boat in Soomaa

Estonian Studies

Estonia today is a thriving democracy. In just over a generation, it has revived a rich, ancient culture while also inventing the future through its vibrant tech sector and the development of e-Estonia. If you want to understand how this Nordic nation fought for freedom, survived occupation, and peacefully restored independence, come study at Tallinn University. You can experience Estonia’s diverse artistic scene, study the unique and beautiful Estonian language, learn about traditional arts and crafts, and explore pristine forests and lakes. Our students come from all over the world and all walks of life, forming a cohort eager to learn what makes Estonia such a unique place to live and study. Come join us!

Study level Master's Studies

Duration of study 2 years (4 semesters)

Language English

Study form Cyclical studies

Cost per semester 1900

Estonian Studies enables you to get a broad-based and interdisciplinary postgraduate degree and offers the possibility to see both the uniqueness and specifics of Estonia, the place of Estonia in a global context.

Estonian Studies is in many respects the calling card of Estonian State and is aimed at everybody who is interested in various aspects of Estonia. Come and study with us!

Our main target group are people who are interested in the Estonian language, culture, history and society but who do not have Estonian as their first language. 

Our study programme is suitable for you

  • if you have been learning the Estonian language and culture in one of the universities in the world that teach these subjects, you are interested in Estonian culture, history and society but your Estonian is not good enough to study in Estonian. Estonian Studies will help you to enhance your knowledge on Estonia and develop your language skills.
  • if your BA is in any other field but you are interested in Estonia and you wish to know how Estonian society functions, what is unique to the culture and wish to develop your Estonian language skills up to intermediate level.
  • if you are interested in Estonian literature, you have some knowledge of Estonian language and you wish to translate Estonian literature into your native language in the future.


Why study with us?

  • Estonian Studies provides knowledge of Estonian language, culture, society, politics and history, as well as opportunities to learn the Estonian language and enhance skills of translating literature.
  • Nowhere in the world can one get better quality knowledge on these topics than in Estonia, taught by the most distinguished scholars in their field.
  • The MA programme suits not only those who have only passing knowledge of Estonia but also those who have more detailed prior knowledge and wish to enhance their knowledge and skills.
  • All our students will be able to develop their Estonian language skills. Estonian B1 is the minimum requirement for graduation, although the people admitted with higher language level will be able to enhance their skills even further.
  • Estonia is the home for many nations. Listen to the podcasts in Found in Estonia.

Course Outline

Cycle studies

Lectures will be usually held from Thursday to Saturday.

Core course components

During their studies the students must pass a compulsory module of Introduction to Estonian Studies, which consists of courses like Introduction to Estonian StudiesEstonian Regional Studies, Estonian Contemporary Culture, Language and Society, Estonian Politics and Society

The study programme provides opportunities for practical activities like Research Project in Speciality and Master Seminar; the Estonian language level will be enhanced.

Within the electives of Estonian Language, Culture, History and Society students will have a choice of courses, for example:

During the whole two year study period the students will be able to enhance their Estonian language skills and the students specialising in translation of fiction have opportunities to develop relevant skills.

The most recent available study programme can be consulted here:

Study programme 2023/2024

Study Support Facilities

  • The Estonian Studies programme is housed within the School of Humanities and utilises all the facilities made available by Tallinn University. The university campus houses a study library, the main university library situated within easy reach in the city centre. The National Library of Estonia is also in the city centre.
  • Before applying to the programme, one can learn more about Tallinn University while participating in Tallinn Summer School, a 3-week programme running in July, or Tallinn Winter School, a 3-week programme running in January, both combining a wide range of courses with a rich, diverse cultural programme and attracting participants from all over the world.
  • Take a walk around our campus via the virtual tour!
  • Students will have ample opportunities to participate at various literary and cultural events held in Tallinn, including Literary Wednesdays held at the Tallinn Writers' Union, book presentations, Literature Festival HEADREAD, concerts, art exhibitions, visit Estonian museums and other culturally significant places of interest. There are various seminars and conferences.
  • Our main partners for this study programme are the Estonian Literature CentreEstonian InstituteEstonian Writers' Union and the network of Estonian Language teachers in the higher education establishments around the world.


