Author: Tartu Ülikool

Medicine and Sport

1 May

Application system opens

15 May

Application deadline

15 July

Admission results

2 September

Academic year starts

Main intake is on 1–15 May. Additionally, there may be an intake for some specialisations on 1–15 February, 15–30 September or 15–30 November. 

Level of study
Doctoral study
Study language
Estonian, English
4 years

The Doctoral Programme in Medicine and Sport is part of the Faculty of Medicine. Faculty’s doctoral programme combines four specialisations coordinated by the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy: Medicine, Pharmacy, Exercise and Sport Sciences, Neurosciences.


  • Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Exercise and Sport Sciences
  • Neurosciences

The overall objective of the PhD specialisations is to take the knowledge and skills of the student to the level of internationally recognized high-rank scientific professionals. PhD students are prepared for employment as a lecturer and researcher at the university and other research institutions, as well as leading specialists outside the academia. Doctoral studies are research-based studies at the topmost level of higher education, during which the doctoral student acquires the necessary skills for independent research and development work. 

The programme consists of the Research and Development module (5460 hours, equivalent to 210 ECTS credits) and Study module (780 hours, equivalent to 30 ECTS credits). In order to gain international study and work experience, it is recommended that the doctoral student spends time studying and/or carrying out research in a foreign university or research institution. 

The programme consists of two modules: 
  • Research and Development module; 
  • Study module.

Research and Development module

The aim of the module is to enhance and strengthen both specialised and non-specialised knowledge and skills. The doctoral student will become competent in conducting research and will acquire transferable skills through practical experience, participation in events and other activities. 

The volume of this module is 5460 hours (corresponding to 210 ECTS).

Study module

The aim of the module is to enhance and strengthen both specialised and non-specialised knowledge and skills. The doctoral student will become competent in conducting research and will acquire transferable skills through practical experience, participation in events and other activities. 

The volume of this module is 780 hours (corresponding to 30 ECTS). The module is divided into two: a general part of the programme (Transferable Skills sub-module, 15 ECTS credits) and a specialised study part (Specialist Knowledge sub-module, 15 ECTS credits).  

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.

Admission requirements for Medicine and Sport

  • Master’s degree or equivalent qualification
    This means that your master’s degree should enable you to apply for doctoral studies in the education system in which you received the master’s degree. However, there might be differences between higher education systems and access requirements to PhD programmes in different countries. To apply to the University of Tartu, your qualification should correspond to a master’s degree in the Estonian higher education system.
  • English language proficiency - please make sure you also meet our language requirements.

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.

If the open call website does not include information regarding a set list of thesis topics, it´s possible to apply with your own research topic. 

  • You can usually apply with your own research topic to the specialisations in Medicine and Pharmacy.
  • When applying for specialisations in Exercise and Sport Sciences and Neurosciences, you must choose from a set list of topics. It is not possible to apply with your own topic during the admission period. 

Finding a prospective supervisor before applying for the programme is essential for a successful application. Please see further information on the faculty´s website.The main intake is on 1-15 May (if you received your master´s degree abroad) or 1-15 June (if you received your master´s degree in Estonia). In addition, admission for some specialisations may take place on 1-15 February, 15-30 September or 15-30 November. 

See the admission details for May 2024 intake on the open calls webpage

Evaluation of applicants

All candidates must submit a doctoral thesis project and CV with their application in the Dreamapply application system. Candidates are evaluated in two stages:

  1. After the application deadline, the Admissions Commitee evaluates the doctoral thesis projects. They are assessed on a scale of 0 to 50 points, minimum positive score is at least 35 points.
  2. Applicants whose doctoral thesis project is assessed positively will be invited to the interview. International applicants who cannot be present at the interview in Tartu, may conduct an online interview. Applicants will be informed of their interview date and time by the respective faculty. Minimum positive score is at least 35 points out of 50.

The maximum final score is 100 points. Based on the number of available study places, the best applicant(s) acording to the admissions ranking receive the admission offers.

The doctoral thesis project in Estonian or English and CV must be submitted with other required documents in the online application system.

The doctoral thesis project (up to 6 A4 pages) must consist of the following parts:

1. Information on the research topic and the applicant:

  • the topic of the thesis in Estonian and English (with up to three CERCS codes added)
  • the applicant’s name and contact details (job, address, contact phone, e-mail address)
  • name, position and consent (signature) of the supervisor if already agreed. In the event of several super visors, please state who the primary supervisor is and the secondary one(s).

2. Introduction, description of the research background and justification of the choice of the topic. This part describes the research topic and provides an overview of earlier research in this field. The introduction should also give reasons for the choice of the topic and explain the nature of the problem;

3. Research purpose, formulation of the problem or hypothesis. The hypothesis of the thesis or questions the thesis should provide answers to;

4. Description of the methodology. This part describes the methodology chosen – clinical, experimental or epidemiological research, research subjects, sampling, research capacity, data gathering methods, the validity and reliability of the methodology used, data analysis and ethical aspects of the topic. The description of the methodology should refer to the sources of the methods;

5. Expected results, their theoretical and/or practical importance in the context of the field of study;

6. Topics of three possible publications; and

7. Literary sources.

The assessment takes place by the doctoral admissions committee in the presence of the applicant. The assessment covers the research quality of the project (relevance, novelty, essential description of the topic) and its feasibility. The latter covers the applicant’s competency based on their earlier experience and professional development.

