Politics and Governance in the Digital Age


2 January

Application system opens

15 March

Application deadline

30 April

Admission results

2 September

Academic year starts
Level of study
Study language
Duration and credits
2 years , 120 ECTS
Form of study
Regular study
Student places
Tuition fee
4,200 EUR/year
Tuition waivers
5 for citizens of EU/EEA/Switzerland, 5 for all citizenships
  • The University of Tartu is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world in politics (see Rankings and Surveys).
  • Special emphasis is on big data and digital method analysis. 
  • Estonia is one of the most dynamic reformers in Europe while maintaining a stable democracy and social environment. It is a leader in e-government, e-voting and other governance fields.
  • Estonia is the ideal place to study if you want to understand how an e-society can be built or digitally transformed. Studying digital transformation in Estonia means a 24/7 learning experience.
  • Acquire all essential skills and knowledge for a successful career in modern government, civil society, politics and international organisations.    

To get to know the programme and the admission requirements better, you can:

Is digital transformation taking over society? How are governments tackling secure data exchange and cybersecurity? How is and how should data analytics be employed in politics and governance? Are governments and public institutions allowed to profile citizens? Could digital transformation lead to greater discontent with politics and renewed authoritarian tendencies? How can democratic political leaders govern more efficiently whilst respecting citizens’ data privacy? 

These are important challenges to tackle, especially in the digital era. The MA programme in Politics and Governance in the Digital Age offers you the knowledge and skills for this enquiry.

This MA programme integrates key fundamentals of governance, digital transformation and data analysis as essential aspects of political developments in the contemporary world. Understanding digital governance is key to a successful career in modern government, digital civil society, politics or international organisations.

The programme provides in-depth knowledge about core political science topics, such as modern political institutions, elections, political behaviour and ethics, combined with data-driven governance, e-democracy and critical thinking in the digital society. This is reinforced by training in data analytics, research methods and quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques.

Political science is among the highest-ranked specialities of the University of Tartu (see Rankings and Surveys).

What will you get from this programme?

A career in government and politics requires three things:

  • knowledge about contemporary democracy and governance;
  • analytical insight and skills for data analysis methods;
  • outstanding communication skills.

The MA programme in Politics and Governance in the Digital Age delivers these objectives by integrating the study of politics with the rigours of analytical thinking and training in effective communication. In addition, you can complement your studies with a semester abroad as the Institute has numerous exchange opportunities.

Our learning outcomes include:

  • integrated knowledge of core components of politics and governance as well as of digital transformation, including state-held e-services;
  • data analysis skills using examples from digital services, the Estonian e-residency programme and the e-Estonia open data repository; 
  • media competencies and critical thinking;
  • understanding of modern institutions and of how digital transformation shapes political processes;
  • the ability to identify and analyse the key problems and processes of governance involving both government institutions and civil society;
  • proper research skills to perform policy analysis and contribute to policy formation;
  • solid writing and oral presentation skills to be effective in a professional career;
  • an international perspective that will enrich career prospects both at home and globally.

Why study Politics and Governance in the Digital Age at the University of Tartu?

Your 5 reasons:

  • to learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of politics and public policy: how to analyse and shape political processes;
  • to gain insight into the effects that digital transformation has on politics and modern governance;
  • to experience first-hand how e-democracy and e-governance can affect different aspects of life, as the City of Tartu and the country of Estonia are at the forefront of digital democracy;
  • for the opportunity to meet the policy makers, developers and technology companies that are leading the public sector digital transformation;
  • overall, you will learn how the digital transformation affects society and how to make use of it for a better future.

The programme deals with questions that have characterised the social and political transformation in Estonia over the last two decades. Estonia is the leader in e-government, internet-based voting and other governance fields. For years, Estonia has been ranked as one of the most dynamic reformers in Europe, while at the same time maintaining a stable democracy and social environment. Read more about the e-Society of Estonia.

The MA programme in Politics and Governance in the Digital Age is based on learning from this success story against the backdrop of global theories and trends in politics. We believe that Estonia is the place to study how digital governance can be implemented in today’s world of globalization and digital transformation.

In academic scoreboards, the University of Tartu ranks among the top 250 of universities in the world (see Rankings and Surveys).

The University of Tartu offers advanced study facilities, excellent libraries, well-equipped computer labs and modern residence halls. Interactive and innovative teaching and learning methods are widely used. There is a wide variety of opportunities to study abroad, including Erasmus agreements with a broad range of European partner universities.

Studying in Tartu is both attractive and affordable – it means high-quality education at a low cost in a country that both has traditions and is very modern, is close to nature as well as technologically advanced, is proud of its unique culture and traditions as well as open to the world (Estonia is a member of the EU and NATO and it belongs to the eurozone and the Schengen space).

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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). 


