Author: Andero Kalju

Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies


2 January

Application system opens

15 March

Application deadline

30 April

Admission results

2 September

Academic year starts
Level of study
Study language
Duration and credits
2 years , 120 ECTS
Form of study
Regular study
Student places
Tuition fee
4,000 EUR/year
Tuition waivers
  • The University of Tartu belongs to the top 350 universities in the world (see Rankings and Surveys).
  • There is a growing need for cultural heritage and policy specialists as more states worldwide join the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • The University of Tartu hosts the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage, one of the seven chairs in the world, and participates in the new Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's in Education in Museums and Heritage.
  • You can choose between two specialisations: analysis of folklore and cultural heritage or study and application of the heritage of craft. You will receive individual mentoring to develop your academic and professional career. Studies are completed with a master's thesis or a practically oriented master's project. 
  • After graduation, you can pursue a doctoral degree, work as a specialist in the burgeoning field of (intangible) cultural heritage and utilise your expertise to contribute to the business sector. 


The Folkloristics and Applied Heritage master's programme opened in 2017 with the mission of training specialists who are well-versed in scholarly approaches to folk culture and cultural heritage and competent to use this expertise creatively in academia and beyond. Heritage has emerged as a key category shaping how individuals, communities and regional and state-level actors relate to the past and imagine the future while making and re-making themselves in the present. Our remarkably diverse student body attests to the global relevance and appeal of this field.

The programme is affiliated with the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage, established as part of the Institute for Cultural Research in 2019. The UNESCO Chair conducts research on cultural heritage and cultural diversity and heritage matters more broadly, prepares students for their future in this dynamic field, and collaborates with heritage professionals near and far. 

Students also benefit from the institute's participation in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's programme Education in Museums and Heritage (EDUMaH), to be launched in 2023, which broadens the course offerings.

The Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies master's programme helps students to develop a solid basis in the study of folklore and critical heritage studies as well as many transferable skills, enabling them to:

  • unpack the workings of tradition and the process of heritage production in the context of cultural diversity and change
  • act as a mediator between different interest groups in the field of intangible cultural heritage
  • recognise and ethically apply cultural heritage as a resource in the public and non-governmental sectors, crafts, product design, tourism, and other areas of life.

Watch the programme director talk about the programme and a student share their experience during the Online Open Doors 2022.

Why choose the University of Tartu?

The University of Tartu provides a broad yet rigorous approach to cultural heritage and vernacular cultural practices. Three of the university's units specialise in distinct aspects of this field: Departments of Ethnology and Folklore and the UT Viljandi Culture Academy in Viljandi, located about 80 kilometres from Tartu. 

The faculty-student ratio is low, and students benefit from course offerings of other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. There are ample opportunities to gain diverse hands-on experiences and to network through scholarly meetings, guest lectures, internships, and exhibitions, as well as through cooperation with memory institutions and enterprises. Many students tap into the various study abroad opportunities offered by the University of Tartu.

"I have a BSc in Geography from the University of London, but on completion decided that I wanted to continue my studies in a direction which would allow me to pursue my interest in Gender Studies and Cultural Anthropology. I am particularly interested in the gender narrative of fairy tales and ghost stories, which has also led me to an interest in the manufacturing of heritage and the inevitable ethical conundrums there. I was attracted to Tartu by the supportive staff who have not let my science background hold me back, as well as the diverse community environment here, and the beautiful physical environment Estonia has to offer. The university also encourages a diversity in interests which they allow you to reflect in your module options, allowing you to create a base of knowledge tailored to your interests."

Lily Jane Cartland, United Kingdom

"An artisan in leather and metal and returning student, I came to the program from the United States. I'm presently fulfilling my dream of exploring the intersection of vernacular religion and material culture." 

Jerry “Tam” Iverson, USA

"I have a professional BA degree in Material Design and Technology from Riga Technical University. I've always been very curious about different cultures, their traditions and world-views, and I love photography and writing. I was looking for an MA program where I could see all my interests overlapping, so I found Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies in Tartu. My current research interests focus on Pamirs, Tajikistan. In addition, I'm very interested in folk music and I play in the Latvian post-folklore band "Daba San"."

