Joint PhD

What and why?

In case of a joint PhD, you prepare your PhD thesis in collaboration with and under the supervision of a promoter at another university.

A joint PhD implies that…

  • there is a collaboration between two partner universities;
  • there are two promoters, one at each partner university;
  • the PhD student will stay at least 6 months at each partner university (this can be one or more stays);
  • an agreement, drawn up by the Directorate Research, Library and Internationalisation, is required with the partners;
  • the PhD results in one PhD thesis;
  • the PhD results in a PhD diploma which states that this collaboration took place.

Why do a joint PhD?

A joint PhD offers several advantages for both the PhD student:

  • A first advantage for the PhD student is the double PhD degree.
    In case of Flemish universities, one joint diploma is awarded and signed by both rectors.
    In case of non-Flemish universities, two diplomas are awarded and which refer to each other and the collaboration.
  • Furthermore, (international) mobility is an advantage in view of a further professional career, both within and outside the academic world.
  • Contact with other research cultures offers different perspectives and has a beneficial effect on the young researcher.

and the university:

For the university, a joint PhD might be a starting point for a more intensive and formal cooperation with the partner university, which will lead to a greater exchange of knowledge and future opportunities for cooperation.

Which universities can be collaborated with?

A joint PhD involves collaboration between two or more universities at home or abroad. The other university must:

  1. have the authority to award a PhD degree and;
  2. they must be able to fall back on legislation and/or regulations that make a joint PhD possible.

Main institution versus partner institution

In order to make PhD work more efficient, one of the universities will always act as lead university and the other as partner university. Which university is the lead and which is the partner university will be determined in the agreement.

Which conditions must be met?

The partner university can fall back on legislation or regulations that make a joint PhD possible.

The candidate has obtained approval/admission from both partner universities to do this joint

The candidate will stay at each partner institution for at least 6 months. This can be one or more stays.

The parties involved sign an agreement. The procedure concerning this individual agreement must be initiated at the latest 1 year before the expected defence by the promoter of the candidate via

A PhD can be initiated as a joint PhD from the start, but can also be transferred to a joint PhD during the course of the PhD (at the latest 1 year before the defence).

Procedure joint PhD

For each joint PhD, an agreement needs to be drawn up. The agreement will be arranged individually for each PhD student (via the Directorate Research, Library and Internationalisation). If you have plans to start up a joint PhD, please contact your promoter.

If you have concrete plans for a joint PhD, the UHasselt promoter needs to report this to

Read below how a joint PhD can be established step by step. For more information

Step 1

You are a future PhD student and would like to start a joint PhD.

In this case you need to follow the regular procedure for PhD students and do some additional obligations.

As goes for regular PhD students, you need to

  • find a promoter and financing and define a research topic;
  • register at the HR department (please contact the head of administration of your faculty);
  • register as a PhD student at the student administration office;
  • make sure your doctoral file is approved.

The additional obligations you need to fulfill are described in step 2.

You are already a PhD student at Hasselt University and would like to turn this into a joint PhD.

Suppose you are a PhD student and you are collaborating with another university for your research, then this collaboration may become structural during the course of your PhD. In such cases, it is possible to turn your UHasselt PhD into a joint PhD, based on this collaboration.

Please note:

  • The duration of your PhD programme may not exceed the planned duration.
  • Your promoter must register your PhD as a joint PhD at at least one year before your planned defence. To do so, contact both universities with the information as indicated in step 2.
Procedure for UHasselt PhD students who wish to turn their PhD into a joint PhD:
  • You are already registered at the Student Administration Office and the HR department.
  • In My Doctoral File, your promoter must start a change request in order to change the type of PhD to a joint PhD. This way the two promoters can also be indicated.
Procedure for PhD students working at another university who wish to start a joint PhD with Hasselt University.
  • Search for an UHasselt promoter who would like to guide your during your joint PhD.
  • Request permission from your faculty to start a joint PhD. Contact the administrative director of the faculty for this. They also take care of a registration with the HR department.
  • Arrange your registration as a PhD student at the Student Administration Office.
  • Complete your electronic doctoral file (My Doctoral File) and submit it for approval.

Step 2

As indicated, an individual agreement must be concluded with the partner university for each joint PhD. Individual agreements are also drawn up for universities with which we have a framework agreement

Procedure to draw up an individual agreement for a joint PhD

The UHasselt PhD promoter contacts (= Directorate Research, Library and Internationalisation) to initiate the joint PhD procedure.

Only the authorised administrative services are in charge of the agreement negotiations with the partner university. The negotiations result in a signed agreement.

Keep in mind that the procedure can take several months. As mentioned in the UHasselt PhD rules and regulations, a joint PhD must be reported to at least one year prior to defence.