Scholarships in smart specialisation growth areas

The scholarships in the smart specialisation growth areas have been established with the aim to increase the number of students graduating from university with degrees in these sectors, contribute to growth of research-intensive industry sector and support cooperation between R&D institutions and companies.

These areas are:

  • information and communication technologies (ICT) related to other areas of economy (e. g. cybersecurity, software development or the use of ICT for automating industrial processes);
  • health technologies and services (e. g. the use of biotechnology or IT for the development of medical services or products);
  • more effective use of resources (e. g. entrepreneurs active in the areas of materials science or industry, endeavour to identify innovative construction options or seek opportunities for the more effective utilisation of oil shale in the chemical industry).

Participating higher education institutions are: Estonian Academy of Arts (PhD only), Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (PhD only), Estonian Business School (PhD only), Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tallinn University, Tallinn University of Technology, Tartu Health Care College, TTK University of Applied Sciences and University of Tartu.

The scholarship will be available from 2015 to 2023. The budget available for the higher education scholarships amounts to 25.3 million euros and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Estonian government.

Within the program we support:

Smart specialisation scholarships for BA and MA students

The purpose of the smart specialisation scholarships is to motivate students to study full time in the areas of priority for Estonia. 

The smart specialisation growth areas in Estonia have been laid down in the Estonian Research and Development and Innovation Strategy 2014-2020 “Knowledge-based Estonia"  and “Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020“.

The higher education institutions taking part are Estonian University of Life Sciences, TTK University of Applied Sciences, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn University, Tartu Health Care College and University of Tartu. The selection of participants is organised by the participating universities. To apply for a scholarship or for further information, please contact coordinators at the universities.

Smart specialisation scholarships are paid under the program until 30.06.2023.

Additional info:

Anu Lepik
Senior programme officer
Scholarships and grants office
+372 7300 809

Applying for a scholarship

The higher education institution may grant the scholarship to student:

  • who is a citizen of Estonia or resides in Estonia on the basis of a long-term or temporary residence permit or a permanent or temporary right of residence or reside in Estonia with a long-stay visa or without a visa if there is an agreement with the foreign country for visa-free movement or the citizens of the foreign country are exempt from visa and have applied for a temporary residence permit for studies
  • is a full-time student;
  • is not on academic leave;
  • has not exceeded the standard period of study of the curriculum;
  • who is enrolled in certified smart specialisation curriculum.

Please note that the approved curricula also includes a condition for the year of admission!

Smart specialisation scholarships are paid on the basis of regulation of the Minister of Education and Research "Types and Amounts of State Student Scholarships and General Conditions and Procedure for Granting Them". (available in Estonian only).

Scholarship is 160 euros per month and is allocated twice a year for 5 months at a time: for autumn semester (September to January) and spring semester (February to June)

To receive a scholarship, you must apply in accordance with the deadlines and procedures established by your higher education institution. See your school's website for more information!

  • The scholarship is paid for the full months only. The payments will be terminated if the grantee fails to conform with the established eligibility criteria.
  • The scholarship cannot be paid during academic leave, unless the student continues studying during the leave and belongs to one or more of the following categories:
    • is with a moderate, severe or profound disability;
    • is a parent or guardian of a child under 3 years of age;
    • is a parent or guardian of a disabled child under 16 years of age;
    • is performing the compulsory military service or alternative service.
  • The students taking an academic leave for any of these reasons can continue to receive a scholarship during their academic leave, the amounts of the scholarship will, however, be differentiated based on the actual study load. 
  • If the student is deleted from the matriculation register or goes on academic leave, the last payment of the scholarship is made for the full calendar month of studies that preceded the decision of deletion from the matriculation register or the order for granting academic leave. If the student is deleted from the matriculation register due to reasons related to completion of the study programme, the scholarship shall be paid for the entire calendar month in which the student is deleted from the matriculation register.

Smart specialisation scholarships for PhD students 

The aim of the scholarship programme is to encourage the PhD studies in smart specialisation growth areas, increase the number of students graduating from university with PhD degrees in these areas, and, as a result, give an incentive to the industries acting in the growth areas, support cooperation between R&D institutions and companies, diversify the career prospects of PhD graduates and contribute to the capacity building of research-intensive industry sector.

To date, all scholarship holders have been selected and no new application rounds will be opened. 

The scope of the thesis of the PhD student must be related to one of the smart specialisation growth areas. These areas have been laid down in the Estonian Research and Development and Innovation Strategy 2014-2020 “Knowledge-based Estonia” and Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020. Preference is given to applicants conducting their doctoral research that is:

  • interdisciplinary in nature or forms a part of a wider interdisciplinary research project (interdisciplinary PhD);
  • responsive to the needs of industry, addressing the practical problems of specific sector/company or contribute directly to implementation of research findings in everyday industry practice (industrial PhD). The involved companies may be located in Estonia or abroad. The technology competence centers, R&D and public-sector institutions, or hospitals and clinics cannot be considered as an industry for the purpose of smart specialisation scholarships. 

The smart specialisation scholarships for PhD students amount to 440 euros per months. Smart specialisation PhD scholarship is paid in addition to the doctoral grant paid by the government. No other costs can be covered. Guidelines and document forms are available on our Estonian website

Scholarship can be paid under the program until the 31.08.2023. If the nominal period of the PhD student's studies continues after 31.08.2023, he/she can no longer be supported by this program.

Additional info:

Anu Lepik
Senior programme officer
Scholarships and grants office
+372 7300 809


The EU structural funds are public resources and therefore the public has a right to know, what it has been used for and who are the beneficiaries. All activities are co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Estonia. The information requirements of European Union Structural Funds shall be followed and respected when using the scholarship. The articles, publications, slides and the likes, and oral presentations related to the study visit shall acknowledge the support of European Union, by using the European Regional Development Fund’s double logo or referring to the support verbally (for example: “The research for this article was conducted with the support from the European Regional Development Fund”).

You can download the logos of European Regional Development Fund here.

The lists of grantees are public.

Last updated: 17.11.2021