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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Cotutelle de Thèse

What is a Cotutelle?

Cotutelle de thèse refers to a doctorate in which doctoral students are enrolled at two universities (in Switzerland and abroad). Cotutelle candidates pursue a doctorate according to the respective applicable regulations of both partner universities, but submit only one dissertation for joint assessment. The doctoral students spend a substantial part of their dissertation time at the host university, thereby expanding their personal academic network and engaging deeply with the different research cultures and academic systems. The dissertation project is conducted under the supervision of two dissertation supervisors from both partner universities. There is only one defense in which both participating universities are involved. It is noted on the diploma that the dissertation was developed within the framework of a cotutelle de thèse.

Requirements for a Cotutelle

  • Candidates must already be admitted to at least one of the desired partner universities and fulfill the admission requirements for a doctorate at the second partner university.
  • Candidates must present sufficient reason based on the content of their thesis as to why two institutions are necessary to complete the doctoral study. The added value compared to a regular co-supervision should be recognizable.
  • The planned research stays at the partner universities must be balanced. The doctoral candidate spends one third or at least 12 months of the doctorate at the partner university, the rest at the home university. The home university is the university where the doctoral candidate first enrolled. 
  • The doctorate was not started (enrollment date) at either university later than 12 months ago.The cooperation agreement can only be concluded in the first year of the doctorate.


  • UZH is generally open to contracts with recognized foreign universities. However, there is no legal claim to a cotutelle de thèse with the participation of UZH.
  • For each cotutelle, a cooperation agreement is concluded between the two universities, which regulates the modalities of the joint supervision.
  • Doctoral candidates have to comply with the requirements for doctoral studies of both institutions according to their respective regulation in force.
  • Doctoral candidates are generally enrolled at both partner institutions, whereby fees are only paid at one university.
  • A joint examination (defense) takes place at one of the universities. The partner institutions must pay for expenses incurred in connection with the defense (e.g. travel and accommodation); in case of UZH these costs are born by the institute in question.
  • Upon completion, each of the two universities awards the degree of doctor, stating that the degree was awarded following a jointly supervised dissertation.

Procedure for Setting Up a Cotutelle

A cotutelle is administratively complex, therefore an application must be duly justified. Please also consider other possibilities for networking and exchange (e.g. a regular PhD with external co-supervision; a stay as an invited visiting student (PhD) or as a visiting scholar (German: akademischer Gast).

If you are interested in a cotutelle at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Zurich, please follow these steps:

1. Application to the Graduate School
It takes approximately five months to work out a cotutelle agreement with a partner university. An agreement can only be concluded in the first year of the doctoral studies. This means the application form must be received by the Graduate School no later than the end of the seventh month after enrollment in the doctoral study. The earlier the application form is submitted, the better.

If UZH is the home university (place of first enrollment in doctoral studies), the application form must be submitted by the following deadlines:

  • Enrollment at UZH on 1 August: Cotutelle application by the end of February at the latest.
  • Enrollment at UZH on 1 February: Cotutelle application by the end of August at the latest.

If the partner university is the home university (= place of first enrollment in the doctoral studies), the application form must be received by the Graduate School PhF no later than the end of the seventh month after enrollment at the partner university. Applications submitted later than this cannot be considered.

Send us the completed application form (DOCX, 59 KB) to
Based on this information, the Vice Dean Graduate School will decide whether the requirements for a cotutelle are met.

2. Cotutelle Agreement
If the Vice Dean Graduate School approves the application, a cotutelle agreement can be developed between the two universities involved. Approval by the Vice Dean Graduate School is subject to the completion of the drafting of the agreement within five months (i.e., the agreement is ready for signatures).

As soon as the doctoral students have received the confirmation of admission from both universities, all parties involved sign the agreement.

3. Matriculation
Doctoral students must be enrolled at both universities for the entire duration of the doctoral studies. Fees must be paid at one university only. If there is no enrollment requirement for the partner university, doctoral students must pay the fees at UZH for the entire duration of the doctorate. All doctoral students must pay the registration fees and the semester fees for the first semester at UZH.

Doctoral students are responsible for admission and enrollment at UZH and at the partner university. Cotutelle doctoral students are also subject to the regular application and enrollment deadlines for the doctorate at UZH:

Information on the doctorate at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of UZH
Information on admission to doctoral studies at UZH

Financial Support

On behalf of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), swissuniversities awards annual allowances for cotutelle de thèse projects concluded between Swiss and European universities. The condition for support is that there is a valid cotutelle agreement between the two universities for the project in question. The allowance is intended to go toward travel and living expenses incurred by the doctoral candidate and their supervisor. The maximum amount awarded is CHF 10,000 per project.

Eligibility and Application Documents

Detailed information on eligibility and the application documents are available on the website of swissuniversities.


Deadlines and Contact

The Global Affairs Office is responsible for sending the application documents to the General Secretariat of swissuniversities.

To apply for financial support, please send your complete application (as one PDF (application form also in Word format) by 15 March 2023 at the latest to:

Weiterführende Informationen


The Graduate School is responsible for cotutelles at PhF.

Please adress your queries to: