The goal of the Linguistics PhD programme is to train researchers and instructors in the field of linguistics.

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language English Estonian

Õppekohtade arv 3

A more general objective is to develop skills and abilities for independent research within a chosen field. Students should be able to conduct internationally relevant independent linguistic studies on the topic of the dissertation, to publish results in high-level scholarly journals and to present papers at international conferences.

Our programme will be of interest for the candidates who have their MA or equivalent level of education in the field of linguistics or philology, and wish to engage in application of linguistic theories in research.

Our main areas of expertise include: First language acquisition, Psycholinguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Second language acquisition, Translation studies, Sociolinguistics, Multilingualism and language contacts, Text linguistics, genre and discourse analysis.

Why study with us?

  • Courses are held in the School of Humanities in the form of seminars, lectures and independent work.
  • Doctoral students are expected to contribute to theoretical seminars during the whole period of studies; other courses are conducted mostly in intensive study cycles.
  • The syllabus is flexible and enables every student to organise his/her studies in close cooperation with the supervisor and to choose the optimal training in a given research topic.
  • Deadlines for exams and responsible instructors are appointed individually for each student.
  • In order to obtain international experience, it is possible to participate in conferences, seminars, summer schools and to take courses abroad with the support of the Erasmus programme.
  • Every doctoral student has to draw an individual study plan in cooperation with the supervisor.

Course Outline

Full-time studies

  • PhD studies consist of a course component and a thesis component. Many of the courses are based on individual work and demand close co-operation with the supervisor.
  • Some subject courses and all general courses will have contact meetings. Not all the general courses will be offered in English every year.
  • PhD students must participate in the PhD seminars throughout their studies.
  • The official full-time study period of PhD studies is four years.

Core course components

One of the most important elments of the course component are the seminars, running throughout the four year study period. During these seminars the students will be able to present papers and function as examiners for their fellow students. Individual studies form an important part of the learning experience.

Study programme 2017/2018

Academic Staff

Anna Verschik is the Professor of General Linguistics at Tallinn University. Her scholarly interests inculde 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.





Reili Argus is the Professor of Estonian Language. She has taught regularly psycholinguistics, first language acquisition, language editing and word-formation in Estonian. Her primary interest is the acquisition of Estonian as a first language. The main focus of her research has been on the acquisition of Estonian morphology, as well as on the acquisition of lexico-semantic and pragmatic categories. She works also on topics connected with language planning and practical use of Estonian language. She is a member of the Language Planning Board of the Society of Mother Tongue and the Society of Estonian Language Editors.

Krista Kerge in the Professor of Applied Linguistics and working for Tallinn University (including its predecessors) for thirty years. She is supervising a number of PhD students covering a diverse range of topics. She is facinated by the integration of various linguistic subject areas, the intersections of linguistics and various social sciences, and language as a tool for artistic creation (for example, translation of fiction).

Main research interests: linguistic variation, text and genre analysis, language acquisition, learning and teaching of first and second language, verbal communication (especially legal and administrative communication), syntax and word formation of Estonian text.


Suliko Liiv is the Professor of English at Tallinn University. She graduated from the University of Tartu specialising in Germanic and Romance philology and the teaching of English. She has improved her professional knowledge at different universities in the United Kingdom and the USA. Her doctoral thesis focused on the pronoun "it" in English: formal pronoun "it" as a device for neutralising subjective and objective relations of the predicate.
Her research areas are contrastive linguistics, intercultural communication, foreign language teaching methods, language policy and lexicography.

Study Support Facilities

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Master’s degree or the equivalent.
  • Proof of English Proficiency.

Read more here

Admission Requirements

For general requirements, please read admission to PhD Studies here.

Programme specific requirements:

  • Admission exam (interview) is based on the plan (research proposal) for the doctoral thesis that is agreed with the prospective supervisor. Research proposal drafts for finding a prospective supervisor should be sent to
  • Your research proposal (appr. 2500 words without bibliography) should include at least the following: topic of your intended research, introductory overview of your research project, overview of the present state of the research done on the topic in the world, research objectives and approach (methodology), what research you have done already on this topic (if relevant) and what are the expected preliminary results of your thesis, why is it reasonable to carry out this project in Estonia, references/preliminary bibliography. If your intended research includes fieldwork, please describe the scope and duration of it, add a provisional budget and indicate the possible sources for financing.
  • It is recommended to decide at an early stage whether the thesis will be a monograph or article collection, as well as the language(s) of the dissertation (it is acceptable if the article dissertation contains articles in different languages). An approval of the supervisor is required on the final proposal (the hard copy of research proposal) that is to be uploaded to the online application system along with the rest of the documents like the CV of the candidate with the full list of publications. Please use pdf format for these documents.
  • During the interview the Admission Committee asks candidates about their studies, research interests and plans for PhD studies.

See also the detailed guidelines on application procedure at Tallinn University site.

Notable Alumni

"The Linguistics PhD studies at Tallinn University gave me enhanced knowledge in linguistics which has made it possible to hold my present position at the same university as a professor. It enabled me to become and remain both updated on the current issues of the Estonian linguistics and to blend into the networks of international European networks of child language research".

Browse her thesis

"Russian-Estonian language contact interested me. After completing my Estonian philology MA programme at Tallinn University I decided to enter a doctoral level as during the defence I was recommended to write a germane monograph in Estonian. The internationality of a PhD programme in linguistics created great opportunities to study different aspects of language contacts in Estonia. After a postdoc at the University of Tartu I returned to work in an area of Estonian as a second language and intercultural communication".

Postgraduate Destinations

Graduate career options

Internationally accredited PhD diploma opens positions that require a doctoral degree. 

Further study opportunities

Our graduates are encouraged to pursue Post-Doc studies and individual academic development.

Contact Us!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Humanities:
    Maris Peters
  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist.