Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management
- The University of Tartu belongs to the top 250 of the world's best universities (Rankings and Surveys).
- Study in Pärnu, a member of the European Spas Association, an internationally acclaimed health tourism destination with more than 175 years of history as a resort town.
- The studies include business internships, field trips and company visits to world-class spas in Estonia.
- Small group dynamics and learning allows direct interaction and discussions with lecturers.
- Internationally respected professors and lecturers from the USA, Hungary, France, UK, Finland and Estonia teach the programme.
- After graduation, you can start your own business, manage the world’s top spas, wellness centres, resorts, treatment centres and other hospitality and health-related facilities.
To get to know the programme and the admission requirements better, you can:
Did you know that the global wellness economy is valued at $4.4 trillion? Did you also know that wellness is one of the fastest-growing industries globally? Would you like to learn more about wellness? Do you see yourself working in the wellness industry and contributing to people's health? Join our international master's programme in Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management!
You will know and understand theoretical aspects, best practices and future trends of wellness and spa management and related issues required for the successful management of such businesses and the well-being of people and society.
You will develop a service-oriented mentality and acquire those professional skills needed for working within wellness, spa and related organisations and businesses, in particular, to:
- plan and develop strategic, operational and human resource management and marketing of wellness and spa organisations and enterprises;
- design attractive, innovative and competitive wellness and spa services;
- manage wellness and spa service quality and environmental and sustainability issues.
Why study Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management?
- Top-ranked: The University of Tartu belongs to the top 1.2% of the world's universities
- Practical: business internships, field trips and company visits to various well-known spas in Estonia
- Tailored study programme: small study groups, direct interaction and discussions with lecturers, flexible study methods
- International expertise: internationally known and respected professors and experts from Hungary, Austria, the UK, Finland and Estonia
The master’s programme presents the main keywords: service design and management in the wellness, spa and hospitality industry. Carefully designed content is divided into five main study modules that are interrelated to one another and linked to the concepts of sustainability, creativity, quality, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Traditional lectures are combined with study visits to companies.
Many courses of the master’s programme provide traditional lectures and seminars in the classroom, but they also offer study visits to spas and wellness centres in Pärnu and Tallinn. Additionally, a day trip will be organised to the island Saaremaa, famous for its various spas. Students meet with spa staff members, participate in discussions, ask questions, write down their thoughts and describe and share their experiences with fellow students and teachers.
In Spa and Wellness industry, all services are carefully designed to create meaningful, long-lasting experiences. During the visits, the students use their senses to observe, listen, smell, feel and taste a real spa environment. The theoretical information becomes clear in reality, and the students gain a deep, profound understanding of the wellness concept and holistic approach to spa and wellness services.
Estonia is a small country, but we are never short of spas. Estonians like spas, our spa culture has a long history, and sauna traditions are popular among all generations. Spas in Pärnu we are cooperating with: Tervis Medical Spa Hotel, Hedon Spa & Hotel, Tervise Paradiis Spa Hotel and Water park, Viiking Spa Hotel and Estonia Resort Spa Hotel.
Saaremaa is the biggest island in Estonia. Many people like to take a spa holiday there. Fresh air and seawater, seaside, beautiful nature, healing herbs and local mud belong to local spa services. Spas in Saaremaa: Pädaste Manor, Grand Rose Spa Hotel, Georg Ots Spa Hotel and Arensburg Boutique Hotel & Spa.
Tallinn is our modern capital, and the spas that our students visit are very different from the spas in Pärnu or Saaremaa. Many belong to international hotel chains. We cooperate with Hilton Tallinn Park Spa, Park Inn by Radisson Meriton Conference & Spa Hotel Tallinn, Tallink Spa & Conference Hotel, Viimsi Tallinn Spa and Swissôtel Tallinn.
The internship is compulsory and an essential part of the whole study process. Every student has to get a practical working experience before the second study year. The most favourable time for this is the summer period from June until September after the second semester. Students have acquired enough theoretical knowledge by then and passed the main study modules necessary to get a deeper understanding of spa and wellness philosophy, services, and industry in general.
The University of Tartu Pärnu College has developed a great network of spas in various resorts and regions that are ready to cooperate and offer internship positions for our students. In the first semester, the students are provided with information about the internship process they have to go through to be ready on time. All arrangements, negotiations and agreements take time and therefore, it is never too early to start with the planning. Some students have a very clear idea of where they want to work, but others may need some help. The college has an internship specialist who helps students with the process.
The students of the University of Tartu have the right to apply for an ERASMUS scholarship that means financial internship support to help cover travel costs and accommodation during the working period. It is very helpful and handy to have your costs under control. With our internship specialist, you will learn about your rights and options. Usually, personal appointments are scheduled for discussion.
What kind of work can a student expect?
