Author: Andero Kalju

Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language

The programme will not admit students in 2024.



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
There are no tuition waivers
  • The studies take place at the University of Tartu Narva College, the main centre of higher education in North-Eastern Estonia, focusing on teacher training for multilingual schools. 
  • Become a teacher of Russian as a foreign language and acquire all necessary knowledge for teaching students of different age groups and mother tongues.
  • Narva College follows all academic and research traditions of the University of Tartu and its school of philology, cultural studies and semiotics (Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics). 
  • Study in Narva, a Russian-speaking city, and improve your Russian as a foreign language in everyday communication.
  • The programme has a highly qualified academic staff, who have 10-20 years experience of teaching Russian as a foreign language.
  • Students undergo pedagogical internships to acquire real-life experience teaching Russian to mixed groups of non-native speakers.

The master’s programme prepares you to teach Russian as a foreign language. Upon completion of the programme, the graduates acquire knowledge and skills that meet the requirements of contemporary philological and pedagogical sciences and the needs of teaching Russian as a foreign language. The graduates can apply the acquired knowledge and skills in teaching students of different age groups who speak other mother tongues and represent various cultures. 

This programme is aimed at developing the subject and multicultural competencies, communicative, methodological, reflective, managerial-administrative, and entrepreneurial skills. It also forms and supports the professional identity of a future teacher. The programme includes traditional and innovative philological and pedagogical courses created by leading specialists at the University of Tartu. During the pedagogical internship, students acquire real-life experience teaching Russian as a foreign language to a mixed-age group of non-native speaker students with various cultural backgrounds. 

What are the advantages of the programme?

  • Receive a philological and pedagogical education in 2 years
  • Improve the mastery of the Russian language as a foreign language and reach the proficiency level of C1
  • Choose different courses from any programme of the University of Tartu and study in a group with native speakers of Russian
  • Go for an Erasmus exchange semester abroad at a partner university
  • A flexible mode of study with e-learning support for every course of the programme.

What opportunities does the programme provide?

  • A diploma from the University of Tartu opens multiple possible career paths anywhere in the EU, the USA, or other foreign countries. However, please keep in mind that to qualify for a school teacher position, you might need to follow additional requirements, which are different for every country.
  • Studying for an Erasmus exchange semester at one of the European partner universities enriches the learning experience, broadens the outlook on practices and methodology of teaching Russian abroad, and allows to develop a better understanding of employment opportunities for teachers of Russian as a foreign language in the EU.
  • Studying in mixed groups of students from the EU, the CIS, and other countries allows to make business contacts and become a part of the international community of teachers of Russian as a foreign language.

What will you get from this programme?

The learning outcomes of this programme presuppose that a graduate:

  • is familiar with the modern linguistic vocabulary system, has a profound theoretical knowledge of the structure and grammar of the Russian language and is capable of applying this knowledge in teaching; 
  • has mastered the basic methods of linguistic analysis of language units such as sound analysis, morphological analysis, analysis of word combinations, simple and compound sentence analysis, etc.;
  • keeps track of changes in modern Russian;
  • has acquired the knowledge of certain aspects of the Russian national culture and can utilise it as a source of teaching material and can evaluate language phenomena in the context of national culture;
  • is capable of predicting and preventing typical errors related to the mother tongue of their students (English) on the basis of knowledge of the Russian and English languages;
  • speaks Estonian at the A1 level;
  • is capable of working in groups online and offline under a supervision of a teacher

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). 

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.

What makes studying at Narva College of the University of Tartu so attractive?

