality (World Health Organization 2011)
- Homeland of Skype - the Skype software was developed by 4 Estonian engineers
- Estonia has the 2nd biggest internet freedom in the world (1st place Iceland, 3rd place Germany)
- Ranked 2nd in the world for Internet access in schools (1st Iceland, 3rd Finland, The Global Information Technology Report 2013)
- Estonia is the 3rd worldwide in The Press Freedom Index (2nd place Norway, 1st place Finland)
- Estonia as the best-performing economy in Europe 2011 (www.europeanvoice.com)
- Estonia has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. For Estonian adults, the literacy rate is 100%.
- Europe's hottest start-up capitals: Tallinn (Wired magazine 2011)
- Estonia is the safest country in the world (ca.news.yahoo.com) and Tallinn is the most connected city in Europe (www.inventorspot.com)
Why Estonian universities?
- Internationally accepted diplomas
- English language widely spoken
- Free internet access nearly everywhere
- Active student life
- The personal touch: small group sizes in classrooms
- Great value for money
- A safe and stable environment
- Estonia ranked 1rst for satisfaction with the stay in the host country institution. Source: ESN Survey 2010
- A total of 90% of international students are satisfied with their overall living and studying standard in Estonia (global average 88%). Source: International Student BarometerTM 2011
How to apply
Universities in Estonia accept cross-border online applications via the DreamApply online application system.
The guidelines for applicants:
- Choose the most interesting programmes for you and contact the universities' admission offices in order to find out additional information about the programmes (requirements, documents, research opportunities, programme's specifications, internship possibilities etc.)
- Prepare relevant documents
- Fill in the application in the DreamApply online application system
- Choose programmes, where you would like to apply. You can apply to several programmes in different universities with one application.
- Send printed and signed application form to the first choice university together with other relevant documents.
All applicants to Estonian degree programmes are required to have a qualification giving access to university studies in their home country. Applicants also need to show proof of proficiency in English. All internationally recognised language proficiency tests are accepted, though some institutions may run individual language tests. Depending on the institution and programme, there might be additional entrance tests such as an interview, written essay, portfolio etc.
It is best to contact the admissions office well before studies start in order to find out all the necessary details about application procedures, accommodation, visa regulations and other important information.
Common university admission requirements
- A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree)
- A transcript/record of your previous courses
- A scan of your passport and/or birth certificate
- Your CV
- Testing scores
- Evidence of scholarship or funding
- Letters of recommendation (2 or 3)
- Portfolio and/or writing samples
English language courses in Estonia
Meet language requirements for university admission in Estonia by choosing an English language preparation course offered by English language schools worldwide, including Estonia.
Residence permit for studying
All students who are not Estonian citizens or EU citizens (including EEA countries and Switzerland) need a temporary residence permit for study. EU citizens should obtain a temporary right of residence in Estonia. The temporary right of residence is granted for the period of 5 years.
In order to obtain temporary right of residence, a student should register his/her place of residence in the Local Government authority of the place of residence within 3 months from the day of entry to Estonia. In addition, a student has to apply for Estonian ID-card within 1 month from obtaining the temporary right of residence. More information can be found from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board web page.
Students who are third country nationals (not EU citizens) have to apply for a temporary residence permit for study at the Estonian Embassy or Consul in their home country or country of residence (more info on the page of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
If there is no Estonian Embassy or Consul in your home country or country of residence, you should contact the nearest Estonian Embassy. More information about application process and all the required documents (including legal income certifications) can be found from Estonian Police and Border Guard Board website.
A temporary residence permit is valid for maximum of one year and should be renewed at least 2 months before the date of expiration at the Police and Border Guard Board. Estonian ID-card issued to a student is a document, stating that a student was issued a temporary residence permit for study in Estonia.
Students from third countries have to register their place of residence in the Local Government authority within 1 month from the arrival to Estonia on the basis of residence permit for study.
Don't forget: All the institutions that provide international study programmes are experienced in advising international applicants! International offices are always there for you — do not hesitate to ask for their help!
Research & Careers in Estonia
Doctoral programmes represent higher education of the third cycle, the purpose of which is to acquire knowledge and skills necessary for independent research, development or professional creative work. The access requirement for doctoral studies is the degree of master or a corresponding qualification.
The nominal length of the programme is 3-4 years (180-240 ECTS credits). This is a research degree obtained after the completion and public defence of a dissertation based on independent scientific research or creative work. The universities award the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), with an indication of the field of study or the area of specialisation.
