What do I need to do to start a joint supervision?

To start a PhD under joint supervision, you need to :

1)Find two supervisors (one in each university) who agree to oversee the preparation of the thesis under joint supervision.

2) Apply for a PhD at the ULB (contact : Ms Carine Faniel), Registration Department).

3) 3) Simultaneously, fill in the agreement template available on this website, in cooperation with your supervisors, and send it to Ms Sabrina Dejongh, in charge of joint supervisions agreements at the Research Administration Office. Please do not sign any agreement before the approval of Ms Sabrina Dejongh. You might be asked to fill in a new agreement template!

4)After receiving the filled in agreement, the Research Administration Office will check the text and, if necessary, will negotiate it with the partner university. The text may be modified and extended in order to meet both partner universities requirements.

5)After the agreement being approved by both partner universities, the Research Administration Office will check that the PhD candidate has been admitted and registered for a PhD at the ULB. If so, the joint supervision agreement will be signed as follow : If ULB starts the process : after printing 7 original copies of the final version, you sign them and ask your supervisor to sign them. You then send all the copies to Ms Sabrina Dejonghwho asks the Dean of your Faculty and the Rector of the ULB to sign them. She then sends the original copies for signature to the partner university. If the partner university starts the process : after the originals being signed by representatives of the partner university, you send or ask to send the signed original copies to Ms Sabrina Dejongh, who will then send it for signature to ULB members (PhD, supervisor, Dean and Rector.

6)After the agreement being signed by all parties, the Research Administration Office sends copies to the Registration Department and to the International Relations Office, which archives it in the ULB international relations database.

The joint supervision starts concretely after the agreement being signed by all parties and the PhD candidate being enrolled in both universities. It means that the joint supervision can start during the PhD programme, provided compliance of the ULB PhD regulations (each university must oversee the doctoral candidate’s work for at least one year in total).

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How much time do I have to spend in each university?

In order to ensure that joint supervision actually occurs, each university must oversee your research work for at least one year in total.

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Is any funding available for periods spent at the other university?

Financial assistance is available to help you with study costs.

Please note however that there is no specific funding available at the ULB to cover supervisors’ travels involved in a joint supervision.

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If I am studying under joint supervision, do I have to complete the doctoral training?

Yes, PhD students studying under joint supervision are subject to the same rules as other PhD students unless stated otherwise in the joint supervision agreement.

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Where do I have to pay the registration fees when I do my PhD under joint supervision?

If you wish to be awarded a ULB degree, you pay full enrolment fees when first enrolling for a PhD at the ULB. When enrolling in subsequent years, you will pay only registration and administrative fees.

There are several options where course fees owed to a partner institution are concerned:

  • you only need to pay administration fees to the partner institution;

  • you need to pay the partner institution the full fees at least once;

  • you need to pay course fees to cover the period spent at the partner university.

Payment of full enrolment fees at the ULB may be deferred until the following year if you have to pay full fees in the first year at the partner university.

If your joint supervision involves another university within the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, the full enrolment fees are to be paid only once, at one of the partner universities

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What kind of information must be included in the joint supervision agreement?

The agreement must include at least the following points:

identification of the parties involved (doctoral candidate and thesis supervisors)

a commitment by both universities to award a PhD diploma should the thesis be accepted

the academic degree(s) awarded

details of enrolment and registration fees, including any waiving of fees in the partner university

the expected duration of the thesis and how much time will be spent at each university

the language(s) in which the thesis will be written and defended

the procedure for submitting the thesis and forming the thesis jury, and how the defence will be organised

provisions regarding social security

provisions regarding intellectual property

in the event of joint supervision with another university in the French Community of Belgium, details of how institutional funding and registration fees will be divided.

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How will my jury be formed if I do my PhD under joint supervision?

The thesis jury is formed by the two partner universities, by mutual agreement.

The thesis jury is composed at least two members of the ULB, including the supervisor, who hold the title of Doctor awarded after the public defence of a thesis or the Belgian “agrégé de l’enseignement supérieur” qualification, at least two academics from the partner university, and at least one member from outside the partner universities.

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What about the single public defence?

The PhD is assessed in a single private and public defence, that may take place in either one or both of the partner universities.

If the defence is not held at the ULB, then you will present your work at a seminar held before the defence.

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Who will sign the joint supervision agreement?

In order to guarantee the commitment and the approval of both partner universities, the agreement will be signed by the Rector (or the President) of both institutions and the Dean of both Faculties involved, as well as by both supervisors and by the PhD candidate.

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PhD thesis - Université libre de Bruxelles
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An international thesis

The Joint supervision

A thesis is under joint supervision when the research involved is jointly organised and supervised by two universities. The joined PhD supervision encourages the mobility of doctoral students and enables them to benefit from an enriched and broader scientific supervision and to acquire international experience if the partner university is located abroad. The joined PhD supervision aims also at stimulating scientific cooperation between research teams from the ULB and other universities.

Depending on the partner university, the course results either in a joint certificate, or in a double certificate following a single defence.

As a jointly supervised PhD student, your work is carried out under the supervision and responsibility of a supervisor in each university, both of whom play the role of supervisor in full.

  • You already have a supervisor at the ULB: with your ULB supervisor’s agreement, contact a co-supervisor in another university.

  • You already have a supervisor abroad: with your supervisor’s agreement, contact a co-supervisor at the ULB using the appropriate search tools.

Joint supervision always takes place within the framework of an agreement between the two institutions, and involves the reciprocity principle. There are two joint supervision agreement templates available at the ULB, the wording of which may be negotiated with the partner university.

Agreement templates

Before using the following templates, please check with Sabrina Dejongh (or Helene Kitsopoulos for China) that ULB is not using a specific template with the partner university!

Joint supervision - Europe and Africa:

Sabrina Dejongh

Joint supervision - America, Asia and Australia

Helene Kitsopoulos