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Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

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Overview Estonia

Contents

Estonia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Estonia:Historical Development

Estonia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Estonia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Estonia:Political and Economic Situation

Estonia:Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Estonia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Estonia:Organisation of Private Education

Estonia:National Qualifications Framework

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Estonia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Funding in Education

Estonia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Estonia:Higher Education Funding

Estonia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Estonia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Organisation

Estonia:Teaching and Learning

Estonia:Assessment

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Higher Education

Estonia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Estonia:First Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Bachelor

Estonia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Estonia:Second Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Estonia:Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Estonia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Estonia:Main Providers

Estonia:Main Types of Provision

Estonia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Estonia:Teachers and Education Staff

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Management and Other Education Staff

Estonia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Estonia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Quality Assurance

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Educational Support and Guidance

Estonia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Estonia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Estonia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Estonia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Mobility in Higher Education

Estonia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Estonia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Estonia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

Estonia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Estonia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Estonia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Estonia:European Perspective

Estonia:Legislation

Estonia:Glossary

 

Organisation of Doctoral Studies

 Doctoral study is the highest level study of higher education in the course of which a student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary for independent research, development and professional creative work. Doctoral study consists of studying and broad research and development activity or other creative work that must make up at least 70% of the volume of the curriculum. A doctoral thesis is defined as independent scientific research that presents an innovative solution to an important problem of the respective scientific field, or as creative work. The studying part of Doctoral study consists of general and specific study and elective subjects; the volume of these subjects differs somewhat in the Doctoral curricula of different universities.

The standard period of Doctoral study is from three to four years and the study load is 180–240 ECTS credits. However, in Estonia the duration of Doctoral study programmes is mostly 4 years with a total volume of 240 ECTS credits. A person graduating from Doctoral study receives a Doctoral degree. A Doctoral degree is a scientific degree awarded after Doctoral study is passed and a Doctoral thesis as independent scientific research has been defended. The learning outcomes of Doctoral level study correspond to the learning outcomes defined on the eighth level of the Estonian and European qualification framework.

Doctoral study is carried out only in universities. Attestation has become an important organisational element in carrying out Doctoral study. A detailed procedure for attestation is approved by the council of every university. In the course of attestation, the attestation committee assesses the Doctoral student’s progress in study and research activities, which means in essence the evaluation of fulfilment of the Doctoral student’s individual plan.

There are Doctoral schools in Estonia which are not independent structural entities but inter-university consortia where Doctoral students are offered interdisciplinary courses and international cooperation is promoted. The reason for launching Doctoral schools was a wish to increase the effectiveness of Doctoral studies, the number of defences and the quality of supervision of Doctoral students and to improve internal inter-university cooperation.

Admission Requirements

The precondition for beginning Doctoral study is a Master’s degree or an equivalent qualification. More detailed conditions and procedures for admission of students are established by the university board. Entrants to Doctoral study may, for example, be required to submit a thesis research plan and undergo an admission interview. Usually, entrants to Doctoral study are required to submit a research plan for the thesis and to undergo an admission interview. The thesis research plan must generally include an explanation for choosing the theme and the objective of the research, introduction of research methodology and a timetable for completing the work. The admission committee may take account of the competencies acquired in the course of previous professional experience and additional training.

The total number of students to be admitted to Doctoral study is determined by the university board.

Students can choose between full-time and part-time study, completing at least 75 per cent or 50 to 75 per cent, respectively, of the study load subject to completion according to the curriculum by the end of each academic year. Doctoral allowance can be applied for by the Doctoral candidates who are enrolled in full-time study or part-time study in case the reimbursement of study costs is not required from him or her, who have not exceeded the nominal period of the curriculum and who have passed evaluation or are the first-year Doctoral candidates.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Doctoral students are subject to social benefits on the same grounds as other higher education students.

A position of junior researcher has been created. Since 1 July 2012, the position of a junior researcher can be applied for by a person who holds at least Master’s degree or equivalent. Positions of junior researchers, like other positions of research workers, are filled on the basis of the Research and Development Organisation Act.

The position of a junior researcher as a science worker is not directly related to completing Doctoral study. Working as a junior researcher should, nevertheless, have a positive effect on the preparation of Doctoral thesis and motivate young people to dedicate themselves to research also after completing Doctoral studies.  
A Doctoral student has the right to receive both study allowance and salary of junior researcher. As working full-time may lengthen the period of study for Doctoral students, the Doctoral students in part-time study who comply with the requirements set out by law can be paid study allowance announced in the State Budget in proportion to their study load.  

