Joint PhD

What is a joint PhD?

A joint PhD (=joint doctorate; co-tutelle doctorate) is a doctoral degree awarded by two (or more) institutions, which share the responsibilities of supervising and coordinating a researcher’s PhD trajectory and which organize a joint examination procedure.

A joint PhD is made possible through a partnership agreement between the PhD candidate, the PhD supervisors (one at each institution) and the respective institutions of higher education. The candidate can be awarded

  • a joint diploma: one single diploma is issued, signed by each institution;
  • a double diploma: two diplomas are issued, which refer to each other and clearly mention the name of each partner institution so that they cannot be mistaken for two separate degrees.

The phrase “joint PhD” is used in both cases. In either case, the joint responsibility of the institutions involved is explicitly stated on the diploma(s).

NB: a double diploma should not be mistaken for a “double PhD”: two separate doctoral degrees awarded to the same PhD candidate for two distinct PhD trajectories.

Who can do a joint PhD?

PhD candidates from Ghent University as well as candidates from other universities can initiate the procedure for a joint PhD.

To do a joint PhD with Ghent University, certain minimal terms apply, and these terms might be different at other universities. To guarantee the quality of the degree, the joint PhD agreement must therefore be negotiated carefully while also taking care to avoid delays. It must be clear to all parties what is expected from the joint PhD—particularly in the interest of the PhD candidate.

Why do a joint PhD?

Every stakeholder involved—the PhD candidates, supervisors, and universities—benefits from the collaboration that a joint PhD entails.

  • For candidates, on top of securing a diploma that boasts the prestige of more than one university or institution, a joint PhD encourages exposure to different scientific environments and methodologies and provides access to additional resources.
    Joint PhDs cultivate advanced research proficiency, but also stimulate the acquisition of transferable skills in career management, leadership and personal efficiency, and communication, and demonstrate the candidates’ capacity for international mobility and cooperation. Moreover, a joint PhD generates a broad network of academic peers and mentors, fostering support professionally while also expanding the horizon of future job prospects.
  • For supervisors, setting up a joint PhD can reinforce collaborations with specific colleagues or with a larger research group and provide exciting new opportunities in terms of international networking. Supervising a joint PhD trajectory can also open up possibilities for obtaining competitive research grants or setting up new projects.
  • For universities, supporting joint PhD agreements not only increases their attractiveness for ambitious PhD candidates and supervisors, but boosts their internationalization profile and puts them on the map as institutions that stimulate competitive, high-level research and education, while also signalling their aptitude for global partnerships and their willingness to share knowledge.

When do a joint PhD?

A joint PhD can

  • Be established from the start of the PhD trajectory
  • Become a joint PhD during the course of the PhD trajectory
  • At the very latest be initiated one year before the end of the trajectory (as specified in the Education and Examination Code for Doctoral Matters, Art. 39, §4)

Procedure (general)

Negotiations between the partner institutions are formalised in a joint PhD agreement—usually coordinated by administrative staff at the respective universities. Each agreement is drawn up individually and signed by the PhD candidate, the respective supervisors, the dean of the involved Ghent University faculty and the vice-chancellor/ president/ rector of each participating university or institution. The agreement contains elements such as: form of degree, authorship for publications and intellectual property, jury composition, place of defence, tuition fee, etc.

The procedure for drawing up a joint PhD agreement with Ghent University as one of the partner institutions varies slightly depending on where the candidate is enrolled at the moment of initiating the joint PhD: at an international university or at another Flemish university. If in doubt about which procedure applies to you, please contact Ghent University's joint PhD coordinators: jointphd@ugent.be.

Candidates must be admitted to and enrolled at Ghent University before a joint PhD can be finalized—but the joint PhD process can be initiated before the enrolment is complete. It is often wise to do so, as the negotiation of a joint PhD agreement can take time.

Procedure for international candidates

The steps below apply to all candidates enrolled at a non-Flemish university who wish to sign a joint PhD agreement with Ghent University.

If you are enrolled at Ghent University, you may jump to step 4.

