Author: Karl Oliver Tomson

Philosophy

2 January

Application system opens

15 March

Application deadline

30 April

Admission results

2 September

Academic year starts
Level of study
Master's
Study language
English
Duration and credits
2 years , 120 ECTS
Form of study
Regular study
Location
Tartu
Student places
14
Tuition fee
4,000 EUR/year
Tuition waivers
4 for citizens of EU/EEA/Switzerland, 4 for all citizenships
  • The University of Tartu belongs to the top 350 universities in the world (see Rankings and Surveys).  
  • On average, 50% of each graduating class takes up funded positions in high-quality doctoral programmes worldwide. Those who choose a non-academic career go on to work in organisations that require the skills our programme trains: e.g., start-ups, think tanks, and (non-)governmental organisations. 
  • The programme’s flexible structure gives you the opportunity to develop your skill set in other areas (e.g., data analysis, communication, management, political studies, psychology, etc.) while pursuing your studies in philosophy. 
  • The programme includes an internship: you learn to bring the theory of your studies and research out of the classroom and into practice in non-academic sectors and organisations. 
  • You do not need a previous philosophy degree to join the programme: we value diversity in educational background. 

 

You often need a defensible answer to a philosophical question before finding a defensible solution to a practical problem facing today's world. What is a just response to climate change? Should monuments to the past be torn down? Should science deniers have a significant voice in democratic decision-making? The master's programme in Philosophy is designed to produce graduates who are well-placed to tackle the philosophical questions that lie at the root of the challenges of our age. It trains students in the argumentation, analytic, and communication skills required to tackle these questions. 

The programme does this by allowing students to design their degree so that it takes them from where they are to where, in two years, they want to be.  

I looked into various MA degrees and felt that the University of Tartu could give me what I was looking for: a programme with a very flexible curriculum that I could shape according to my interests in a quaint yet lively student town. I love that the 'Individual Studies' option allows me to incorporate my other interests into a philosophical framework. For instance, I've had very inspiring talks about experimental and electronic music and philosophy this year and could also read up on urban and social geography.

Michaela Hochbaumer (Austria)

There are two primary ways the master's programme in Philosophy allows students to design their degree. 

Firstly, students have enormous latitude in deciding the balance between courses and mentored research work. Students can choose a mixture of courses and mentored research work that best suits where they are coming from and where they want to go after graduating. For instance, a student who enters the programme without an undergraduate degree in philosophy would take introductory courses in the areas that interest them, courses in writing, and begin research work with a supervisor who can advise them on how to improve their writing. However, a student who already has an undergraduate degree in philosophy and knows they want to do a doctoral degree after graduating might spend most of their time working on research projects without taking non-obligatory courses. 

Secondly, students have a wide latitude in deciding to what extent they engage in cross-disciplinary training. For instance, a student who aims to go into experimental philosophy can supplement their study of philosophy with courses in experimental methods and statistical analysis, whereas a student who is interested in business ethics could supplement their study of philosophy with courses in entrepreneurship and management. 

This freedom is buttressed by the broad range of topics within philosophy upon which students can focus in our programme. This broad range is a product of the pluralist structure of the university's philosophy department, encompassing analytic philosophy (inclusive of empirical philosophy of science), applied ethics, continental philosophy, the history of ideas and the history of philosophy. Explore the research projects of the current staff here.

It is important that students receive support and coaching in how they approach the task of designing their curriculum. Our programme provides this from day 1, from the first-year MA seminar, which allows students to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses (and so guides them in how to direct their energies in the subsequent semesters), to the individual and small-group supervision under which students pursue their research projects. 

Why study Philosophy at the University of Tartu? 

