Rules and Organisation of PhD Studies
Tuition Fees and Scholarships
PhD Individual Study Plan
PhD Study Agreement
PhD Progress Review
Doctoral Performance Stipend
Applying for a Doctorate
Doctoral theses defended at the University of Tartu
The rules that govern the organisation of doctoral studies at UT are set out in the Study Regulations. See also the Good Practice of Doctoral Studies.
There are no tuition fees for PhD students, including international PhD students. Students studying full time have the right to receive a monthly stipend of 660 euros. There are additional scholarship opportunities for students of some fields. More information on scholarships for PhD students can be found on this page.
By September 15 of the first academic year of studies, a PhD student and a supervisor must draw up (1) an individual study plan covering the entire, the four-year, period of PhD studies and (2) a more detailed plan for the first semester. The study plan needs to be inserted to SIS and if requested so, please also inform administrative personnel of your institute that your plan is ready. Please find the right form here
The students enrolling in the middle of an academic year must draw up the plan within two weeks from matriculation (official beginning of studies at UT).
A detailed study and research plan for a second semester of the first study year must be drawn up on paper by the time of presenting an assessment report (progress review report) for the first semester, handed to the institute/faculty together with the assessment report and also inserted to SIS at least eight working days prior the assessment day. There are two assessments (progress reviews) in the first academic year: at the end of first and second semester.
After the second assessment, the student prepares a detailed study and research plan for a full academic year, that is for the second study year and the third assessment takes place after the two semesters of the second study year have been completed (typically at the end of the second study year).
PhD Student's Individual Study Plan
All PhD students are required to sign a PhD study agreement within 4 weeks from their official date of matriculation (matriculation date is usually the first day of a semester/ academic year). The agreement must be signed in as many copies as there are parties to the agreement. Each party will keep one copy of the agreement. Please find the right form here
The agreement is registered and stored at a respective dean’s office. If the dean has authorized a head of institute to sign the agreements, then the agreement needs to be taken to the institute a PhD student is matriculated to (information on matriculation is in SIS).
When completing the agreement, please make sure that all fields are filled out. In the case of a field with several options, please keep the one that applies and delete the rest.
Clauses 5.2. and 5.3. should only be filled out if the relevant funding has been obtained. If the doctoral student`s research topic will not be funded from research allocations (targeted funding, grants, international R& D agreements, etc.) or other allocations emanating from outside the university, the clauses should be deleted.
There are two progress reviews in the first academic year: at the end of both first and second semester. Thus, autumn semester's progress review takes place at the beginning of spring semester and spring semester's review at the beginning of autumn semester. In the following years there is one progress review (assessment) that takes place after two semesters have been completed. The results of progress review will be described in ECTS credits and inserted into SIS. The document titled Study Regulations regulates the process of progress reviews (clause V.5).
PhD Student's Progress Review
All full time PhD students are entitled to receive doctoral allowance during the four year time of their standard study period. This does not apply to the students of DoRa programme, as they have seprate funding measures.
The doctoral allowance can be sought by doctoral students who are citizens of the Republic of Estonia or who reside in Estonia on the basis of a residence right or a permanent or temporary residence permit and are full time students.
The amount of the doctoral allowance is 660 EUR per month (as of 2018).
There is no separate application for the allowance, it is taken care automatically, and the allowance is granted for whole academic year (from August to September). PhD students who are on academic leave at the time of granting doctoral allowance shall be granted the allowance from the study month following the finishing date of academic leave until the beginning of the next academic year. For more information, please see the document about terms and procedure for granting allowances.
All PhD students, who have valid temporary residence permit (TRP) and their their residence registered in Estonia or the right of residence (depending on their country of origin: non-EU students have TRP and EU students right of residence) and for whom the university has assigned PhD study allowance in the Study Information System, receive health insurance (haigekassa) from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF). The national health insurance is valid during the nominal period of studies (four years). It is interrupted during an academic leave including the case when the academic leave is taken for medical reasons.
Generally, if the PhD study allowance has been assigned (formal documentation process completed) in September, the national health insurance is active as of October 10. If the allowance is assigned in any other month, the national health insurance is actived on the 10th date of the month following the first payment of the PhD study allowance. To check whether the national health insurance (haigekassa) has been activated, please visit the state portal Eesti.ee
Applying for a doctorate
Applying for a doctorate is regulated by two university bylaws: the Procedure for Awarding Doctorates (PAD) and the Procedure for Publication of Graduation Theses and Dissertations (PPGTD). The following prerequisites must be fulfilled for applying for a doctorate:
1. The doctoral curriculum has been completed, i.e. all the compulsory modules of the doctoral curriculum and all the courses have been completed and the prescribed volumes have been reached, except for that of the dissertation. The completion is checked on the basis of the data in the SIS. The defence of the dissertation is part of the studies and successful defence will result in the number of points missing from the volume of the dissertation. For those who complete the doctoral curriculum as external students, all the credit points of the dissertation will be entered on the basis of the defence.
