Higher education in Estonia is regulated by the following legislation: the Republic of Estonia Education Act, the Universities Act, the Private Schools Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act, the Vocational Education Institutions Act, and the Standard of Higher Education. There are 20 HEIs in Estonia, out of which 6 are public universities, 1 is a private university, 8 are professional public HEIs, and 5 are professional private HEIs. In the academic year 2017/2018, approximately 46,200 students were enrolled in tertiary education, an increase of 1,600 compared to the year before. According to the International Student Barometer TM 2017, 92% of international students were satisfied with the studying standards in Estonia. For further information on Estonian higher education, you can access the Ministry of Education’s website at https://www.hm.ee/en.
As of 2002/2003, Estonia is organizing its higher education after the European Higher Education Area standards. Bachelor’s programmes add up to 180-240 ECTS credits and last between 3-4 years. Graduates receive a Bakalaureus (Bachelor’s degree). In a similar way, vocational education offers professional degrees: Rakenduskõrghariduse diplom (Diploma of Professional Higher Education). At the 2nd cycle, Master’s degrees are achieved after a duration of 1-2 years and 60-120 ECTS credits accumulated. Integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes are also offered in courses like Medicine, Architecture, Civil Engineering or teacher training. Graduates receive a Magister (Master’s degree). Doctoral programmes represent the 3rd cycle of higher education. The duration is 3 to 4 years (180-240 ECTS credits). Graduates receive a Doktor (Doctorate degree).
The requirement for access to higher education is secondary education and relevant certificates issued after 12 years of schooling. Admission to HEIs is centrally administered and foreign accreditations are reviewed by the Estonian National Academic Recognition Information Centre (Estonian ENIC/NARIC). International students are welcomed to apply, but they should prove their proficiency in English. Admission to postgraduate studies require previous relevant studies of Bachelor’s and Master’s courses. The language of instruction is Estonian, but a vast majority offers courses in English and there are introductory classes to Estonian.
Tuition fees differ from place to place so they tend to be generally around 1,660 EUR to 7,500 EUR per year for Bachelor’s and Master’s courses. Programmes like Medicine are more expensive and cost around 11,000 EUR per year. Students should check personally with their choice of study. All PhD programmes are free in Estonia. You can find detailed prices here and a database of available scholarships here.
Information for International Students
Living costs in Estonia are said to be similar to the ones in Western Europe. Cost of accommodation ranges between €80–150 in the student halls to €200–510 in private flats. A person needs around €300–500 in monthly living costs. For those who want to live in Tallinn, the capital city, free public transport is available for all students. The country does not have a “study visa”. Instead, you must apply for a temporary residence permit visa and the application should begin after you are accepted into a place. International students are allowed to work while studying full-time without needing a work permit and are allowed to remain for a further period of 9 months after graduation to find a job in Estonia.