Social Work PhD

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language Estonian English

Number of studies 2


Duration: 4 years (8 semesters)
Cost: Free
Language of Instruction: Estonian, English
Field of Study: Health Sciences
Conferred Degree: PhD (Social Work)

Detailed study programme is available here

Objectives of the Programme:

  • to create opportunities for acquiring the highest scientific qualification in social work;
  • to support the development of competencies for a professional career as an independent expert in the field of social work;
  • to create pre-conditions for the development of a new generation of researchers and lecturers with independent research skills for institutions of higher education and for social welfare and health institutions.

Learning Outcomes:

  • has expanded knowledge and systematic overview in social work, in-depth knowledge on a specific research topic;
  • possesses knowledge and skills for implementation of social and health sciences research methods;
  • has skills for independent critical analysis and synthesis;
  • has knowledge and skills for participating in international research and development activities;
  • is able to plan, implement and critically evaluate professional research and development actions;
  • is able to present the results of their research  orally and in writing both  in Estonian and a foreign language to international scientific communication (in conferences and in scientific publications);
  • is able to communicate specialized knowledge,  supervise scientific work and  arrange professional studies;
  • is able to participate in social discussions,  present results of their research in argumentative form and influence social decision-making processes.

What Do We Expect from an Applicant?

We recommend that you consider an application to the doctoral study of social work if you wish:

  • to acquire in-depth knowledge of the science of social work;
  • to develop skills to participate in the research and development of social work and social policy, present research results in the international scientific literature of social work and at conferences;
  • to develop skills for working as a university lecturer for forwarding knowledge of social work, social policy and organise specialised training;
  • to participate in public discussions, present research results in a well-reasoned manner and influence the social decision-making processes.

Autumn Admission 2019

School of Governance, Law and Society has announced Autumn admission for the following thesis projects:

  • The impact of ICT transformations on everyday life and well-being of the digital generation (children and young people) at home, at school, during leisure time and in wider community.
    The PhD research proposal should be aimed at developing knowledge how children and young people use and are affected by ICT transformations in their everyday life. One goal is to understand why and how well-being of some children and young people benefit from ICT use while others seem to be impacted negatively. The focus should be on children and young people (from 0-18 years of age), a group growing up today that is described as the digital generation. The methodological approach should be aimed at participatory methodologies that move the focus from “research on” children and young people to a focus of “research with” children and young people. The PhD research proposal should deal with a set of systems (one or several of them) that are important in young people’s lives – family (the home), leisure, education and the wider community (civic participation). The PhD position is linked with the H2020 DigiGen project.
    Number of study places: 1

    Contact: Merike Sisask, Professor of Social Health Care,

  • Restructuring health services provided by midwives – national, educational-organisational and societal / community needs
    The PhD proposal should be aimed at dealing with processes in society that are related to restructuring the health services provided by midwives in Estonia in recent years, in order to provide input into the themes of development of health and regional policy, democracy and active citizenship, and development of the profession of midwife. Methodologically qualitative approach is expected. The PhD position is linked with the research projects of Tallinn Health Care College.
    Number of study places: 1

    Contact: Anu Toots, Professor of Social Policy,

Admission Requirements

For general requirements, please read admission to PhD Studies.

Programme specific requirements:

  • Admission exam(interview) is based on the plan for the doctoral thesis that is agreed with the prospective supervisor. Information about the plan for the doctoral thesis:

Structure of the PhD proposal (5-10 pages+references):        

  • (1) the subject of the doctoral thesis, including a brief summary of the research problem that the doctoral thesis seeks to solve
  • (2) objectives of the research, main research questions and tasks or work hypotheses
  • (3) a brief overview of the most important thematic previous studies and theoretical standpoints with literature references
  • (4) the data and research methods that are intended to be used to solve the research problem, including sampling principles
  • (5) work plan, resources necessary for doctoral studies and potential risks
  • 6) why did you choose Tallinn University?

* The PhD proposal must be agreed upon and signed by a potential supervisor.

Supervisors contacts can be found here:

Supervisors research fields can be found here:

Contact us!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Governance, Law and Society:
    Ave Põldmets-Ruut
    Academic Counsellor - Specialist


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