Cotutelle degrees

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A doctoral researcher who has a valid right to complete a doctoral degree both at the University of Helsinki and at another university abroad can, in certain cases, opt to pursue a jointly supervised bi-national double degree. These degrees are called cotutelle degrees.

As a cotutelle student, you will spend part of the degree studies in both universities and complete the doctoral studies according to the degree requirements of both. The dissertation work will be planned in joint supervision of both universities in such a way that the final doctoral thesis will comply with the requirements of the two universities. At the end of your studies, you will be awarded a degree by both universities participating in the arrangement.

When is cotutelle an option?

A cotutelle agreement on a bi-national double degree can only be concluded for compelling reasons: for example, if the planned cooperation and mobility cannot be implemented through an exchange period, or if joint supervision arrangements are otherwise impossible without an agreement on a double degree. Sometimes research funding may also include a condition that requires completing a double degree.

Concluding the agreement requires that you hold a valid right to complete a doctoral degree at both universities that are parties to the agreement. Negotiations on the agreement can be initiated earlier.

The aim of a cotutelle is genuine international cooperation and mobility. As a rule, negotiations on a cotutelle agreement must be started during your first year of doctoral studies. In exceptional cases involving compelling reasons (e.g., related to the funding of doctoral research), the negotiations can be initiated at a later stage.

Important groundrules

The University of Helsinki has also set certain conditions that must be met before an agreement on a joint supervision arrangement leading to the completion of a double degree can be concluded: 

  • The agreement always requires a stay of sufficient duration at both partner universities. Periods of study must be equally divided so that a maximum of two-thirds of the duration of degree studies is spent at one of the universities.
  • The student must have at least one supervisor committed to the supervision of the double degree at both partner universities. To ensure successful cooperation, it is recommended that the supervisors know each other in advance.
  • Students pursuing a double degree must complete not only a doctoral thesis, but also doctoral studies in accordance with the curricula of both universities. Studies completed at the partner university can be recognised for the degree completed at the University of Helsinki if their content and learning outcomes correspond to those of the relevant doctoral programme’s curriculum.
  • The examination and assessment of doctoral theses must comply with the relevant general guidelines of the University of Helsinki and any further guidelines issued by the faculties. The agreement can include detailed provisions on the reconciliation of the two universities’ examination practices, but the examination process must always meet at least the minimum requirements set by the University of Helsinki.
  • As a rule, the public examination of the doctoral thesis must be organised at the University of Helsinki. In exceptional cases, if the examination held at the partner university is public in the manner required by the University of Helsinki and if the examination is also open to the public online, it can be organised at the partner university.
  • If the universities’ requirements for the public examination cannot be reconciled, it is possible, in exceptional cases, to organise two public examinations.


If you think you meet the basic conditions and are interested in pursuing a cotutelle degree, please contact the doctoral student services at your home faculty. The doctoral student services will assess whether the conditions for a cotutelle degree are met in your case and will negotiate the agreement related to the double degree together with your supervisors and the partner university.