University of Tartu


University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia


Information Sheet: 2021 Information Sheet

ESTONIA – cool country with a warm heart

Estonia is the smallest of the three Baltic countries in Northern Europe. Due to its geographical location, the country has often been regarded as a bridge between East and West, North and South. Most people who visit Estonia arrive first in the capital, Tallinn that, even at first glance, is a place that captivates everyone . Different to any other capital in Europe, it has the feel of a bustling metropolis and is, at the same time, a romantic and ancient city filled with glorious medieval architecture. Its location means that from Tallinn you can fly to Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Moscow or St. Petersburg in less than two hours.

Estonians belong to one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe and were already living on the coasts of the Baltic Sea at the time when the first pyramids were erected in Egypt. Since the 13th century the country has been invaded and ruled by Germans, Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians, and each one of them have made a mark on the history of the country and left behind their cultural legacy . In 1991 Estonia regained its independence after the famous “Singing Revolution” - a series of non-violent mass singing demonstrations which expressed the wish for independence from the USSR.

People from larger countries may find it odd that there are no distant places in Estonia – one can travel from one end of the country to another in just four or five hours without having to rush. And yet Estonia is larger on the inside than on the outside, the “secret” well known and shared by the locals. It is rare to find such a variety of landscapes, flora, seasons, weather and moods within only a few dozen kilometres. There are ancient defensive walls, medieval fortresses and cobbled streets coupled with leafy parks, romantic coasts, deep forests, sandy beaches, wooden windmills, modern hotels, luxury restaurants and tourist farms. The four seasons are distinct in Estonia and provide an environment for plenty of activities. Winters are usually snowy and provide good conditions for skiing holidays. Spring and autumn are perfect seasons for nature-loving people, blooming May and colourful September are especially enjoyable. Estonian summers entice visitors with white nights when the sun sets at 11 o’clock in the evening.

Basic facts about Estonia:

  • Smallest of the three Baltic States (comprising Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)

  • Parliamentary republic, EU and NATO member

  • Population: 1.3 million

  • Official language: Estonian

  • Biggest cities: Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Pärnu

  • Technologically advanced, with e-services and free wireless internet

  • High standards of living at affordable cost

  • Climate: mild continental, with warm summer and snowy winter

  • Enchanting nature-rich in natural forest with hundreds of lakes and islands

  • Easy access to major travel destinations in Europe and Russia

  • English, Russian, Finnish spoken widely


TARTU – city of good thoughts that feels like one big campus

Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia and is situated 185 kilometres south of the capital Tallinn. It is a city of young people – roughly one fifth of its inhabitants are university students. Tartu boasts rich historical heritage and culture. It is set in a picturesque environment with beautiful parks, numerous museums, art galleries and theatres on the banks of the graceful river Emajõgi. 

Tartu is the academic capital of Estonia as there are more than ten higher educational institutions in this friendly city. Its universities and research institutions, its rapidly evolving innovative entrepreneurship, its academic, student and sports traditions radiate a unique Tartu spirit and make this city a highly suited place for study, research, and recreation. Even in summer, when most students are away, the “City of Good Thoughts” as Tartu is officially nicknamed, retains a special intangible aura.

Basic facts about Tartu:

  • University town with unique academic spirit

  • Second largest city in Estonia of 100 000 people

  • Diverse and attractive environment, abundant parks, child-friendly city

  • Art galleries, theatres, museums, festivals



The oldest Estonian university, University of Tartu (UT), was founded in 1632, and continues to be the main centre of education and research in the country. Today it has 9 faculties, 17,400 students, including 600 international students and continues to be the only classical and most multidisciplinary university in Estonia. The competitive ability of the University’s graduates both at home and abroad as well as the continuously growing body of international students speak of the high quality of instruction given at bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. There are many good reasons for choosing the University of Tartu: obtaining valuable studying experience by being in a multicultural classroom environment, EU quality of education and degrees that are internationally accepted and pave the way to a vast array of career opportunities.While the main language of instruction is Estonian, the University of Tartu also offers a growing number of English-taught programmes for degree, summer and semester studies (for further information please visit the website

UT aims to be an internationally recognised research university and the centre of Estonian academic spirit, national culture, science and high-tech innovation. Teaching here is closely linked with research and the most outstanding recent scientific achievements have been in the areas of molecular and cell biology, gene technology, laser medicine, materials science, environment technology, computer linguistics and semiotics.

