What is Cotutelle?




Cotutelle – often also referred to as “Joint Doctorate” or “Joint Ph.D.” – stands for doctorates which involve research undertaken at at least two universities or higher educational institutions in two different countries. The desired result of a Cotutelle doctorate is the joint award a doctoral degree from both universities (“Joint Degree”) on the basis of only one single doctoral thesis. Thus, the doctoral candidate works on her/his dissertation being supervised equally at both universities (co-supervision by two or multiple supervisors). One or several extended research stays at the partner university abroad are therefore crucial for a successful completion of a Cotutelle doctorate. Moreover, the evaluation of the dissertation as well as the oral examination is carried out in a joint procedure with shared responsibilities and involvement of the partner universities. Cotutelle can therefore also be understood in a broader sense as a tool for internationalization of doctoral studies.

Particular Benefits

A particular advantage of a Cotutelle doctorate lies in the possibility of being able to write a dissertation within an international context and thus of benefiting from research conditions that a conventional doctorate cannot offer. The award of a joint doctoral degree regularly leads to the right to officially use the title in each of both countries, which can considerably broaden the personal career prospects.

Besides the doctoral candidate is also given a unique chance of practicing and improving respective language skills, gaining intercultural competence, familiarizing with the research culture and environment of the host country and laying the foundation for her/his international future career network.

However, not every doctoral project is equally suitable for a Cotutelle doctorate and the particularly demanding aspects should be taken into account too when weighing the pros and cons.


  •  Individual Agreement

The legal foundation for a Cotutelle doctorate is an individual agreement, for instance called “Joint Supervision Agreement”, which sets the conditions for the joint supervision, the joint evaluation of the doctoral thesis and joint oral examination. The agreement also specifies the particularities of the conferral of the joint doctoral degree. This agreement is to be concluded between the doctoral candidate and her/his supervisors, the universities, usually represented by their rectors, and the respective faculties, usually represented by their deans.

  • Involved Higher Education Institutions

The involved higher education institutions must each have the right to confer doctoral degrees, according to the respective laws and bylaws of their country.

  • Admission to Doctoral Studies

Like a regular doctorate also a Cotutelle doctorate is subject to the doctoral candidate’s admission to doctoral studies. Usually, the admission requirements of both universities, specified in the respective doctoral regulations, must be fulfilled. For more information on the admission to doctoral studies and doctoral procedures at ISU please check the doctoral regulations and consult with ISU’s respective school/faculty.

  • Supervisors’ Consent

The consent of at least one supervisor of each of both universities is required. Supervisors can only be persons who are entitled to supervise doctoral candidates, according to the applicable laws and bylaws of their country.

  • Obligatory Stay(s) at the Partner University

The doctoral candidate is obliged to conduct research/study stays at the partner university during her/his doctorate, since the doctoral thesis has to be prepared at both universities. At least one year of the overall study period should be spent at each university.

  • Consistency of Research Topic and Academic Departments

The research topic of the doctoral thesis may not vary between the two involved universities. The doctoral project must therefore be carried out at the faculties of both universities whose scientific departments correspond to each other.

  • Language

The doctoral thesis should be written in the language of instruction of one of both universities or in a third language, which often is English. In addition, abstracts/summaries should be written in the language of the other university respectively the language of each of both universities if the doctoral thesis is written in a third language.

  • Enrollment at both Universities

Usually, the doctoral candidate has to be enrolled at both universities.

  • Specific Benefit of the Cotutelle

Last but not least, there must be a specific benefit related to the Cotutelle doctorate. A Cotutelle doctorate is only justified if it results in a certain added value that would not arise from a regular doctorate or in cases where the research topic requires the involvement of a foreign university.

Bottom Banners