Setting up a Joint PhD

A joint PhD or a joint Doctorate is a doctoral degree awarded by two (or more) different institutions, who share the responsibilities of supervising, coordination and examining a researcher’s work towards a PhD degree.

It is made possible through a contract of co-operation between the doctoral researcher, the PhD supervisors (one at each institution) and the respective institutions of higher education. Either a joint degree is awarded or a double degree. In each case, the joint responsibility of each of the partners is clearly mentioned on the official diploma.


A. Check possibility

Contact the administration services of the partnering institution to make sure that joint PhD’s can be awarded there.

B. Supervisor

Make sure you have a supervisor at both institutions.

C. Approval

There are several steps to get your PhD research approved.

  • Academic admission, approval of research plan and supervisor

All candidates need to complete an acceptance procedure in which academic aspects (equivalence of your degree, research proposal, language skills) will be evaluated.

After completion of that procedure, a letter of admission signed by the Registrar will be issued. The letter of admission is required for visa application (if applicable) and enrolment.

It is also possible that your funding institution requires proof that you are accepted as a doctoral student.

  • Drawing up of joint degree contract

In the contract, be sure to mention:

  • Names of both supervisors (including contact details)
  • Partner institution (including contact details)
  • Name of doctoral degree

Each contract is drawn up individually and signed by the candidate, the respective supervisors, the Dean of the faculty involved and the Vice-Chancellor of each participating university. It contains form of degree, authorship for publications and intellectual property, place of defence, tuition fees, and so forth.

Dear partners and students,

The International Relations Office at the University of the Western Cape extends our well wishes to you during these uncertain and unprecedented times. Given the current global COVID-19 pandemic, we wish to extend our solidarity with our university partners – with compassion. The University has taken the necessary decision to postpone all inbound and outbound international travel and engagement until further notice.

However, we remain committed to our international partners, students and researchers, as well as to the broader society, to utilise our connectedness to offer intellectual contributions that seek to bring a measure of insightful scientific rigour and empathy to all those affected by the crisis. It is together, with unity of purpose and with our diversity and compassion, that we can continue to work with solidarity in service of humanity.

Additional information can be found on the UWC main site

Yours sincerely,


Umesh Bawa

Director of International Relations