  • Narva College, a regional college of the University of Tartu (founded in 1999), follows all academic and research traditions of the University of Tartu.
  • The College has a highly qualified academic staff of Russian language, culture and literature teachers who conduct research and provide methodological support in teaching Russian as a foreign language and who have 10-20 years of experience in teaching Russian as a foreign language (incl. online language teaching).
  • The student body includes more than 500 students (incl. 136 international students from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, and other countries).   
  • The College offers 12 study programmes at bachelor’s, master’s and applied higher education levels.
  • The campus building of Narva College is a modern building constructed in 2012 according to a unique architectural project that combines an innovative study environment with present-day requirements to it.
  • The University dormitory was built in 2020; it offers a comfortable environment for studies, sports and leisure. The dormitory also houses a library and a swimming pool. 
Narva College, University of Tartu

The University of Tartu Narva College building, located next to the Town Hall in Narva, was built in 2012 on the site of the former Narva Stock Exchange Building. 

Read more about the college here.


Why study Russian in Narva?

  • Narva is a Russian-speaking city, with Russian being the home language for almost 95% of its inhabitants. Studying in Narva allows improving the Russian language as a foreign language in everyday and socio-cultural communication in the city environment. This is one of the reasons why every year Narva College is chosen as a place for short-term and long-term studies of Russian by about 100 students from the USA, France, Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Republic of Taiwan, and other countries.
  • Narva is a small city (about 60 000 residents) that is convenient for living and studying (the university study building and its dormitory are within walking distance).

Narva is the third-largest city in Estonia and is located by the Russian border on the Narva River.  The frontier location of Narva is a characteristic feature of both the past and the present of the town.

Read more about Narva.


Housing options in Narva

The dormitory of Narva College is situated in the new building, which is shared with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences. The building is unique in its layout and ergonomics: the first floor is concrete, and the remaining three are made of wood. The lower space of the dormitory houses a swimming pool. The prices vary between 125 and 250 EUR. Please, keep in mind that only the Kerese 14 building is in Narva; the rest of the dormitories are in Tartu. You can visit the website of our dormitory via this link.

For those preferring lower-budget options, the College has an agreement with the Sillamäe vocational school (the city is situated 20 km from Narva). The Sillamäe dormitory has also been renovated relatively recently, but has a stricter set of rules, as its primary inhabitants (the vocational school students) are younger than 18. The prices for this dormitory start from 30 EUR. You can reach Narva via regular, free of charge busses from Sillamäe. 

Concerning the accommodation in town, it is possible to rent a single room apartment for 50-100 EUR. A standard price for a two-room apartment is around 150 EUR. However, utilities are usually covered by a tenant and vary approximately 30-50 EUR in summer and 60-100 EUR in winter. The final utility costs depend on your consumer habits.

Paul Kerese 14 Narva Dormitory

The university dormitory in Narva was opened in 2020. It is a 15-minute walk from the University of Tartu Narva College.

Read more about it here.

You can work as a Russian teacher everywhere in the world.

Admission requirements for Teaching Russian to Foreigners


  • bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (must be obtained by the end of July) – please see our country-specific document requirements

  • confirmed proficiency in Russian at the B2 level. The requirements of the University of Tartu regarding the Russian language proficiency can be found below. 

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 2023/2024 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.

Applicants must provide proof of Russian language proficiency at a satisfactory level (B2 level according to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

The following tests with scores outlined are accepted (NB! Submit the score report by the application deadline):

1.    Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL) - minimum required result is B2 level;
2.    The European Language Certificate (TELC) in Russian - B2 level;
3.    Russian language online test on Moodle offered by Narva College on 12 April 2023. Minimum B2 level is required;
4.    Estonian state exam in Russian (exams taken in 1997-2013) - 66 points or higher.

Russian language requirement may be waived if an applicant:

  • has completed secondary or higher education (degree programme) in Russian;
  • has completed higher education in the field of Russian language (applies to candidates to PhD studies only).

We will examine the transcript of records of an applicant who belongs to any of the specified exempt categories.


Applications are evaluated based on


  • the score of the motivation letter (yields 40% of the final score)

  • the admission interview (yields 60% of the final score)

The purpose of the motivation letter is to identify the applicant’s interest in teaching Russian as a foreign language and their willingness and suitability for postgraduate study and research. The motivation letter (4000-6000 characters with spaces, written in Russian) must be added to your online application by the application deadline (March 15). Important: please add your motivation letter as a pdf, as Dream Apply does not allow you to type in more than 3000 characters.  