Why do research in Estonia?
General entry requirements
The following documents are usually required for an application for a PhD programme:
- A completed application form
- PhD thesis project
- Certified copies of certificates/degrees/qualifications showing eligibility for doctoral studies
- An academic transcript(s)
- An academic CV
- A statement of purpose
- Two or three photos
- A copy of an identification document
Specific requirements depend on the requirements of the institution of higher education and on the particular course. All prospective international students should contact the university they wish to attend for additional information.
Cost of studies
Doctoral studies in Estonia are for free. PhD students studying full time have the right to receive a monthly stipend of 383.47 EUR. Ask more specifically about the scholarship opportunities from the university coordinators.
Scholarships for visiting PhD students at Estonian universities
The scholarships cover research and study visits of 1-10 months by international PhD students to Estonian universities regardless of the subject area. The stipend will cover the study allowance (383,47 EUR per month), travel expenses (according to the unit price), residence expenses, health insurance, mobility allowance (up to 260 EUR per month) and the study and research expenses of the visiting Doctoral student.
Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral programme at a recognized educational institution in another country. For detailed information on eligibility requirements, deadlines and application, consult your university in Estonia.
The support scheme is financed by the European Social Fund under the DoRa programme. The programme is run by the Centre of Higher Education Development, Archimedes Foundation. Information can be obtained from: www.studyinestonia.ee/study/scholarships/international-master-students
Information about research in Estonia:
- Estonia for Researches: www.euraxess.ee
- Estonian Research Portal: www.etis.ee
- Estonian Science Foundation: www.etf.ee
- Estonian Research Council: www.etag.ee
Career & Working in Estonia
As an international student in Estonia, you will have the right to work during your studies. You will also have the opportunity to look for full-time employment for six months when you have completed your studies. When you have graduated, you may decide that you would like to find full-time employment in Estonia.
It is normally a good idea to prepare yourself in advance for the actual job hunting, already before graduation. Bear in mind that if you manage to find a part-time job in your field while you are still studying, this may act as a springboard to full-time employment.
The Career Services of your home university can help you get started by providing advice on how to look for jobs after your graduation. Note that they may, for example, arrange job fairs in cooperation with prospective employers, or organize job searching skills seminars and other information sessions.
As Estonia has also strong start-up culture, then students and graduates are encouraged to create their own start-up/spin-off companies already during their studies. Start-up support and entrepreneurship culture in Estonia has tremendous local supporters. There are a lot of governmental and private programmes and initiatives set up in order to boost spin-off companies.
Organizations and initiatives like Garage48, StartupGarage, Startup WiseGuys, Tehnopol Start-Up Incubator and prototyping fund Prototon are offering students funding and possibilities to start focusing to their career and new ideas already in the middle of the studies. This offers endless possibilities to connect your promising research results with business activities.
Find more information about working in Estonia as international student from here: http://www.studyinestonia.ee/living/working-in-estonia.
Living in Estonia
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Estonia:
At public Estonian universities, international students encounter the following situations:
- fees of 1,660–7,500 EUR/year for most Bachelor's and Master's degrees
- fees of around 12,000 EUR/year for Medicine degrees
- higher fees (sometimes) for non-EU/EEA citizens
- some universities offering a few free Bachelor's or Master's degrees
- all PhD programmes are free
At private universities, tuition fees are higher. They also don't usually differentiate between EU and non-EU citizens.
Living costs in Estonia
You need around 300–550 EUR per month to live as a student in Estonia. Food and accommodation represent the largest expenses.
Here's a breakdown of average costs of living in Estonia:
- accommodation (student dormitories): 80–150 EUR/month including monthly utilities
- accommodation (privately rented flats): 200–550 EUR/month without utilities
- monthly utilities if you rent a flat: 170–200 EUR
- food and groceries: 275–300 EUR/month
- monthly transport pass: 7–8 EUR with a student discount
- three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 40 EUR
- 1 loaf of bread: 0.80 EUR
- 1 litre of milk: 0.70 EUR
- 1 kg of apples: 1.30 EUR
- 1 kg of bananas: 1.10 EUR
- 1 cappuccino: 2.70 EUR
Estonia is situated in north-eastern Europe, being the northernmost of the three Baltic States. It is bounded on the west and north by the Baltic Sea and on the east by Lake Peipsi and the Narva River. It is bordered on the east and southeast by Russia and on the south by Latvia. Tallinn, Estonia's capital city is only about 85 km south of Helsinki, the capital of Finland, across the Gulf of Finland. Sweden is Estonia's nearest western neighbour across the Baltic Sea.