The MA programme in Politics and Governance in the Digital Age is taught by a young and diverse faculty trained at some of the world’s best universities (Columbia, Cambridge, European University Institute, University of Arizona, Central European University). Our staff encompasses people from nearly a dozen nationalities, offering students a multi-faceted perspective on politics and change.

Research themes include:

  • e-governance (Prof. Vincent Homburg)
  • internet voting (Dr Mihkel Solvak)
  • history of political thought and political theory (Dr Eva Piirimäe)
  • party politics (Dr Martin Mölder)
  • political behaviour (Dr. Liisa Talving)
  • public governance (Dr Kristina Muhhina)
Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies

Johan Skytte was the initiator of the idea of founding a university in Tartu, and since 1632, the first chancellor of Tartu University. In his inaugural address, he said that besides noblemen and burgesses the peasants, too, should have the right to study at the university. Jakob Skytte, the son of Johan Skytte, was a student of the University of Tartu, and at the same time the first rector of it.

Read more about the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies.

The Politics and Governance in the Digital Age programme provides you with essential skills and knowledge both in comparative political science and governance. Combined with data-driven governance, e-democracy and critical thinking in the digital society, students can explain how digital transformation affects modern political processes and public administration. This opens up many possibilities for applying your skills and knowledge after graduation from this programme.
Political scientists study the structure and theory of government and seek practical and theoretical solutions to political problems. This MA programme prepares students for advisory positions, high-level positions in ministries and governments, or to be employed at the highest levels of administration. Similarly, it enables students to start a career in the private sector, e.g. in consulting, given the expertise in the digital transformation of the public sector.
Former students have been employed at international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme, the European e-Government Programme in Luxembourg, the European Commission or an embassy in Washington D.C. as a technology attaché. Some have opted for academia and continued in doctoral studies. The master's programme in Politics and Governance in the Digital Age equips students to operate in vast arrays of professional fields.

Admission requirements for Politics and Governance in the Digital Age 

​​​​​​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 50% of the final score)
  • the score of 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 (in English, up to 5000 characters with spaces) should address the following points:

  • Explain your motivation for applying to the programme (Why are you interested in politics and governance in the digital age? What are your plans for the future and how would this study programme help you achieve your goals?);
  • Explain how your educational and professional background relates to the programme you are applying to (What makes you a good candidate for this programme? What have you accomplished in the past? What knowledge, skills, and experiences do you have that are relevant to this programme?);
  • Please tell us about your specific research interests within the field of politics and governance in the digital age (What subfields or issues are you most interested in? What problems or issues would you like to examine in more depth? What would be a possible topic for your MA thesis?).

Evaluation criteria:

Each letter will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance of previous educational and professional experience for the programme (25%);
  • Motivation and ambition (25%);
  • Identification of specific research interests compatible with the substantive content of the programme, ability to formulate a research problem/topic (25%);
  • Writing skills and command of the English language (25%).

The maximum score for the motivation letter 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 be invited to the interview.

Admission interviews take place on: 11-12 April 2024

The interview is a follow-up to the motivation letter. It will last about 10-15 minutes and will be held electronically. The invitation with the online link will be sent to the candidate a few days prior. In the interview, the candidate should be ready to discuss their motivation to take up studies in the Politics and Governance in the Digital Age MA programme. The candidate should be able to describe their interests in relation to the study programme and be ready to give a brief overview of their planned MA thesis. We will also inquire about the candidate's preparedness to adjust to (a new) academic and cultural environment. 

The maximum score for the interview is 100 points. Each interview will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Motivation and ambition (50%);
- Identification of specific research interests compatible with the substantive content of the programme, ability to formulate a research problem/topic (40%);
- Oral skills and command of the English language (10%).


For each assignment, the maximum score is 100 points and minimum score 51 points to be considered for admission. The applicant needs to receive at least 51 points for the motivation letter, in order to qualify for the admission interview. After the interview, the final admission score is calculated. The total admission score will be the weighted sum of the score of the motivation letter and the interview. The maximum number of final points is 100. Only applications which receive 66 points and above as a combined score from both indicators will qualify for admission.

Further information on assessing candidates´ academic performance and calculating admissions´ score.

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. 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 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 (must reach us no later than by the end of July).
  4. official translation of the bachelor’s diploma and Diploma Supplement (transcript) into English, translation certified
  5. proof of English language proficiency
  6. copy of the passport page stating the applicant’s personal particulars
  7. 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 electronic 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.

Tuition fee and scholarships

Practical info for new students

International Student Ambassadors

Ask about the programme and admission
Eelika Laane-Hannus
Faculty of Social Sciences
Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
Academic Affairs Specialist
Lossi 36-301

Dean's Office, Faculty of Social Sciences
Academic Affairs Unit
Academic Affairs Specialist
Lossi 36-301
Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
+372 737 6212

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