Cotutelle de Thèse – Joint Supervision of Doctoral Study

UZH/Bild: Ursula Meister

What is a Cotutelle?

Cotutelle de Thèse is the name given to doctorates in which doctoral candidates write their dissertation under the supervision of two thesis supervisors at two universities (in Switzerland and abroad). Doctoral candidates thereby expand their academic network and dive deeper into the different research cultures and scientific systems.


  • 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 instituions, 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.

Conditions for a Cotutelle

  • Candidates must meet the admission requirements for doctoral studies at UZH.
  • 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 planned stays at the two universities must be well balanced. Doctoral students spend approximately one third or at least 12 months of the doctoral period at the partner university.  
  • The cooperation agreement can only be concluded in the first year of the doctorate.