International double doctoral degree ("cotutelle") between the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and a foreign institution eligible to issue doctorates

  • Réf. 0327
  • Date de publication : 28/03/2024

1. Foundations

1.1 The international double doctoral degree (“cotutelle”) is a measure for encouraging the mobility of doctoral students by developing scientific cooperation between two institutions.

1.2  A cotutelle is distinct from a thesis co-supervision. The latter does not require the signing of an agreement and the thesis is supervised by a UNIGE professor in collaboration with a professor at another university at. For thesis co-supervision, only the university of origin issues the PhD degree and the acceptance of the co-supervision falls under the purview of the faculty, requiring no intervention by the International Relations and Partnerships Office (hereafter IRP).

1.3  Regarding a cotutelle, UNIGE does not implement joint degrees, but only double degrees. These take the form of two diplomas awarded to the doctoral student for the same thesis by UNIGE and the partner university, each with the mention of the collaboration and the cotutelle between the two institutions. It is essential to ensure that the partner university shares this policy and does not require the issuance of a single joint degree.

1.4  The Cooperation Agreement for the implementation of a cotutelle must comply with the regulations applicable to doctoral studies at UNIGE. Unless otherwise explicitly stated in the agreement, the doctoral student will be required to follow and meet the legal requirements of each university, be it administrative steps, deadlines, fees, or manuscript submission. Failure to follow the regulations can lead to cancellation of the cotutelle.

1.5 The thesis supervisor is responsible for the application of the terms of the Cooperation Agreement.

2. Cooperation agreement

2.1  A Cooperation Agreement may be signed with institutions authorized to issue a doctorate with which UNIGE has signed a collaboration agreement. For all other universities, the IRP will examine the requests case by case.

2.2  Each university having its own agreement template, it is strongly recommended to use the template provided by UNIGE. Only one document is needed.

3. Deadlines

3.1  The process of setting up a cotutelle can be slow and complicated. Negotiating the terms and conditions can last from 6 months to 1 year or more.

3.2  The request for implementation of a cotutelle must be sent to the IRP as soon as possible, during the first four semesters of the thesis regardless of where it began.

3.3  At UNIGE, should the duration of the thesis need to exceed the 10-semester period allowed by regulations, an authorization for extension must be requested from the competent authority according to the applicable study regulations. In the event of a favourable decision, the competent authority shall inform the IRP as soon as possible.

4. Thesis supervision

4.1  The doctoral student seeking a double degree carries out his/her work under the supervision of a thesis director in each of the two institutions concerned. Both supervisors commit to overseeing the doctoral student’s work and their skills are exercised jointly.

4.2  The thesis supervisor must be authorized to supervise doctoral theses according to the study regulations applicable at UNIGE.

5. Enrollment

5.1 The signing of a Cooperation Agreement requires the doctoral student to perform the administrative registration procedures in both partner institutions at the beginning of the thesis, or at the beginning of each academic year, according to the procedures specific to each institution. At UNIGE, the doctoral student enrolls only once at the beginning of his/her studies, at the Admissions Office, and is not required to subsequently renew registration.

5.2  The first year of the cotutelle corresponds to the first academic year for which the doctoral student is registered in both partner universities. The Cooperation Agreement only takes effect if this double registration is in order.

5.3  At UNIGE, the Cooperation Agreement will only be signed once the doctoral student is duly enrolled.

6. Fees

6.1  At UNIGE, the doctoral student pays university fees as stipulated in Article 77 of the University statute: CHF 65 per semester, and CHF 500 for the first and last semesters (or CHF 65 if he/she is an assistant at UNIGE during the semester).

7. Residence at each university

7.1  The doctoral student must spend an equal amount of time at both universities.

8. Defence and diploma

8.1  The thesis will culminate in a single public defence that shall take place at one of the partner institutions and shall be recognized by both. The place of the defence is set down in the Cooperation Agreement.

8.2 The conditions defining the composition of the jury are defined in the Cooperation Agreement and must meet the requirements of both institutions. The UNIGE thesis supervisor must be a member of the jury and have the right to vote.

8.3  Each institution commits to issuing the title of Doctor. Both institutions award a doctoral degree each for the same thesis. Each diploma bears the degree title specific to the institution, indicates that the thesis was conducted within the framework of a cotutelle, and specifies the name of the partner institution.