2. There is a duly made and printable manuscript of the dissertation and all the required articles have at least been accepted for publication.
14. A dissertation is an independent research paper that presents a well-argued, original solution to a specific scientific problem and whose results are published in international professional literature. In art specialisations, a dissertation can be an independent research paper of which part is a creative project related to a specific research problem and whose results are published in international professional literature or presented to the public.
A dissertation must contain the following:
A dissertation can be formalised as follows:
15. A dissertation is published in the University’s dissertation series (Dissertationes ... Universitatis Tartuensis) and is formalised as follows:
16. The following research publications are deemed publication of the results of research contained in a dissertation:
17. The following is deemed equal to the publication of the results of research contained in a dissertation:
18. The requirements applicable to dissertations to be defended under joint curricula cooperation agreements or joint supervision agreements and the conditions of publication of such dissertations are set out in the respective agreements.
19. An applicant for a doctorate must submit to the council the following documents electronically or, if the original document is not electronic, on paper:
Check the manuscript requirements of the University of Tartu Press.
A WORD OF ADVICE. If the dissertation has been compiled as an overview based on published articles, ask the publisher of the articles for permission to publish the articles in the printed and electronic version of the dissertation well ahead (see Printing of dissertation).
Note: by the time when the council makes a decision to allow the dissertation to be defended, the opponent(s) and the date of defence must be known. The date and time of defence and the opponent(s) are determined by a decision of the council. At least one of the opponents of the dissertation must come from outside Estonia, unless the rector decides otherwise based on a proposal of the council. An internationally recognised researcher of the respective specialisation, who holds a doctorate or equal qualifications and does not have a conflict of interests upon performing the task can be appointed as an opponent and pre-reviewer of a dissertation (PAD clause 26).
The amount of time from the submission of an application until the defence of the degree depends on the steps prescribed by university bylaws, the nature of the dissertation (whether it is a monograph or an article-based overview), the internal rules of the faculty/council and the schedule of the opponent(s). In the case of a monograph, the international pre-review of the dissertation by two renowned researchers of the respective specialisation (PAD clause 15.2) is required. Thus, it may take a month or two before any assessments can be obtained from the pre-reviewers. In addition, intra-council pre-reviews and, in some faculties, pre-defences are used. The respective information can be obtained from the institute or faculty.
The time limits and steps prescribed by university bylaws:
1. The council submits the materials to the academic secretary for assessment within three working days after receiving an application (PAD clause 20);
2. The academic secretary responds to the council in writing within five working days (PAD clause 20);
3. The council makes one of the following decisions within six weeks after receiving the application (PAD clause 21):
4. PAD clause 22: Once pre-reviews have been received, the council makes one of the following decisions:
21.1. allow the dissertation to be defended;
21.2. reject the dissertation;
21.3. submit the dissertation for a pre-review;
21.4. in the event of deficiencies, demand that the dissertation be reformulated and corrected and, after corrections have been made, make a new decision to allow the dissertation to be defended or to reject the dissertation.
A WORD OF ADVICE. Check the dates of the regular sessions of the council and time the submission of your application accordingly!
1. A paper copy of the dissertation must be accessible in the University Library and an electronic copy of the dissertation must be available on the website of the University Library at least one month before the defence, unless the defence of the dissertation has been declared private and/or restrictions have been established to the publication of the dissertation (PAS clause 29).
2. The author submits to the University of Tartu Press the manuscript of the dissertation and an electronic popular-science summary (up to 2000 characters) in Estonian and English aimed at a broad audience as well as parts of publications or PDF files at least seven weeks before the date of defence of the dissertations (PPGTD clause 15).
A WORD OF ADVICE. Ask the University of Tartu Press for information on how long the waiting period is and how fast the dissertation can be printed and make an agreement with them beforehand. Usually, it is less than two weeks. Seven weeks is not mandatory if the University of Tartu Press can fulfil the order faster. The printed dissertation must be available one month before the defence.
The following must be submitted to the University of Tartu Press:
1. the electronic manuscript of the dissertation (for further information on requirements applicable to manuscripts see http://www.tyk.ee/doctoral-theses-1)
2. a brief electronic popular-science summary (up to 2000 characters) in Estonian and English, which is aimed at a broad audience;
3. the parts of publications of PDF files;
4. an extract of the decision of the council authorising the defence (you can obtain it from the Council Secretary);
5. the publication permit(s) (licence(s)) obtained from the publisher(s) of the previous publication(s), if any. The author, the University of Tartu Press and the university will conclude an agreement on the publication of the dissertation.
Note that the author is responsible for ensuring that the publication of the dissertation does not violate the copyright of other persons. In an annex to the agreement, it will be detailed whose previously published articles or articles previously submitted for publication will be published in the printed and electronic versions, whether as consolidated texts or by way of a reference. The printed and electronic versions may differ in that regard. The permission for a printed version can be obtained more easily, but it is often not permitted to publish the full article in the electronic version. The author may prohibit the electronic publication of manuscript articles that have not been submitted for publication.
