There are few universities in Estonia but each of them meets European standards. Poor-performing institutions quickly get closed or consumed by larger and more successful ones, so the risk of getting a low-quality education here is close to zero. Local universities offer affordable education in English in most specialties, be it IT, medicine, economics, or design.

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Estonia - General information
region Baltic Countries
Capital Tallinn
Language Estonian
Currency Euro
Population 1,311,870
Statistics - Education
Ranking of universities in the world 51
Quality of teaching 31
Statistics - Universities
Universities in top 500 1
Universities in top 1000 2
Universities in top 5000 5
Cost of living in Estonia
Expenses - USD/Month Min. Med.
Accommodation 135 200
Food 129 267
Transportation 20 71
Communications and utilities 65 103
Clothing 23 87
Sports and leisure 27 104
Total 400 832
Accommodation in Estonia USD/Month
Shared room outside of centre 137
Shared room in city centre 202
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre 239
1 bedroom apartment in city centre 369
Location on map

List of the best universities in Estonia

Information is exploratory. For accurate information, refer to the official website of the school.
4731University of TartuTartu
1,000 USD
from  3,931 USD
to  9,310 USD
6552Tallinn University of TechnologyTallinn
from  3,517 USD
to  3,724 USD
from  2,586 USD
to  6,207 USD
3Tallinn UniversityTallinn
from  3,414 USD
to  4,758 USD
from  3,879 USD
to  4,965 USD
4Estonian Information Technology CollegeTallinn
5Tallin Health CollegeTallinn
2,500 USD
2,500 USD
6Tartu Art CollegeTartu
7Theological Seminary TartuTartu
8Tallinn University of Applied SciencesTallinn
9Estonian University of Life SciencesTartu
9,310 USD
from  3,931 USD
to  9,310 USD
10Baltic Methodist Theological SeminaryTallinn

Advantages of Estonian universities

  • Affordable prices. On average, studying in Estonian universities is more expensive than in other Eastern European countries, but doctoral studies are absolutely free here, and the cost of a Bachelor's degree starts from 1,655 USD/year, a Master's degree — from 931 USD/year, and an MBA — from 5,172 USD/year. It is cheaper than in many other EU countries. Despite the price, the students receive degrees that are guaranteed to be recognized throughout the European Union.
  • Equal conditions for everyone. Estonian universities are interested in young talents from all over the world. This is reflected in many aspects: tuition fees and admission conditions are the same for students of all nationalities, everyone can compete for a tuition-free seat or a grant from the university, including the students of some English-taught Bachelor's and Master's programs.
  • English-language programs. In Estonian universities, almost all major specialties are available for study in English, including Bachelor’s programs. This is not common in European universities. The University of Tartu even has a fully English-speaking medical faculty.
  • Practice-oriented. At Estonian universities, students are not prohibited from working during their studies. On the contrary, many teachers support students if they manage to apply the knowledge gained at the university, for example, to open their own business. Students are even allowed to make use of university equipment for personal goals, such as making a prototype of their product on a 3D-printer.
  • Scholarships. Every year Estonian universities provide the best applicants with grants that cover tuition. To get funding, you need to have an impressive profile.

Disadvantages of Estonian universities

  • Lack of control. For those who are accustomed to strict supervision by teachers, it will be difficult to adjust to studying in an Estonian university. It is not customary there to monitor attendance, constantly check homework, and reward for good grades. The teacher's task is to give material. The student must work with it independently. Developing self-discipline is absolutely necessary.
  • Low English proficiency of teachers. The share of foreigners among university professors rarely exceeds 10%, so English courses are usually taught by non-native speakers. Their level is not always sufficient for a high quality of teaching. In addition, not all teaching materials are properly adapted into English: sometimes students have to search for translations of Estonian-language articles on their own.
  • Campuses. Many expect to see proper campuses when they enter a foreign university, where everything from dormitories to libraries is located in the same area. This is not common in Estonian universities. Many of them have modern educational buildings, but they are often scattered across the city. However, cities in Estonia are small, so walking between buildings will not take much time.

Admission requirements to Estonian universities

Type of studyAgeDurationMin. costAvg. costLanguage requirementsExams
College15+1-4 yearsFreeState institutions2,586 USD/yearprivate institutionsIntermediate (B1)May vary
Bachelor's183-4FreeState institutions4,138 USD/yearIntermediate (B1)IELTS 5.5 / TOEFL IBT 72 / EKT B1
Master's 20+1-2 yearsFreeState institutions4,138 USD/yearIntermediate (B1)IELTS 5.5 / TOEFL IBT 72 / EKT B1
MBA20+1-2 years5,172 USD / year6,724 USD/yearUpper-Intermediate (B2)IELTS 6.0 / TOEFL IBT 75 / EKT B1
PhD20+4 yearsFreeFreeUpper-Intermediate (B2)IELTS 6.0 / TOEFL IBT 75 / EKT B1

The data in the table is approximate and for informational purposes only. The exact information must be checked on the website of the desired educational institution.

You can apply to Estonian universities after high school. The admission committee looks at the GPA in the certificate and the results of the language exam. Many universities also have entrance exams.

Applications are submitted once a year: from April to July, depending on the university and the applicant's citizenship. The application is submitted online to all selected establishments at once using the Dream Apply system. Then you need to pass a video interview or a specialty-oriented online test. If you succeed, the university will ask you to send certified paper copies of the required documents and their translations into English or Estonian via mail.

