Cotutelle & Joint PhD Programs

Cotutelle & Joint PhD Programs


A Cotutelle and Joint PhD program is a PhD program where a candidate is jointly enrolled at two universities, and spends time at each university. A candidate is jointly supervised by staff at both institutions and upon successful completion of the program, the candidate graduates from both universities with a Doctor of Philosophy.

Macquarie University has been participating in Cotutelle degree programs since 1999 and Cotutelle programs are a formal component of our research strategy. The aim is to establish deep, continuing relationships with international research universities through joint research candidate supervision. In 2020, we had over 400 Cotutelle and Joint PhD candidates with more than 150 universities from over 35 countries led by China, Germany and France. The Cotutelle and Joint PhD schemes are open to both international and domestic PhD candidates.

Over the past decade Macquarie University has firmly established itself as the Australian leader in research training. We aim to ensure that we continue to lead as we expand our international research training programs with a particular and deliberate focus on quality across four perspectives; candidates, programs, collaborating university partners and funding sources.

Cotutelle vs Joint PhD

Cotutelle model

Under the Cotutelle model, the student is enrolled at both universities and fees are payable at the home university. Macquarie University always charges fees for the full duration of candidature but fee scholarships are awarded to eligible applicants. The dates of initial enrolment may be different at the two universities. The entrance requirements for each university are fully respected.

Both universities will appoint at least one of its staff as the supervisor and these supervisors jointly guide the student's research program. The supervisors are encouraged to maintain contact with each other.

For each such student there will be an agreement, signed by suitable authorities at each university, specifying inter alia the study program, supervision, funding and examination processes. This must be completed before the student enrols in the partner university.

The student spends approximately half their time at each university, with a minimum of 12 months on each campus. This may be in one or more periods of time, subject to funding and the needs of the research program.

Each university makes its own decisions about the admission, award of scholarship and progress approval of the student, including any coursework. There is no removal of any authority from either party.

At the conclusion of the research, a single thesis is prepared that is submitted for independent examination by both universities. Each university's examination process is fully complied with including an oral viva voce examination. Each university makes its own decision about the award of the degree, including a grade or mark if that is the practice. If successful at each university, the candidate can attend a graduation ceremony at both universities and will receive a testamur (degree certificate) from each university. The degree titles awarded may be different according to the local regulations. The testamurs (degree certificates) carry a comment line to the effect that the degree is awarded under a cotutelle agreement.

Cotutelle Sample Testamur

Joint degree model

For any joint degree there will be an umbrella framework agreement that establishes the program. This will be signed by suitable authorities in both universities. The Senate of Macquarie University needs to approve the universities that collaborate with Macquarie University on Joint PhD programs.

Under the Joint PhD model, the candidate is enrolled at both universities and fees are payable at both universities but some overseas universities only charge fees for the period of residence. Macquarie University always charges fees for the full duration of candidature but fee scholarships are awarded to eligible applicants.

There is a joint decision to admit the student to the joint degree program. The dates of initial enrolment may be different at the two universities but the duration of joint enrolment will be agreed. The entrance requirements for each university are fully respected

Both universities will appoint at least one of its staff as the supervisor and these supervisors jointly guide the student's research program. The supervisors are encouraged to maintain contact with each other.

For each such student there will be an agreement, signed by suitable authorities at each university, specifying inter alia the study program, supervision, funding and examination processes. This must be completed before the student enrols in the joint program. It is understood that the student may be transferred from an initial single enrolment at one university into the joint program.

The student spends approximately half their time at each university, with a minimum of 12 months on each campus. This may be in one or more periods of time, subject to funding and the needs of the research program.

Each university makes its own decisions about the admission and award of scholarship. Progress assessment of the student, including any coursework is jointly agreed. The joint decisions are made within the specifications of the student agreement AND the umbrella framework agreement.

At the conclusion of the research, a single thesis is prepared that is submitted for a single examination process agreed by both universities. This may be either one of the university's own process or a merged process containing elements of both.

If successful the student is able then to graduate and attend a graduation ceremony at only one university. The degree title is as specified in the agreements. The testamur (degree certificate) carries the crests of both universities and is signed by authorities in both universities.

