Admissions to doctoral studies

Planning to apply for a doctoral study right at the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences? Good choice! We admit new doctoral students twice a year, so pay attention to the application deadlines, start preparations in good time, and make sure you've acquainted yourself with the selection criteria before you apply.
Admission periods

The programme admits new doctoral students twice a year: once in the spring and once in the autumn.


The spring 2024 application period is from April 3, 2024 09:00 AM EEST until April16, 2024 03:00 PM EEST:

  • Admission results will be released by June 6, 2024
  • Offered study places must be accepted by June 19, 2024
  • Granted study rights will start on August 1, 2024

The autumn 2024 application period is from September 4, 2024 09:00 AM EEST until September 17, 2024 03:00 PM EEST:

  • Admission results will be released by November 21, 2024
  • Offered study places must be accepted by December 5, 2024
  • Granted study rights will start on January 1, 2025

The following application round will be April 2-15, 2025. 


A doctoral study right can only be gained through the admissions process. Applying to the programme outside the set admission periods is not possible.


Who can apply?

In addition to the university's general requirements for doctoral applicants on eligibility and language proficiency, the doctoral programme requires that the following conditions are met:

  • The previous degree must be relevant to the planned research topic and the discipline. A degree is regarded as relevant if it includes sufficient studies in a discipline which, given the topic of the proposed doctoral dissertation, can be regarded as a suitable basis for doctoral studies.
  • You must have your Master’s degrees studies (or equivalent) completed. All the studies required for the degree you apply with must be completed, graded and registered by the end of the relevant application period. No exceptions are made to this rule. Applicants who are granted a study right must be able to present a certified copy of their official degree diploma before accepting the offered study place.
  • Applicants who have previously completed a doctoral degree in another field are also recommended to outline the scholarly grounds for reapplying for doctoral studies.

Only applications meeting the formal criteria for eligibility continue to scientific evaluation at the doctoral programme.


The target degrees available within the programme are:

  • Doctor of Social Sciences (Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Doctor of Philosophy  (Faculty of Science)

All successful applicants are admitted to complete a doctoral degree, but they can choose to first complete a Licentiate degree.

Please, check which degree is available in the chosen faculty with your background studies and also, note that your supervisory arrangements must match your chosen target degree and home faculty. At least one of your supervisors must be in a permanent or long-term employment to the faculty you're applying to.

If the application form does not include a suitable field of science for your doctoral research, please inform the chosen field in the section ‘Brief summary of the research plan’.



Doctoral programme's selection criteria
  • Applicants must, in good time before submitting the application, contact the discipline of the Faculty of Social Sciences relevant to their research interests and discuss the preliminary study plan and research plan as well as arrangements for dissertation supervision.  In the application phase, each applicant is responsible for finding a potential supervisor working in the Faculty to contact with. Email messages sent to teachers must be accompanied by a preliminary research proposal (max. 5 pages).
  • A favorable e-mail message from the potential supervisor is attached to the application form in the section ‘Approval form of supervision’ .
  • Thesis committee members are not required in the application.

Availability of supervision and related resources is elementary for doctoral research: as a rule, the person who agrees to serve as the supervisor from the Faculty can simultaneously supervise no more than six students who are completing their postgraduate degree in a way that is equivalent to full-time studying.

A favorable evaluation by a potential supervisor is not binding commitment to supervise, but only a confirmation that the application is affiliated to the discipline in question. The doctoral programme and the Faculty will decide on supervisors and supervision arrangements according to its rules (see section ‘Decision-making’ below in these instructions).

The list of potential supervisors in the programme



Evaluation of the research plan is based on these general criteria:

  • scientific quality of the research plan
  • the links between the planned dissertation research and the research conducted in the doctoral programme
  • the research plan must follow the format and scope of research plans defined in the application form


The following are emphasized when assessing the quality and suitability of previous studies:

  • appropriate performance in previous studies (there are no specific limits of grades)
  • relevance of the previous degree to the planned research topic and discipline
  • suitability of previous studies to serve as the basis for the planned doctoral degree

Before drawing up your own preliminary study plan, please acquaint yourself with the doctoral programme's degree requirements. The study plan presented in the application is preliminary, and need not list specific courses. The important thing is that you have given thought on what kind of studies would best support your thesis work and drawn up a preliminary timetable for completing these studies.

Courses and studying in the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences


It’s good to note that admissions to the programme are quite competitive and it’s important to prepare the application carefully. The yearly admission quota for the years 2021-2024 is max 46 new students each year.


How to apply?

Acquainted with the selection criteria and all set to apply? Great! Now go back to the university's general instructions for doctoral applicants, where you will find all the information you need to prepare and submit your application and the needed enclosures. Good luck!


Applications meeting the formal eligibility requirements will proceed to the academic assessment of the application, which will take place in the doctoral programme by its supervisors. The final decision on granting the right to pursue a degree will be made by the faculty responsible for the target degree based on a proposal by the steering group of the doctoral programme in question.

In conjunction with admission, the doctoral programme and the title of the doctoral degree to be pursued will be confirmed, and the student will be assigned at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree and of whom at least one has a permanent or long-term employment contract with the Faculty in which the student will pursue the doctoral degree. In addition, each student will be assigned a coordinating academic, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors.

Please note, that supervisors you mentioned in the application form, are not necessarily appointed to supervise your doctoral research, if they already have too many supervisees or there are more suitable supervisors available in terms of academic qualification, research interests and/or employment to the faculty in question.

A timetable for decisions is available in the university's general instructions for doctoral applicants.