Solveiga Kalva, Latvia

"Studying foreign languages and intercultural communication as major subjects for my BA degree, I caught myself at a thought that we often know a lot about others and so little about ourselves. That is how my interest to Belarusian traditional culture began. After working as a research fellow in a local crafts centre, doing internship in an open-air museum in Germany, participating in several public initiatives related to folk culture, I decided to continue my academic education in this field. Being particularly interested in crafts and trying to balance on a point where academia and everyday life meet, I find Tartu and this particular program to be a perfect choice for studies in terms of both theory and practice."

Siarhiej Makarevič, Belarus

"I got my BA degree in Art History from the University of Belgrade. My research interests revolve around the cultural heritage of Balkans, particularly Serbian. Currently, I’m focused on understanding processes of UNESCO intangible heritage nominations, nationalization of folklore, relations between heritage and identity and political folklore. Not only that switch to a field of folklore is enriching my research tools but is also facilitated by thoughtful and helpful teaching stuff and well-designed study programme."

Katarina Stradner, Serbia

"I got my bachelor’s Diploma in Liberal Arts Faculty at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. My research interests are related to vernacular religion in the Republic of Dagestan and to the modern life and oral history of remoted communities at the North of Russia."

Makar Tereshin, Russia

"My research focuses on woodworkers, their economical network, group identity, lifestyle and relationship to wood as a material. I am also studying how craftsmen and woodworkers present their work: how the tradition is presented. In addition, I am interested in the protection of heritage, especially in problems related to illicit trafficking in conflict zones. I chose this program because it has a practical outcome and I trust the teaching quality."

Ragnar Kruusimaa, Estonia

"Before arriving here in Tartu, the peaceful, calm and quiet city, I was really into literature and with a special focus on adopting oral narrative as a form in my stories ended up loving folklore. Now my interest has really evolved thanks to the wonderful professors here and I am currently working on Syncretic Folk Religion of Bangladesh, my home country, and its decay into a more institutional structure."

Rasel Ahmed, Bangladesh

"I obtained my M.Phil. degree from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad in Cultural Anthropology. During my M.Phil. I worked on women’s construction in Punjabi Proverbs that intrigued me to study folklore at the University of Tartu. My research interests are centred around the folk-wisdom, gender construction and the caste system. Besides, I am very interested in rituals, festivals and the anthropology of religion. The University’s diverse research environment provides an opportunity for you to learn and reflect your knowledge based on your interests"

Sohail Arshad, Pakistan

"I got my BA degree in Business administration and economics at the University of Tartu. Currently, I am applying an interdisciplinary approach to numismatics and philately. My primary focus is the identity-framing processes, non-verbal communication, and ritualistic practices that involve money. As a side project, I am also collecting information regarding student life in Tartu including contemporary folklore."

Gleb Gomankov, Russia

"I’m from Portland, Oregon in the U.S., and got my bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Community Development. Before moving to Tartu, I worked as a career coach at a computer programming school and spent a number of years learning about issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This led me to become intimately aware of the importance of people having an outlet for expressing their voice and story. At UT I’m studying zines and zine-making (small self-published magazines) -- an art form that is all about self-expression and fighting back against institutional barriers. The Folkloristics and Applied Heritage program at UT has given me the freedom to explore different art and craft forms while also providing the theoretical structure to analyze their application."

Audrey Scrugham, USA

"I have a BA in Design from ITES0 in Guadalajara, México, then I studied a specialisation in Textil Design at EDINBA in Mexico City. I’ve worked in graphic, editorial and textil design, the latter in dye-sub printing. After graduating I created a collective textile project to preserve collective memory of the mass kidnapping in Ayotzinapa, México. My research focuses on preservation of textiles, craftsmanship, gender, tradition and identity. UT has been a turning point to understand folklore, culture and the way they shape contemporary society. "

Israel Palacios Fierro, Mexico

"It took 27 years and four changes of major before I finally completed a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Sociology. Hopefully, my master's will be a little more straightforward.  During this adventure, I wore a number of hats, including metal sculptor, law enforcement officer, and theme park mascot.  Somewhere along the winding path I took to Tartu, I fell in love with the various ways people tell the same stories and sing the same songs.  I look forward to studying those small adaptations, and how they help people define themselves and their communities, during my time here."

Aaron Scott Reed, USA

"I am a lifelong knitter from the US who has studied Estonian knitting from afar for many years and have a deep love of the country in general thanks to several extended trips here over the years. My bachelor’s degree is in Dance Performance from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. My background is in many fields, but includes traditional textile crafts (knitting, crochet, weaving), the impact of creative practice on local communities, and the intersection of the arts and entrepreneurship. While here, my hope is to do field research on the handicraft practices of Setomaa."