Joint PhD Sample Testamur

Key Differences

Cotutelle Joint PhD
Joint enrolment at MQ and an overseas university Joint enrolment at MQ and an overseas university
Priority institutional partners – but open to all universities subject to approval Institutional partners require Academic Senate Approval
Institutional memorandum of understanding (MOU) not compulsory Institutional MOU/agreement required
Separate progress assessments One university is designated as the lead
Single thesis submitted to both universities Single thesis submitted to the lead university
Separate examination Joint examination
Two testamurs One joint testamur
Two graduation ceremonies One graduation ceremony

General Guidelines for Cotutelle/Joint PhD Programs

Degree Eligibility

Cotutelle and Joint PhDs programs are only available for PhD programs. We currently do not engage in joint supervision programs for Master of Research.

Candidate Eligibility

All candidates must meet Macquarie University's PhD entry requirements as per normal. Supervisors and candidates can also check to see if they appear to be eligible for a scholarship by going to the Scholarship Requirements webpage. Further information on Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarships is in the next tab below.

Enrolment Period

The joint enrolment period is a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of  3 years. At least 1 year must be spent at each university. The duration will depend on the individual candidate's situation and previous collaboration with the supervisors.

Supervisory Format

A candidate will have a principal supervisor at both Macquarie University, and at the overseas partner university. The expectation is that the supervisors arrange telephone/skype meetings with each other at least twice per year to ensure that they are guiding the candidate appropriately towards a single thesis.

Cotutelle/Joint PhD Agreement

A legal agreement must be signed between the two institutions. The Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships will manage the agreement negotiations and the final agreement must be signed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) who has the delegated authority to do so at Macquarie University. To initiate this process, Macquarie University supervisors must complete the Cotutelle/Joint PhD Proposal Form.

The legal agreement can take anywhere between 3-7 months to be finalised. This should be factored in when making arrangements with a candidate.

Thesis Submission & Examination

For a Cotutelle, the same thesis must be submitted to both universities for separate examination. For a Joint PhD the thesis is submitted to the "lead" university.

Scholarships & Funding

Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarship

Because of the prestige of joint supervision programs, we offer generous scholarships to a select group of high-quality candidates. The Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarship includes:

  • Scholarship for tuition fees for up to 3 years
  • Stipend while on campus at Macquarie University
  • Travel Allowance

The total value of the Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarship is approx $160,000 for international candidates depending on the length of candidature and stay at MQ.


Unless otherwise stipulated in an agreement, Cotutelle and Joint PhD candidates receive a living allowance (stipend) paid at the Australian Postgraduate Award rate. This is paid pro-rata for the period they are on campus at Macquarie University. The 2019 RTP rate is $27,596 per annum tax free.

Travel Allowance

Unless otherwise stipulated in an agreement, all Cotutelle and Joint PhD candidates are entitled to one return economy airfare from their home universities nearest major airport to Sydney, Australia. Travel must be undertaken in accordance with the Macquarie University Travel Policy and must be booked by the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships.

In order to book flights, eligible candidates should submit the Cotutelle/Joint Degree Airfare Request Form along with a copy of their passport to We will then arrange to book flights on your behalf, and will contact you with your itinerary and any additional flight information. This applies to both inbound and outbound travellers.

How will I benefit from this program?

Candidate benefits

  • Exposes candidates to different academic environments through joint enrolment and supervision.
  • It enhances a candidate's training experiences and gives them access to the latest research equipment and technologies at two institutions.
  • Provides candidates with international networking opportunities that will expand their future employment opportunities – whether through exposure to new academic institutions or new industries.
  • Candidates are able to write one thesis that is examined at two universities.
  • Candidates may have access to new funding schemes.
  • Personal benefits of experiencing a new culture and environment. This obviously provides new personal experiences for the candidate but has the added effect of allowing them to further develop their soft skills.

Institutional benefits

  • Deepens and strengthens research collaborations and networks at an individual and institutional level.
  • Fosters a higher level of cooperation between researchers in their respective fields through co-supervision.
  • Provides access to new funding schemes and access to new international enrolments.
  • Provides an opportunity to increase joint publications, citation rate and rankings.
  • The candidate benefits (listed below) make the institution more attractive to potential candidates.

Cotutelle partner universities

Cotutelle partner universities are assessed according to their research credentials and collaborative relationship with Macquarie University.

Universities are research-intensive universities with strong research collaboration relationships (or potential) with Macquarie University. These include:







Czech Republic






Prospective cotutelle and joint PhD partners

For prospective joint PhD applicants from universities not listed in the above tables, a special case needs to be made for by the principal supervisor and Associate Dean - HDR of the relevant Faculty. The case will be reviewed and assessed by the DVC (Research), via the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships based on the merit of the proposed research relationship. The Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships can assist with inquiries.

