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Formalized PhD collaboration

Guidelines when entering into agreements for double degree, joint degree or extended co-supervision with other institutions.

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The main purpose of formalized PhD collaboration is to gain features in the PhD education that are not already available at the individual institution.

Formalized PhD collaborations can either deal with collaboration on degree awarding or extended co-supervision. In a collaboration on degree awarding, the candidate is admitted to several institutions, the candidate follows a PhD education that the institutions provide in collaboration and the degrees are awarded in collaboration. In the following, we will mostly go through collaboration on degree awarding, hereinafter referred to as PhD degree collaboration.

PhD degree collaboration will require coordination of regulations between the involved institutions' PhD programmes. Nevertheless, it is a prerequisite that the PhD degree collaboration meets the most central requirements at both degree-awarding institutions. Qualification requirements for admission, requirements for the thesis to be publicly available, as well as requirements for a public defence with a impartial assessment committee (the supervisors cannot serve as members of the assessment committee) cannot be deviated from UiB's PhD degree regulations. Exceptions may be granted from other provisions in the PhD regulations if the exceptions, both individually and jointly, appear to be fully justifiable.

It is a prerequisite that the institutions involved have accredited PhD education and the right to award a doctorate in a relevant field.PhD degree collaboration presupposes that a collaboration agreement has been entered into at institutional level, where matters related to the overall structure and regulations for the PhD education are described. In addition, an individual agreement must be entered into for the individual candidate, where details of the candidate's PhD education course are described.

All types of PhD degree collaborations shall be based on an established research collaboration between academic environments at degree-awarding institutions.

Guidelines for formalized PhD collaborations relate to the section on joint degrees, co-tutelles and formalized PhD collaborations in the conventional PhD regulations and in the PhD regulations for artistic research.

Joint degree

The term joint degree means in the Norwegian context that a joint study programme must be established in the official studies' database, and that the joint degree must be reported to Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT.) If a study programme is created, a new PhD programme is simoultaneously created. Upon establishment, UiB must be able to document that the joint PhD programme will be able to admit at least 15 PhD candidates, and that over time it will be possible to maintain this amount of candidates in the programme. For the joint PhD programme, separate admission requirements, a separate programme board and a separate programme description for the content of the PhD course must be established. With regard to quality work, a joint PhD programme shall be evaluated every six years. As this type of binding collaboration on joint degrees is not very relevant at UiB, we further want to focus on double degrees as the relevant form of formalized PhD collaboration. The guidelines and recommendations that follow are therefore about double degrees.

Double degree

The guidelines for double degrees are based on collaboration between two parties. Collaboration between more than two parties will be referred to as multiple degrees, but will rarely be relevant at UiB.

In a double degree collaboration, the candidate is admitted to a PhD programme, first at the home institution, then at the partner institution. The candidate can thus take part in the joint PhD education, which the partner institutions have agreed on in advance in agreements. Normally, there should be one joint assessment and public defence.

Double degree collaboration can apply to as few as one PhD candidate.

The double degree collaboration should have a program committee if the collaboration involves several candidates. A program committee is not required if only one candidate is involved.

The degree is awarded at both institutions. Certificates are printed at both institutions, but with a cross-reference.The degree is not reported to NOKUT as a joint degree / joint PhD program, but as a UiB degree.

It should not take more than one year from the candidate being admitted to the PhD program at his or her home institution until the candidate is admitted to the PhD program at the partner institution. The reason for this is that a double degree collaboration should also be a de facto PhD collaboration, where the candidate must have the majority of his / her PhD education within the framework of the collaboration.

Candidates in the double degree collaboration should have research stays at the other partner institutions for a total duration of at least three months. A scheme should be established for online collaboration that allows the candidate to be included in the partner institution's relevant research groups, in academic activities at the faculty and department, as well as in PhD candidate activities.

Public defence can be led and held both at UiB and at a partner institution. UiB can only report degrees and receive reward funds in those cases where the defence is led by UiB. The public defence shall then normally take place as a physical event at UiB. Diplomas for completed degrees can be issued both in instances when the defence is conducted at UiB and at the partner institution.

When awarding diplomas and other educational documentation, it is important that the content of the specific candidate's PhD education course is as similar as possible in the documentation from the two institutions involved.

Extended co-supervision

Candidates can also enter into less integrated forms of cooperation with other parties, such as agreements on extended co-supervision (sometimes referred to as cotutelle agreements). Extended co-supervision is limited to collaboration that takes place during the PhD course, such as joint supervision, research stays and agreement on the PhD course the candidate must take at the collaboration institution. Such agreements do not involve cooperation on admission, assessment and degree award. The agreements are managed by the department and the faculty. Normally, it is the task of the candidate's home institution to set up an agreement on extended co-supervision. When awarding a degree, a note may be entered in the diploma that the PhD course has been completed under an agreement on international co-supervision.

Cotutelle agreement

These guidelines do not make an active use of the term cotutelle agreements, but recognize that other institutions do. Cotutelle agreement may have at least two different meanings. Cotutelle agreement is used internationally both for an individual agreement in a formalized PhD collaboration and for an agreement on extended co-supervision (see over).

Formalized PhD collaborations - summarized

Contains PhD degree collaboration and extended co-supervision

  • PhD degree collaboration: collaboration on admission, doctoral courses and degree awarding
    • Joint degree: presupposes the establishment of a PhD program with a long-term horizon and relates to NOKUT's rules for the establishment of doctoral studies
    • Double degree: admitted to two institutions, collaboration on doctoral courses and issuance of two degrees
  • Extended co-supervision: limited to co-operation that takes place in the PhD course, not admission and award of degrees

A detailed step-by-step guide when entering into double degree collaborations is available on the Norwegian version of this web page.


Please see under "Documents" for UiB's agreement templates.