During the interview, the applicant must be able to defend the main positions of the thesis project in a discussion with the admissions committee. The committee also interviews the applicant on wider issues of the field, to assess the knowledge of the whole field.

The entrance interview is used to assess the following:

  • ability to present the project and answer the questions of the admissions committee
  • ability to explain the relevance of the doctoral thesis topic, main research questions, expected results, the novelty and importance of the topic.
  • applicant’s knowledge in the field (including the knowledge of the main research areas in the field) and academic research experience
  • applicant’s personal background and motivation to receive a PhD (readiness to start PhD studies, the perspective of completing the study programme within the nominal study period and future plans).


How to apply

International applicants can apply online via the DreamApply application system. The application form is open during the application period and you must upload all required documents there by the application deadline. If you fail to submit the documents by the deadline, your application is not considered for admission and we do not process it further. You can only apply for one specialisation or project. 

If you apply with a master´s degree obtained in Estonia, you can apply via SAIS or DreamApply (see details below).

All documents listed below must be uploaded to your DreamApply application by the application deadline. Documents submitted after the deadline are not accepted.

  1. online application
    Complete the application form in DreamApply and submit it by the application deadline.
  2. doctoral thesis project
    You will find guidelines on how to prepare the doctoral thesis project in the section "Evaluation of applicants"
  3. education documents in their original language
    The following documents are required:

    - official copies of both bachelor's and master's diplomas
    - bachelor's and master's diploma supplements (transcripts/mark sheets, including the description of the grading scale)

    Please see our country-specific requirements as well. There may be special requirements for education documents depending on the country in which study took place.
  4. official translations of both bachelor's and master's diplomas and diploma supplements into English
    Translations are not required if the university issued these documents in English. As certified translations we consider

    1) official translations made by the issuing institution (university) bearing their original signature, stamp, etc., or
    2) translations made and certified by a sworn translator (or certified by a notary).
  5. proof of English language proficiency
    This applies to all international applicants. A language certificate must be submitted by the application deadline. If you need to take an accepted English language test, the test must be taken by the application deadline.
  6. copy of passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
    Your passport must be valid during the application period.
  7. curriculum vitae
    You will find an example form here. You can format your CV differently, but it must reflect all the points given in the sample file.

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 electronic application on DreamApply.

Applying if you have not yet graduated

It is possible to apply even if you have not finished the master's studies yet. Graduation documents must be submitted at least two weeks before the start of studies.

When applying, submit your most recent official transcript of records by the required deadline along with the rest of the required documents. The master's diploma and diploma supplement (transcript) must be submitted as soon as possible after completing the studies.

Evaluation of your previous qualification

We will assess your qualification during the application period and may send your education documents to the Estonian ENIC/NARIC (Academic Recognition Information Centre) for evaluation at any stage of the application process. The official evaluation at the ENIC/NARIC Centre takes about 30 days. If the evaluation is negative and your qualification does not give you access to PhD studies in Estonia, we cannot admit you to doctoral studies at the University of Tartu and will withdraw the admission offer, if you have received one.

We start processing all applications after the application deadline; you will receive feedback on your application in DreamApply. Processing applications takes time, and we kindly ask you to be patient. During the main intake in May we are able to give feedback to all applicants within three weeks after the application deadline. During other periods you will receive feedback one week after the application deadline.

Please note that applications with deficiencies will be rejected and will not be considered for admission. The decisions on applications will be made based on the electronic copies uploaded to DreamApply.  

Evaluation by the Admissions Commission

If you have uploaded all the required documents to DreamApply by the deadline and meet our admission requirements, your application will be forwarded to the Admissions Commission for evaluation. If your doctoral thesis project receives a positive score, you will be invited to attend an entrance interview (online video interview for international applicants). The respective institute will send you the exact time of the interview a few days before the interview date.

Admission results (including offers) will be announced to all applicants personally via DreamApply. Admitted candidates have seven days to accept or decline the offer in the application system. The university may withdraw the admission offer if the admitted student fails to inform the university of his or her decision by the stipulated deadline.

Admission offers are conditional. This means that the applicant needs to fulfil certain conditions in order to be admitted (for example, send application documents by post, obtain the required level of education). If the conditions are not met, the admission offer can be withdrawn.

The university 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, the student is found to have omitted key information from the application or a long-term visa or a residence permit for study is not issued to the applicant. Should such circumstances occur, the university will not be liable for any material or immaterial loss suffered by the student as a result.

All admitted students are required to send application documents by post to: Student Admissions, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18-132, Tartu 50090, ESTONIA.

The package must include:

  1. a printed and signed application from DreamApply
    Please see guidelines
  2. officially certified copies of bachelor's and master's diplomas and transcripts/diploma supplements (see guidelines below)
    Please check if you have to follow country-specific requirements when sending education documents
  3. official translations of both bachelor´s and master´s diplomas and transcripts/diploma supplements into English (if applicable)
  4. simple copy of passport credentials page
  5. simple copy of English language certificate

You may send the hard copies of the application documents by the application deadline. This allows us to process the documents earlier, and if you get admitted, the following process will be smoother.