Joint PhD Partner Universities

The following universities have been approved by the Macquarie University Academic Senate for Joint PhD Degree programs.


  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles


  • University of Toronto


  • China University of Mining and Technology
  • Fudan University(*)


  • Aarhus University


  • University of Helsinki


  • École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
  • Université de Lyon
    (including St Étienne)
  • Université de Toulouse
  • Université Montpellier
  • Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie
  • Université de Strasbourg


  • Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Heidelberg University
  • Hamburg University(*)
  • Leipzig University
  • Goettingen University
  • LMU Munich University
  • Ruhr-University Bochum
  • University of Potsdam
  • University of Potsdam (*^)


  • University of Trento(*^)


  • University of Amsterdam
  • Free University of Amsterdam
  • University of Utrecht
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • University of Groningen(*^)
  • Radboud University Nijmegen
  • University of Twente


  • University of Bergen

South Africa

  • Stellenbosch University


  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid


  • Lund University

United Kingdom

  • Cardiff University
  • Lancaster University
  • Heriot-Watt University(*)
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Bristol
  • University Dundee(*)
  • University of Durham
  • University of Edinburgh(*)
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow(*)
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Newcastle(*^)
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of St Andrews(*)
  • University of Strathclyde(*)
  • University of York

Joint PhD MOUs only implemented in selected cases as indicated by an asterisk (*). The asterisk with circumflex (*^) indicates a member of the consortium agreement for the Joint International Doctorate in Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain (IDEALAB).

Supervisor FAQs

1. How do I start the process of hosting a cotutelle/joint PhD candidate?

Please complete the Cotutelle/Joint PhD Proposal Form. You will need to liaise with the supervisor at the Partner University and the candidate to answer some of these questions. Once completed please discuss the proposal with your Associate Dean (HDR) or Faculty HDR Manager. The ADHDR will need to endorse the proposal and it then needs to be sent to the HDRO for consideration by the Executive Director.

We would also encourage you to come in and talk to us if this is your first time hosting a Cotutelle/Joint PhD candidate – or even if you'd just like to touch base with us. It is often easier for us to answer any questions you may have on the spot. Please email if you'd like to arrange a time to talk.

2. Can I supervise a candidate from a university that is not a Priority 1 or 2?

Yes - subject to approval from the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships and in some cases, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research).

3. If a candidate is already enrolled in a PhD program, can they still apply for a cotutelle with Macquarie?

This is usually possible in the first year of enrolment, however you and your candidate should allow time to complete negotiation processes for a signed agreement within that year. After the first year the candidate has probably gone too far down their research path to be able to involve a new supervisor fully in their research plan.

4. What funding does Macquarie have available to candidates? Is it guaranteed?

Please refer to the Scholarships & Funding section on this webpage.

Please note that the Cotutelle/Joint PhD scholarship is not guaranteed. Candidates must meet both the entry criteria and scholarship criteria to be successful. This is assessed by both the appropriate department/faculty and Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships.

5. Why does the agreement process take 3-7 months?

Agreements need to be drafted and then checked and modified by process managers and legal professionals at both universities. This is to ensure that the terms are acceptable to both Universities policies and both countries legal requirements. This attention to detail at the agreement drafting stage is in the best interests of all involved, in particular for the candidates to mitigate risks of enrolment, scholarship, examination, research integrity and IP issues during their research.

Find more FAQs here.

Got another question? Send it by email to the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships.

Inbound Candidate FAQs

1.    I am interested in a Cotutelle/Joint PhD, but where do I start?

  1. Talk to your supervisor at your home university. You must have the support of your supervisor if this is to work.
  2. Check that your university can engage in Cotutelle/Joint PhD programs. If your university is listed on this webpage then it’s likely we have worked with them before in the area of joint supervision.
  3. Check you meet the entry criteria for PhD candidates at Enrolment in a PhD at an overseas university does not guarantee entry to Macquarie University.
  4. Contact a Macquarie University supervisor to see if they are willing to host you as a cotutelle student. You can search for supervisors in our register at
  5. If you have found a supervisor who would like supervise you, you will need to apply for entry to the PhD at MQ. Your MQ supervisor will need to contact the HDR Coordinator IRTP at Macquarie University also. The email of the HDR Coordinator IRTP is

2.    Do I have to pay tuition fees?

Yes, tuition fees are charged for all PhD programs. A list of fees is available at: Please note that Macquarie University offers Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarships for eligible applicants that covers the tuition fees.