Emily Celeste Watts, USA

"I have conducted extensive ethnography on ghostlore, ethno-spirituality, ethno-medicine etc. in the deep hills of Bangladesh for my honours degree in Anthropology. It is evident from my interests that if I were a cat, the department of Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies offered by UT is the comfortable box where I fit. I cannot stress enough on how the institutional help including resources and faculty members' cooperation is leading me to be a stronger, more efficient researcher on my field."

Rash-Ha Muntaqaa, Bangladesh

Initially I attended the University of Tartu through a study abroad program in 2015/16 while studying for my Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinarian Studies. During that time I discovered folkloristics and knew I would have to come back in 2017 when the new master’s program opened in English. I am happy to say I am now in the Folkloristics and Applied Heritage program and it is even better then I imagined it would be. I am interested in animal-human relationships, and although it is not the mainstream idea behind the program, my department has supported me and challenged me to push the boundaries of what I want to achieve.

Denise McKeown (Canada) defended her MA project (Massive Open Online Course MOOC) "Folklore and the vernacular of companion dog cloning" on 24.05.2019


"I got my Bachelor’s Diploma in Ethnology at Charles University in Prague. My research topics are related to post-Soviet space (especially Moldova), memory studies, political folklore, contemporary folklore (urban legends, rumours etc.) and relations between folklore and nationalism. I like folk dances and folk songs from Eastern Europe."

Kateřina Fuksová (Czech Republic) defended her MA thesis “Memory of Stalinist deportations in Moldova: an analysis of Chisinau memoryscape” on 25.06.2019


"I graduated from the Belarusian State University in Cultural Studies. Now I am interested in Jewish studies, especially material heritage, and am looking at old cemeteries from the point of view of identity and memory studies. I like Tartu as it is really a university town: convenient and compact, you can enjoy silence when you need to and find opportunities to have fun. In university life I appreciate the diversity of subjects, freedom in creating curriculum and cordial relations between students and professors."

Yuliya Len (Belorussia) defended her MA thesis “Jewish community of Berdychiv and the early Soviet policies” on 24.05.2019


"I have a BA in Anthropology from the University of Bologna. I chose this program for its good teaching skills and interdisciplinary approach, due to my broad interests not only in folkloristics and anthropology but also in different other subjects. I am interested in folk beliefs and narratives, mainly in the contemporary world, as well as in the relationship between folklore, science, modernity, and post-modernity. If you are interested in an academic career, this programme offers you many opportunities to practise your writing skills, take part in conferences and attend lectures by visiting professors: it can be really helpful for you!"

Michele Tita (Italy) defended his MA thesis “Tarantism: from an Ancient Syndrome to a New Form of Heritage in Southern Italy” on 24.05.2019

My research interests are cultural policy development, heritage finance, cultural tourism and cultural innovation. This programme offers a gateway to the continuation of studies at the PhD level while being at the same time centred on practice with loving, caring and super helpful teaching staff

Mohammad Abu Sayed Toyon (Bangladesh) defended his MA thesis "Opportunities and Challenges in promoting culture: an empirical study on cultural institutions of Tartu" on 27.08.2019

"My research interests are traditional crafts, heritage of craftwork, preservation of crafts and cultural development. In my view, “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” help us to understand ourselves. We are gaining new pieces of information about our origin, our contemporary life and where our life is heading for. This program is also introducing us to different cultures and societies and giving us the tools to explore them. Faculty is highly skilled and very friendly."

Nurjahan Hadi (Bangladesh) defended her MA thesis "Transformation of a traditional textile craft: A case study of Nakshi Kantha" on 27.08.2019

"I obtained a BA in Social Justice and International Cross-Cultural Awareness with a focus on Gender Studies, Diversity, and Cultural Anthropology from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in Colorado and conducted MA studies with the University of Oregon Folklore Program of Eugene in the United States. I have experience working in folklore archives, museums, as a field supervisor and research assistant examining gender dynamics within traditional Okinawan family structures in Japan. I have a strong interest in ethnomusicology and perform with various folk and early music ensembles. My current academic endeavours focus on the diachronic study of spirituality, mysticism, ritual songs, and magic of Japanese and Finno-Ugric traditions, with an emphasis on gender and the construction of identity. I am passionate about the conscious engagement with heritage and folklore as a form of empowerment."

