Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD research at two universities

In some cases, PhD candidates are permitted to follow a PhD track that involves conducting research and receiving supervision at two institutions: Leiden University and another university. On this page, you can read what forms of agreement there are.


Arrangements regarding this joint supervision are set down in an agreement. There are two kinds of agreement:

  1. A single individual agreement for the joint supervision of one PhD candidate and the defence in the presence of one or more joint Examining Committee(s), after which one diploma or two paired diplomas is/are issued on behalf of both institutions;
  2. programme agreement between the two universities for a multiyear partnership in the supervision and examining of multiple PhD candidates of both parties. A programme agreement of this kind also includes individual agreements for the participating PhD candidates, as appendices.

In this agreement, arrangements are made about such aspects as the research, the supervisors at both institutions, which institution(s) will be the location(s) of the defence, how the Examining Committee will be appointed, and such matters as intellectual property rights.

A model for this agreement is available. Other institutions also have their own model agreements; these can also be used, provided that they include the arrangements that are important for us.

A single individual agreement can be initiated by a PhD candidate; the Graduate Schools of the two institutions will then maintain contact with each other to arrange the details of the agreement and its signing. In addition, the Leiden University Graduate Schools will be in contact with Administration & Central Services (Strategy & Academic Affairs; SAZ), because the agreement needs to be signed by the Rector Magnificus.

If a PhD candidate has ideas for a research stay at a university abroad as part of the PhD track, the PhD candidate will discuss this with the supervisor(s) in the context of discussing the research proposal or formulating the training and supervision plan. It is important to initiate a stay abroad at an early stage, because arranging it can take a long time and the stay abroad should preferably not take place too late in the PhD track. The stay abroad can only go ahead if it is supported by the supervisor and both institutions.

The individual agreement must be signed by the Rector Magnificus of both universities, but it does not require the consent of the Doctorate Board. The agreement is also signed by the supervisor and the PhD candidate.

This consists of one framework agreement together with the individual agreements (or a model for these) of the participating PhD candidates, as appendices.

The framework agreement also contains arrangements about the programme, a management team for the programme (if applicable), the location(s) of the defences, the diplomas and the division of costs.

A model is also available for the programme agreement, and this can be requested from Strategy & Academic Affairs (SAZ). Other institutions again have their own models for programme agreements; these can also be used, provided that they include the arrangements that are important for us.

A framework agreement can only be created on the initiative of the university, faculty or institute, and can only be concluded where there is a plan for long-term academic collaboration between Leiden University and the partner institution, which has been approved at the faculty and university level. A draft version of framework agreements must always be submitted to the Doctorate Board for approval.

The framework agreement is drawn up by the Graduate Schools in close consultation with Administration & Central Services (Strategy & Academic Affairs; SAZ) and with the Graduate School(s) of the partner institution.

Once the framework agreement has been signed, the discussion about the individual agreements will be conducted by the Graduate Schools.

The PhD defence(s)

Subsequent to joint supervision, the PhD defence can take place in two possible ways:

  1. A single defence in the presence of a joint Examining Committee;
  2. Two defences of the same dissertation in the presence of joint Examining Committees at both institutions (there will be a certain amount of overlap between these Examining Committees).

If the single defence takes place in Leiden, then Leiden University can claim a PhD premium. If the single defence takes place at the other institution, Leiden University will not receive a premium. Given that the defence will take place in the presence of a joint Examining Committee and will lead to a joint degree, the prior consent of the Doctorate Board of Leiden University is required before a single defence can be organised at the other institution.

If the same dissertation is defended in the presence of joint Examining Committees at both institutions, Leiden University can claim a PhD premium, even if the first defence takes place at the other institution (in the case of a defence at two Dutch universities, the premium will be shared).

Please note: at some universities outside the Netherlands, establishing that the manuscript is suitable to be defended also takes place in the presence of a committee; in the Netherlands, this work is done by the Doctorate Committee. For us, establishing defensibility does not count as a defence to which these rules are applicable.

Awarding the doctorate degree

In the case of both individual and programme agreements, the PhD candidates work towards a single degree that is awarded jointly by both parties (a 'joint degree'). The defence(s) of the dissertation take(s) place in the presence of (an) Examining Committee(s) with members from both institutions. We use the term joint degree rather than double degree to emphasise that dual supervision does not lead to two doctorates.

In the case of individual tracks, the PhD defence in principle takes place in Leiden, unless the Doctorate Board consents to a defence at the other institution (the agreement will contain the location of the defence and cannot be signed unless this consent has been given).

Issuing the diploma(s)

There are three options for the diploma(s):

  1. one single Leiden University diploma.
  2. two diplomas, each with one added phrase expressing that the PhD candidate was supervised at both institutions. These are known as 'paired diplomas'. The fact that the diplomas are ‘paired’ emphasises that the two defences result in one single doctorate degree.

               Two diplomas can be issued after:

    1. one successful defence at one of the partner institutions;
    2. two successful defences of the same dissertation at both partner institutions.
  1. one single diploma with two insignias. The Doctorate Board of Leiden University has decided in principle not to cooperate with this, in view of the serious practical challenges and the risk of lower quality of a diploma that has to be produced in two cities and printed with both insignias.

Another possibility is that Leiden presents one diploma issued by Leiden University and the PhD candidate also receives a local diploma at the other institution. We have no objection to this (we do not insist that a paired diploma must always be issued in the case of an individual agreement with one defence).

At the request of the Graduate School, the beadle’s office can issue a supplement with a single Leiden University diploma, declaring that the supervision took place at two institutions. This supplement will actually then be a short version of the individual agreement.

This website uses cookies.  More information.