Admission to doctoral studies

This page provides you with information about admission to the doctoral programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Admission requirements may differ depending on the programme or speciality in question. In addition to admission requirements and conditions, this page also provides information regarding currently active open calls in doctoral studies.

Starting from the academic year 2022/2023, the Faculty of Social Sciences will have two doctoral programmes with nine specialities. The Social Sciences programme enrolls doctoral students for sociology, media and communication, political science, psychology, economics, business administration, and law. The Educational Sciences programme provides the options of educational science and science education. 

Learn more about the necessary documents and different stages of applying for doctoral studies

 

Applying for doctoral studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences in  2024/2025 academic year 

  • 01.05.2024-15.05.2024 - basic admission for all specialities (candidates with a Master's degree or equivalent qualification obtained abroad).
  • 01.06.2024-15.06.2024- main admission for all specialities (candidates who have obtained a Master's degree or equivalent qualification in Estonia).
  • 15.04.2024 at the latest, information will be added to the website (application topics).
  • 15.07.2024 15.07.2024 at the latest admission decisions will be taken
  • 02.09.2024 start of the academic year
  • In addition, for certain specialities, admission may take place from 1 to 15 February, 15 to 30 September or 15 to 30 November.

See open calls

Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences

Doctoral Programme in Educational Sciences

 

Programme admission requirements and evaluation criteria

 

General admission requirements:

  • doctoral thesis project
  • admission interview

In the first stage of assessment, the doctoral thesis project will be assessed. The second stage of assessment is interview-based. 

Both the doctoral thesis project and the admissions interview are assessed on a scale of 0 to 50 points, except in the field of law, where the doctoral thesis project may be awarded up to 60 points and the interview up to 40 points. The minimum positive score for both is 35 points. Each component gives 50% of your overall score with a maximum overall score of 100 points, if you score at least 35 points out of 50 for the thesis proposal, you will be invited to the interview.

 

Speciality admission requirements

The requirements for the doctoral thesis project and the evaluation criteria can differ depending on the speciality. Below you will find specific conditions and requirements for every speciality, as well as contact information in case you have further questions.

 

Social Sciences

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply with your own topic as well as with the following topics. 

Doctoral thesis project and assessment of its feasibility

The project must be submitted not later than the application. The topic can be chosen from the list of the topics given on the website of the School of Economics and Business Administration.

Doctoral thesis projects must include the following:

  • title of the thesis;
  • topic of the thesis, its importance and relevance;
  • purpose, the main research problems and (where possible) the working hypotheses;
  • overview of the relevant literature, including the justification of the theoretical background suitable for solving the research problems and the justification of the choice of the research methodology; explaining the niche of the research;
  • methodological part, the data, the expected results and their novelty compared to earlier research, publishing options;
  • referenced literature on the topic.
  • a brief explanation of how the candidate's previous academic and/or professional activities relate to the research topic.

The project must be drawn up in A4 format, with a font size of 12. The length of the thesis project should preferably be 5-8 pages, with bibliography.

For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned. The scores depend on the following:

  • research purposes, problems and working hypotheses; connecting them to the literature and research methodology (25%);
  • overview of the existing literature, explaining the theoretical background of the research and connecting it to the research methodology (25%);
  • research methodology and data, justification of the choice of the research methodology and its novelity compared to earlier research (25%);
  • expected results and their novelty compared to earlier research (also topics of possible articles, if possible) (25%).

Entrance interview

The purpose of the interview is to assess the feasibility of the doctoral thesis project and success of the studies, considering also the applicant´s previous experience in the field (based on the CV). The interview is used to assess the applicant’s ability to present the main points of the proposed doctoral thesis and to characterise their earlier research activities in connection with the thesis project as well as their motivation to complete the doctoral programme successfully on time.

The maximum score for the interview is 50. The scores depend on the following:

  • Applicant´s ability to present clearly the main idea and research questions of the chosen topic and their novelty compared to earlier research in the field (50%);
  • The motivation of the applicant. The interview should determine the temporal perspective of completing successfully the study programme within the nominal study period, including applicant´s readiness to start studies in Tartu, etc. (50%)

Head of the specialisation: Eve Parts, eve.parts@ut.ee

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply with your own topic as well as with the following topics

Doctoral thesis project and assessment of its feasibility

The project must be submitted not later than the application. The topic can be chosen from the list of the topics given on the website of the School of Economics and Business Administration.

Doctoral thesis projects must include the following:

  • title of the thesis;
  • topic of the thesis, its importance and relevance;
  • purpose, the main research problems and (where possible) the working hypotheses;
  • overview of the relevant literature, including the justification of the theoretical background suitable for solving the research problems and the justification of the choice of the research methodology; explaining the niche of the research;
  • methodological part, the data, the expected results and their novelty compared to earlier research, publishing options;
  • referenced literature on the topic.
  • a brief explanation of how the candidate's previous academic and/or professional activities relate to the research topic.