Doctoral scholarship has been created under the national scholarship system. The scholarship can be applied for by a doctoral student whose research topic is related to at least one growth area of smart specialisation or takes account of the needs of business and is related to solving practical tasks of business and contributes to the applicability of the results of the research. It is the so-called entrepreneurial doctorate targeted at supporting cooperation between universities and businesses. The doctoral students who comply with the requirements have been an additional scholarship at the national doctoral allowance rate.

Social guarantees for the recipients of doctoral allowance have been extended in terms of the parental benefit and pension insurance, which is a sign of the recognition by the state of doctoral studies as a career choice.  

Supervision Arrangements

Issues related to supervision of Doctoral theses are generally not organised at the state level, they belong to the competence of the university.

An educational institution may appoint a supervisor of Doctoral thesis according to its regulations. Both one supervisor and co-supervisors may be involved. Also supervisors or co-supervisors from foreign states can be used.

The quality agreement between educational institutions outlines the importance of supervision.

Universities have agreed that the indicators for assessing the results and success of Doctoral studies used by universities and academic units for setting up and comparing objectives will be agreed upon. For developing the supervising competencies of supervisors, universities draw up, in co-operation, a description of supervising a Doctoral thesis, the aim of which is to assist the supervisor to understand his or her tasks and assess the additional work load and give the head of the academic unit a clearer basis for assessing the performance of the supervisor. In addition, trainings on supervision are carried out and seminars and inter-disciplinary workshops are organised in cooperation with partners, in which also international experts participate and good experience in supervision is shared. Universities promote co-supervision through which it is possible to increase the efficiency of supervision within the academic unit, link different disciplines and promote cooperation between universities and with the business sector. Universities take into account feedback from Doctoral students received both at the interview with the immediate employee and upon re-assignment to a position.   

Supervision competencies are also related to the procedure for elections of professors. The higher education standard establishes that when running for the position of a professor at a university (except when the person has not previously worked as a professor, and in case of running for the position of professor in the arts field), at least one Doctoral thesis must have been defended under the supervision of the candidate in the last five years.

Employability

Outside the academic community, the requirement for holding a Doctoral degree is not very common when getting a job. However, this trend has been changing.

A possibility to acquire doctoral degree has been created in the framework of the so-called entrepreneurial doctorate, which supports cooperation between universities and businesses. The doctoral students pursuing the entrepreneurial doctorate must be involved in addressing issues of practical value for business. 

Assessment

Doctoral study is carried out on the basis of the student’s individual plan compiled according to the curriculum.

Universities check the fulfilment of work load requirements by Doctoral students through attestation; each Doctoral student must undergo periodic attestation under the conditions and pursuant to the procedure established by the board of the university.   In order to be attested, a Doctoral student generally submits materials covering his or her work on the previous period to the attestation committee, the members of which decide on the basis of the information submitted how many ECTS credits the student has fulfilled. Also presentations and participation in international scientific conferences, participation in international Doctoral courses and study activities of Doctoral schools, additional training in laboratories abroad and participation in courses on compilation of scientific projects as well as individual study may be acknowledged as parts of fulfilling a candidate’s individual work plan.

Acquisition of subjects foreseen by a curriculum is assessed on an assessment scale similar to the one used with first and second level higher education students.

According to the higher education standard, Doctoral thesis is an independent research which presents a new solution to a relevant problem in the according field of science, or a creative work. Thus, independent research formulated as a thesis, a series of publications together with a summary article or a published monograph are counted as a Doctoral thesis by universities. The Doctoral thesis must include an overview of the nature of the research problem, setting up of the research task, statements submitted for defence, description of methodology as well as the manner of finding a solution to and proof of the research problem. In case of a Doctoral thesis in foreign language, an Estonian-language summary about the contents of the different parts of the thesis is required; in case of a Doctoral thesis in Estonian, the summary must be in a foreign language. The main characteristic of a Doctoral thesis is deemed to be its publication. A research-based Doctoral thesis generally requires the publication of at least three scientific publications.
 

Certification

After a person has fulfilled the curriculum to full extent and completed Doctoral study, the university offers him or her a diploma on fulfilling the curriculum or on the awarded academic degree together with an academic transcript. The university will offer a student that has completed Doctoral study an English language diploma supplement free of charge. The title of the curriculum which the student has completed can also be recorded on a Doctoral diploma.

Organisational Variation

Outside universities, there are no alternative opportunities for acquisition of Doctoral degrees in the Estonian higher education system. The system also does not include third level programmes, the fulfilment of which would not give the opportunity to apply for a Doctoral degree.


Legislative References 

Universities Act

Organisation of Research and Development Act

Uniform marking system for higher education level, and conditions for the issue of diploma cum laude

Types and amounts of student scholarships and the general terms for the grant thereof