Binational Doctorate (cotutelle de thèse)


  • A binational doctorate (cotutelle de thèse) takes place within the framework of an agreement linking two universities from two different countries.
  • The researcher is accepted as a doctoral candidate at both universities and spends time at each university as equally as possible.
  • A doctoral candidate under a cotutelle agreement carries out his or her work under the supervision and responsibility of a supervisor in each of the two countries involved.The details of supervision are regulated in a binding agreement (periods of stay, examination, language of publication, process of nominating examiners).
  • The doctorate in cotutelle leads to a unique, mutually recognised doctoral thesis and defence.
  • The two universities involved each issue a certificate, with a reference on the degree certificate to the respective partner university.
University of Bremen Illustration

How Do I Start a Binational Doctorate?

If you are interested in pursuing a binational doctoral degree and still have questions, please feel welcome to contact BYRD for an individual consultation at the start. If you want to begin the cotutelle process, discuss your plans directly with your supervisor at your home institution. Jointly think about which partner institution and which potential supervisor abroad would be suitable and how to approach her/him.

Before starting a cotutelle process, applicants must first seek acceptance as a doctoral candidate 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.

If you have been accepted as a doctoral candidate at the University of Bremen or at your home institution abroad and the advisors from both universities are set, the next step is to prepare the cotutelle agreement.

The Cotutelle Agreement

Once both supervisors at the two institutions are on board, the cotutelle agreement can be prepared. Details that have to be considered are

  • 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 and, if required, summaries
  • Place and language of defense and composition of doctoral committee/examination board.

The Rechtsstelle (Legal Office, Department 06) of the University of Bremen has drawn up an agreement template [DOC; 50 KB]. It is not mandatory to use this agreement and it may be amended to suit the respective circumstances of partner universities. One can also use an agreement provided 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 agreement is signed by the two supervisors, the executive board of the two universities, the doctoral candidate, and the chairperson of the doctoral committee in Bremen.

If 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 these to the Rechtsstelle of the University of Bremen for subsequent signature on the part of the University President.

If the wording of the agreement template is amended, or an agreement template is supplied by the partner university, the agreement is to be submitted to the University's Rechtsstelle for approval first. The Rechtsstelle submits the agreement to the University President for signature and subsequently returns the agreement to the doctoral candidate and the faculty. One original is retained by the Legal Office; one is sent to the partner university.


Legal Office: Saskia Schneider, 

Two persons signing documents
University of Bremen Illustration

Toolbox for doctoral candidates and further resources

Whether you’re contemplating a joint PhD or about to embark on one, this toolbox, developed in the framework of the Link EDU-RES project, provides you with information to help your decision making and to navigate through the beginning of your journey. Furthermore the project's portal provides a collection of articles, guidelines and further relevant information on joint programmes or degrees at doctoral level. Furthermore, the EUA-CDE report on "Co-tutelles in European universities: concept, aims an implementation" provides a concise summary on what cotutelles are.

Recommendations for PhD Candidates Coming to Bremen for a Cotutelle

During the stay at the University of Bremen, doctoral candidates from abroad 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.

Opportunities to Internationalize Your PhD

There are many ways to internationalize your PhD journey besides pursuing a binational degree. Visiting conferences abroad, research stays at other institutions or having a second advisor from a university abroad on your committe can all foster an international discussion of your own research and broaden your perspective.


Bild eines Wegweisers
Updated by: BYRD