The project must be drawn up in A4 format, with a font size of 12. The length of the thesis project should preferably be 5-8 pages, with bibliography.

During the assessment, the best project is given 50 points. The points given to other projects are calculated as a percentage of the best, based on the committee’s assessment. For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned. The scores depend on the following:

  • research purposes, problems and working hypotheses; connecting them to the literature and research methodology (25%);
  • overview of the existing literature, explaining the theoretical background of the research and connecting it to the research methodology (25%);
  • research methodology and data, justification of the choice of the research methodology and its novelity compared to earlier research (25%);
  • expected results and their novelty compared to earlier research (also topics of possible articles, if possible) (25%).

Entrance interview

The purpose of the interview is to assess the feasibility of the doctoral thesis project and success of the studies, considering also the applicant´s previous experience in the field (based on the CV). The interview is used to assess the applicant’s ability to present the main points of the proposed doctoral thesis and to characterise their earlier research activities in connection with the thesis project as well as their motivation to complete the doctoral programme successfully on time.

The maximum score for the interview is 50. The scores depend on the following:

  • Applicant´s ability to present clearly the main idea and research questions of the chosen topic and their novelty compared to earlier research in the field (50%);
  • The motivation of the applicant. The interview should determine the temporal perspective of completing successfully the study programme within the nominal study period, including applicant´s readiness to start studies in Tartu, etc. (50%)

Head of the specialisation: Tiia Vissak, tiia.vissak@ut.ee

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply with your own topic as well as with the following topics. During the admission procedure, the applicant’s motivation and suitability for doctoral studies in the field of media and communication are assessed.

Doctoral thesis project

The recommended length of the project is 3–5 pages, but not more than 10 pages (excl. the list of literature). The project must be submitted with other entrance documents.

The project must include the following:

1. the topic of the thesis, incl. a short summary of the nature of the problem and the most important related theoretical approaches and former research;
2. the purposes of the research – what kind of a problem the thesis is going to solve;
3. the research methodology that will be used to solve the problem and that is necessary for such work;
4. expectations for the results – their novelty and importance;
5. the preparedness to deal with the topic, knowledge of the relevant materials, relatedness with earlier research or work in the field, earlier research publications of the applicant;
6. information on the supervisor of the thesis; and
7. the planned time schedule of the activities.

The project should be accompanied by the earlier research publications of the applicant or their manuscripts ready to be published.

Entrance interview

The interview is based on the CV submitted by the applicant. The aim of the interview is to obtain an overview of the applicant’s education and work experience. The interview is used to determine the applicant's motivation to study this field and their expectations for doctoral studies.

Assessment

Doctoral thesis projects are assessed from three main aspects: the applicant’s ability to formulate research problems, their theoretical and methodological competency and the feasibility of the project. These are also important for the purpose of the interview. Apart from these, the interview considers the motivation of the applicant, their earlier education and work experience as well as their abilities in the particular field of study. Publications are considered to be as an advantage in the case of a tie on the basis of the scores.

The doctoral thesis project is assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

  • the relevance and originality of the research problem (25%);
  • the relevance of the research problem to the relevant scientific literature (the most relevant theoretical and empirical work in the field) (25%);
  • the existence of a clear research design (25%);
  • appropriateness of the methodology and feasibility of the research (25%).

The maximum score for the doctoral thesis project is 50 points. For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned.

The entrance interview is assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

  • the candidate's previous academic and professional experience and academic activities in the field (including participation in conferences, scientific publications)
  • the candidate's opinions and expectations regarding academic specialisation and research;
  • general knowledge of the subject of the doctoral thesis;
  • general knowledge of the research methodology envisaged in the thesis;
  • the candidate's motivation to work on the chosen topic;
  • future professional plans.

The maximum score for the interview is 50 points. For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned. 
Candidates who are permanently resident in a foreign country can be interviewed by video call (Zoom, Teams, etc.); the specific communication channel will be agreed with each candidate individually.

The duration of the interview will be limited to 30 minutes and will be conducted by a panel of professors and researchers with a PhD from the Institute of Social Sciences.

Head of the specialisation: Andra Siibak, andra.siibak@ut.ee

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply with your own topic as well as with the following topics. During the admission process, the applicants' preparedness, abilities and motivation for doctoral studies as well as their potential to complete the doctoral studies successfully on time and to work in this field are assessed. 

The doctoral thesis project. The recommended length of the project is 3–5 pages, but not more than 10 pages (excl. the list of literature), must include the following:

  • topic of the thesis, incl. a short summary of the research problem and the most important related research;
  • purpose and problems of the work;
  • description of the methodology to be used;
  • expectations for the results, incl. their novelty and importance;
  • self-assessment of the applicant regarding their readiness to handle this topic: knowledge of the relevant materials and relatedness with earlier research or work in the field; and
  • information on the proposed supervisor of the thesis.