  • The opportunity to engage in supervised research from day one: The programme offers more research supervision than most other two-year Philosophy MA degrees worldwide. Whereas other philosophy programmes require students to take courses for most of the degree, our students can focus on conducting research, with guidance from mentors, for most of their degree if they wish.
  • Interdisciplinarity: The programme offers students the chance to supplement their philosophical studies with courses from across the university. Students can thereby increase the interdisciplinarity of their work (by taking courses from another discipline) and strengthen their transferable skills (e.g. in data analytics, project management, communications etc.).
  • Our openness to diverse educational backgrounds: The programme is open to candidates with non-philosophy backgrounds. We have seen how students with diverse backgrounds can make strong philosophy students who enrich our department and the learning environment within it. The flexible structure of our curriculum allows students with non-philosophical backgrounds to catch up by taking more introductory courses on the topics in which they want to build competence.
  • Internships, Applications and Business: We coach our students in identifying ways to integrate their philosophical interests with non-academic sectors. We believe this ability is important to our students' future, both if they intend to pursue an academic career and if they intend to pursue a non-academic career. Moreover, Estonia is home to a strong startup scene, and the University of Tartu pursues initiatives (e.g., Startup Lab) to integrate its internal research with this scene. As a student in our department, you can take advantage of these initiatives. 
  • An international environment: The Department of Philosophy is international. It includes American, British and Italian researchers, and many Estonian researchers based within the department earned their qualifications from top-rate institutions outside Estonia. The department regularly organises events that host visiting philosophers from across the world, both as self-standing events and as part of the various international research networks that Tartu philosophers belong to. This includes the Natural Law 1625-1850 Network, the Nietzsche International Lab, the Responsible Open Science in Europe project, and the Nordic-Baltic Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare network.
  • Study abroad: The Department of Philosophy has Erasmus agreements with a wide range of quality European partners, which allows our students to take a semester or a year abroad, living and studying in another European city or town. Furthermore, the University of Tartu is a member of quite a few networks that extend outside of Europe, and these can be used to support exchange studies across the globe.

Programme highlights in media

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 who would like to attend more general philosophy classes. 


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. You can also find the list of English-taught courses on the University of Tartu Department of Philosophy website.

Curriculum version:

2024/2025

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.

People

Our staff (both research and administrative) care deeply about the success of the department's students and work hard to ensure that those students expand their knowledge and skill sets to the greatest extent possible during their time in the programme. Information about our current professors, researchers, and lecturers can be found here.

Our department is a pluralist department; it caters to a broad range of interests, including specialisations in analytic philosophy (inclusive of empirical work within the philosophy of science), applied ethics, continental philosophy, the history of ideas, and the history of philosophy.

Our lecturers publish in competitive philosophy journals and with quality academic publishers. This is also the standard they expect from their students and to which they train their students.

Our department is truly international. Over the past few years, we have brought in philosophers from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the UK, and the USA to come teach our department's students. Permanent staff are regularly supplemented by visiting scholars who spend a semester working with our team.

The various research networks our staff belong to reflect the integration of our staff's research with partners worldwide, addressing cutting-edge questions in their respective areas of specialisation.

The University of Tartu has a sophisticated education system, diversified courses, supportive professors, highly efficient administration, and a fascinating cultural environment. My academic interests are social and practical philosophy, specifically memory studies, philosophy of history, and climate ethics. These fields are closely related to what is happening in the world every day, and I believe the discussion regarding certain topics can make a difference to our reality.

Yufeng Luo (China)
University of Tartu Jakobi 2

The Department of Philosophy is located in the city centre of Tartu, next to the university's main building.

The master's programme in Philosophy trains students in analytic, argumentation, and communication skills and endows them with the knowledge of cutting-edge philosophical concepts and arguments across a diversity of topics. 

The programme provides this training to a high standard.  On average, 50% of our graduates are admitted into funded doctoral positions worldwide. 

What students do with this training is up to them, and to aid them on their trajectory, we provide two main career paths:

  • A graduate can use this training to pursue a career in the academic sector (i.e., by applying to graduate school in philosophy or a related discipline).
  • A graduate can use this training to pursue a career outside of academia, as many of our graduates have successfully gone on to do. This is because the skills attained by our degree are in demand across a wide range of sectors, including education, finance, business, journalism, and politics.

In either case, the transferable skills, the cutting-edge theory, and the applicability of the work that students develop in our programme will prepare them well to take their next step. This is in no small part due to students being provided with the tools to design their curricula for empowering success.

Admission requirements for Philosophy
 

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 30% of the final score)

  • the score of the writing sample (yields 40% of the final score)

  • the admission 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 online. 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 8–19, 2024.

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:

  1. online application
  2. motivation letter
  3. writing sample
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. proof of English language proficiency
  7. copy of the passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
  8. 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 electonic application on DreamApply.

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 studentvisasupport@ut.ee.

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. 

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.

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.

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