Joint PhDs

Explore research, training and life in two diverse research intensive university communities while undertaking a tailormade PhD programme.

In May 2009, Universitas 21 established a unique framework for jointly awarded PhDs. Unlike a number of other joint degree programmes, under this scheme, two partner universities will create a tailor-made programme of study for each student, taking individual research needs into account and enabling collaboration with another of the network’s universities.

This exciting opportunity will enhance considerably students’ research and employment opportunities on an international scale. The 15 institutions - from across the globe - currently involved in this ground-breaking programme are:

  • Australia: University of Melbourne; University of New South Wales; University of Queensland 
  • Canada: University of British Columbia; McGill University 
  • Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong 
  • India: University of Delhi 
  • Ireland: University College Dublin 
  • New Zealand: University of Auckland
  • South Korea: Korea University
  • Sweden: Lund University 
  • United Kingdom: University of Birmingham; University of Edinburgh; University of Glasgow; University of Nottingham  


Clear benefits for students of these jointly awarded PhDs are access to:

  • an academic research programme enhanced by the collaboration of two different high
  • quality research environments and cultures 
  • training and facilities of two research-intensive universities 
  • the added value of international networking 
  • a head start in future career planning and professional development. 

In setting up a jointly-awarded PhD, the order of events will normally occur in one of two ways (below).  The agreements for these programmes however, are unique to each member university and some institutions have a set application route.  It is advisable to contact the universities involved or Gemma Marakas (U21) for further information, as in some cases the application process can be lengthy. 

Route 1

Supervisors /advisors from two U21 partner universities develop a joint PhD proposal for consideration by both institutions:

  1. Proposal is approved by the appropriate authorities at each university  
  2. Funding is secured 
  3. A lead university and a partner university are established 
  4. The joint U21 PhD Scholarship is advertised with competitive recruitment. 

Route 2

Alternatively, some institutions may accept a prospective student who is interested in undertaking a joint PhD and has met relevant selection criteria. The prospective candidate may have already secured funding (for example via a Home Government Scholarship) and may approach one or two selected institutions with a request to pursue a PhD with time spent at each in a joint PhD programme.

The terms of participation of individual students on a jointly awarded PhD will be agreed on a case-by-case basis, and a separate student-specific Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) must be drawn up and approved by the student, both Partner Universities and the identified supervisor/s (advisor/s) of each Partner University.

The agreement must detail, at a minimum, the following:

  • Periods of residence at each institution 
  • Supervisory details 
  • Examination arrangements 
  • Fee arrangements 

Further information

Informal enquiries are welcome at any time. Please contact Gemma Marakas, Universitas 21 Secretariat (

If you are a student or potential supervisor (advisor) at one of the participating universities please contact the relevant person at your home university as listed in the member page (below) or go to the relevant website. Details of joint research programmes, scholarships and application procedures/deadlines will appear on institutional websites.


University of Auckland:

University of Birmingham:

University of British Columbia:

University of Delhi:

University College Dublin:

University of Edinburgh:

University of Glasgow:

University of Hong Kong:

Korea University:

McGill University:

University of Melbourne:

University of Nottingham:

University of Queensland:

Joint PhD article
Joint PhD Guidelines
Joint PhD Poster