The entrance interview takes around 20 minutes, and it is conducted by the committee consisting of the PhD teachers and research fellows of the UT Institute of Social Studies.

The interview is based on the thesis project and questions that may be asked during the entrance interview could pertain to the following:

  • information in the curriculum vitae
    earlier studies in the field, experience with the application of the field of study and the related academic activities (participation at conferences, scientific publications);
  • knowledge and experience regarding the specifics of research and academic studies in the field;
  • overall knowledge of the field of study of the doctoral thesis;
  • overall knowledge of the research methodology proposed to be used;
  • applicant’s motivation to deal with this topic; and
  • future plans regarding work in this field.

Assessment

The doctoral thesis project and the entrance interview are assessed separately on a 50-point scale. Minimum positive result is 35 points.

The assessment of the doctoral thesis project covers the following:

  • the importance and novelty of the research problem (25%);
  • its relation with the relevant research literature (the most important theoretical and empirical work in the field) (25%)
  • the existence of a clear research plan (25%)
  • the appropriateness of the methodology and the feasibility of the research (25%).

The assessment of the entrance interview covers:

  • the candidate's previous academic and professional experience and academic activities in the field (including participation in conferences, scientific publications)
  • the candidate's opinions and expectations regarding academic specialisation and research;
  • general knowledge of the subject of the doctoral thesis;
  • general knowledge of the research methodology envisaged in the thesis;
  • the candidate's motivation to work on the chosen topic;
  • future professional plans.

 For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned. Candidates who are permanently resident in a foreign country can be interviewed by video call (Zoom, Teams, etc.); the specific communication channel will be agreed with each candidate individually.

The duration of the interview will be limited to 30 minutes and will be conducted by a panel of professors and researchers with a PhD from the Institute of Social Sciences.

Head of the specialisation: Veronika Kalmus, veronika.kalmus@ut.ee

There is no list of topics, you can apply with your own topic. 

The doctoral thesis project must include the following:
1) justification for the choice of the topic and the research purpose;
2) main issues dealt with in the thesis and its illustrative structure (recommended);
3) short overview of the most relevant earlier research in the field;
4) presentation of the research methodology;
5) illustrative list of literature; and
6) timetable of the work.

Candidates who have scored at least 42 points (out of 60) for their doctoral thesis projects will be invited to the entrance interview.

The entrance interview is used to assess the following:
1) relevance of the doctoral thesis topic;
2) significance of the doctoral thesis topic for jurisprudence;
3) practical value of the doctoral thesis topic for Estonian society;
4) doctoral applicant’s knowledge in the field of the proposed thesis; and
5) doctoral applicant’s motivation (especially the application reasons, the temporal perspective of completing the study programme and future possibilities to apply the knowledge acquired).

Maximum score for the entrance interview is 40 and the minimum positive result is 28.

Head of the specialisation: Merike Ristikivi, merike.ristikivi@ut.ee

There is no list of topics, you can apply with your own topic. 

Doctoral thesis project
The recommended length of the project is 2–3 pages, but not more than 5 pages. The project must be submitted with other entrance documents.

The project must include the following:
1. topic of the thesis, incl. a short summary of the nature of the problem and the most important related research;
2. purpose of the thesis – what kind of a problem the thesis is going to solve;
3. research methodology that will be used to solve the problem and the resources necessary for such work;
4. expectations for the results – their novelty and importance;
5. preparedness to deal with the topic, knowledge of the relevant materials, relatedness with earlier research or work in the field; and
6. information on the supervisor of the thesis.

The assessment of the project covers the following:

  • novelty and originality of the project;
  • existence of the resources and conditions to carry out the proposed work;
  • applicant’s knowledge of modern psychology;
  • applicant’s research experience and achievements; and
  • applicant’s commitment and abilities to conduct the research.

Entrance interview

The entrance interview is based on the doctoral thesis project. During the interview, the committee may check the applicant’s foreign language skills. Publications are considered to be as an advantage in the case of a tie on the basis of the scores. The assessment of the interview covers the same criteria that the assessment of the project does, i.e. novelty, preparedness, knowledge, experience and commitment.

The doctoral thesis project and the entrance interview are assessed separately on a 50-point scale. The doctoral thesis project is successfully defended and the entrance interview is passed if the respective score is at least 35 points.

Head of the specialisation: Jüri Allik, jyri.allik@ut.ee

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply for a position on topics available on the homepage of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies

Doctoral thesis project (research proposal)

The PhD research proposal (at a minimum of 5 pages, including a list of sources) should include the following:

  • topic of the proposed PhD thesis (presentation of the research problem, positioning it in the context of the existing literature);
  • objectives of the thesis;
  • description of data and research methods;
  • expected results, their novelty and importance;
  • list of sources;
  • brief summary of previous academic or practical experience relevant to the proposed PhD research.