Savannah Rivka Powell (USA) defended her MA thesis "Songs for the end of Kyriarchy: Care and repair through critical emancipatory historiography in folk ensembles" on 27.08.2019

"My research topic is vernacular journalism in interwar Western Belarus. While studying in Tartu, I have been receiving a lot of help and support from my mentors. Also, cold weather is great at keeping me home and studying."

Paulina Vituščanka (Lithuania) defended her MA thesis  "Vernacular Belarusian writing in the Eastern provinces of the Second Polish Republic: a case study of narratives from the Lithuanian Central State Archives 368.1.22 and 368.1.49." on 29.06.2020

"I graduated the Moscow State University and the Russian State University for the Humanities having a background in philosophy, religious studies and folk beliefs. At the University of Tartu, I am doing my MA thesis about magic practices and magical thinking in contemporary Armenia. For those who are interested in folklore, craft and anthropology I really recommend this MA programme!"

Amaliya Prtavyan (Russia) defended her MA thesis "Magic and its Social Context in Contemporary Armenia: From Belief Narratives to Family Relations." on 29. 06.2020

"I obtained my BA degree at the University of Augsburg in European Cultural History. During my Erasmus+ semester, I discovered Estonia and its beautiful university city Tartu and knew I wanted to come back for my Masters. My research interests are centred around the Baltic-Germans in Estonia in the 19th century, in particular, the collected folklore materials of the Learned Estonian Society. Through computational folkloristics, I am trying to establish an accessible database of the archival materials."

Larissa Leiminger (Germany) defended her MA project (online database and website) "Issues of Access and Context of Archival Folklore Materials: Presenting the Manuscript Collection of the Learned Estonian Society in an Explorative Database." on 24.08.2020

"I have an MA in French Philology from the Polar Academy in Saint Petersburg. My research interests include folklore, vernacular religion, and socio-cultural transformations in Inner Asia, especially in Southern Siberia and Northern Mongolia. In the past, I have conducted editorial work at the Tuva Institute of Natural Resources of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences."

Victorina Soyan (Russia) defended her MA thesis "Belief Narratives Relating to the Supernatural in the Nomadic Pastoralist Context of Encounters (on the Social Network Material of a Tyvan-Speaking Group)" on 24.08.2020.

"I am from Karbi Anglong district of Assam, India. I have a BA in Sociology from the Hindu College, Delhi University. My MA thesis focuses on funeral practices among Karbis of Northeast India and on re-cremating the dead, in particular. It is really exciting to be in this programme and to learn more about my own culture. The teachers are very kind, resourceful, supportive and patient. Tartu is really beautiful, peaceful and serene, the right space for any aspiring scholars pursuing higher studies."

Theang Teron (India) defended his MA thesis  "The Mosera Epics in Karbi Ritual: Documentation and Problem of Textualization." on 24.08.2020

"I'm from Hawai'i, USA and obtained my Humanities BA at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Some of my research interests consist of group memory in relation to landscape and food, how food is enacted as a means of political statements and movements, sense of belonging, manifesting and maintaining an identity as well as a means of communicating with others, ourselves and the environment. The Folklore and Applied Heritage Studies program is an innovative and exciting program, from the content to the brilliant professors. Tartu is a small though welcoming and active city where it is easy to find oneself having a full schedule of school and other activities."

Nichole Michelle (Pono) Weimer (USA) defended her MA project (photo and sound exhibition) "Culturing Goat Milk: Estonian Goat Milk Farming and Artisanal Made Products." on 24.08.2020


Programme highlights in video

The programme comprises seven modules, and students collaborate with the faculty to design several of them to support their individual professional goals. For example, students choose to complete their studies with a conventional master’s thesis or a master’s project that consists of a written component and a theoretically grounded practical component. Master’s projects have included exhibitions, podcast series, study materials, and documentation of a craft tradition. 

The programme offers two specialisations to choose from:

  • Analysis of folklore and cultural heritage
  • Study and application of the heritage of craft

The University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy offers craft specialisation and focuses on the study of craft. Prior familiarity with crafts is an advantage but not a prerequisite. 

Internships and other opportunities to combine theory with practice are built into the curriculum. Students are encouraged to study abroad, develop their digital humanities skills, and broaden their horizons by taking courses offered by neighbouring departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.  

