Master in Semiotics

Why study semiotics at University of Tartu?The tradition of excellence in semiotic theory in Tartu was established by Juri Lotman in 1960s, the founder of semiotics of culture and the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School, as well as the oldest journal of semiotics, Sign Systems Studies.The University of Tartu is one of the few institutions in the world teaching full Master’s and PhD degree programs in semiotics since 1993.As one of world’s major centres of semiotics, the University of Tartu collaborates and is regularly visited by professors from all around the worldThe finest collections of semiotic materials in Tartu include the memorial library of Thomas Sebeok, one of the world leaders in the 20th century semiotics, and the Centre of Jakob von Uexküll, a Baltic German whose works have been very important to the development of biosemiotics.

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The 2-year master’s programme in Semiotics at University of Tartu provides interdisciplinary background and gives a theoretical base for application of semiotic ideas to a wide variety of disciplines and scientific study. The programme binds together the theory of semiotics and three core modules - cultural semiotics, biosemiotics and sociosemiotics. The programme also combines the major semiotic traditions of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles S. Peirce with the leading contemporary and innovative thought.

Semiotics is the general study of sign processes, or semiosis. Semiosis makes the world meaningful. Today’s world, where processes have a disbalance of global and local dimension, challenges us to understand the need of individuals and societies for defining their identity. Semiotics is centrally relevant to achieve this understanding.

The Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu is one of the most important centres of semiotics in Europe, with deep roots for cultural semiotics and biosemiotics. Names and work of Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman, founder of world-renowned Tartu-Moscow Semiotics School, form the cornerstone of the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu. The Department of Semiotics also holds the memorial library of Thomas A. Sebeok, which was received as a donation.


  • Graduates can apply their expertise in the professions that require a complex knowledge of cultural analysis, i.e. semiotic consulting companies, marketing or media.
  • Practical applications of semiotics include translation and science writing, design and architecture, advertising, and communication strategies.
  • Employees of international organizations, e.g. embassies, where tolerance and conflict management skills are vital, can improve their professional education.
  • Programme graduates can continue on to doctoral studies and research. Semiotics is particularly relevant to advanced study in the life sciences, where biosemiotic understanding and semiotical interpretation is proving to be of remarkable value.

Title Semiotics

Language English

Level of study Master's

Location Tartu, Estonia

Degree awarded Master of Arts in Humanities (Semiotics)

Faculty Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Semiotics

Duration 2 years  

Credits 120 ECTS 

Study-form Full-time regular studies

  • International class
  • International faculty
  • Lessons in foreign language 50%
  • International study tours
  • International traineeship
  • Traineeship at international companies
  • Attendance of the master abroad
  • Issuance of foreign diploma and certifications

Applications are evaluated based on

  • the score of the motivation letter (yields 50% of the final score)
  • the admission interview (yields 50% of the final score)
Criteria for assessing applications:
  • CV Screening
  • Motivation letter
  • Motivational interview

Entry requirements

  • bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification, previous studies in semiotics are not required (the degree must be obtained by the end of July) – please see country-specific document requirements here.
  • English language proficiency – acceptable tests and exempt categories are specified here.
Admission Requirements:
  • Bachelor
  • Master degree
  • Equivalent qualification
Tuition-waiver scholarships available
Cost of the master: Not declared
Scholarships available
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