Higher Education in Estonia
Estonian universities all use the two-tier (bachelor-master) structure for most programs. Bachelor’s degrees normally take 3 years of study and master’s degrees normally take 2 years of study. Medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, architecture and civil engineering all require a single program of 5-6 years and normally result in a master’s level diploma. Doctoral degrees are postgraduate research degrees and take 3-4.5 years to complete. Estonia uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
Why Study in Estonia?
Students from more than 70 countries are already studying in Estonia. In addition to being a beautiful and friendly country that welcomes international students, Estonia provides an excellent, internationally recognized education. The capital city, Tallinn, has been designated by intelligentcommunity.org as one of the world’s seven most intelligent communities. In addition, English is widely spoken throughout the country and internet access is free in many locations. Estonia is one of the most connected countries in the world, with electronic identification cards, e-government and online voting.
Universities in Estonia
Estonia has 12 public institutions of higher education (3 multidisciplinary universities and 9 specialized universities) and 8 private institutions of higher education. Estonian institutions of higher education offer nearly 60 master’s degree programs in a wide variety of academic disciplines, from Accompaniment (music) to Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management. Many schools offer programs in English, including the Estonian Academy of Arts, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Estonian Business School the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tallinn University, Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu.
Tuition and Program Duration
Tuition for Estonian-taught degree programs is free for full-time students. Tuition for English-taught programs varies widely depending upon the type of program and the school. Tuition per semester for English-taught programs is generally about €1500-2000 at a public university. Most master’s programs are two years in duration, but some can be completed in one year. Students earn between 60 and 120 credits depending upon the type of program.
The academic year begins in September and the autumn semester runs through the beginning of February. After a short break (about 10 days) the spring semester begins and runs through the end of June. The normal academic year includes forty weeks. Both oral and written exams take place during a four-week period at the end of each semester.
There are many opportunities for employment in Estonia, particularly for international and information technology businesses. EU citizens do not need a work permit. Non-EU citizens must obtain a work permit, which is normally issued for two years, but can be extended for up to five years at a time.
International students in Estonia are not generally covered by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, unless they are employed in Estonia, are permanent residents or have a long-term residence permit. EU citizens can use a EU health insurance card, which should be obtained before they depart their home country. Non-EU citizens should obtain health insurance before applying for a residence permit. Since only certain insurance companies are accepted by the Estonian Migration Board, students should check with their institution or the Board prior to purchasing insurance.
Students wishing to explore Russia during their time in Estonia will find plenty of inexpensive buses to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other major cities.