Joint doctoral degrees

Information about joint supervision (cotutelle) and joint doctoral degrees with universities outside Norway. Norsk versjon: Fellesgrad og felles veiledning

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What is a joint degree? #

Joint degree means that two (or more) institutions jointly initiate a doctoral degree programme leading to a joint degree. The joint degree can be documented through a joint diploma from the institutions or through a diploma from each of the institutions.

What is a cotutelle agreement (joint supervision)? #

Cotutelle is an agreement on joint supervision on the doctoral degree level. The programme originated in France, hence the term cotutelle (as in co-tutoring). Such agreements can be entered into between the two cooperating institutions, the PhD candidate and the candidate's supervisors. The cotutelle agreement regulates enrolment, supervision and the evaluation of the candidate's doctoral degree dissertation. A cotutelle agreement must always be entered into on the individual level, but institutional agreements can also be made on cotutelle cooperation. The candidate receives a diploma from each of the institutions.

The terms Joint PhD or Joint Doctorate are used and defined somewhat differently from country to country.

Why establish joint degrees og cotutelle agreements? #

NTNU's strategic objective is to increase its level of internationalisation. Establishing joint degrees in collaboration with universities abroad will lead to more binding cooperation, and will promote NTNU's international ambitions. This also applies to joint degrees on the PhD level. Joint degrees and study programmes with universities that are among the 20 best in Europe are defined as a target for 2020. Establishing joint degrees is also an explicit goal in the Bologna process.

Establishing joint degrees means that several academic environments that on their own may be relatively small can offer study programmes together which they could not have managed to offer on their own. The primary goal of joint degrees should be to raise the quality of both the training and the research in the academic field in question and should provide the institution with added value.

As a stage in international cooperation and the intention that PhD candidates should have a research stay at an institution abroad, an agreement on joint supervision (cotutelle agreement) will formalise this collaborative effort. For the candidate, it will be beneficial to have documentation that he or she has education from more than one institution. The candidate will also have supervisors appointed at both institutions.

Guidelines for joint degrees and cotutelle agreements at NTNU #

Section 25 of NTNU's PhD Regulations details the existing rules and regulations for joint degrees and cotutelle agreements. NTNU's board of directors has further determined guidelines for cotutelle agreements and joint degrees, cf. S-case 83/08, 4 December 2008.

"Such an agreement is as a minimum to cover enrolment, funding, academic training, supervision, residency requirements at the institutions, reporting requirements, the language and structure of the thesis, its evaluation, the award of the degree, the issue of the certificate and the ownership of intellectual property rights to the results."

The PhD training must have a scope of three years of normal study time, and the candidate must be enrolled in both institutions. It is a requirement that the entire dissertation and its attachments are made public.

Guidelines #

  1. NTNU may enter into agreements on cotutelle cooperation on the PhD level with universities abroad.
  2. The agreement must be signed by the two supervisors, the Dean, the PhD candidate and the Rector.
  3. The candidate must be enrolled in both institutions. The academic basis for enrolment must be a Master's degree or similar.
  4. The PhD training must have a scope of three years of normal studies.
  5. The candidate must have at least one supervisor at each institution.
  6. The training part must satisfy the requirements of both institutions.
  7. The candidate must have a period of stay at both institutions. The agreement should specify when the candidate is to stay at each institution.
  8. The candidate must have a place to work, access to laboratory facilities and other infrastructure at each institution.
  9. The dissertation must have the logo of both institutions, and the cooperation agreement must be specified.
  10. The dissertation and its attachment must be made public.
  11. The agreement must regulate the composition of the assessment committee.
  12. For the public presentation of the dissertation, the rules that are in force at the institution where the presentation is to be given must be complied with.
  13. The candidate shall receive a diploma from each institution.
  14. Both institutions shall have the right to use the dissertation and the results in their education, training and research.

The guidelines apply in the same way to joint degrees where a number of institutions agree to establish a joint doctoral degree programme. With joint degrees, the candidate may receive a diploma from each institution or a joint diploma.

Practical matters - procedures for entering into agreements #

The following procedures must be complied with when making agreements on joint degrees or joint supervision (cotutelle):

  1. Academic communities intending to enter into agreements on joint degrees or joint supervision (cotutelle) must contact their administration (dean, head of department) to ensure they have the administration's support with respect to entering into a cooperation agreement with the institution in question.
  2. After receiving positive confirmation from the administration, negotiations are then initiated by the academic communities. The academic community is urged to contact the Department of Academic Affairs early in the process to obtain advice and guidance.
    Contact person at the Department of Academic Affairs:
    Legal consultant Anne Marie Snekvik, tel.: +47 73595294 e-mail:
  3. One of the institution's standard agreement templates must be used, but both institutions' cooperation requirements must be satisfied.
  4. When the agreement has been drawn up, the faculty sends it together with the necessary information to the Department of Academic Affairs, which presents the agreement and the faculty's information to the Rector. The Department of Academic Affairs also submits a brief statement on whether the agreement is in accordance with NTNU's guidelines.
  5. The Rector assesses whether the agreement is in accordance with the university's policy and signs the agreement if it is. The Rector may be advised by the Committee of Education or the Dean's Meeting if this is deemed necessary.
  6. The Department of Academic Affairs returns the agreement to the Faculty. The Faculty files the agreement when it has been signed by all the parties, and sends a copy of the signed agreement to the Department of Academic Affairs.
  7. The Department of Academic Affairs reports all agreements on joint degrees to NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education).

The Department of Academic Affairs has prepared a template for joint supervision (cotutelle agreement). This can be used as the point of departure for negotiations on cooperation with another institution.

Agreement template (pdf):
Agreement template (doc):

Contact #

We recommend that the research group gets in touch as early as possible for advice and guidance through the process.

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