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Joining the master's programme in Philosophy at the University of Tartu will enable you to acquire historical and systematic knowledge covering a whole range of philosophical topics. You will learn how to think about fundamental "eternal" questions (e.g." What is the nature of things?";" How can one live a good life?"; "What is truth? ") as well as how to unravel contemporary issues (from issues pertaining to developments in science and technology to environmental and political concerns). As a master's student, you will be integrated into one of our (often international) research groups. You will develop valuable skills for an academic career in philosophy, such as critical reading and analysis, academic writing, and preparation for presentations.
The master's programme in Philosophy will also open up career possibilities in various other fields, such as politics, administration, journalism and education.
Quality of our Department of Philosophy. Our department is part of the world's best 200 departments of philosophy, as assessed in the QS rankings.
Individual approach. Our programme is unique in being extremely flexible. Doing master's with us is not about passing a fixed list of courses; instead, advisors help students design their individual study plans so that the programme best suits each student's interests and considers their educational background.
Real "hands-on" research experience. Every master's student will be integrated into a larger research group or research project. Several exciting projects run at the department, each led by a professional researcher. By joining a research group, students will be able to participate in a number of research activities. They will acquire the skills needed to formulate, analyse, and discuss philosophical problems and formulate and present targeted research questions within a broader research plan. Our largest research project for 2014-2020 is "Disagreements".
International staff and student environment. Our philosophers all have extensive international experience, coming from or having studied and worked in the USA, UK, Germany, etc. Students have come from all over the globe (except Oceania so far!).
Outstanding academic events. We are home to the prestigious Frege Lectures. Our MA students have also regularly organised graduate conferences. Our institute also established the Annual Estonian Conference of Philosophy, the organisation of which now rotates between the University of Tartu, the University of Tallinn, and the Tallinn University of Technology.
Follow the programme on Facebook.
Students who are keen to discuss philosophical issues also in their leisure time can join several cosy and informal discussion groups, for example, the Seminar of Analytic Philosophy, the Seminar of Phenomenology, or the Ethics Colloquium. In addition, the Chair of Theoretical Philosophy, in cooperation with the Seminar of Analytic Philosophy, organises Philosophy Summer Camps, where students can present and discuss their work in Estonia’s beautiful countryside.
The setup of the Philosophy programme is designed to allow students with different levels of expertise in philosophy to follow tailor-made, fulfilling and productive study plans. The curriculum structure enables flexible research-based studies for those who have studied philosophy before and would like to focus on a specific area and get more involved in research. The curriculum is equally suitable for those just beginning to study philosophy and would like to attend more general philosophy classes.
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).
Our lecturers have published internationally in the best philosophy journals and publishers. Our department is truly international: over the past few years, we have had philosophers from Germany, Austria, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Japan, France, Finland, Mexico and USA teaching and Estonians. This is probably why our students develop excellent English skills that enable them to continue their studies abroad. Information about our current professors, researchers, and lecturers can be found here. In addition to our regular staff, we also often have guest lecturers teaching for a term; for example, last year, we had prof. Riin Sirkel from the University of Vermont (USA) visiting the department.
If you want to become a professional producer of knowledge, a researcher, an academic, we have a proven record of placing our students into highly regarded PhD programmes.
Suppose you want to become a disseminator of knowledge, for example, through journalism, media, or education. In that case, our studies will teach you how to carefully process and wisely use the immense amounts of information available nowadays and get learners at any level inspired and excited about the subject you teach.
Suppose you want to become an influencer or a public decision-maker. In that case, you will learn how to articulate and defend your own opinions clearly and convincingly and how to listen and critically engage with the views of others.
And if you don’t know yet who you want to become, philosophy might well be the best place for you! The intellectual discipline and the creativity that we practice and encourage in our lectures and seminars will help you evaluate the pros and cons of different career paths and make you imagine future scenarios you might have never considered otherwise.
Although Friedrich Nietzsche, who was invited to become a professor at the University of Tartu in 1875, once wrote that philosophy means “living voluntarily among ice and high mountains”, our graduates have never been confined to such extreme conditions. Many possibilities and fields of activity are open to them. Besides being highly appreciated as academics, our graduates have successful careers in education, finance, business, journalism, politics and numerous other areas.
Our English language Philosophy MA programme started up in 2014. As of Autumn 2020, five cohorts of students have completed the programme. Some of them have taken up PhD positions in Philosophy or a related subject.
Graduates of our MA programme who did not pursue an academic career have gone on to do many different things. Below is a list of some examples:
bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (must be obtained by the end of July) – please see country-specific document requirements here.
English language proficiency – acceptable tests and exempt categories are specified here.
the score of the motivation letter (yields 30% of the final score)
the score of the writing sample (yields 40% of the final score)
the admissions interview ((yields 30% of the final score)
The motivation letter must be submitted with your online application by 15 March at the latest.
The motivation letter must be written in English and be 400-650 words long. We advise you to familiarise yourself with the master’s programme of Philosophy before writing the letter.
The motivation letter is used to evaluate the applicant's motivation to study in the Philosophy master’s programme. With this in mind, please address the following questions in the letter:
The motivation letter will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Maximum score for the motivation letter is 100 points and minimum positive score is 51 points. The applicant needs to receive at least 51 points for the motivation letter, in order to have the writing sample assessed.
The writing sample must be submitted with your online application by 15 March at the latest. Please add the writing sample as a separate file to the "Documents" section of the online application.
The writing sample should be a self-contained text which showcases the properties against which it will be evaluated (see below). This means it should, ideally, be an argumentative text, which provides a compelling defence of a claim. It need not be a paper from a philosophy course—though such papers fall into the genre we expect of the writing sample. It may be drawn from another area of study or work. But, again, if you want to receive a good score for your writing sample, it should exhibit the properties against which it will be evaluated. The limit for the word count is 2000-3000 words. The first page of the essay must include the following information: your name, date of completion of the writing sample, and a word count. NB! The admissions committee will not read any essay that turns out to be longer than 3000 words.
The evaluation criteria for the writing sample are:
Maximum score for the writing sample is 100 points and minimum positive score is 51 points.
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 duration of the interview is 20 min and it is conducted in English via Skype even if you are present in Tartu to ensure a fair comparison with those who cannot be present in Tartu at the time of interview. The interviews will be scheduled in cooperation with qualifying candidates in April when the motivation letters and essays have been evaluated. The interviews will take place on April 18-22, 2022.
Maximum score for the interview is 100 points and minimum positive score is 51 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, 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. The applicant needs to receive at least 51 points for the motivation letter, in order to have the writing sample assessed. Only the candidates who receive at least 51 points from both written assignments, 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 written assignments 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:
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.
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.