3.    Can I enrol in a Cotutelle/Joint PhD if I have already started my PhD?

Yes, though it will depend on how far down the research path you are. If you are more than 1-2 years into your PhD it will be very difficult to incorporate a new supervisor fully in your research plan (unless your PhD program incorporates many coursework units). Bear in mind also that cotutelles can take between 3-7 months to finalise (please see questions 5&6).

4.    How long does the application and agreement process take?

Once you have submitted a PhD application, it should take between 6-8 weeks to assess. However, the Cotutelle/Joint PhD agreement takes longer as this agreement must address each individual candidate research needs, as well as suit the requirements of two universities. The agreement process can take anywhere between 3-7 months from start to finish.

5.     Are Cotutelle/Joint PhD Scholarships Guaranteed?

No. Candidates must meet the scholarship criteria and are assessed by both the appropriate department/faculty and HDRO. Assessments are based primarily on academic merit and research experience. Additional information such as competitively awarded prizes, scholarships or other awards, peer-reviewed publications, conference and poster presentations and relevant work or professional experience will also be taken into account and add weight to  your application, as does the information provided by your academic referees.

6.     What costs should I expect that I will need to fund myself?

  • Approx. $300-$350 for your English Language Test (if applicable)
  • Approx. $1200 - $1800 for 24-36 month Overseas Health Cover (OSHC). OSHC must be paid in advance to get the electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) for your visa application. It will always be 9 months more than your planned stay in Sydney. If you stay less than the period on your OSHC you can often apply for a refund for the additionally paid months of OSHC. For further information see Question 13.
  • AU$550 Visa application
  • Approx. $250-$350 for medical examination for visa application (doesn’t apply to everybody)
  • Approx. $2000-$2500 to finance the first 4 weeks in Sydney. It takes approx. 2-4 weeks to process the first stipend payment (this will depend on the pay cycle).

7.     What happens if I am successful for both candidature and scholarship, and a Cotutelle/Joint PhD Agreement is finalised?

You will be given an official offer from Macquarie University outlining the details of your enrolment and scholarship. You will need to complete and sign some documentation and return it to our office. If arriving in Sydney soon, you will need to purchase Overseas Health Cover in order to obtain an electronic confirmation of enrolment (eCoE) so that you may apply for your visa. Details on how to do so will be provided in the official offer.

8.     Do I need Overseas Student Health Cover? Who pays for it?

Yes. Australian Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) is health insurance for international students. You will need to purchase OSHC before applying for your visa (information will be provided when you receive an official offer). OSHC costs are not covered by the Macquarie University Cotutelle iMQRES. This is mandatory and is a requirement of your Australian Student Visa. OSHC provides basic health cover, but not everything is included (e.g. dental is not covered). You will need to check if you are covered for any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. If you wish, you can choose a different Australian OSHC provider. Allianz is the preferred provider by MQ and they are also located on campus. For more information regarding OSHC, click here.

9.     How do I get my visa? Who pays for it?

As an international student, you need to hold a valid Australian visa for the duration of your study in Sydney. You can apply as soon as you receive your COE document from the University. For more information regarding Visa requirements,click here.

10.     How do I organize my travel? Who pays for it?

If you are an iMQRES Cotutelle student, Macquarie University will pay one return airfare for you between your Home university and Macquarie University. All we need you to do is fill out the Cotutelle flight request form, and send it to along with the photo page from your passport and your visa details.

11.     What about Accommodation?

Macquarie University provides an accommodation service at Multiple options are available through this service and you can compare them at If this is not suitable for you then an alternative may be to organise private accommodation. Note that the housing market moves very fast in Sydney. Moving out of an apartment usually only requires 2 weeks notice, and new apartments on the market for rent tend to be leased within a few days. If you want your own apartment or a shared room it might be worthwhile spending the first few days in a hotel, motel or youth hostel while you look for private accommodation. This will also give you a sense of travelling times in Sydney. Sydney is huge so it can take a long time to get from one part of Sydney to another!