The motivation letter should include:

  • Description of the applicant's previous education/career path and how they are related to the studies of the Russian language.
  • Research interests for the master thesis. What are the potential research problems in the chosen field of studies the candidate would like to address?
  • An explanation of the motivation to become a teacher of Russian as a foreign language. Namely, what the candidate’s personal development goals are and what one expects to achieve.

The following aspects will be considered in assessing the motivation letter:

  • Reasons for entering the programme and the connection between previous education and/or professional career, on the one hand, and the content of the programme, on the other (max 30 points);
  • Orientation in current research topics on Russian as a foreign language (max. 20 points),
  • Relevance and originality of the topic of the master's thesis, reasons for choosing a current research topic (max. 20 points),
  • The ability to set problems for research studies (max. 10 points),
  • The structure of the motivation letter, analytical skills and language use (max. 20 points).

Applicants who received a positive score (at least 51 points) for the motivation letter will be invited to take part in the admission interview.

Admission interview is conducted in Russian. The interview will be held online in Zoom on 19 April. The applicants will receive a link to the interview and necessary instructions by e-mail. Please check your e-mails regularly! 

The applicant must demonstrate:
• Motivation to study in the chosen field and analytical abilities;
• Critical thinking and reasoning skills; 
• Broad world outlook and understanding of the methodology of teaching Russian as a foreign language;
• General acquaintance with the Russian historical context and the modern problems of Russian society;
• Self-expression skills and strong command of the Russian language.

Applicants who did not submit proof of English proficiency at level B1 will have to demonstrate their English skills during the interview.

Interview structure
1. Introduction of the applicant (1-2 min);
2. Questions of the members of the committee on the basis of the motivation letter from the applicant (5-7 minutes); 
3. Questions regarding the applicant's general outlook and their understanding of the specifics of teaching Russian as a foreign language and Russian society (5-7 min).

Self-expression, analytical skills, and language use will be assessed throughout the aforementioned activities. 

Admission interview topics

1. Applicant’s motivation and awareness when choosing a field of study.
2. Research topics in the field of teaching Russian as a foreign language.
3. Traditions and current state of teaching Russian as a foreign language in the applicant's country and abroad.
4. History of Russia and Russian culture, topical issues of modern Russian society.

Evaluation of the interview:

• motivation to study in the chosen specialty and the ability to self-analyze (20 points),
• critical thinking and reasoning and conclusion skills (20 points),
• horizons and orientation in teaching Russian as a foreign language (20 points),
• orientation in Russian history and problems of contemporary Russian society (20 points),
• self-expression skills and language use (20 points).

For each evaluation criteria, 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 qualify for the admission interview. After the interview, the final admission score is calculated. The maximum final score is 100 points. The application will be considered for admission if a score of 66 points or higher is achieved. 

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. 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. in case if the diploma is issued in any other language than English, Russian or Estonian: official translation of the bachelor’s diploma and Diploma Supplement (transcript) into English, translation certified
5. proof of Russian 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 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

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.
Travel information can be found here.

NB! Please note that this programme is taught in our campus in Narva (184 km from Tartu).

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

Why study at the University of Tartu?

International Student Ambassadors

Ask about the programme and admission
Olga Burdakova
Narva College
Department of Foreign Languages
Head of Department, Associate Professor of Russian Language, Programme Director of the Master's Programme in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language
Raekoja plats 2–320
+372 740 1946
Ivan Polynin
+372 740 1922

Student Admissions

Contact form

Application deadline
#admissions #why Tartu
Tiksu to UniTartu - Podcast for International Students is a brand new podcast for future students of the University of Tartu. Listen and subscribe now!
Information about participating in an online entrance interview when applying to the University of Tartu
#studies #admissions
Restrictions on studying tuition-free for the second or more time
Pay attention to common mistakes when applying to the University of Tartu: submit documents on time, meet English language requirements, and choose the right programme to ensure smooth admission.