The University of Waterloo (UW), Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) Office is pleased to support students and prospective students interested in entering an individual Cotutelle program.

What is a Joint PhD, Dual PhD or Cotutelle Program?

A Cotutelle program refers to a student enrolled in two separate PhD programs at different universities in different countries. Dual degrees under a cotutelle agreement are awarded when one doctoral dissertation satisfies both universities' requirements for a doctorate. There is one final defence, which includes participants from both universities. 

  • The student is enrolled in both programs simultaneously and must maintain continuous enrollment. 
  • The student must fulfill ALL other requirements for the degree at BOTH institutions, including enrolment, progression, progress reviews, coursework, comprehensive examinations, thesis submission and thesis defence. 
  • The student receives two PhD degrees, each acknowledging that the degree was completed as a dual degree program and noting the partner institution.

A Cotutelle student is typically funded jointly by the Partner institution supervisor and the UW supervisor.  

  • When the student is in residence at UW, they pay tuition and incidental fees to UW, and their UW faculty supervisor funds them. When the student is in residence at the partner institution, they pay tuition and incidental fees to the partner institution, and their partner institution faculty supervisor funds them.
  • The length of time in the Joint PhD program varies depending on when a student starts at UW. If the student is already pursuing a PhD at the home university, then a minimum of four terms of residency are required at UW. 

A UW faculty member must initiate the Cotutelle process. 

  • *UW faculty members will complete and submit the Intent to Form a Cotutelle PDF form and submit it through our corresponding GSPA Cotutelle Tracking MS Form. 
    • Ideally, this is initiated within the first 12 months of study of the student's doctoral program.
  • An internal review takes place, and the cotutelle is approved or declined.
    • Once approved, the Cotutelle agreement can be drafted.
  • Both programs must admit the student before the final signing of the agreement.

How to be considered for a cotutelle?

Students currently studying in a doctoral program at another institution must connect with a UW faculty member associated with their program of interest to see if they are willing to supervise them in a doctoral program at UW. 

  • The student should discuss their interest in participating in a cotutelle at UW and connect the UW supervisor with their partner institution supervisor.
    • *If they agree, the faculty member initiates the cotutelle process.
  • The student must submit an online application to the doctoral program associated with the UW faculty member.
  • The student must meet the academic and English Language Proficiency admission requirements of the program they are applying to.
  • The student must be offered admission to UW and the partner institution before the Cotutelle agreement can be signed.

Students currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Waterloo must connect with their supervisor to discuss their interest in participating in a cotutelle. The UW supervisor may have colleagues or active research collaborations that would be a good fit for a cotutelle. If not, the student may have to find a partner institution and supervisor independently.


If you would like more information, contact the Manager or Associate Director, Graduate Admissions.