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Binational Doctorate (cotutelle de thèse)


  • A binational doctorate (cotutelle de thèse) is a doctoral degree obtained from two different supervisors from universities in two different countries.
  • The candidate is matriculated at both universities and the time spent on doctoral studies at each university is to be balanced as equally as possible.
  • The details of supervision are regulated in a binding agreement (periods of stay, examination, language of publication).
  • The two universities involved each issue a certificate, with a reference on the degree certificate to the respective partner university. A cotutelle doctoral agree does not iplay that two separate doctoral degrees are awarded on the basis of one thesis.

Further Informationen

Hochschulrektorenkonferenz: Promotionsverfahren mit bi-nationaler Bedeutung? (in German)

Joint Doctoral Supervision across Countries: Changes, Challenges and Considerations. Elise van den Hoven and Julia Connell (2016) [intranet access only]





General Information

In order to facilitate the implementation of binational doctorates, the University of Bremen provides its doctoral researchers, their supervisors and partner universities abroad with a sample cotutelle agreement. This agreement provides a straightforward common and binding framework for the two sides involved in binational doctoral studies. It constitutes a legally binding contract between the University of Bremen and partner universities in other countries.

There are different opportunities and different ways for a doctorate in an international context. They range from a laboratory or archive stay of several weeks to a long research stay at a foreign university which occupies most of the time of a doctoral procedure. The University of Bremen supports different forms of internationality at the level of doctoral studies. The facilitated binational doctoral procedure with a cotutelle agreement offers an attractive framework to enable early-career researchers of the University of Bremen to gain international research experience.

The cotutelle partners must commit to a number of criteria, among which that each university will host the doctoral student for a minimum period of one year. They must also commit to ensuring the validity of binational procedures in their respective university regulations. Moreover, the two universities must arrange for professorial supervision and evaluation, an examination committee comprising professors from each university as well as issuance of separate doctoral degree certificates.

If need be, and in mutual agreement, the agreement template [DOC] (50 KB) can be amended. It is also possible to base the cooperation on an agreement drafted by the partner university abroad.

Cotutelle Agreement

Agreement Template


We encourage you to contact BYRD for a consultation at the start. Discuss your plans with your supervisors at your home institution and the institution abroad and put them in touch. Make sure that the doctoral regulation which governs your PhD allows for binational doctorates. Inform the doctoral commission of your plans of setting up a cotutelle agreement.

Applicants must first seek admission to doctoral studies – at the University of Bremen via the appropriate doctoral commission. If the academic degree was obtained abroad, the foreign educational certificates must be recognized for admission to doctoral studies and enrollment as a doctoral candidate.

The next step is to prepare the cotutelle agreement. Parts of the agreement are to be worked out by the doctoral candidate together with each of their supervisors, especially in respect of

  • Topic of thesis/research objective
  • The research institutions/units at which the doctoral student will carry out her/his work
  • Total length of doctoral studies and period of stay(s) at each institution
  • Supervision, academic integration
  • Language of thesis
  • Place and language of defense and composition of doctoral committee.


There are two general options:

a) The wording of Bremen University's agreement template is not amended:

The two supervisors, the doctoral candidate, the chairperson of the doctoral commission and the management of the partner university are to sign the agreement in person (in four copies) and submit same to the Rechtsstelle of the University of Bremen for subsequent signature on the part of the University President. Information about the agreement template is provided below.

b) The wording of the agreement template is amended, or an agreement template is supplied by the partner university of the University of Bremen:

Following a) and before signature, the agreement is to be submitted to the Rechtsstelle for approval.

The Rechtsstelle submits the agreement to the University President for signature and subsequently returns the agreement to the doctoral candidate and the faculty division. One original is retained by Referat 06; one is sent to the partner university. One copy is passed on to the International Office and one to the Graduate Center at the University of Bremen, ProUB.

During they stay at the University of Bremen, doctoral candidates from other countries are advised to matriculate in order to ensure insurance cover and secure access to services such as the semester ticket (free public transport within Bremen), student reductions etc. Immatriculation can be suspended for periods during which the doctoral candidate is not at the University of Bremen.

The University of Bremen has drawn up an agreement template [DOC; 50 KB] that has been approved by the legal department of the University, i.e. the Rechtsstelle (Department 06). It is not mandatory to use this agreement in its present form and it may be amended to suit the respective circumstances of partner universities. It is also possible to use an agreement supplied by the partner university. In such an event, however, the agreement must be submitted to the Rechtsstelle of the University of Bremen for approval before it can be concluded.

The University of Bremen requires the agreement to include the following:

  • A minimum period of stay of one year at each of the partner universities
  • An equal division of examination requirements (language of examination and language of publication, as well as summaries in each language involved)
  • A recommendation for matriculation including a waiver of administrative costs
  • A commitment to acceptance for doctoral studies

The regulations governing doctoral studies and examinations issued by the respective university department must permit binational doctoral studies.

The agreement is to be signed by the two supervisors, the excecutive board of the two universities, the doctoral candidate, and the chairperson of the doctoral committee in Bremen.

At the inception of the binational PhD project, it is important to secure funding for the doctoral project in general and for the research stays abroad in particular. Scholarships may be useful in this respect. If you are looking for scholarship programs, this DAAD database might be a good starting point. More options can be found in the Euraxess database. There is also a scholarship database (in German) offered by the German government. There may also be funds available for cotutelle candidates at the department, in the home country or at the partner institution abroad.

The University of Bremen may be able to offer contact scholarships for binational doctoral degrees, for example if both institutions are members of YERUN. Contact us for information about the availability of scholarships.

Approval of agreements: Rechtsstelle, Ms Saskia Ria Schneider, 

Information and advice: BYRD (Bremen Early Career Researcher Development), byrdprotect me ?!vw.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Information on funding and international partners: International Office, Dr. Annette Lang,


Updated by: BYRD