  1. Find and contact a supervisor at Ghent University, and make sure you have a supervisor at both institutions. Please note that having a supervisor at a different institution does not automatically make your degree a joint PhD. During your research you may collaborate with an external supervisor. In this case an agreement concerning the Intellectual Property rights should be drawn up. If the involvement of both institutions is significant, it is worth exploring the option of turning it into a joint PhD with a joint diploma as the outcome at the end.
  1. Make sure Ghent University's minimal terms are met.
  2. Holders of a foreign master’s diploma need to complete an admission procedure during which the academic aspects (equivalence of your degree, research proposal, language skills) will be evaluated. Once completed, you will receive a letter of admission issued by the Registrar’s Office. With this letter of admission you will be able to enrol and to apply for a visa (if applicable). It is also possible that your funding institution requires a copy of the letter of admission as proof that you have been accepted.
The admission procedure above does not apply to holders of a master’s diploma issued by the BENELUX (Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg).
  1. Your supervisor will need to start up the application procedure in Oasis: Oasis.ugent.be.
  2. Upon registration in Oasis, you will receive an invite from the joint PhD coordinators to fill out some specific information about your project in a partnership agreement template.
  3. This information must be returned to jointphd@ugent.be, along with contact details of the joint PhD coordinators at the partner institution.
  4. The joint PhD coordinators verify whether there is a pre-existing partnership agreement between your Ghent University faculty and the partner institution. If not, the supervisor receives an info-sheet in lieu of. Then a partnership agreement is negotiated by the joint PhD coordinators, together with a student specific appendix. If there is a pre-existing collaboration, a student specific appendix suffices to finalize the agreement.
  5. The joint PhD coordinators will lead the negotiations on behalf of the PhD candidate with the partner institution, in coordination with the faculty in question at Ghent University.
  6. Once those responsible at both partner institutions (e.g. the faculty, doctoral school, or equivalent) have approved a final proposal of the joint PhD agreement, the document may be signed.
  7. Signatures are obtained from all parties involved (rectors, deans, supervisors, and the PhD candidate). The signature process is managed by the joint PhD coordinators, and depending on the regulations of the partner institution may be completed manually on paper or electronically.
  8. You are required to re-enrol each academic year until you have successfully defended your doctoral dissertation.
Negotiations can take a long time, so make sure to start the procedure in a timely fashion—and at the very latest one year before the envisioned defence date.

Procedure for Flemish-university candidates (VLIR)

The steps below apply to candidates affiliated with one of the other Flemish universities (Universiteit Antwerpen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Universiteit Hasselt, and KU Leuven).

If you are enrolled at Ghent University, you may jump to step 3.

  1. Make sure you have a supervisor at both institutions.
  2. Make sure Ghent University's minimal terms are met.
In joint PhD agreements between Flemish institutions the PhD candidate may be exempt from paying tuition at one of the institutions. If this is the case, it will be stated in the joint PhD agreement.
  1. Your supervisor will need to start up the application procedure in Oasis: Oasis.ugent.be.
  2. Upon registration in Oasis, you will receive an invite from the joint PhD coordinators to fill out some specific information about your project in a joint PhD agreement template.
  3. Please return the attachment to jointphd@ugent.be.
  4. The joint PhD coordinators will lead the negotiations on behalf of the PhD candidate with the partner institution, in coordination with the faculty in question at Ghent University.
  5. Once those responsible at both partner institutions (e.g. the faculty, doctoral school, or equivalent) have approved a final proposal of the joint PhD agreement, the document may be signed.
  6. Signatures are obtained from all parties involved (rectors, deans, supervisors, and the PhD candidate). The signature process is managed by the joint PhD coordinators, and depending on the regulations of the partner institution may be completed manually on paper or electronically.
  7. You are required to re-enrol each academic year until you have successfully defended your doctoral dissertation.
Negotiations can take a long time, so make sure to start the procedure in a timely fashion—and at the very latest one year before the envisioned defence date.

Terms and conditions

Ghent University has set minimal terms which must be met before a joint PhD agreement can be established.

The PhD candidate must

  • have an approved PhD research proposal at Ghent University (the agreement states the date of admission by the faculty)
  • have a supervisor in each cooperating institution
  • formally enrol at each institution and therefore pay the tuition fee
  • carry out research at each institution for at least six months
  • defend the PhD degree in one of the partner institutions

For a full overview of Ghent University's joint PhD regulations, see the Education and Examination Code for Doctoral Matters, articles 38 through 58.

Human Rights Impact Assessment

In order to enable Ghent University to avoid any potential negative human rights impact, the (candidate-)supervisor at Ghent University is requested to complete the Human Rights Assessment Report Sheet.

Whenever needed (candidate-)supervisors can turn to the Ghent University Committee for the Human Rights Policy in Internationalisation for advice on the human rights impact assessment by sending an e-mail to mensenrechtenbeleid@ugent.be.

Ghent University makes the deliberate choice not to exclude cooperation based on criteria relating to the country in which a partner is based. However this is not intended to preclude Ghent University from deciding at any point in the future to join an academic boycott against a particular country.

Funding for PhDs

Please visit this webpage for an overview of the different funding possibilities for research at Ghent University.

As the employment situation at Ghent University and all related social security consequences vary according to the way the PhD research is being financed, the PhD researcher is requested to contact Ghent University's Department of Personnel and Organization (). They will give all necessary information taking into consideration each particular case.

Read up on the guidelines and procedures for funding for incoming mobility.

Contact

jointPhD@UGent.be