  • Harno is offering scholarships for studying and working in abroad and in Estonia.
  • Scholarship program aimed at supporting the studies of expatriate Estonians in Estonia.

  • Students specialising on translation of Estonian Literature may apply for a scholarship from the Estonian Literature Centre, covering the tuition fee.
  • Estonian Students Fund in USA.

Academic Staff

Piret Viires is the Professor of Estonian Literature and Literary Theory at Tallinn University. She received her doctorate degree in Estonian Literature in 2006 from Tartu University. She has published books on Estonian Literature and postmodernism. The most recently published is Postmodernism in Estonian Literary Culture (2012, Peter Lang Verlag). In addition, she has published many articles, edited scholarly publications, organised conferences. She is a member of various scholarly organisations and editing boards. Her teaching assignments and research have taken her to the University of Turku (Finland), Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), Ohio State University (USA). Piret Viires is a member of the board of the Estonian Writers' Union and has published fiction.

Main research interests: Modern Estonian Literature, postmodernism and post-postmodernism, relationships between literature and technology, digital literature.

Marek Tamm is the Professor of Cultural History and senior research fellow at the School of Humanities in Tallinn University. He is also Head of Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies and of Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts.  Graduated in history and semiotics at the University of Tartu (1998), he earned his master degree in medieval studies from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1999) and his doctorate degree in medieval history from Tallinn University (2009). Author of five books, of some seventy scholarly articles published in Estonian, English and French, and editor of dozen collections of articles.

Main research interests: cultural history of medieval Europe, Estonian historical culture, theory and history of historiography, and cultural memory studies.

Follow his minilectures How Old is Estonia? and What do We Remember From Estonian History?

Karsten Brüggemann is the Professor of Estonian and General History at the School of Humanities of Tallinn University. He received his PhD in history from the University of Hamburg in 1999 with a study of the Russian Civil War in the Baltic region: Die Gründung der Republik Estland und das Ende des ‚Einen und Unteilbaren Rußland‘ (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2002). In 2013, he defended his habilitation at the University of Gießen with a study on the perception of the Baltic provinces in Russian imperial culture that is scheduled to be published in 2017 under the title Licht und Luft des Imperiums. Legimitations- und Repräsentationsstrategien russischer Herrschaft in den Ostseeprovinzen im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz). He is the author of an analysis of musical mass culture in the USSR in the 1930s, Von Krieg zu Krieg, von Sieg zu Sieg (Hamburg: Kovač, 2002), a history of Tallinn, co-authored with Ralph Tuchtenhagen (Tallinn. Eine kleine Geschichte, Köln: Böhlau, 2011; in Estonian published as Tallinna ajalugu, Tallinn: Varrak, 2013) and numerous articles on Baltic and Russian history. Together with Ralph Tuchtenhagen he is the editor of a three-volume history of the Baltic States. He is co-editor (with Mati Laur) of the journal Forschungen zur baltischen Geschichte and member of the editorial board of Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung. Since 2011 he serves as Vice President of Baltische Historische Kommission.

Main research interests: connected with Russian and Soviet history include the history of the Baltic States, civil wars and wars of independence, the cultural history of Stalinism and Late Socialism, national narratives and memory cultures as well as the history of sport and tourism.

Anna Verschik is the Professor of General Linguistics at Tallinn University. Her scholarly interests include topics like Estonian-Russian language contacts, multilingualism on the internet, sociolinguistics in the Baltic countries, contacts of Yiddish in the Baltic area and sociolinguistic situation of post-Soviet countries in a comparative perspective. She teaches subjects related to her research field.

Main research interests: contact linguistics and multilingualism.


Follow her minilecture Will the Estonian language go extinct?

