This MA programme combines comprehensive study of international relations as an academic discipline and political practice with in-depth understanding of particular geographic regions, including the European Union, Russia and Eurasia, and the Baltic Sea region. The programme is a good fit for all those aiming for a career with an international focus, be it in diplomacy, public service, private sector or with non-governmental organisations as well as academia.
How do states, international organizations and other actors pursue their interests, reinforce their identities and interact with one another in a complex and volatile international environment? How effective, adequate and fair are regional and global norms, rules, and institutions that regulate such interaction and how can these be upheld and improved? Bridging academia and the “real world”, our programme emphasizes not only acquiring knowledge, but also applying it.
The programme provides extensive knowledge about contemporary international relations, traditional and critical approaches to security, foreign policy analysis, conflict management and resolution mechanisms, international law, and politics, society, and international relations in the EU, Russia and Eurasia and the Baltic Sea region. These regions grow out of our faculty’s research interests and reflect Estonia’s historical experience at the border of Europe and Russia - experience which is highly relevant to other countries located in-between bigger powers. Since 2021 the ‘European Union – Russia Studies’ programme has become part of our curriculum.
Political science and international research are among the highest-ranked specialties of University of Tartu by the “QS World University Rankings by Subject” in 2020 (range 151–200).
The versatile curriculum ensures that graduates emerge with a comprehensive understanding of international and regional issues, and have a wide variety of skills and competencies that enable them to effectively research, discuss, and address these issues.
The international dimension of the programme is enhanced by wide-ranging study-abroad opportunities. The Institute has numerous agreements which enable students to spend a semester at a university abroad. In addition, students admitted into the IRRS programme are eligible to join (on a competitive basis) a double degree MA programme jointly managed by the IGP at the University of Tartu (UT) and Institute for East European Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Students attending the joint programme spend their first and second semester at Tartu and their third semester in Berlin and, upon graduation, receive a double degree: Master of Arts in Social Sciences «International Relations and Regional Studies» from UT and Master of Arts «Osteuropastudien» from FUB.
The learning outcomes of the IRRS programme include:
Our research and teaching in the field of IR is internationally visible and recognized placing us among the top IR schools in Eastern and Central Europe.
Our record of extensive international collaboration with universities in the U.S. (George Mason University, George Washington University), various universities in Europe, partner institutions in Russia (Higher School of Economics, MGIMO and others), and major international academic networks (e.g. PONARS-Eurasia, EISA, CEEISA) translates into excellent prospects for various partnerships in the realm of teaching.
We believe that in the current international context, learning about IR in one of the smallest EU member states which is situated at the centre of the Baltic Sea Region and on Russia’s doorstep has the potential to offer unique insights into international politics.
Since 1989, Estonia has been in the centre of democratic, economic and geopolitical change in Eastern Europe. The University of Tartu (UT) has played an active role in charting these developments.
In academic scoreboards, UT ranks among the TOP 1.2% of universities in the world (THE World University Rankings 2016–2017) and international students have rated Estonia as the #1 place to stay (Erasmus Student Network Survey).
In the 2020/21 academic year, we enrolled 28 students from 14 different countries ranging from the United States and Japan to Finland, Russia and Kazakhstan. With us you can meet the whole world in Tartu!
The UT offers advanced study facilities, excellent libraries, well-equipped computer labs and modern residence halls. Interactive and innovative teaching and learning methods are widely used. There is a wide variety of opportunities to study abroad, including Erasmus agreements with a broad range of European partner universities.
Studying in Tartu is both attractive and affordable – it means high-quality education at a low cost in a country that is simultaneously both ancient and very modern, close to nature and technologically advanced, proud of its unique culture and traditions and open to the world (Estonia is a member of the EU and NATO and it belongs to the eurozone and the Schengen space).
This module provides in-depth knowledge about EU institutions and policy-making processes, the historical evolution of the Union, as well as key theoretical debates on European integration. It offers an introduction to EU law while also covering contemporary issues and challenges in EU politics.
This module provides the analytical tools to critically read and interpret the political, historical, and institutional developments in Russia, the European Union, and their shared neighbourhood. It offers an in-depth comparative and specialized perspective on their mutual relationship and the practical skills to assess its development.
Russian and Eurasian Studies
This module introduces Northern Eurasia as a vast and diverse region, which has been shaped by competing imperial orders, the Soviet experiment and the recently attempted democratization. By focusing on the current political, economic and social trends in this region, this module highlights both its uniqueness and its role in global developments.
Baltic Sea Region Studies
This module introduces the most dynamic and integrated area in Northern Europe that includes the Baltic states, Nordic countries, Germany, Poland and Russia. It offers a conceptual toolbox to analyse and comprehend the developments in the Baltic Sea region both in political and economic terms.
This MA programme prepares you for a wide range of careers in international affairs, including work for national governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Our graduates work, for example, in the national Foreign Ministries and other governmental bodies, EU institutions, lobby groups, but also in journalism or academia.
Altogether 30 study places are available on the programme. On the basis of the admission results, 15 best applicants (regardless of citizenship) will be given tuition-waiver scholarships. Applicants do not have to apply for the tuition-waiver separately, as they will be considered automatically for the competition.
The tuition fee for fee-paying students on this programme is 3,800 euros per year and it covers tuition and some study materials.
Information about the rules and conditions for tuition-waiver scholarships as well as tuition fee payments is given here.
Information about other scholarships is available here.
The curriculum consists of five parts:
Whereas the Methods and IR Core modules ensure students have a solid backbone to their studies, the Specialization and Elective modules allow them to tweak their learning to suit their more specific interests or career goals.
Our faculty is highly accomplished, both in scholarship and in teaching, with wide-ranging expertise in international relations and regional studies. Our staff encompasses people from nearly a dozen nationalities, offering students a multi‐faceted perspective on international and regional developments and problems. Our multinational teaching team values an interactive and non-hierarchical approach with students.
The faculty’s research themes include:
In order to combine academic quality with "real world" application, we involve stakeholders and decision-makers with key national and international responsibilities, such as the Estonian Members of the European Parliament, national and European policy-makers, and ambassadors.
"Tartu is a meeting point of cultures from East and West. I personally came here to learn more about Russia and the post-Soviet space from an Eastern perspective, while many Russian students for example come here to learn more about the EU or even Russia from a more Western perspective. This creates a unique learning environment in which students benefit greatly from this international diversity."
Hannah Schaper, alumna of International Relations and Regional Studies (Germany)
"University of Tartu’s degree in International Relations and Regional Studies (IRRS) offers a unique opportunity to engage with theoretical and practical aspects of policy in macro (international) and micro (regional) settings. The IRRS program endows peripheral knowledge of international systems and focused understanding of regional dynamics. But, beyond the advertising pamphlet rhetoric, I chose this program because I hope to develop my skills as an agent for positive, and progressive, social change. It’s cliche, hackneyed, silly…. whatever you want to call it… but I want to dedicate my career to empathetic policy making or, in less jargon ‘making the world a better place."
Annie, International Student Ambassador for USA
Contact International Student Ambassadors to ask about life in Tartu or read their blog.