Applicants whose research proposals are evaluated positively (see details below) are invited to an admission interview with the aim of determining their motivation and academic potential for participating in the programme.

Entrance interview
 Topics discussed during the interview can include the following:

  •  the applicant’s prior academic and work experience (based on the applicant’s CV);
  •  choice of topic and the research proposal, in particular its relevance and feasibility;
  •  motivation to receive a PhD in political science and future career plans;
  •  readiness to adapt to new institutional and cultural settings.

The interview lasts around 20 minutes. Invitations to the interviews are sent 5-7 days before the interview. Applicants who reside abroad can participate in the interview via telecommunication means.

Assessment
 Assessment criteria for the research proposal:

  • Appropriateness and justification of the chosen theoretical and methodological approach (40%);
  • Novelty and relevance of the proposed research (30%);
  • Feasibility of the proposed project (30%).
     

Assessment criteria for the interview:

  • Motivation to pursue a PhD in Political Science and readiness to commit to the programme (30%);
  • Relevance of previous academic and work experience to the programme and the proposed PhD research (30%);
  • Ability to justify the research proposal, including in the context of major debates in the field (30%);
  • Presentation skills, interpersonal skills (10%).

Both the research proposal and admission interview are assessed on a scale of 0 to 50 points, minimum positive score is at least 35 points. To be invited to an interview, the applicant must earn at least 35 points for the research proposal.

Head of the specialisation: Piret Ehin, piret.ehin@ut.ee

 

Educational sciences 

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply for a position on topics available on the homepage of the Institute of Education

Doctoral Thesis Project

The project should be up to five A4 pages long (excl. the list of literature). The project should include the research problem, its innovativeness and importance, on the basis of scientific literature, the research methodology proposed and resources needed to solve the problem, and a description of how the expected results would be important in practice and for international research circles. The project should be accompanied by the applicant’s CV. The latter should include information on the applicant’s earlier research activities, including research publications and conference presentations.

The project assessment criteria:
1. innovativeness and importance of the doctoral thesis (up to 10 points);
2. justification of the research problem (up to 10 points);
3. adequacy of the research methodology (up to 10 points);
4. feasibility of the project (up to 5 points); and
5. applicant’s research potential to complete the proposed doctoral thesis (up to 15 points).

The maximum score for the doctoral thesis project and the entrance interview is 50 points. For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned.

Entrance interview

During the entrance interview, the applicant must describe their doctoral thesis project in English; this is followed by up to a 25-minute interview conducted by the committee

The interview assessment criteria:
1. ability to explain the project (incl. the research problem, the related research literature, the methods) (up to 15 points);
2. applicant’s motivation to pursue doctoral studies in educational science and to work in this field (up to 5 points);
3. wider analytical and generalisation skills regarding educational topics (up to 10 points);
4. knowing their way around Estonian and international education issues (up to 10 points); and
5. presentation skills/self-expression (in English (all applicants) and in Estonian (native speakers of Estonian)) (up to 10 points).

Head of specialisation: Äli Leijen, ali.leijen@ut.ee

In 2024/2025 it is possible to apply for a position on topics available on the homepage of the Institute of Education

Doctoral Thesis Project

The project should be up to five A4 pages long (excl. the list of literature). The project should include the research problem, its innovativeness and importance, on the basis of scientific literature, the research methodology proposed and resources needed to solve the problem, and a description of how the expected results would be important in practice and for international research circles. The project should be accompanied by the applicant’s CV. The latter should include information on the applicant’s earlier research activities, including research publications and conference presentations.

The project assessment criteria:
1. innovativeness and importance of the doctoral thesis (up to 10 points);
2. justification of the research problem (up to 10 points);
3. adequacy of the research methodology (up to 10 points);
4. feasibility of the project (up to 5 points); and
5. applicant’s research potential to complete the proposed doctoral thesis (up to 15 points).

The maximum score for the doctoral thesis project and the entrance interview is 50 points. For the result to be positive, 35 points must be earned.

Entrance interview

During the entrance interview, the applicant must describe their doctoral thesis project in English; this is followed by up to a 25-minute interview conducted by the committee

The interview assessment criteria:
1. ability to explain the project (incl. the research problem, the related research literature, the methods) (up to 15 points);
2. applicant’s motivation to pursue doctoral studies in educational science and to work in this field (up to 5 points);
3. wider analytical and generalisation skills regarding educational topics (up to 10 points);
4. knowing their way around Estonian and international education issues (up to 10 points); and
5. presentation skills/self-expression (in English (all applicants) and in Estonian (native speakers of Estonian)) (up to 10 points).

Head of specialisation: Miia Rannikmäe, miia.rannikmae@ut.ee

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