Signing a cotutelle agreement is a good idea when there is a need for doctoral dissertation supervision from another university located outside Finland. Cotutelle – also known as joint doctoral supervision – concerns an arrangement where a doctoral researcher pursues a doctoral degree at two separate universities or other institutions of higher education in two different countries. The doctoral researcher works on their doctoral dissertation equally in both universities under the joint supervision of at least two supervisors. The objective of a cotutelle agreement is that the researcher receives a degree from both universities but completes only one doctoral dissertation.
In a broader context, cotutelle has the common aim of promoting the international mobility of researchers. Drafting the agreement is justified if the collaboration between the two universities is based on genuine academic research co-operation and the agreement deepens the existing co-operation. The agreement can be made with a university approved by the University of Turku if the doctoral training of the university meets the educational standards of the University of Turku. The partner university should also be officially acknowledged by the appropriate authorities of the country or the higher education system.
In the a cotutelle arrangement, the doctoral researcher simultaneously completes the doctoral studies of both universities following the regulations for doctoral training of the two universities, and writes one doctoral dissertation which fulfils the requirements of both universities. In the cotutelle agreement, the parties agree on:
- the contents of the degree, manner of conducting the studies, and the amount of studies in both universities
- the evaluation criteria and procedures
- organising the supervising and sharing the responsibility
- the funding of the training
- the procedures for examination, approval, and evaluation of the doctoral dissertation
- awarding the doctoral degree and the degree certificate.
The doctoral thesis can be turned in for evaluation at the University of Turku, at the collaboration university, or in both depending on what is agreed on. Principally, the doctoral researcher turns in the dissertation for evaluation and defends it orally only in one of the universities awarding the degree. The prerequisite for this is that the doctoral dissertation requirements of the collaboration university do not differ significantly from the requirements of the doctoral researcher’s faculty. The cotutelle agreement and education should also follow the doctoral training recommendations of the University of Turku.
The cotutelle agreement cannot be signed before the doctoral researcher is registered as a student in both universities. Therefore, the doctoral researcher first applies for the right to study following the normal application protocol. However, it is possible to make preparations for the cotutelle agreement already before the right to study is granted. The preparations can start when the doctoral researcher has supervisors from both universities who are committed to the co-supervision. The agreement should be made immediately at the beginning of the studies, at the latest during the first year of studies. The cotutelle agreement is always made individually on a case-by-case basis.
The preparations for the agreement should be started ahead of time, either before beginning the training or co-supervision or at the latest at the beginning of the studies, as, depending on the partner university, it takes time to co-ordinate the degree requirements and procedures of doctoral degrees between two universities.
The preparation process proceeds as follows:
- The supervisor and the doctoral researcher contact the doctoral training coordinator of their faculty. The agreement is drafted together with the institution, doctoral training coordinator, and the partner university. The doctoral training coordinator has the main responsibility for drafting the agreement.
- The doctoral training coordinator of the faculty contacts the Admission Services and they make sure that the partner university is officially recognised by the appropriate authorities of the country or higher education system. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information from the International Education Specialist Johanna Kärki.
- It is recommended to use the Cotutelle agreement template of the University of Turku as a basis for the agreement. The Legal Services of the University of Turku can be consulted in case there are significant changes to the agreement (email@example.com).
- The agreement is signed at the University of Turku by the doctoral researcher, supervisor, and the dean.