Course and module details

This programme structure is the latest one confirmed by the university. Next year's modules will be updated by 15 April. Significant changes to the programme will be announced in advance on this website. Check the Study Information System for the latest updates.

Curriculum version:

This curriculum structure is the latest one confirmed by the university. Next year's version will be entered into the Study Information System by 15 April. Significant changes to the structure will be announced in advance on this website.
More info: Study Information System


Aet Annist

  • Associate Professor, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD in Anthropology (University College London, 2007)
  • Research interests: social fragmentation, anthropology of development, post-socialism, migration, heritage management institutions
  • Teaching: anthropology of globalisation; previously anthropology of economics, anthropology of consumption, research methods, introduction to anthropology, anthropological theories, subcultural theories, methods in criminology 
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Madis Arukask

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD in Estonian and Comparative Folklore (University of Tartu, 2003)
  • Research interests: cultural processes, folk culture and vernacular belief systems of Fenno-Ugric peoples, the mythology of Kalevala-metric songs
  • Teaching: Estonian folk songs: sources, theories and types; Estonian history and regional studies; cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Anastasiya Astapova

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2015)
  • PhD (Russian Academy of Sciences, 2016)
  • Research interests: political folklore, humour, post-Soviet states, migration, nationalism
  • Teaching: international folkloristics, political folklore and nationalism, Belarusian political folklore, migration and refugees
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Ester Bardone

  • Lecturer, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2013)
  • Research interests: rural tourism and  small-scale rural entrepreneurship; production, interpretation and uses of cultural heritage; historical and contemporary food culture
  • Teaching: ethnographic research methods, applied anthropology, research seminar in ethnology and folkloristics and in cultural management, academic writing, food culture
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Tiiu Jaago

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 1991)
  • Research interests: metaphorical language and socio-historical background of Estonian old folk songs (regilaul), real-life narratives, popular understandings of history, history of folklore studies
  • Teaching: oral popular history, old Estonian folk songs, the historiography of Estonian folkloristics, folkloristic research methods
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Kirsti Jõesalu

  • Research Fellow, Lecturer, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2017)
  • Research interests: memory studies, Soviet and Post-Soviet every day, oral history
  • Teaching: European ethnology, social memory and heritage, everyday life in 20th century.
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Kristi Jõeste

  • Lecturer, Program Manager of Estonian Native Textiles, Department of Estonian Native Crafts
  • MA (University of Tartu, 2008)
  • Research interests: craft studies, ethnosemiotics
  • Teaching: Estonian native textile techniques, craft studies research methods
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Risto Järv

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2005)
  • Research interests: folk narratives, fairy tales today, folklore and tourism
  • Teaching: Estonian folktales: sources and theories, archiving practices in folklore archives
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Kristel Kivari

  • Research Fellow, “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Programme Coordinator, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2016)
  • Research interests: folk beliefs, contemporary alternative discourses
  • Teaching: folkloristic fieldwork, vernacular religion
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Kristin Kuutma

  • Professor of Cultural Studies, holder of the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Washington, 2002)
  • Research interests: theories of cultural research; historiography of cultural research and reflexive cultural critique; cultural symbols as representation; cultural heritage and social processes in the global context; cultural politics and international relations; cultural heritage and the manifestation of identity
  • Teaching: cultural theories in ethnology, folkloristics and cultural anthropology; social memory and cultural heritage; seminar in ethnology: cultural practices and identity politics
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Ene Kõresaar

  • Associate Professor of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2004)
  • Research interests: cultural and social memory, post/communism, World War II, oral history, history of ethnology
  • Teaching: ethnographic sources, the autobiographical in the study of the 20th century, history of Estonian ethnology, social memory and cultural heritage, oral history
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Art Leete

  • Professor of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2000)
  • Research interests: religious change in Siberia and Russian North, ethnic processes in the Russian North, history of ethnographic imagination, indigenous peoples and museums
  • Teaching: Introduction to ethnology and cultural anthropology, applied anthropology, Siberian ethnography, academic writing
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Margaret Lyngdoh

Ave Matsin

  • Head of the Department of Estonian Native Crafts, Programme Director of the Native Crafts MA-programme, Lecturer in Estonian Native Textiles
  • MA (Estonian Academy of Arts, 2002)
  • Research interests: craft studies, archaeological textile reconstruction, traditional textile technologies and tools
  • Teaching: native textile techniques, craft studies research methods
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Merili Metsvahi

