Joint PhD (Joint Doctorate)

A joint PhD (other names: Joint Doctorate; co-tutelle doctorate) is a doctoral degree awarded by two (or more) different institutions, who share the responsibilities of supervising, coordination and examining a researcher’s work towards a PhD degree.

It is made possible through a contract of cooperation between the doctoral researcher, the PhD supervisors (one at each institution) and the respective institutions of higher education. Either a joint degree is awarded or a double degree. In each case, the joint responsibility of each of the partners is clearly mentioned on the official diploma.

Considering a joint PhD?

Joint PhD contracts can

  • Be established from the start of the PhD degree
  • Also become a joint PhD during the course of research
  • Even be drawn up close to the PhD defence as long as the minimum conditions set out by Ghent University and the partner university have been met (see below)

Students from Ghent University as well as students from other universities can start up the procedure for a Joint PhD degree.

Ghent University can also be a degree-awarding partner in joint Ph.D’s between member institutions from the Ghent University Association on the one hand and other Flemish or international universities on the other.

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 the UGent Department of Personnel and Organization (). They will give all necessary information taking into consideration each particular case.

Terms and Conditions

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

The doctoral candidate must

  • Have an approved PhD research proposal at Ghent University. The contract states the date of approval 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

In case of partnership with another Flemish institution the student may be exempt from paying fees at one of these institutions. If this is the case it will be stated in the contract.

The degree awarded can be either a joint degree (one diploma signed by each institution) or a double degree (two diploma’s with the name of the partnering institution clearly mentioned so they cannot be mistaken for two separate degrees).

More information: Regulations in Dutch and Regulations in English  for joint PhD degree

Human Rights Impact Assessment

Ghent University's Human Rights Policy

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

Whenever needed (candidate-)promoters can turn to the UGent Committee for the Human Rights Policy in Internationalisation for advice on the human rights impact assessment by sending an e-mail to

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.


A. Check possibility

First contact the student administration services of the partnering institution to make sure that joint PhD’s can be awarded there.

B. Supervisor

Make sure you have a supervisor at both institutions.

C. Approval (incl. application procedure)

There are several steps to get your PhD research approved. You are recommend to start up these steps simultaneously.

1. Academic admission, approval of research plan and supervisor

All international candidates need to complete a (mostly administrative) acceptance procedure during which the academic aspects (equivalence of your degree, research proposal, language skills) will be evaluated.

After completion of that procedure, a letter of admission, signed by the registrar, will be issued. The letter of admission is required for visa application (if applicable) and enrolment. It is also possible that your funding institution requires a proof that you are accepted as a doctoral student.

To start up the application procedure, PhD supervisors are invited to register their new candidates online via OASIS.


2. Drawing up of joint degree contract

For the drawing up of the contract, either the student or the supervisor must contact

Be sure to mention

  • Names of both supervisors (including contact details)
  • Partner institution (including contact details)
  • Name of doctoral degree at Ghent University

Each contract is drawn up individually and signed by the research student, the respective supervisors, the dean of the UGent faculty involved and the vice-chancellor / president of each participating university. It contains elements such as: form of degree, authorship for publications and intellectual property, place of defence, tuition fee etc.

Funding for PhD’s

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

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