Research career in Estonia: An inside look at the PhD experience

This blog post was written by Toyon, a Management PhD student at Estonian Business School.

Toyon Kihnu

Photo: Toyon at Kihnu tour


Choosing a career is a highly personal decision, and understanding this requires hearing each person's unique tale. Without further ado, I will begin this blog with my own personal story of how I became part of the community of management scientists in Estonia.

My relationship with Estonia, the warmth I have experienced from this nation, the generosity of people for respecting others privacy and the value this country put in the actionable skills has instilled me the idea of "little is large". Let me continue by expanding on this; it implies that surprisingly small action, innovative start-up, personalised service, or resilient small firm can all have a large influence. While massive organisations and institutions have their place, the "little is large" idea underscores that we should never underestimate the power of small things to make a significant difference. This also gives me the confidence to say that despite Estonia's population is small the nation's love of innovation is something that countries with large populations often lack.

I had been following the work of various Estonian academics who were conducting creative research on areas relating to my interests in social concerns, but I found the exact fit at the Estonian Business School (EBS). I found the university's focus on public sector issues, including those in the labour market and the education, to be very appealing because they align so closely with my own research interests. So, when it came time to apply for doctoral programmes, I knew that the EBS was at the top of my list. I spent several months putting together a strong application, including a detailed research proposal that could speak to my abilities as a researcher. When I received the email informing me that I had been accepted into the programme, I was overjoyed. I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for, and I was excited to begin my studies at the EBS.


Photo: Estonian Business School (EBS)


Moving to Estonia is not without its difficulties. Getting a visa, finding a place to live, and learning a new language were all challenges I faced. Nevertheless, I had previously overcome these obstacles when I earned my master's degree from Tartu University. PhD study is very different from an undergraduate or graduate degree programme, requiring a great deal more time, effort, and focus, as well as the ability to manage and care for one's family, and often necessitating a migration to a new country. Since I was already aware of the various adaptation events hosted by organisations such as the International House of Estonia, Settle in Estonia, and the Integration Foundation, among others, I still have the opportunity to participate in them. Despite my prior knowledge of where to go for adaptation assistance, I needed the help of the EBS faculty and staff, as well as my fellow colleague, to successfully adapt to my new role. No way could I have made it to this point without their support.

As I began my studies, I was wowed by the quality of the instruction, the emphasis on individual attention, and the faculty's breadth of experience. The EBS gave my research a stimulating and helpful environment, and I have had many chances to work with other doctoral students. In fact, there are winter school, summer school, writing retreat, and several conference options here. Most importantly, it is possible to teach undergraduate and graduate students and supervise them with their theses, which is my favourite part.

As I have been working on my dissertation, I have been doing fieldwork all over Estonia and talking to professors, policymakers, and other stakeholders to learn more about the problems and opportunities facing the public sector (e.g., education) in the country. With the help of my advisors and co-workers, I can say that all of these resources are very useful for making a high-quality research output.

When I recall the years leading up to my decision to join EBS, I am filled with gratitude for both my decision and the chance I was given to become a part of such an encouraging and intellectually interesting community. Not only is the experience increasing my knowledge, but it is also providing me with relevant skills and connecting me with influential people who will be helpful to me in my future career as a scholar.


Toyon Mohammad

Ph.D. Candidate in Management

Estonian Business School



Find out which international degree programmes are available for you in Estonia. 


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