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2007)
  • Research interests: women in folklore, Estonian family history, folk narratives, legends, werewolf beliefs
  • Teaching: folkloristic fieldwork methods, Estonian folk religion, teaching folklore at school, women in Estonian folklore and society
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Liivo Niglas

  • Research Fellow
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2020)
  • Research interests: visual anthropology, ethnographic film, animism, Arctic cultures
  • Teaching: visual anthropology, visual methods in ethnology, ethnographic research methods
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Jonathan Roper

  • Associate Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Sheffield, 2003)
  • Research interests: short forms, poetics
  • Teaching: folklore history and theory, textualization of oral forms, folklore outside the archive, alliteration, semiotic and cognitive approaches to folklore
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Elo-Hanna Seljamaa

  • Associate Professor, “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Programme Director, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (The Ohio State University, 2012)
  • Research interests: ethnic interactions, lived diversity, performance, post-Soviet and post-socialist societies, history of folklore studies
  • Teaching: ethnographic research methods, multiculturalism, performance theory
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Pihla Maria Siim

  • Research Assistant, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • MA (University of Joensuu, 2000)
  • Research interests: narrative research, transnational families, children and mobility, multilocality, belonging
  • Teaching: tradition and identity in a multicultural society
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Ülo Valk

  • Professor of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 1994)
  • Research interests: folklore in a social context, folk narratives, vernacular religion, folk belief and magic, history of folkloristics
  • Teaching: international folkloristics, genre theory, South Asian folklore, demonology
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Laur Vallikivi

  • Associate Professor, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD (University of Cambridge, 2011)
  • Research interests: conversion to Christianity, missionisation, animism, Arctic cultures, nomadism 
  • Teaching: concepts in anthropology, Finno-Ugric cultures, anthropology of Christianity
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Aimar Ventsel

  • Associate Professor, Department of Ethnology
  • PhD (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, 2005)
  • Research interests: regional politics of Russian Far East, ethnic identity in Russian Far East, civil Islam in Kazakhstan, class and ethnicity, Estonian Soviet-era pop music
  • Teaching: Introduction to the anthropological theory on culture and social processes, punk rock and other subcultures, Siberian indigenous people
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

Ergo-Hart Västrik

  • Lecturer, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore
  • PhD (University of Tartu, 2007)
  • Research interests: history of representation, mythology, Finno-Ugric minorities in northwest Russia, vernacular religion and native faiths
  • Teaching: Introduction to folkloristics, myth and mythology, archives in folklore studies, Finno-Ugric cultures
  • CV and the full list of publications (Estonian Research Portal)

As of 2022, 31 students have graduated from this programme. Many have continued their academic journeys in graduate programmes in Europe and North America, while others are employed in public or private sector jobs. Our graduates’ career paths confirm that the programme helps students gain valuable analytical, writing and communication skills and multifaceted practical experiences that they can apply in many areas of life. 

Most importantly, this programme seeks to train experts in folk culture who are knowledgeable about the functions and application opportunities of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and familiar with cultural policy processes. Graduates can guide the development of the field and act as mediators between communities, officials, enterprises, memory institutions and other participants in the process of heritage production. They can plan and carry out research and business projects on cultural heritage. As more states worldwide join the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the need grows for specialists capable of analysing cultural heritage and using it responsibly as a social and economic resource. 

Admission requirements for Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies

NB! Citizens of the Russian Federation who, under the legislation of the Republic of Estonia, cannot apply for a long-stay visa or residence permit to study or do not have a valid legal basis to stay in the Republic of Estonia until the end of the curriculum’s standard period of study are not eligible to apply to the University of Tartu in the 2024/2025 academic year.

According to the current legislation, citizens of Belarus can apply for Estonian long-term visa or temporary residence permit for studies and are therefore eligible to apply to the University of Tartu.


Applications are evaluated based on

  • the score of the motivation letter (yields 50% of the final score)

  • the admission interview (yields 50% of the final score)

The motivation letter must be submitted with your online application by 15 March at the latest.

The Motivation letter is used to evaluate the applicant's motivation to study in the programme “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies”. We strongly advise you to familiarise yourself with the content and structure of the programme before writing the letter of motivation.

