A Joint PhD Program allows PhD candidates to enrol at UNSW and an approved strategic partner university. Candidates are jointly supervised by both a UNSW supervisor and a collaborating supervisor from the partner university, they spend time at both Universities, and graduate with a single Doctor of Philosophy jointly awarded by both institutions. 

Joint PhD Programs build upon existing research collaborations and relationships that have already been established between the two Universities, including co-publication of research, work on joint research projects, joint research grants, joint research centres and staff exchanges.

Before a candidate can enrol in a Joint PhD Program, there must be a Joint PhD Agreement between UNSW and the partner university. 

UNSW has existing Joint PhD Agreements with several universities worldwide. It is also possible for a UNSW supervisor with an existing research collaboration to request a Joint PhD Agreement with a new partner university (see below).


I'm a prospective UNSW PhD candidate. How do I apply for a Joint PhD Program?

Prior to your enrolment at UNSW, you should discuss your interest in enrolling in a Joint PhD Program with potential UNSW supervisors. If your potential supervisor supports this proposal, they will need to lead the application process outlined below. 

To be considered, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Your potential UNSW supervisor must have an existing research collaboration with the partner university (this can be shown via co-publications, co-supervision, co-funding relationship, staff exchange, sabbaticals, joint presentations etc)

  • You commence your candidature at both institutions at the same time 

  • You must not have already commenced a PhD prior to applying to undertake the Joint PhD Program.

  • You must be enrolled in a full-time study load


Who are the current Joint PhD Program Partners?

UNSW has Joint PhD Agreements in place with the following institutions:

  • Chiang Mai University, Thailand

  • China Coal Research Institute, China

  • China Ocean University, China

  • Dongguan University of Technology (with UNSW Canberra), China

  • Go8 Network (Umbrella agreement– still need 1:1 institutional agreement in place)

  • LaTrobe University, Australia

  • LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences), Indonesia

  • Munster University of Applied Sciences (with UNSW Canberra), Germany

  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

  • RIKEN, Japan

  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

  • The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany

  • U21 Network (Umbrella agreement)

  • Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

  • University of Auckland, NZ

  • University of Glasgow, UK

  • University of Malaya, Malaysia

  • University of Montreal, Canada

  • University of Potsdam, Germany

  • University of Sri Jayewardenepura (USJ) (with UNSW Canberra), Sri Lanka

  • Xi’an Jiatong University, China 

Applying for a Joint PhD with a current partner university

How to Apply

The application process should be initiated by the UNSW supervisor, and should commence at least 6 months before the intended start date of candidature (for Term Start Dates, visit this page).

  1. UNSW Supervisor completes the Cotutelle/Joint PhD Candidate form in collaboration with the supervisor at the partner university

  2. Prospective PhD candidate applies to UNSW via Apply Online indicating that they are seeking to enrol under a Joint PhD Program

  3. UNSW Supervisor submits the form to the Graduate Research School

  4. Form and admission application are reviewed by the Graduate Research School. Candidate Agreement is drafted based on this information and sent to the partner university

  5. UNSW and partner university negotiate the final terms of the Candidate Agreement

  6. Admission application is reviewed by School for admission recommendation and returned to the Graduate Research School 

  7. If admission is recommended by the Faculty, the Candidate Agreement proceeds to the signature stage. The Graduate Research School liaises with the partner university for signatures

  8. The Dean of Graduate Research will review and approve the application, including signing the Candidate Agreement

  9. The Graduate Research School will notify supervisors that agreement is approved and send a copy of the Candidate Agreement

  10. The Graduate Research School sends an offer letter to the candidate, and a copy of the Candidate Agreement

  11. PhD candidate accepts the offer and commences Joint PhD Program in accordance with the agreed schedule in the Candidate Agreement


Establishing a Joint PhD Program with a new partner university

UNSW academic staff can express their interest in establishing a Joint PhD Program with a new partner University. There is an Expression of Interest process in which you must demonstrate a strategic and sustainable research relationship between UNSW and the proposed partner university, including a critical mass of prospective applicants.

The process is as follows:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the Joint PhD Policy & Procedure

  2. Contact the office of the Dean of Graduate Research for an initial discussion about the potential program

  3. If the Dean is supportive, complete the Expression of Interest Form for an International MOU or Student Agreement 

  4. The EoI will be reviewed by the Dean of Graduate Research

  5. The Graduate Research School will advise on the status and progression of your application

Once approved by the Dean of Graduate Research, there is discussion between both universities about areas including:

  • candidature terms and conditions

  • financial/scholarship agreements

  • Intellectual Property 

  • examination

  • time-split between institutions 

The Dean of Graduate Research leads the discussions with the partner university’s counterpart Dean to develop the Joint PhD Program Agreement. These ongoing drafting and discussions can take anywhere from 3-18 months.



For further information, please contact the UNSW Graduate Research School.

Email: grs@unsw.edu.au