Cotutelle de Thèse – Joint Supervision of Doctoral Study

UZH/Bild: Ursula Meister

Since August 2021 the Dean's Offices are in charge of the administration of cotutelle de thèse for doctoral candidates. Please address your queries to the contact person at the Dean's Office at your faculty. 

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.
  • Doctoral 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. Due to a faculty decision, it is not possible to make a cotutelle at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics. 
  • For each cotutelle, a cooperation agreement is concluded between the two universities, which regulates the modalities of the joint supervision.
  • 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.