Universiteit Leiden

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Graduate School of Humanities

Joint doctorates & co-tutelles

Leiden University offers the possibility of pursuing a doctorate in the form of a ‘joint doctorate’: a doctorate that is completed simultaneously at two or more universities. This can either lead to a joint doctoral degree (one single diploma awarded by both institutions) or a double doctorate (each institution awards its own degree for one dissertation) resulting from a co-tutelle agreement.

Joint doctoral degree

Awarding a joint doctoral degree (a joint diploma) is only possible at Leiden University involving a formal collaborative partnership with Dutch universities and partner universities that are members of the LERU. The Doctorate Board can make an exception to this rule. The defence will lead to one diploma with two insignia.


Awarding a double doctorate is possible (also with non-LERU members), although Leiden University demands that the defense of the dissertation will be organized (first) in Leiden. The co-tutelle will not be mentioned on the Leiden University diploma. However, a supplement stating the involvement of the partner institution(s) can be attached.

Why is an agreement necessary?

By including mutual obligations and responsibilities in a formal agreement, the division of tasks, the way the collaboration is organized and the location of the PhD defense will be clear from the start for the institutions as well as for the PhD candidate. The model agreements are indicative and it is possible to adjust the agreement to specific circumstances. A (model) agreement of the intended partner university could be used as well, although using the Leiden University model agreement is preferable due to the strict requirements of the Leiden doctorate regulations.

When should an agreement be signed?

Joint doctoral degree
An agreement for a joint doctoral degree needs to be signed before the start of the doctoral studies. This is a strict requirement. The Doctorate Board will not take agreements into consideration after this date.

Download the joint doctoral degree model agreement here.

Ideally an agreement for a co-tutelle is signed at the start of the doctoral studies. At the latest the agreement can be signed two years after the start of the doctoral studies.

Download the co-tutelle model agreement here.

To apply for a joint doctorate the following steps must be taken:

  1. Develop a draft version of a “Joint doctoral degree PhD agreement” or a “Co-tutelle agreement”;
  2. Submit your draft agreement to the coordinator of the Graduate School for feedback. If known, also send the contact details of the person entitled to represent the partner university in this regard (usually a policy advisor is responsible for such agreements).
  3. The Graduate School coordinator will work with you and the partner university to ensure that the agreement is satisfactory and conform the Leiden University doctorate regulations;
  4. Simultaneously, the PhD candidate must apply for admission of the Graduate School following the normal application procedure via LUCRIS GSM/Converis. All admission requirements apply as normal for joint PhD candidates;
  5. If the representatives of both universities agree on the draft-agreement, the coordinator of the Graduate School submits the agreement to the Institute’s Scientific Director and Dean for approval (their signatures are required);
  6. Subsequently the agreement will be submitted in twofold for approval to the Doctorate Board (a signature of Rector Magnificus is required for both types of agreement);
  7. The agreement will be signed by the PhD candidate, the supervisors, the Institute’s scientific director, the Dean and the representatives of the participating universities (LU: Rector Magnificus);
  8. One hardcopy (signed by all) will be send to Academic Affairs for archiving purpose, the other hardcopy is intended for the partner university.
  9. The coordinator of the Graduate School sends the signed agreement to the partner university with request of returning one copy.
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