Student feedback of popular neighbourhoods:

  • *North Ryde/Marsfield: close to the university (you can ride a bike) but quite far from beach and city (about 1-1.5 hours)
  • Around North Sydney: Super-fast to the city centre (10 min by train) and easy to get to university (25 min by train). To the beaches it is approx. 30- 45 min by bus
  • Manly: Popular beachside suburb, very busy in the summer. It takes 1.5-2 hours to Macquarie University (depending on the traffic, as there is no train station around Manly), about half an hour to the city centre by bus and 45 min by ferry.
  • Central Coast: at first it sounds crazily far away (80km from Sydney) but people studying and working at Macquarie University live here. The train connection to Uni is fast and direct (approx. 50 min). Beaches are everywhere around you and there are two National Parks within cycling distance. Most critical point: it is much cheaper than Sydney.

If you are looking for a shared house you can look online at the Macquarie University Private Accommodation listing,, or If you want your own place: or Just take care when organising private accommodation as there are a number of scams that involve private student housing. Please read the information on the Macquarie University Private Accommodation website.

12.     I hear Sydney is very expensive. Will my scholarship be enough to survive on? What costs do I need to calculate?

  • Most people find their scholarship is sufficient, but it really just covers the basics such as food, accommodation and local transport. If you feel you need more, save before arrive, apply for additional external scholarships or get a part-time job (note there are limitations on the number of hours you can work in Australia).
  • Rent can be very expensive! You should try to get something for $200-$250 per week to have a bit money left for non-essential items.
  • Transportation is pretty expensive. Buy an Opal Card (online or at a kiosk). There is no reduced price for international students and the current maximum price per week with opal card is $60. Sunday travel is cheaper as you only pay $2.50 per day.
  • Groceries about $80-$100 per week depending on your taste and where you shop. Aldi is much cheaper than Coles or Woolworths.
  • Clothes are quite expensive but there are several factory outlets in Sydney.
  • If you need to buy a bicycle or furniture try using for cheaper 2nd hand items. KMART and Target are also good for cheap household items.
  • More information is available at

Got another question? Send it by email to the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships.

Outbound Candidate FAQs

1. I am currently enrolled (or soon to be enrolled) at Macquarie University, and am interested in a Cotutelle or Joint PhD. Where do I start?

First of all, you need to consider where you are in terms of your research. If you are still in your first year of your PhD then it can probably work for you. After the first year you have probably gone too far down your research path to be able to involve a new supervisor fully in your research plan.

Next you will need to talk to your Macquarie University supervisor. Your  supervisor needs to support this and be willing to work with an overseas university supervisor to guide you appropriately. If your supervisor agrees then you can start looking and contacting appropriate universities/overseas supervisors whose research and expertise will benefit your research project.

2. I have found a supervisor at an overseas university who is willing to supervise me under a Cotutelle/Joint PhD arrangement. What do I do now?

Please contact the HDR Coordinator (International Research Training Partnerships) in the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships. Your overseas university supervisor will also need to find out what the internal procedures are at their university to initiate a Cotutelle/Joint PhD agreement.

3. Do I have to submit an application to the overseas university also?

Yes - you will have to follow their application/admission procedures also.

4. What if the other university wants me to do some coursework?

A limited amount of coursework may be possible, however as the PhD at Macquarie University is research based there will not be much time to fit in lots of coursework.

5. What about funding? Do I continue to receive my Macquarie University scholarship when I go overseas?

Tuition fee scholarship components will continue, however iMQRES/MQRES or Research Training Program (RTP) stipends will cease to be paid for the period you are overseas. The expectation is that you will secure funding from the partner university or external funding organisation to support yourself while you are overseas.

6. Do I need to speak another language to do a cotutelle?

Clearly it will help but in many areas (especially business and science) research groups conduct discussions in English, especially in Europe. Day to day living in France, Germany, Spain, Italy requires the local language, but Scandinavia and the Netherlands have very high levels of English in the whole population. Generally a thesis can be written in English anywhere in the world. An abstract is often required in the local language. Oral examinations (defence / jury / disputation) will often be in English.

Got another question? Send it by email to the Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships.

7. Who is responsible for Travel Insurance?

Candidates undertaking overseas travel as part of the Cotutelle program are responsible for their own Travel Insurance arrangements. Candidates should refer to their cotutelle individual agreement for any specific arrangements. Please ensure the Overseas Studies Request form is submitted to Faculty well in advance of planned travel.

For any further questions, please contact the HDR Coordinator (International Research Training Partnerships).

Content owner: HDR Research Training and Partnerships Last updated: 30 Jun 2020 2:26pm

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