An important element of internationalization (and thereby preparing the students for transnational careers) is the Co-tutelle de thèse procedure.

After the successful implementation of a series of individual procedures, the Graduate Centre together with the University of Stellenbosch developed a framework agreement that aims to facilitate the joint supervision and shall serve as a blueprint for further bilateral agreements. Another framework agreement is currently in preparation for Macquarie University in Sydney.

The programmes “German as Foreign Language” and “Global Studies with a special emphasis on Peace and Security in Africa” envisage a joint doctorate for PhD candidates; in the first case with the University of Arizona at Tucson, and in the latter with Addis Ababa University.

What is a Co-tutelle process/a bi-national doctorate?

Bi-national doctorates offer the possibility for doctoral students to earn a doctoral degree in cooperation with a foreign university. The degree is awarded for a single academic work based on the research undertaken at two universities. Arising from the close cooperation between the partner universities, bi-national doctorates promote the international mobility of junior scientists. Currently there are 15 cooperation agreements at the Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences.

Who would benefit from a bi-national doctoral programme?

A bi-national doctorate is interesting for students who wish to:

  • establish academic connections in both countries of the partner universities;
  • work in the bi-national sector; or
  • connect their research focus with another country.

Features of a Co-tutelle process:

  • Enrolment at both universities.
  • Enrolment or study fees incurred are usually only to be paid to one university.
  • Admission requirements must be fulfilled at both universities, due to the fact that binational programmes are based on the study regulations of both universities.
  • A supervision agreement with both doctoral supervisors.
  • The duration of the stay at the host university should be at least one semester. The host university stipulates the exact duration of the stay.
  • The number of thesis copies that must be submitted for each of the two universities will depends on the respective regulations.
  • Supervisors: The co-tutelle agreement contains specific stipulations on the number of supervisors and their appointment by the committees of the participating universities. As a general rule, each university appoints one of at least two supervisors.
  • Language: Corresponding regulations have to be determined in accordance with the PhD study regulations. Usually, the thesis is written in the language used at the university where the defense takes place or the first supervisor’s report is made. In most cases, the abstract has to be written in the language of the other university.
  • The form of the oral examination must be clarified in the cooperation agreement. Exemptions for co-tutelle graduation must already be defined in the PhD regulations, for case by case regulations are not permitted.
  • Due to the different methods of evaluation, a single common assessment of the written and oral parts of the doctoral work is difficult in practice. It is recommended to maintain the grading systems of both countries, which could result in different country-specific assessments. In the cooperation agreement, participating universities should agree on the method of grading.

With the receipt of the doctoral degree, the student receives the right to bear the doctoral title in Germany and the country of the partner university.

There are two possible types of doctoral degree certificates:

A doctoral degree can be issued jointly by the two participating institutions (sample certificate of the German Rectors’ conference HRK) noting that the bi-national doctorate has been carried out in cooperation with a foreign partner university. The degree will bear the seals of both participating faculties.

There is also the possibility of issuing two separate degrees, which then must explicitly state that the doctoral training is a procedure jointly carried out by two universities, with a dissertation supervised and graded by both partner institutions.

The receipt of the doctoral degree entitles the PhD candidate to bear the doctoral title in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the country of the partner faculty.

Funding opportunities
Eiffel-Doctorat, DAAD