Estonia is often referred to as a very small country. With an area of 45 000 sq. km, Estonia is in fact bigger for example than Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark or Switzerland, but still for example five times smaller than Great Britain. Estonia stretches 350 km from east to west and 240 km from north to south. Sea islands form one tenth and lakes about one twentieth of Estonia's territory. Almost half of the Estonian territory is covered by forest and woodland.NATURE
The image of Estonia's natural environment is shaped by the small average population per square kilometre, the country's proximity to the Baltic Sea and its location between the Eastern and the Central European bio-geographical area. That means that Estonia is a borderline area for the occurrence of many species and types of landscape. Bogs and forests, small lakes and islands offer an opportunity to experience silence and pristine nature.
The climate in Estonia is temperate and mild, characterised by warm summers and fairly severe winters. The weather is often breezy and humid due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea. Seasons in Estonia vary widely. Average temperatures range from 20.9° C in summer, with July usually being the hottest month, to -8°C in winter, although occasionally the temperature may rise to 30°C and above in summer or sink below - 23°C in winter. The longest day of the year is June 21 with 19 hours of full daylight. The Estonian weather offers as many surprises as Estonia and its people do.ECONOMY
Estonia is a part of one of the fastest growing economic regions in Europe. The country is located at the heart of the Baltic Sea Region, Europe's fastest growing market of more than 90 million people. This region is one of the most diverse and rewarding markets in Europe as it spans over the well-developed economies of Scandinavia and Northern Germany, the rapidly expanding economies of the Baltic States and Poland, and the vast potential markets of Northwest Russia.
The Estonian economy is considered to be liberal and innovative. IT is one of the most popular areas of business and also "the thing" to study. The use of IT has infiltrated services as well as the industrial sector and has greatly changed the way things are done nowadays. The main trend is towards simplification, innovation and customer-friendliness.
The fact that companies do not have to pay income tax for re-invested profits is considered to be an effective method for enhancing entrepreneurship and for the promotion of innovation and new business solutions. Income tax must be paid only on profits that are paid out to shareholders.Economy in numbers:
Currency: from 1 January 2011 Estonia is member of Eurozone and the currency in Estonia is euro (€).
Estonia became the OECD's 34th member country on 9 December 2010.
Tax system: 21% flat income tax, reinvested corporate profit is tax free; 20% VAT
International Credit Ratings
Moody's: A1, outlook stable
Standard & Poor's: AA-/A-1+, outlook stable
Fitch: A+, outlook stable
Additional information: /www.investinestonia.com/CULTURE
Situated between Eastern and Western Europe on the map, Estonia is also a border area, or more accurately a crossing point, in terms of culture. In the traditions of these parts, one can find elements originating from the East as well as the West, but the Estonians mostly consider themselves a northern people and conceptually bound to Scandinavia. Marginal and border cultures are where one can find the most interesting phenomena and combinations. In this regard, Estonia is a country of dozens of possibilities.
Notable people: composer and Grammy nominee Arvo Pärt, supermodel Carmen Kass, actress Mena Suvari and actor Johann Urb, designer Oskar Metsavaht, footballers Mart Poom and Joel Lindpere, one of the best chess players of the 20th century Paul Keres, noted astronomer and astrophysicist Ernst Öpik, former Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom Lembit Öpik, the "father of embryology" Karl Ernst von BaerLIFESTYLE
The lifestyle of Estonians is directly linked to their character, the weather and different seasons. In winter Estonians tend to be more home- and work-centred, while summer is a time for active open-air activities and vacations in the countryside. In recent years Estonia has developed an excellent infrastructure of cultural, social and sporting facilities. Throughout the year there is a wide range of activities and events striving to meet and even exceed expectations of local inhabitants and their international guests. Since regaining independence and a rise in living standards, there are more opportunities for travel and Estonians are eagerly seizing the chance to see the world.
Universities, colleges and schools in Estonia
How to Apply to a Master's in Estonia
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Estonia, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in Estonia?
To apply to a university in Estonia you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- recent photos;
- your passport or national identity card;
- one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
- copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
- academic transcripts;
- letter of intent;
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.
Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.
The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Estonia so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.
Prove your English skills
Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.
Application deadlines for Estonia
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Estonia are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.
To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.