However, you can also prepare the documents and postpone mailing them until you receive the conditional admission offer. If you are admitted, send the documents in the fastest possible way (by courier), making sure they arrive within two weeks. If you choose this option, please prepare the certified copies in advance so that you can send them out at once if necessary. Getting your documents properly certified can take quite a while. If the documents do not arrive on time, the university has the right to withdraw the admission offer.

Applicants will be informed when their documents have arrived. Please note that the documents are first delivered to the university´s Postal Service and are taken to our office once a day. If you see that your documents have reached the University of Tartu, it does not necessarily mean we have already started processing your documents. Please be patient and wait until you receive a notification via DreamApply, confirming that we have started processing your documents. Please note that the application documents will not be returned.  

All copies of education documents (diplomas and diploma supplements/transcripts) must be officially certified. Certified copies should bear an original signature and seal of the certifying authority stating that they are true copies of the original.

The documents can be certified either:

  • by an authorised official from the issuing institution
  • by a notary
  • with an Apostille attached.

Please note that the university does not accept simple copies of original documents or copies of certified copies. Some country-specific requirements also specify the way documents must be certified.

Never send us your original degree certificates, as documents sent by post may get lost and application documents will not be returned. Only send attested copies of degree certificates.

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 evaluation from the Estonian ENIC/NARIC Centre (if applicable).

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

If you have been offered a doctoral student place with a state-funded junior research fellow position at the University of Tartu, you need to sign a work contract. The junior research fellow's salary is comparable to the Estonian average and corresponds to the minimum salary rate of junior research fellows at the University of Tartu (which is in 2024 1,830 euros per month for full-time work, net salary ca. 1450 euros). 

You will be contacted regarding the contract by the faculty in a few weeks after accepting the study offer.

Junior research fellows are generally expected to study and work full-time from the time announced on the open call webpage. The exact workload and starting date will be agreed during the contract negotiations. If the university and the applicant fail to reach an agreement on the conditions of the employment contract within one month from accepting the student place, the university has a right to revoke the admission decision. As a general rule, junior research fellows must arrive in Tartu by the beginning of studies and work. Non-EU students also need to have a valid D (long-stay) visa or temporary residence permit (TRP) to stay in Estonia legally.

Once the admission letter has been issued, admitted students may proceed with arranging their arrival.

All non-EU students should first consult information on the process of visa and temporary residence permit application to know where and when to apply for the relevant documents.

Note that housing at the UT dormitories can be applied for during a limited period only, 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.

Beginning of your studies

If you apply in February or May, your studies start at the beginning of the academic year (in late August or early September).

When applying in September or November, studies begin during the autumn semester or in the beginning of the spring semester.

General information on academic matters related to PhD studies is described here.

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

International applicants graduating in Estonia

International applicants who have completed their previous study level in Estonia or who are about to graduate from an institution in Estonia may apply via SAIS or DreamApply. NB! You can access SAIS only with a valid Estonian ID card/residence permit card or Mobile-ID.

For the May-June intake the application systems are open at different times: DreamApply is open on 1-15 May and SAIS is open on 1-15 June.

Required documents for international applicants graduating in Estonia

  1. online application in SAIS or DreamApply (please note different deadlines in May-June)
  2. doctoral thesis project
  3. curriculum vitae (example form here)
  4. proof of English language proficiency must be submitted only if you have not graduated from an English-taught bachelor´s or master´s programme in Estonia (applies to international applicants)
  5. copies of master´s documents. If you apply in DreamApply and your degree is not from UT, upload the graduation documents. Information about UT graduates will be verified from the Study Information System and scans are not needed. If you apply in SAIS, the information about your master´s studies will be available in the "Education" section and uploading additional scans is not needed. SAIS uses the data available from the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS)
  6. a copy of your passport is required in DreamApply, but not in SAIS

If you graduate from the University of Tartu in summer 2024, the most recent transcript of your master´s studies is not required. Information will be verified from the Study Information System. If you graduate from some other higher education institution, you must upload the most recent transcript to DreamApply.

If paper copies of documents are required, we will inform you via SAIS/DreamApply after processing your application.

Applying in SAIS is different from applying in DreamApply:

  • Some of the instructions in SAIS are available only in Estonian
  • In SAIS we do not give feedback to all applicants. You will receive feedback only if we require additional information or documents. In this case, you will receive notification from SAIS by email. Please check your mailbox regularly, including junk mail
  • If you are admitted, you must accept the study place in SAIS (the same is true with DreamApply) within seven days. International applicants in SAIS receive an official admission letter by email in two weeks after accepting the study offer.

Admission to doctoral studies

Open calls

Status and funding of doctoral students

Centre for Doctoral Studies in Medicine and Sport

Rene Kärner
Centre for Doctoral Studies in Medicine and Sport
Rene Kärner
Centre for Doctoral Studies in Medicine and Sport
Student Admissions
Student Admissions