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:
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
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:
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.
The following structure of the programme applies to the current academic year. To view the most updated version, please visit the University of Tartu Study Information System and choose the next academic year (if available).
Pihla Maria Siim
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.
bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (the degree must be obtained by the end of July) – please see our country-specific document requirements.
English language proficiency – please see our acceptable tests and exempt categories.
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 2023/2024 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.
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:
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.
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:
The minimum positive score for the admission interview is 51 points.
The duration of the interview is 20 min and it is conducted in English via Zoom. The interviews will take place on April 17-25, 2023. The interviews will be scheduled in cooperation with qualifying candidates in April once the motivation letters have been evaluated.
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, Big Blue Button). The admissions committee will notify you, which software programme will be used and when does the interview take place.
The applicant needs the following for the online interview:
At the online 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.
The following information applies to international students and Estonian students who graduated abroad:
Application system opens on 2 January and closes on 15 March. The following documents must be submitted electronically via DreamApply by 15 March:
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.
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 May 15 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)
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/residence permit 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. 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.