Phd cotutelle

The international thesis cotutelle

What is it?

The international cotutelle allows doctoral students to complete their thesis (PhD) under the joint supervision of two (or more) thesis directors in two different universities, in France and in Finland. It lasts a minimum of three years but cannot exceed six years.

At the end of the cotutelle and following a defense in France or in Finland, the doctoral student obtains two diplomas. The diploma can be delivered in the form of a joint doctoral degree from both institutions or in the form of two diplomas.

What is the difference between a cotutelle thesis and a co-directed thesis?

A cotutelle thesis allows the student to obtain two degrees or a joint degree since he or she is registered in two research laboratories.

A co-directed thesis allows you to obtain only one degree, even if the doctoral student is supervised by two directors.

What are the advantages of a cotutelle thesis?

  • International experience: Cotutelle promotes the mobility of doctoral students and allows them to gain international experience and in-depth knowledge of the culture and functioning of research in both countries. It also gives them, during their thesis, the opportunity to establish a network of scientific contacts that will be useful for their career.
  • Double supervision: the doctoral student in cotutelle benefits from the supervision and expertise of two thesis directors, one in France and the other in Finland, and can carry out his or her research work in two partner laboratories.
  • Double degree: The doctoral students obtain the title of doctor from a French university and one or more Finnish institutions.

For all these reasons, the cotutelle thesis is highly prized by recruiters in both academic research and industry.

How does it work?

In order to carry out a cotutelle, it is necessary to have obtained a master’s degree (bac +5, 300 ECTS) or equivalent and to apply for admission in a French doctoral school and in a Finnish university. It is important to allow enough time to find two thesis directors and to sign the cotutelle agreement.

The cotutelle can be requested before the beginning of the thesis or during the first year of the thesis.

The procedure is generally initiated by the research supervisors who propose the cotutelle and agree on the subject, the follow-up procedures, the conditions for the defense, the delivery of the degrees and their titles.

The language in which the thesis is written is chosen by the doctoral student, however, the latter must write the abstract in French and Finnish.

The doctoral student must register administratively in each of the cotutelle institutions, but the registration fees are paid to only one institution.

The doctoral student undertakes to follow alternating courses and seminars in each of the two universities according to a rhythm defined by the two parties in the agreement. The research work is divided into alternate periods in each of the two institutions. The doctoral student must complete at least one year of his or her doctorate in France (which can be done during several stays); he or she can complete the rest of his or her thesis in Finland if he or she wishes.

At the end of the years of preparation, a single defense, the conditions of which must be specified in the agreement, is organized in one or the other university, with a mixed jury of at least four members, appointed by mutual agreement by the two partner universities.

What funding is available?

In France, in order to finance the cotutelle, the student can sign a doctoral contract which offers all the social guarantees with a guaranteed minimum salary; however the number of contracts is limited. It is also possible to obtain funding from the institutions or laboratories themselves, or from the governments of the countries to which the institutions belong.

Please note that some funding requests can only be made once the co-supervision agreement has been established.

The Maupertuis programme, in partnership with the Magnus Ehrnrooth Foundation, offers each year a scholarship for a French-Finnish cotutelle PhD if carried out in the following disciplines: Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry. More information here.

The cotutelle agreement

This is the reference document for the cotutelle.

The procedure for international cotutelle of a PhD between French and foreign higher education institutions, regardless of the discipline, is governed by the decree of May 25, 2016, which establishes the national framework for training and the procedures leading to the award of the national doctoral degree.

The elements that must be included in the thesis cotutelle agreement include the terms and conditions for the constitution of the defense jury and the material, pedagogical and linguistic support of students, and in particular:

  • The title of the thesis, the name of the thesis director, of the student, the name of the contracting higher education institutions and the nature of the degree prepared;
  • The language in which the thesis is written; when this language is not French, the writing is completed by a substantial summary in French;
  • The procedures for recognizing training activities carried out in one or other of the higher education institutions;
  • The terms of payment of tuition fees in accordance with the educational provisions adopted, without the doctoral student being obliged to pay fees in several institutions simultaneously;
  • The conditions for social security coverage, as well as the accommodation conditions and financial aid that the doctoral student may receive to ensure his/her mobility.
  • The agreement in French and in a foreign language must be signed by:
    • the doctoral student
    • the 2 research supervisors,
    • the doctoral school director and the head of the French university,
    • the director of the doctoral school or equivalent and the head of the Finnish university.

The principle of the agreement is reciprocity: the thesis is defended in one of the two institutions, after which the title of doctor is conferred in France and in the other country. This title can be conferred either by issuing a joint diploma or by issuing the doctoral degree in each of the two countries (terms to be specified in the agreement).

Please note: ”The procedures for protecting the subject, filing, reporting and reproducing theses, as well as those for managing the research results common to the laboratories involved, their publication and their exploitation, are decided in accordance with the specific legislation of each country involved in the preparation of the thesis and specified in the agreement.”

PhD in cotutelle France-Finland  (Feedback from the students)