Social Work PhD

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language Estonian English

Available places 2

Cost per semester 0

Degree awarded filosoofiadoktor


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.
See study program here

Course Outline

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.



Admission Requirements

2024/25. priority topics for admission:

1) Shaping social policy, involving citizens in finding sustainable social policy solutions that address risks and
challenges and balance the interests of different socio-demographic groups.
Potential supervisors: Lauri Leppik, Anu Toots, Kersti Kriisk

2) Classical social work and the profession of social worker, the development and trends in child welfare in the
context of social work, specialisation in social work (health care, prison, probation, victim support system,
special care and rehabilitation services), evidence-based practices in social work.
Potential supervisors: Lauri Leppik, Karmen Toros, Marju Medar, Ingrid Sindi

3) The European Care Strategy and its reflection in Estonia, the care reform in Estonia, the problem of care
workforce, professionalisation of care within the framework of general social work, management in care,
shortage of qualified care workers, labour migration, regulation of labour relations and social protection of
care workers.
Potential supervisors: Anu Toots, Lauri Leppik, Kersti Kriisk

4) Community mobilisation in crisis situation, cooperation between local government, community and NGOs in
crisis situation, the role of the social protection frontline worker in initiating and implementing community-
centred co-creative projects.
Potential supervisors: Mariann Märtsin, Karmen Toros

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:

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Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Governance, Law and Society:  Triin Vendik   phone: 6409 452  E-mail:

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

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