Higher education can be obtained in English with IELTS of 5.5 or a TOEFL of 72. To study in Estonian, you must pass the Eesti keele tasemeeksam exam at level B1. The test is free and is held 4 times a year in Tallinn, Narva, Jõhvi, and Tartu.

For Bachelor's studies:

  • Completed application form on the university website;
  • School certificate + grades’ transcript. For those who are still studying — a transcript with grades for the last few years;
  • The results of standardized tests;
  • Copy of passport;
  • Language certificate (IELTS from 5.5 / TOEFL from 72 or EKT from B1);
  • Motivation letter;
  • Passing video interviews and additional tests.

Additionally for Master's and doctoral studies:

  • Bachelor's / Master's degree + transcript;
  • CV.

The digital application must be accompanied by scans of the original documents and their translations into English or Estonian. Translations must be certified in ONE of the ways:

  1. By the authorized representative of the educational institution;
  2. By a notary;
  3. By an apostille.

Types of universities in Estonia

  • General education universities are the three most famous and largest universities in the country. They are considered prestigious and also represent Estonia in the QS and THE world rankings. These institutions have the widest selection of specialties. Traditionally, the best medical school is at the University of Tartu, and the economic specialties are well represented at the Tallinn University of Technology.
  • Information is exploratory. For accurate information, refer to the official website of the school.
    4731University of TartuEstoniaTartu
    1,000 USD
    from  3,931 USD
    to  9,310 USD
  • Specialized universities are a group of more narrowly focused, professional educational institutions. These include not only universities but also several academies. Here you can study applied sciences as well as art, music, and theatrics. In addition, this category includes universities for military training and civil servants. In specialized universities, in addition to higher education, Vocational Education and Training programs are available.
  • Information is exploratory. For accurate information, refer to the official website of the school.
    12Estonian Academy of ArtsEstoniaTallinn
    2,500 USD
    from  1,241 USD
    to  4,034 USD

    Colleges in Estonia

    Foreigners in Estonia can also study in colleges that are more commonly referred to as vocational education centers or schools (ametikool / kutsehariduskeskus). A list of such institutions can be found on the government website. You can enter them after the different school grades, depending on the educational system in your country. Training programs will differ in duration and content.

    Some institutions of higher education are also called colleges in Estonia, where, in addition to secondary vocational education, there are Bachelor's and Master's programs. The most famous of them are medical programs at Tallinn Health College and Tartu Health Care College.

    In most colleges, programs are conducted in Estonian. Some institutions offer foreigners to go through a preparatory "Estonian year" to improve language proficiency. The main multilingual college in the country is Narva College of the University of Tartu.

    Estonian public and private universities

    • Public universities in Estonia are considered the most prestigious. There are 12 of them in the country. Thanks to the support of the government, there are some state-funded seats, as well as free doctoral programs for everyone. In state universities, most specialties are taught in Estonian and English. Among them, there are world-famous institutions, for example, the University of Tartu, founded in 1632. It is the oldest university in the territory of the former USSR.
    • Private universities in Estonia are inferior to public ones in terms of numbers and popularity. In a country with such a small population, many of them fail to compete and either shut down or become part of larger public universities. As of 2020, there are two most successful private institutions in Estonia. Here you can get higher education in business, management, and IT: Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences is famous for its IT program, and at Estonian Business School you can get an MBA degree for 5,172 USD per year.

    Groups and associations of Estonian universities

    There are no national university associations per se in the country, but university representatives are actively involved in the activities of academic and scientific communities:

    1. Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia (Estonian Academy of Sciences) is an association of the country's leading scientists, established in 1938. Among the members of the Academy are researchers and professors from all major universities in Estonia. The main mission of the association is to promote Estonian science internally and internationally;
    2. Rektorite Nõukogu (Rectors' Union) is a non-profit association whose purpose is to promote the development of Estonian education, science and culture. The union considers higher education to be the main prerequisite for the betterment of Estonia, therefore improving its quality and competitiveness is a priority for the members of the association.

    Estonian universities are also members of international associations. Estonian University of Life Sciences and University of Tartu are part of the Baltic Sea Region Network. The association promotes the partnerships between the universities-members of the association, the increase in the mobility of students and teachers, the exchange of experience and ideas.

    Free universities in Estonia

    In Estonia, public universities are technically free. However, the number of state-funded seats at each university is very limited: for foreigners, as a rule, there are no more than 10 of them per enrollment. The selection committee selects the students with the best applications and results of entrance examinations. It is necessary to get at least 60 ECTS annually and to pass all exams regularly in order to keep it. Otherwise, you will have to switch to paid education.

    A pleasant exception is doctoral studies in Estonia. All PhD programs in the country are free. In addition, students receive an allowance of 207-621 USD per month, depending on their academic success.

    You can also win a scholarship to study in Estonia. Such an opportunity is provided by the university itself, the government of the country, third-party foundations, and organizations. Estonia is rapidly gaining popularity among foreign students[0], so the competition for funding is also high.

    Read more

    Interesting facts about Estonian universities

    • In 2019, Tallinn University of Technology presented Estonia's first self-driving car iseAuto. The developers promised that in the near future it would become one of the main ways of transportation in Tallinn.
    • The University of Tartu had been founded in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolfus. Because of the city’s complicated history, during different periods of time it was a part of the Swedish, Russian Empire’s, Soviet and Estonian educational systems.
    • Every year in spring and autumn, the University of Tartu hosts a large-scale festival "Student Days". Over 80 events are held during the week. The most spectacular ones are boat and homemade car races.

    Photos of Estonian universities

    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
    Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
    Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
    Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
    Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
    Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
    Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
    Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Tallinn, Estonia
    Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Tallinn, Estonia

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