Usually, our students find a position as a spa attendant or a spa receptionist in a spa, wellness centre or spa hotel. It is the first step you cannot miss when you build up your spa and wellness industry career. The position requires a complete understanding of spa services offered in the facility and excellent communication skills. Direct contact with customers gives a good lesson and helps understand the industry functioning in daily business. Sometimes our students work as help to spa managers, which means getting involved in spa operations and marketing and product development. That can be challenging but will be rewarding afterwards. The knowledge you gain is worth working hard on. In any case, the responsibilities of each student will be discussed, tasks described and agreed upon with both parties and contracts signed before the start of the internship period. Every student will have a supervisor, the primary support and contact in the enterprise during the internship.
Students have to record their activities and write a report at the end of the internship period. The written report must be submitted and defended at the college during the following semester. It is necessary to reflect on your work experience and share it with your fellow students, get feedback and discuss the details with our specialist when you come back. The internship can be seen as one of the most important milestones for your future career as a spa manager.
Our partners for internship:
Vila Vita Parc Hotel (Portugal), Six Senses Spa (Barcelona, Spain, and also other destinations in Europe and outside Europe), Carisma Spa (Malta), A-Spa (Kirini Spa Hotel in Greece), Artemis Hamam and Spa (Greece), Mandarin Oriental Bodrum (Turkey), Hotel Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere (Italy), Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic), Iberotel Boltenhagen (Germany), Hotel Jurmala Spa (Latvia) and The Yeatman Luxury Spa Wine Hotel (Portugal).
The following version of the programme courses 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).
Internationally respected professors and lecturers from the USA, Hungary, France, UK, Finland and Estonia teach the programme. You can find a list of lecturers below.
Tom Baum, PhD
Visiting Professor, University of Strathclyde (Scotland)
Course: Human Resource Management for Wellness and Hospitality
Laszlo Puczko, PhD
Visiting Professor, (Hungary)
Courses: Wellness Economy and Entrepreneurship; Strategic Management
Margrit Kärp, MA
Courses: Wellness and Spa Service Quality Management, Wellness Philosophy and Self-Management
Melanie Smith, PhD
Visiting Associate Professor, University of Tartu Pärnu College
Courses: Wellness and Health Tourism, Principles of Sustainable Development
Monika Kumm, PhD
Senior Research Fellow, University of Tartu Pärnu College
Courses: Research Methodology; Wellness and Spa Service Development
Marit Piirman, PhD student
Junior Lecturer in Tourism Services, University of Tartu Pärnu College
Course: Service Design
Anne Roosipõld, PhD
Associate Professor of Tourism Services, University of Tartu Pärnu College
Course: Spa Nutrition and Food Management
Ilona Beliatskaya, PhD student
Visiting lecturer, EBS
Course: Digital Marketing in Tourism
Maarja Pajusalu, PhD student
Visiting Lecturer, University of Tartu
Course: Visual Communication Design
Mario Passos Ascencao, PhD
Visiting Lecturer, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
Course: Process and Projects Management in Wellness Service Design
Jana Raadik Cottrell, PhD
Course: Research Methodology, University of Tartu Pärnu College
Coordinator of student’s Practical Training, University of Tartu Pärnu College
ERASMUS Programme Coordinator, University of Tartu Pärnu College
The studies take place in Pärnu, the Summer Capital of Estonia.
- Pärnu has 185 years of longstanding traditions in health resorts and hospitality and is an internationally acclaimed health tourism destination with the membership of the European Spa Association.
- It is located 1,5 hours from Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, and 2 hours from Riga, the capital of Latvia.
- A beautiful and peaceful place to study and live, with plenty of varied activities such as sports, entertainment and cultural events, set in a natural environment close to beaches and forest.
Admission requirements for Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management
bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (must be obtained by the end of July) – please see our country-specific document requirements.
English language proficiency – see our acceptable tests and exempt categories.
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.
Applications are evaluated based on
the score of the motivation letter (yields 50% of the final score)
the admission interview (yields 50% of the final score)
The motivation letter must be submitted with your application. Please write a brief motivation letter (in English, maximum of 4600 characters with spaces) based on the following points:
- describe what skills and knowledge you have acquired through previous education and working experience;
- describe how the master's programme is related to your previous studies;
- analyse how the master's programme benefits your professional and academic career.
- analytical and argumentation skills (60%)
- knowledge of written English (40%)
Only the candidates who receive at least 51 points from the motivation letter, will be invited to the online interview (conducted via Zoom).
During the interview, following aspects are assessed: 1) motivation to study on Master level and to complete the programme successfully on time; 2) motivation, interest and readiness to work in chosen field; 3) communication skills.
Admission interviews take place on:
April 13, 2023
April 14, 2023
April 17, 2023
April 18, 2023
The exact interview date and time for each qualifying applicant will be specified in early April when the motivation letters have been evaluated.
For both assignments the maximum score is 100 points and the minimum positive score 51 points. Only candidates who receive at least 51 points from the motivation letter will be invited to the online interview. After the interview, the final admission score is calculated. The application will be considered for admission if a total 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:
- online application
- motivation letter
- 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).
- official translation of the bachelor’s diploma and Diploma Supplement (transcript) into English, translation certified
- 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.
NB! Please note that this programme is taught in our campus in Pärnu (~173 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.