The Centre for Doctoral Studies at EAMT was established in 2015 in order to co-ordinate and develop the doctoral programme. The Centre for Doctoral Studies includes both scholars and professors from creative fields. The Doctoral Council and the Doctoral Study Programme Council are attached to the Centre for Doctoral Studies. The Doctoral Council evaluates the progress the doctoral candidates and decides their degree status upon completion of the defence of the doctoral thesis. The Doctoral Study Programme Council advises the Centre for Doctoral Studies in the continued advancement of its curricula.
Doctoral studies were introduced at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 1996. Formerly (approx. 1960 – 1980) the best graduates of the Tallinn Conservatory usually continued their studies at post-graduate level at the Conservatories of Moscow and Leningrad. The first doctoral dissertation at EAMT was defended in 2004. In the beginning, only musicologists were accepted to the PhD programme, whereas in 2000 specific curricula were designed for performers and composers. In 2006, a new programme for the dramatic arts was added, which also has a creative emphasis. In September 2023, there were 30 doctoral students in EAMT, among them 9 international students. 65 doctoral theses have been defended, ten of them in Musicology.
Doctoral Study Programme „Music and Theatre“ at EAMT are presently divided between academic and artistic branches: 1. Musicology and 2. Artistic Research in Music or Theatre.
The first is based on academic music research and concludes with a defence of an extensive thesis. The admission examination of doctoral students in musicology focuses on the integration of the research subject in the research conducted at the department. Coverage of different areas of musicology (history of music, music theory, music psychology, ethnomusicology) is also strived for in admission. Doctoral students of musicology have been involved in the research subjects and grant projects of the department. Several students and their supervisors have also participated in international projects.
As a result of collaboration between EAMT, the Estonian Academy of Arts, and the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School, a significant document was finalised – The Estonian Artistic Research Framework Agreement, which aims to define and develop artistic research and to ensure its place in the educational landscape and in society. The framework agreement was signed by the Rectors of the three universities on June 9, 2021.
The doctoral students in the artistic branch have to complete an artistic research project, which usually consists of four presentations of creative works and a written thesis which is directly relevant to them. Similarly, theatre-related artistic research projects can be combined with a study of performance aspects of theatre, etc.
The popular main subjects include composition and improvisation. PhD students have participated in the workshops of the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts and the best students have given presentations at international conferences (either research conferences or AEC student conferences). Doctoral students can use the opportunities to study abroad through the support of DoRa Plus, ERASMUS and other programmes.
In 2014 EAMT used its own finances to launch the artistic research project (LUP1) “Composition and Improvisation in the 21st Century” and in 2016 LUP2 “Strategies of Creating Space in Contemporary Theatre”. The ultimate objective of both projects is publishing an article collection based on the research.