Asking the publisher for permission to publish previous publications in the dissertation
The defence of a dissertation takes place in a meeting of the council as a public academic discussion (defence). If a dissertation contains a state secret, trade secret or other classified information, the rector may, on a proposal of the council, declare the meeting private and/or establish restrictions on the publication of the dissertation. A defence can take place only if the applicant for a doctorate, at least one of the opponents and, along with additional members, at least six members of the council with decision-making authority are present. One can also participate in a defence via real-time two‑way audio-visual communications channel (e.g. Skype, video conference, etc.).
PAD clause 32: The defence (except a private discussion specified in section 34) will be recorded as an audio or video file and preserved in accordance with the procedure in force at the university. In the event of a private defence, access restrictions will be established on the files.
Please note! The requirement of recording the defence entered into force on 1.01.2015
33. A defence consists of the following parts (the order may change):
34. In a closed discussion (involving the members of the council, opponents and supervisors who do not have the right to vote), the council will discuss the applicant’s presentation and ability to defend the main statements of the dissertation in the discussion. Considering the assessments of the opponent(s) regarding the dissertation and discussion, the council will, in a public vote, make one of the following decisions, which will be minuted:
35. The decision of the council must state the reasons. If the council decides not to award a doctorate to the applicant, the substantive deficiencies found in the dissertation and/or defence which did not allow for the awarding of the doctorate must be indicated.
36. The council may evaluate a dissertation and its defence on the following scale: summa cum laude (‘with highest praise’), cum laude (‘with praise’), optime approbatur (‘meeting the requirements in the optimal way’) and approbatur (‘meeting the requirements’). A description of the evaluations must be given in the curriculum.
For further information on a repeat defence, plagiarism and suspicion of fraud see clauses 37-45 of the PAD.
58. In the event of a violation of the rules of application for and awarding of doctorates set out in this Procedure and other legal instruments, the applicant for a doctorate may file an appeal against a decision of the Council with the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs within one week of the day following the announcement of the decision of the Council. The Vice Rector for Academic Affairs will form a three-member Appeal Committee to hear the appeal. The Vice Rector for Academic Affairs is the chair of the Appeal Committee. The members of the Appeal Committee must hold a doctorate or equivalent qualifications.
59. The Appeal Committee will decide, within 30 days of the submission of the appeal, whether the contested decision remains in force or whether to overturn it and send it back to the Council that made the decision so that the Council can make a new decision. This decision of the Appeal Committee is not subject to appeal in the University.
60. The Council has the right to overturn a decision to allow a person to defend their dissertation or a decision on the awarding of a doctorate if the Council has received written information on the suspicion of plagiarism or academic fraud.
61. In the event of plagiarism or academic fraud, the Council will ask for at least two expert assessments and letters of explanation from the applicant and the supervisor(s) and will, according to the results, within one month of receipt of the suspicion, make one of the following decisions, which will be made in the form of a minuted decision:
62. In the event of decisions specified in sections 37.2, 41, 44, 61.2.1 and 61.2.2, the applicant must submit a new dissertation in accordance with section 19 in order to receive a doctorate from the University of Tartu.
Doctoral diplomas are handed over once a year at a festive event in the university assembly hall on 1 December. If you would like to get your diploma on 1 December this year, the defence should take place before 23 November, as appeals can be filed within one week after the defence. The diplomas for defences that take place after 23 November will be handed over on 1 December next year. The university sends invitations to all the doctors who defended their dissertation during the year using the UT internal mail (in case of university employees) or the contact details specified in the CV (make sure that you give in your CV the contact details where you can definitely be reached).
If you cannot participate in the promotion on 1 December, you can get your diploma (usually after 1 December) from the Office of Academic Affairs at Jakobi 1 (entrance is in the courtyard of the main building) from Academic Affairs Specialist.
If before receiving your diploma you need to prove that you have defended the doctorate, you can get the respective certificate from the Office of Academic Affairs at Jakobi 1 (entrance is in the courtyard of the main building) from Academic Affairs Specialist (phone 737 5628).
If before receiving your diploma you need to prove that you have defended the doctorate, you can obtain the respective certificate from the Academic Affairs Department at Jakobi 1 (the church; the entrance is in the courtyard) from Academic Affairs Specialist Sirli Klaos (phone 737 5628; sirli.klaos [ät] ut.ee ).
Note: the promoted must sign a certificate of receipt of the diploma before the event. For further information, see your invitation.
The promotion procedure:
- The academic secretary announces the name of the doctor and reads the text of the diploma.
- The doctor steps forward.
- The rector hands over the diploma and shakes the doctor’s hand.
- The doctor receives flowers.
Please note: Only the names of the doctors who have replied to the invitation and confirmed their attendance will be announced. Seats are reserved for doctors in the assembly hall.
Attire at promotion
Men: white tie / dark suit / national costume; decorations
Women: gown / two-piece suit (incl. trouser suit) / national costume; decorations
Cleavage, uncovered shoulders and a knit jumper are inappropriate.