The letter (5000-6000 characters with spaces) must be written in English and address the following questions:

  • Why are you applying to this master’s programme?
  • How does your educational, professional and/or other relevant background make you a suitable candidate for this programme?
  • Which specialisation and/or topic(s) would you like to focus on and why?
  • How do you see your future after graduation from this master’s programme? How does this programme contribute to the achievement of your professional goals?
  • Other information about you that you consider relevant in the context of this master’s programme.

You may attach up to five files illustrating your previous work discussed in the letter of motivation (fieldwork, crafts, exhibitions organised, etc.). The files are to be uploaded via DreamApply application system.

Evaluation criteria:

  • reasoning in describing research interests and professional goals (max 40%);
  • fit between the applicant’s background and the content and goals of the programme (max 30%);
  • analytical, argumentation and self-expression skills (max 30%).

Applicants who receive a positive evaluation result (at least 51% of the maximum score) for their motivation letter are invited to the second stage, admission interview.

The interview is designed to determine the applicant's readiness for continuous learning, professional development, and aptitude to study in the master’s programme.

The applicant will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • motivation and fields of interests pointed out in the motivation letter (max 30%);
  • fit between the applicant’s goals and those of the programme (max 30%);
  • skills in analysis, argumentation, and self-expression in English (max 30%);
  • readiness for continuous learning and professional development (max 10%).

The minimum positive score for the admission interview is 51 points out of 100 points.


General information regarding the online admission interview

The University of Tartu uses different video communication programmes to conduct an online interview (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype). The admissions committee will notify you, which software programme will be used and when does the interview take place. Interviews will be scheduled between April 15 - 19, 2024.

The applicant needs the following for the online interview:

  • a computer or smart device. The computer or smart device must have a web camera, earphones and microphone (built-in or separate). As the applicant must be visually identified at the interview, the use of the web camera is mandatory, not recommended;
  • The internet connection with a speed of at least 1 Mb/s (upload/download) is recommended for the video call.

At the online interview:

  • the applicant must have an identity document;
  • the applicant has to ensure that the room where they stay is free from other persons or background noise;
  • the applicant must take into account that they are not allowed to record the interview.

For each assignment, the maximum score is 100 points and minimum positive score 51 points. Only the candidates who receive at least 51 points from the motivation letter, will be invited to the interview. After the interview, the final admission score is calculated. Only those applicants who score 66 points or higher (out of 100) as a combined score from both the motivation letter and the interview, will be considered for admission.

For further information on assessing candidates´ academic performance and calculating admissions´ score see here.

How to apply


The following information applies to international students and Estonian students who graduated abroad:

The application system opens on 2 January and closes on 15 March. The following documents must be submitted electronically via DreamApply by 15 March:

  1. online application
  2. motivation letter
  3. official certified copy of the bachelor's diploma or its equivalent and Diploma Supplement (transcript) in the original language (must include a description of the grading scale). 
    NB! Applicants graduating in the upcoming spring/summer and having their diploma and final transcript issued later than the application deadline should electronically submit their most recent official transcript (including also the grades/results for the last autumn semester) by the application deadline. The transcript should be supplemented by an official statement from the issuing institution indicating current enrollment and expected graduation date. Admitted candidates are required to post certified copies of their graduation documents as soon as these have been issued (no later than by the end of July).
  4. official certified translation of the bachelor’s diploma and Diploma Supplement (transcript) into English. As certified translations we consider 1) official translations made by the issuing institution (university) bearing their original signature, stamp etc, or 2) translations certified by a sworn translator or notary.
  5. proof of English language proficiency
  6. copy of the passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
  7. confirmation/receipt of application fee payment (if applicable). All international applicants are required to pay the application fee EUR 100, unless they have completed the previous study level in Estonia. An application will only be processed after the fee has been received by the UT. 

Submitted applications can not be edited. It is only possible to upload new documents (e.g. graduation certificates). Applicants will receive feedback and notifications through the DreamApply system to their e-mail. Incomplete applications or those submitted by e-mail will not be considered for admission.

Guide to submitting an electronic application on DreamApply.

NB: The University of Tartu has no official partnerships with agents or educational representatives. We strongly recommend applying directly to the university without the help of unauthorised third-party entities. Should you use such a service, please ensure that your application's contact information is your personal details (your e-mail, phone number, etc.).

