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Military education

The Estonian Military Academy (EMA) is an institution of vocational training, developing on secondary education, for applied higher education and military research related to national defence.

The mission of the EMA is to train and educate senior non-commissioned officers, as well as junior and senior officers for the Estonian Defence Forces, National Defence League and other military institutions. The EMA has established a national reputation in Estonia for expertise in military research and development.

A challenging academic program by the EMA provides a balanced education in military and civilian subjects designed to provide a solid military foundation for officer-training, meeting the intellectual and mental requirements necessary for service as a military leader in the Army.  The academic staff members of the EMA are supported by members of the academic community from leading universities throughout Estonia.


The study period for army, air force and navy cadets is three years. On completion of the course, the graduates will have applied higher education in military leadership and the rank of a second lieutenant. Professionally they are prepared to act as leaders at the platoon and company level.

Advanced officers’ course is a two-year long master level programme, which is the second level of officer training, whereby the students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties of junior staff officers of an infantry battalion or brigade.

After that, it is possible to continue with senior staff officers’ and higher staff officers’ training courses in the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL). It is a joint project of the Baltic states and in-service training courses for senior staff officers and higher officials are organised here. Apart from high ranking officers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, BALTDEFCOL has admitted several officers from our allied and partner countries. An academic degree can’t be obtained during the studies.

Although doctoral studies in the field of military education are not organised in Estonia, defence force members still have an opportunity to continue with doctoral studies in military education institutions in foreign countries.

The Non-commissioned Officers’ School of the EMA is, for the purposes of civil education, a vocational school, where one can study to become a senior non-commissioned officer after acquiring secondary education and passing military service. The training period is 44 weeks. During further service, knowledge and skills can be improved during the in-service training in the senior warrant officer and staff warrant officer training course.

Additional information:


The national training of Estonian officers was initiated in 1919 – the days of our War of Independence. In 1923 all schools providing military education were merged into a single structure, named the Joint Military Academy. Despite its short period of existence – the school was closed in 1940 – 12,000 Estonian officers were trained during the time the first Republic of Estonia.

After regaining its independence, the new Republic of Estonia faced a task of restoring its defence forces. To carry out the task of training officers, the predecessor of EMA, the Estonian National Defence College was founded in 1998.

Before that, many members of the Estonian Defence Forces were trained abroad because the necessary specialist education in some fields was not available in Estonia. In the training of officers the Estonian Defence Forces exercised close co-operation with the Republic of Finland. In 1992 Finland was the first country to open its military schools for Estonians. Over two hundred Estonian officers and NCOs have acquired their military education and further training in Finland.

Estonians have studied in the Santahamina Cadet School, Hamina Reserve Officers School, Lappenranta Military School, Niinisalo Artillery School and Pioneer School, also at the courses for UN military observers held at Niinisalo. Members of the Defence Forces are also trained in the USA, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and France.

Last updated: 29. April 2024, 11:09

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