Anne Lange is Associate Professor of Translation Studies at Tallinn University. She is the author of the biography of Ants Oras (2004), an influential Estonian translator and cultural critic of the 1930s–1960s. Her main research interests are in Estonian cultural history and the history of translation with a view to consolidating a historical perspective for Translation Studies and a relevance of Translation Studies for history. She has published in Estonian and in English and she co-edited the volume Between Cultures and Texts.Itineraries in Translation History/Entre les cultures et les texts: Itineraries en histore de la traduction. With an Introduction by Theo Hermans, (Peter Lang, 2011) and the special issue of Methis. Studia Humaniora Estonica on the history of translation in Estonia (2012). Her Tõlkimine omas ajas [Towards a Pragmatic Understanding of Translation in History] (Tallinn University Press, 2015) provides an outline of Estonian translation history.


Tõnis Saarts is the Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at Tallinn University. He comments regularly on topics related to politics in Estonian media and is therefore one of the best known Estonian politologists for the wider audience. His research interests focus on comparative perspectives of Estonian parties and democracy and approaches Estonian political developments in a broader Central and Eastern European context. Saarts has been a guest lecturer in University of Vienna where he lectured on the politics and society of the Baltic States.

Follow his minilecture What is populist democracy?

Admission Requirements

General requirements

Entrance exams

  • The admission exam consists of a written and oral part.
  • As the written part, the applicants submit a motivation letter (one page) explaining why they wish to follow this particular programme at Tallinn University, how will they profit from this experience, career plans related to this degree etc. (should be uploaded to online application system DreamApply in .pdf format)

    In your motivation letter you should explain how you and this particular programme ‘match’ (why you wish to follow this particular programme at Tallinn University, how will you profit from this experience, your career plans related to this degree etc). Look closely on the MA programme and explain which topics and areas covered in the programme specifically fascinate you.

  • The oral part in an interview. Only applicants receiving the minimum required points are invited for an interview. The time of the interview is arranged individually via e-mail. If the date and time offered for an online interview do not suit the applicant it may be possible to delay the interview until the next interview date which is usually in the next month.
  • Student candidates who wish to specialise on translating Estonian literature should also upload a two page sample of a translation (from Estonian into their native language and the Estonian original). Prior knowledge of Estonian is required for this specialisation! 

Important! Only applicants receiving minimum of 28 points for the first round (letter of motivation and research proposal) will be invited for an interview.

For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to record the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.

Assessment of the candidates

1. Letter of Motivation: 40 points (min. required 28 points)
What we assess: Ability to explain the choice of the programme, ability to link your interests to the Estonian Studies programme; ability to comprehend future prospects related to the study field and programme.
2. Interview: 60 points (min. requirement 42 points)
What we assess: Ability to explain the choice of the programme and relate it to future prospects; the motivation and readiness of the candidate to follow the chosen study programme.

For candidates specialising on translating

1. Letter of Motivation: 40 points (min. required 28 points)
What we assess: Ability to explain the choice of the programme, ability to link your interests to the Estonian Studies programme; ability to comprehend future prospects related to the study field and programme.
2. Sample of a translation 15 points (min. requirement 10,5 points)
What we assess: The quality of the translation, the use of Estonian language.
3. Interview: 45 points (min. requirement 31,5 points)
What we assess: Ability to explain the choice of the programme and relate it to future prospects; the motivation and readiness of the candidate to follow the chosen study programme.

How we assess

The examination board will assess each candidate individually based on the criteria. For the written part, each board member will assess the candidates based on the submitted materials and puts the points into a table that calculates the average of the candiate. Based on the average the candidate is invited / not invited for the interview. Only applicants receiving minimum of 28 points for the written part will be invited for an interview. One of the participating board members will be leading the interview, all members may ask questions. After each interview there is a discussion among the board members but points are still entered individually into the table which calculates the average of the points given, and the final subtotal points.
If the candidate has also submitted a sample of translation, the board members will discuss it among themselves before entering the individual points into the table.

Online interviews will be recorded.

Find more information about the deadlines here.

Postgraduate Destinations

Graduate career options

Our graduates will have a balanced knowledge on Estonian language, culture, history and society and have acquired Estonian language at least at B1 level. Such knowledge provides pre-requisites for working in ones home country or in Estonia in the fields of cultural, economic or business relations, as a diplomat, export culture or engage in any type of creative industry. Our graduates will have necessary skills to start translating Estonian literature into foreign languages.

