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Graduate Studies


What is a cotutelle?

A cotutelle refers to a PhD jointly awarded by two post-secondary institutions, typically from different countries. A cotutelle degree promotes international collaboration, allowing students access to a broader range of research experience than would be available at a single institution.

Full-time doctoral students can take advantage of an exceptional opportunity to earn a joint PhD degree while developing strong connections with international partners. Students must satisfy each institution’s degree requirements, are supervised by a faculty member from each of the universities, and submit their dissertation to both universities prior to graduation.

Successful candidates receive a PhD degree from McMaster and the partner institution. Wording on transcripts and parchments from both institutions shall specify the degree was awarded as having been completed “in cotutelle” with the other institution.

Where can I complete a cotutelle?

You are eligible to register at any international accredited university that is open to a cotutelle agreement. McMaster supervisors must approve the partner university and agree to work in collaboration with the chosen co-supervisor.

If McMaster University is not your home institution, you must begin the cotutelle process at your home institution. 

What are the steps to apply for a cotutelle?

If you are interested in participating in a cotutelle, and McMaster University is your HOME institution:

  1. You should first talk to your supervisor and find out if this is a viable option for you. The cotutelle agreement should be established as early as possible; normally within the first year of your PhD.
  2. Review the Cotutelle Policy, and complete a Letter of Intent (LOI) and the Cotutelle checklist form.
  3. Your supervisor will submit these completed documents for review, to the Faculty associate dean of Graduate Studies in McMaster’s School of Graduate Studies.
  4. Once the review process is completed, the School of Graduate Studies will forward the cotutelle package to the Office of International Affairs, where a  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two universities will be created.
  5. The MOU needs approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies before you can begin your cotutelle.
  6. You must also follow the appropriate application procedures for your HOST university.

If you are interested in participating in a cotutelle, and McMaster University is your intended HOST institution:

  1. You must follow the appropriate cotutelle procedures for your HOME university.
  2. You must review McMaster’s Cotutelle Policy, complete a Letter of Intent (LOI) and the Cotutelle checklist form for McMaster University.
  3. You must submit an online application to McMaster University and be accepted as a PhD student.
  4. A cotutelle Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be created between both institutions.

Download this Cotutelle Flowchart in Word for a visual representation of the process for facilitating a cotutelle at McMaster.

Important documents

  • Cotutelle Policy: McMaster’s complete cotutelle policy, procedures and guidelines can be reviewed online.
  • Letter of Intent (LOI) template: To be completed by student and supervisors. The LOI includes a description of the research project and study plan, it is signed by the student and both supervisors, and is submitted to the associate dean of Graduate Studies for their respective faculty (Gilmour Hall Room 212), for review and signature.
  • Cotutelle Checklist (included in the LOI): To be completed by student and supervisors. The cotutelle checklist provides student and supervisors with a template to contemplate the requirements stated in the policy, and is signed by both supervisors, the associate dean of the respective faculty and the vice-provost and dean of Graduate Studies.
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): The MOU between both universities is created by McMaster’s Office of International Affairs and needs approval from the vice-provost and dean of Graduate Studies.