The evaluation of applications will be made based on the electronic copies added to DreamApply. A general ranking list will be formed based on the electronically submitted applications and admission results (including offers) will be announced to all applicants personally via DreamApply by April 30 at the latest. Admitted candidates are expected to accept or decline the offer in DreamApply in 7 days. If the decision is not communicated to UT via DreamApply by the stipulated deadline, UT reserves the right to withdraw the admission offer.

NB! It is not possible to postpone the beginning of studies to the next academic year.

Terms and conditions of the admission offer

Admission offers are conditional. This means that there are conditions in the offer which the applicant needs to fulfil in order to be admitted (e.g. sending application documents by post; obtaining the required level of education). If the conditions are not met, UT has the right to withdraw the offer. Also, UT reserves the right to withdraw or amend any offer or revoke the matriculation of a student, if it becomes evident that the application contains fraudulent information, the qualification does not provide access to the chosen study programme or the student is found to have omitted key information from the application. Should such circumstances occur, UT will not be liable for any material or immaterial loss which the student may suffer as a result.

Once the admission results have been announced, all admitted students are required to send the application documents by post to: Student Admissions, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18-133, Tartu 50090, ESTONIA.

The documents are expected to be mailed only by those receiving the admission offer (unless instructed otherwise by the admissions staff). The documents must reach the university within 3 weeks from the announcement of the offer. If the application documents do not reach us by the deadline, the university has the right to withdraw the admission offer. Applicants will be informed when their documents have arrived.

Requirements for educational documents

All copies of educational documents (diplomas and Diploma Supplements/transcripts) must be officially certified. By certified we mean that the copies should bear an original signature and seal of the authority certifying that these are true copies of the original document(s). The copies can be certified either 1) by an authorised official of the issuing institution, or 2) by a notary, or 3) with an Apostille attached. NB! Country-specific requirements may also specify the way documents from certain countries must be certified. 

Please note that UT does not accept simple copies made on the basis of already certified copies (primary copies are needed).

All admitted students are required to present their original qualification certificates upon arrival (unless these were sent directly from the issuing institution).

Paying the tuition fee (applicable to those receiving a fee-based study place offer)

  • EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are required to pay the fee for the first semester once they arrive in Tartu (by 20 September at the latest after signing the fee contract, please read more here).
  • Admitted students from other countries are required to pre-pay half of the first semester's tuition fee. The invoice along with the pre-payment deadline and payment details will be sent to applicants via DreamApply after they have accepted the admissions offer and the University has received the hard copies of the application documents. Second part of the fee is due on 20 September. NB! The official admission letter (necessary for visa application) will only be issued once the University of Tartu has received the pre-payment.
  • NB! Once you have been offered a fee-based study place, be aware that it will not be changed into a fee waiver study place. By transferring the pre-payment to the university, you confirm that you have informed yourself about the process of the visa and temporary residence permit application and you are able to arrive in Estonia by the start of the academic year. If you have any questions please contact

The official admission letter will be sent to admitted students electronically via DreamApply only after the admissions office has received and reviewed hard copies of the application documents, and received the tuition fee pre-payment (if a pre-payment was required, please see Step 3 for more details).

NB! The electronic admission letter is also sufficient for non-EU students for applying for visa at an Estonian embassy.

Once the admission letter is issued, accepted students may proceed further with arranging their arrival. All non-EU students should first consult information on the process of visa and temporary residence permit application to be sure, as where and when the relevant documents need to be applied.

NB! Admitted students who are not citizens of an EU or EEA country or Switzerland need to make sure they obtain the Estonian long-term visa on time in order to be able to participate in the orientation programme for international students held in the last week of August. They are also required to visit the Admissions Office in person to complete their arrival registration by September 2, 2024, at the latest. Failure to do so will result in the revocation of their admission decision and visa.

Note that housing at the UT dormitories can be applied during a limited period of time, unless specified otherwise on the website. For housing alternatives please find further information on Tartu Welcome Centre website.  
Travel information can be found here.

Based upon common queries, the most important information has been summarised into a pre-arrival information website UT Getting Started.

Estonian applicants should apply via National Admission Information Systems (SAIS). Further information in Estonian is available here.

Tuition fee and scholarships

Practical info for new students

International Student Ambassadors

Ask about the programme and admission
Elo-Hanna Seljamaa
Institute of Cultural Research
Chair of UNESCO
Associate Professor of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, Programme Director for Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies
+372 5380 3961

Institute of Cultural Research

Student Admissions

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