Further study opportunities

Our graduates will be able to continue their studies at PhD level either in Estonia or abroad.

Meet some of our Alumni

I was a fresh-out-of-highschool teenager when I first moved to Estonia. I had successfully graduated but was tired of studying and seeking adventure. So I took a gap year, working as a volunteer in Estonia. What was initially supposed to be one year of adventure turned into something else: I began studying at Tallinn University. After three years of university life, I was once again faced with the question of whether I should stay or leave. Eventually, I decided that I was -once again- going to stay for a bit longer. While I had already started learning Estonian, I felt that I wanted to invest in it more. Additionally, I was looking for a Masters programme that would provide me with a better understanding of Estonian culture and society and, through this, function as a bridge between my Social Science Bachelor and the reality of life around me. “Estonian Studies” ended up being my choice. In addition to helping me understand my life in Estonia better, it also provided practical tools such as Estonian language classes. Last but not least I enjoyed the variety and interdisciplinarity of subjects.

Pursuing this maiden course of Estonian Studies at Tallinn University was not only an honour for me, but it was also my unique way of expressing gratitude to The Republic of Estonia and Tallinn University regarding the opportunities offered to me to pursue higher quality education.  As a student of Estonian Studies, I came to appreciate the contents of the course which covered themes such as culture, language, politics, socio-economic issues and more importantly gaining knowledge into how all these themes inform one’s understanding of “Estonianess”. During the studies I gained significant historical insights and antecedent occurrence of today’s Republic Estonia; this helped me to further understand and appreciate the Estonian Cultural, language, and business acumen characterizing why today’s  Estonia is a desirable destination for entrepreneurs and persons interested in quality education. One strong impression the course left on me was about studying the history of the Estonian Song Festivals - thus causing me to fall in love with the song "Palve"  - my all-time favorite. Without any hesitation, I recommend this course to anyone who is futuristic in nature or forward-looking, pragmatic, and result-oriented; and interested in gaining knowledge about how historical trajectories informed the entrepreneurial mindset that has led a small country to become a global leader in quality education and digital innovations. My appreciation goes to all who directly and indirectly supported me in this journey of creating my own unique “Estonianess”.

Read his blog post


It was a very unique experience for me to study in Estonian Studies programme from 2018. This programme taught me much more than I expected about Estonia, including Estonian language, culture, literature, politics and many other pieces of this amazing country. The programme is well structured to bring you a very clear understanding of Estonia, which also gives you the power to do your own research. I miss school life at Tallinn University very much and recommend everyone who relocates to Estonia or is eager to know more about this fascinating country to apply for it. 


Several years ago, thanks to my friends from Estonia, I started exploring Estonian history and culture. We travelled a lot around towns, villages and islands, discovering new places. Then, I started organizing business trips for international companies and learning about Estonia from the professional side. Finally, I realized that I want to move to a new level of knowledge about Estonia. That matched with the concept of the "Estonian Studies" programme, which combines the Estonian language, culture, literature, and history.

During the Master's program at Tallinn University, I improved my knowledge in humanities, developed new skills, met new interesting people and good friends. I will continue studying the Estonian language and culture and share my inspiration and experience with other people.

2 years of study totally changed my views and added new elements to the life puzzle. This is totally what I was looking for. I wish everyone got this experience, that I gained within the walls of Tallinn University.

I am very proud to be one of the first graduates from Estonian Studies program. It was introduced in 2017, and I was very excited to be a student at this program. Estonian studies gave me an excellent opportunity to improve my Estonian language, as well as learn about Estonian culture, literature, politics, society and many other aspects of Estonia. I graduated in 2019 and I miss very much studying process, as it was super many-sided, inspiring and fascinating. 

Contact Us!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Humanities:
    Maris Peters

aDdressNarva mnt 25, 10120 Tallinn


  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist. 




    • Questions regarding student life at Tallinn University:

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