- The University of Tartu is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world in Philosophy (see Rankings & Surveys).
- We will help you design an individual study plan considering your educational background and interests.
- You can study this programme regardless of your previous educational background.
- You can attend philosophy conferences and lectures (e.g. Frege lectures) by guest professors from all over the world.
- Career possibilities in various fields including politics, administration, journalism and education. More than 50% of our graduates have entered prestigious PhD programmes around the world.
Is the increasing polarisation of modern society the product of rational thinking? To what extent should citizens lead science? Do vaccine passports discriminate against the unvaccinated? How does state-funded communal memory (e.g. of public statues) shape our understanding of what’s acceptable in society? These are philosophical questions whose answers directly impact how we should proceed in meeting the challenges of our age. Our ability to properly answer these questions depends on our ability to find defensible answers to other more foundational philosophical questions such as: What is it to be rational? What is objectivity? Can moral claims like “vaccine mandates are unjust” be true just like, say, claims about atoms or the geographical location of St Petersburg?
When you join the University of Tartu Department of Philosophy, you’ll be joining a highly ranked department (within the top 200 philosophy departments in the world according to the QS University Rankings) whose researchers work to address important philosophical questions of these various sorts using the tools of philosophical inquiry. The Department invites candidates (both those with a background in philosophy and those with a background in another discipline) to train in the use of these tools and to acquire knowledge of the contemporary debates currently unfolding between theorists on these and related matters.
A student admitted to our programme develops these skills and this knowledge by pursuing an amalgamation of study and supervised research tailored to their background and where they want to use these skills after graduating. Graduates of our programme work in organisations that require the skills our programme trains such as start-ups, think tanks, non-governmental organisations and research universities.
Why study Philosophy at the University of Tartu?
Knowledge of the philosophical foundations underlying the challenges of our age. Students will learn how to adopt a defensible position on the issues underlying and shaping our views of what’s possible and why, and of what’s acceptable and why. And they will learn how to trace out the implications of these foundations for these challenges.
Real “hands-on” research experience. Thanks to both individual supervision and research-driven courses and seminars, every student can be involved in a number of research activities with our staff.
Transferable skills. The MA in Philosophy trains: clear argumentative writing, i.e. writing which defends an assessment of a clearly defined thesis using reason and argument; the ability to break down the process of solving an abstract problem into more easily solvable parts; clear, civil and constructive communication with people you disagree with; the ability to translate (in writing and in verbal presentations) ideas, theories, and explanations between different disciplines (e.g. psychology, philosophy, politics, and law).
Value-for-money. Our researchers engage in cutting edge research published in high-quality venues, are dedicated teachers who have won awards for their classes, and are keen to work with you. Yet the cost of our MA is far lower than that found in other countries, and the cost of living in Tartu makes our degree an especially affordable option. Some tuition waivers and scholarships are also available.”
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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.
- Eduardo Torres (Trinity College Dublin)
- Olena Kushyna (University of Tartu)
- Nikolai Shurakov (University of Tartu)
- Victoria Iugai (Trinity College Dublin) Amirhossein Kiani (University of Calgary)
- Ching Hei Yau (Columbia University)
- Jay Zameska (University of Tartu)
- Anastasiia Babash (University of Tartu, Theology and Religious Studies)
- Maksim Grigorev (University of Tartu, Slavic Philology)
- Patrick Keenan (University of Pardubice)
- Sergei Sazonov (University of Tartu)
- Kyle York (Lingnan University)
- Triinu Eesmaa (University of Vienna)
- Tarun Gidwani (Kings College London)
- Alena Kamenschikova (University of Maastricht, Health, Ethics and Society)
- Eveli Neemre (University of Tartu)
- Susan Notess (Durham University)
- Semen Reshenin (University of Tartu)
- Merily Salura (Estonian Academy of Arts)
- Tomaz Tokhadze (Univesity of Sussex)
- Raul Veede (University of Tartu)
- Julia Fieser (University of Missouri – St. Louis, Political Science)
- Beka Jalagania (University of Mannheim)
- Indrek Lõbus (University of Stirling/University of St. Andrews)
- Marika Proover (Tallinn University)
- Merike Reiljan (University of Tartu)
- William Tuckwell (University of Melbourne)
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:
- Madli Kumpas (formerly Ross) – Coordinator of Education Programmes at Estonian National Commission for UNESCO (Tallinn, Estonia)
- Ada Tamme – Teacher at Ülenurme Gümnaasium (Tartu, Estonia)
- Rao Pärnpuu – Team Leader at Starship Technologies (Tallinn, Estonia)
- Bastiaan Meinders – Project Advisor at Kansfonds (Hilversum, Holland), Collaborator at Nationale DenkTank (Amsterdam, Holland)
- Tarun Gidwani – Project Manager at TransferWise (Tallinn, Estonia), Author of opinion pieces for Postimees, Lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts (Tallinn)
- Luis Roberto Vera Cariño – Research Assistant at Providus Public Policy Center (Riga, Latvia)
- Mariann Järvela – Reporter at Baltic News Service (Tallinn, Estonia)
Admission requirements for Philosophy
bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (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
Applications are evaluated based on
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:
- how do your interests, previous education and/or working experience (if applicable) make you suitable for the master’s programme in Philosophy?
- how are your future plans and goals related to your intention to join the master’s programme in Philosophy?
- which research topics are you most interested in? Please indicate at least one research topic which might be suitable for your master’s thesis topic and indicate why it would be suitable for that purpose.
The motivation letter will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
- compatibility of interests (including research topics), previous education and/or work experience with the goals of the programme (50%);
- the extent to which the candidate makes clear and convincing (30%)
a) that the candidate has a broader plan of which the master’s programme is a carefully selected part, and
b) how the master’s programme is instrumentally useful to pursuit of this plan;
- lucidity and self-expression (20%).
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:
- clarity of structure and readability (45%);
- problem setting and quality of argumentation (45%);
- use and reference of appropriate literature and terminology (10%).
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:
- understanding of what Philosophy is: of the areas of research it includes, of the methods that are employed, of the criteria philosophers judge each other’s work by, of recent developments in the area of philosophy of most interest to the applicant;
- readiness for continuous learning and professional development;
- skills in analysis, argumentation, and self-expression.
The duration of the interview is 20 min and it is conducted in English via Internet even if you are present in Tartu to ensure a fair comparison with those who cannot be present in Tartu at the time of the 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 17-21, 2023.
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:
- 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 save the 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.
How to apply
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:
- online application
- motivation letter
- writing sample
- official certified copy of the bachelor's diploma or its equivalent and Diploma Supplement (transcript) in the original language (must include 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).
- 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.
- proof of English language proficiency
- copy of the passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
- 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.
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)
- 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 email@example.com.
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.