Basic facts about the University of Tartu

  • Founded in 1632

  • 9 faculties, 5 colleges

  • 17,400 students

  • 600 international students

  • Largest multidisciplinary public University in Estonia

  • Accredited by Estonian Ministry of Education and Research

  • Member of Coimbra Group, Utrecht Network, EUA

Practical INFO:

International study programs and application information

International Student Service
University of Tartu
Ülikooli 18
50090 Tartu
tel +372 737 6109
fax +372 737 5508

Deadline for applications:
for Autumn semester (September – January): 1st May non-EU applicants, 1st June EU applicants
for Spring semester (February – June): 1st November all applicants

Student-visa / residence permit
There is no student-visa as such for studies in Estonia. However, non-EU students require a residence permit for study if they are going to stay in Estonia for more than three months. As from December 2007 Estonia has been part of the Schengen visa area which means that visa checks are not carried out at internal border crossings. There are only border controls at Schengen area’s external borders. There is a common visa policy for non-EU citizens.

Orientation course and student tutors

At the beginning of each semester, the UT International Student Service offers an Orientation Course for all incoming international students. The Orientation Course is designed to help new students get to know each other, the university and the town. 

The course includes:

  1. meeting with representatives of the University and the International Student Service;

  2. introduction to the University study system;

  3. tour of the University, the library, and the town  in general;

  4. meeting with student tutors

There has been a successful tutoring programme at the University for a number of years. Tutors are students who help newly arrived students, both international and from Estonia, to adapt into academic environment at the University of Tartu.
Tutors are ready to provide additional guidance and information on several matters, ranging from studies to living conditions in Tartu. Tutors give a town and University tour to introduce the various institutions and locations (computer classes, lunch rooms etc.) which are of importance for every student. Moreover, international students are advised how to manage their studies at the university (selecting and registration to courses etc). All newly arrived international students are divided into small groups (maximum 10 people ), and each group has a tutor. Tutors receive e-mail addresses of their group-members and it is very likely that new students will be contacted prior to the beginning of a semester.


All international students are accommodated in the newest and largest residence hall located in the city centre (10 min from the university main building). The residence hall consists of apartments, each comprising 3 twin study-bedrooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom. A place in a twin room costs around 95 EUR per month, the whole room costs double. The rooms include essential furniture and the kitchens are supplied with fridges and stoves. Other services available include laundry facilities, internet connection, secure car and bicycle parking.

Food and cost of living

Most faculties and study buildings have a cafeteria where basic meals can be purchased for about 3-4 EUR. Student residence halls are equipped with shared kitchens and some also have small cafés on the premises. In addition, the city of Tartu has numerous restaurants, cafés and buffet bars that offer international as well as traditional Estonian food at very affordable prices. General feedback from international students who have spent some time in Tartu is that living conditions are similar to those in Western Europe but the expenses are lower. One needs approximately a minimum of 190-250 EUR per month (in addition to housing costs) in order to cover basic expenses on food and daily necessities. There are several discounts offered to holders of student card (ISIC), including travelling in Estonia.


UT Library is the biggest and most comprehensive research library in Estonia with a 4 million items collection (incl. books, journals, audiodocuments, etc.). Interlibrary and international book borrowing service is also available. There are computer rooms and laptop rent service, also free Wireless Internet for everybody working in the library.

Free time

Students are spoilt for choice for spending their free time in Tartu. There are many theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions, film festivals etc. taking place throughout the year. Also, students can join one of the numerous student clubs and associations, ranging from professional organizations to informal groups based on common interests and hobbies, or take up singing by joining one of the many university choirs.

The UT Academic Sports Club coordinates sports activities for both amateur and professional teams. The new sports hall with indoor stadium, ball game hall, gym and fitness centre offers opportunities to participate in different sports (e.g. basketball, athletics, aerobics, etc.). Aura Water Centre is one of the largest and most modern water parks in the Baltics, with several swimming pools, slides, and saunas. Numerous squash and tennis courts, sports halls and bowling clubs provide opportunities for active recreation. If you prefer outdoor activities, you can take up canoeing along the river, go horseback riding or simply enjoy a walk in one of the numerous parks.

During each semester international students receive e-mails with invitations for various events and trips that will help them to get to know Estonia and Estonians, travel around Europe and make the most of their time in Tartu (e.g. Student Days in spring and autumn, International Food Fest, language classes, film evenings, etc.).

Contact Information

Piret Must,, tel: +372 737 6270 International

Student Service, Ülikooli 18, 50090, Tartu, Estonia