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5 universities in Estonia for international students on a budget

People take part in Estonia's Song and Dance celebration event in Tallinn. Source: Ilmars Znotins/AFP

Located in Northern Europe, is a small country with around 1.3 million people. For those of you that have not heard of Estonia, it will surely surprise you — in all the right ways.

Known for its lush forests, rich history and medieval architecture, this is one of the least populated European countries. Yet, Estonia is miles ahead in its economy — making it a developed country with much to offer.

Estonia has a well-developed advanced higher education system. With more than 20 public and private educational institutes dedicated to higher education as well as many scholarships and financial aid available to students.

From free healthcare and education to a highly developed science and IT industry, living here is great for international students. They also benefit from the unique opportunities offered by the hundreds of startups that have chosen Estonia as their headquarters.

The best part? All education is free at the PhD level in Estonia. As for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, tuition fees vary depending on whether you choose a public or private institution. However, the cost of education in Estonia is still much lower than in many other European countries. Pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree at any Estonian public university costs between 1,660 and 7,500 euros per year. 

5 cheap universities in Estonia

Tallinn University


Founded in 1919, Tallinn University is one of Estonia’s oldest universities and is named after the country’s capital. 

There are six schools specialising in many interdisciplinary fields. These include humanities, education, science and health, governance, law and society, digital technology, film, media, arts, and communication. As a full research university, it has no less than four research institutes. It focuses on areas of educational innovation, digital media, culture, health and lifestyle.

The university supports international students by offering classes in English. As a result, it has a higher number of international students than many other large institutions in the region. International students from over 40 countries are enrolled at Tallinn University.

As one of the most famous universities in the world the university has a long list of notable alumni such as music composer and theorist Paul E. Bauduin, politician Mikhail Rotman and philosopher Andres Luhr.  

The average tuition fees vary depending on the course with some courses starting from as low as 1,250  euros per year. 

 

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University of Tartu

The University of Tartu is the most prestigious in Estonia. Founded in 1632 by King Adolf Gustavus of Sweden, the university is located in the city of Tartu, Estonia’s second largest.

It is Estonia’s national university. Most courses are offered in the Estonian language. However, there are many English-taught courses, such as computer science, IT law, semiotics, and applied metrology.

The University of Tartu is ranked 296 in the top 1.2% of the world’s best universities in the QS World University Rankings 2022, making it one of the best universities across Europe.

Here, four faculties — humanities, social sciences, medicine and science and technology —  offer a variety of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes, including 27 English language programmes.

The university welcomes approximately 13,000 students annually, including international students from 90 countries. The application fee at the University of Tartu is around 50 to 100 euros, and the tuition fee is from 1,041 euros per year.

Estonia may be one of Europe’s smallest countries in Europe, but its tech ecosystem is mighty. Source: Raigo Pajula/AFP

Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech)

Tallinn University of Technology — better known as TalTech — is at a scenic location in Mustamäe. TalTech was founded in 1918 and is the only technical university in Estonia, focusing on engineering and technology, business, information technology, economics, science, public administration and maritime affairs.

The university already has around 70,000 alumni, all of whom have contributed to Estonia’s development, including Sirje Potisepp (CEO of Estonian Food Industry Association), Erika Kirpu (Gold medalist of Tokyo 2020 Olympics) and Veiko Sepp (CEO of Ericsson AS).

With around 1,700 international students from 100 different countries, TalTech has the most international students in Estonia. They pay tuition fees that start from 2,300 per year for programmes taught in English. This can go up to 6,000 euros per year depending on the programme chosen.  

European Union citizens are exempted from paying tuition fees, except for those in the School of Business and Governance. However, students from outside the European Union are required to pay tuition fees. 

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All PhD programmes in Estonia are free for international students. Source: Ben Stansall/AFP

Estonian Business School (EBS)

Established in 1988, the Estonian Business School is the oldest private business university in the Baltics. The aim of the school is to provide aspiring business students with the academic knowledge, skills and values ​​to make them successful.

EBS is a well-known business school around the world and is internationally accredited for all its programmes. This affordable university in Estonia offers two bachelor’s degree programmes with different specialities and a number of master’s programmes.

It is home to 1,400 students — this includes international students (coming from 12 countries) who make up 30% of the cohort.

The application fee at EBS is 130 euros. Tuition fees vary depending on the programmes chosen. For bachelor’s degree courses, the tuition fee starts from as low as 5,797 euros per year.

Music reigns in Estonia, a nation that paved its way to independence with a Singing Revolution. Source: Ilmars Znotins/AFP

Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA)

The Estonian Academy of Arts is a public university based in Tallinn that was founded in 1914. It is known as the only Estonian institution for higher education in regard to design, media, art, architecture and history. EKA is dedicated to raising the bar of education through its efforts to spread awareness and foster creativity.

Their bachelor’s programmes include accessory design, animation, architecture and urban design, art history and visual culture. As for master’s programmes, they offer ceramics, heritage and conservation, fashion design, and glass art.

When it comes to programmes taught entirely in English, this affordable university offers eight master’s degrees and two PhD programmes. Programmes in Russian are also offered at EKA. 

The application fee is 60 euros while tuition fees for non-EU citizens range from 1,000 euros per semester to 3,900 euros per year. For EU citizens, education is either completely free or costs 2,500 euros per year.