9. Changes and amendments

9.1  rder to establish an amendment to the Cooperation Agreement, the Dean’s office or student secretariat must inform the IRP in case of change of :

  • Co-Supervisor
  •  Faculty or degree sought
  • Thesis title
  • Place of public defence

9.2 Should the cotutelle or the thesis be abandoned by the doctoral student, the thesis supervisor must notify the IRP as soon as possible. To terminate his/her studies at UNIGE, the doctoral student must request his/her exmatriculation through the Admissions Office.

10. Swissuniversities subsidy

10.1 The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) provides financial support for cotutelle theses. The eligibility criteria, conditions and procedures are detailed here. The subsidy request dossier, duly constituted, must be sent by the doctoral student to the IRP by 1st March of the year the application is submitted.

STEP 1: Verification of conditions

The doctoral student and thesis supervisor at UNIGE must inform the IRP of the cotutelle project and ensure with the partner university :

  • that it accepts the principle of a single public defence;
  • that thesis supervisors will have the right to be members of the jury with the right to vote;
  • that the partner university agrees to issue its own degree with the mention of the cotutelle, and not a joint degree.
  • that the partner university agrees that the doctoral student pays at UNIGE the university fees as stipulated in Article 77 of the University statute : 65 CHF per semester, and CHF 500 for the first and last semesters (or 65 CHF if he/she is an assistant at UNIGE during the semester).

STEP 2: Thesis supervision

The doctoral student must be accepted for doctoral studies by a supervisor at each university and have their approval to co-supervise the thesis leading to a cotutelle.

STEP 3: Admission, enrollment, and approval

The doctoral student must be admitted to a doctorate, for the purpose of a cotutelle, and enroll at the University of Geneva (registration guide).

The competent authority of the faculty must approve the thesis subject for the purpose of the cotutelle.

Please note that the following two steps are only applicable within the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Science (FPSE) and must be applied :
Two-step validation process for your cotutelle project (FPSE) :

 * Step 1 : The Collège des Professeur-es (Faculty College) must validate the principle of the cotutelle.
 * Step 2 : The Collège des Docteur-es (Doctors College) must validate the thesis subject.

STEP 4: Submitting the dossier

The doctoral student, in agreement with his/her thesis supervisors, must send the complete dossier to IRP by email. This dossier includes:

  1. the completed Cotutelle Application Form;
  2. proof of enrollment at UNIGE (semester attestation available on;
  3. approval of the thesis subject and of the cotutelle (letter from the faculty)

STEP 5: Drafting the Cooperation Agreement

Once the IRP receives the complete file by email (see step 4), the drafting of the agreement can begin. Regarding the cotutelle agreement it is best to use the template provided by UNIGE, though it is possible to use the partner university's template. The Cooperation Agreement must be read and approved by the thesis supervisor at UNIGE in consultation with the academic supervisor, to ensure that it complies with the study regulation(s) and practices applicable at the Faculty.

STEP 6: Negotiation and validation

The IRP negotiates the terms of the Cooperation Agreement with the partner university to make sure that the agreement complies with the regulations applicable at both institutions.

STEP 7: Signatures

Once approved by both partner institutions, the Cooperation Agreement shall be signed, usually in 3 original copies. The collection of signatures will start in one of the partner universities.
At UNIGE, the signatories will be (preferably in this order): the doctoral student, the thesis supervisor, the Dean, and the Rector. Once the first 3 signatures have been collected, the originals must be sent to the IRP. The Rector's signature will be sought last and requested by the IRP.
The IRP will arrange for the signatures from the partner university and will inform the doctoral student and his/her thesis supervisor at UNIGE once the process is finalized.
The doctoral student will receive an original copy of the agreement; the thesis supervisor and the academic advisor will receive a scanned copy. The IRP will keep one original copy.

STEP 8: Diplomas

Once the cotutelle thesis has been successfully completed, you  must send a copy of both diplomas by email to cotutelle(at) The diplomas will be checked by our service and they will permanently deleted from our databases after examination.



Version Purpose of the amendment Publication date
3 Changes to the appendices 02.04.2024
2 Updated the procedure (steps 1, 3, 4, 5 and added step 8) 28.03.2024
1 New document 03.07.2019
Auditor Noria Mezlef (Directrice du service des relations internationales)
Approver Didier Raboud ( Secretary general)

Dernières modifications : 10/06/2024