Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon
Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Senate
Date Guideline Took Effect 29 August 2018
Last approved revision 
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Dean, Graduate Research School

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


To outline the processes governing postgraduate degree programmes that are jointly taught or supervised through collaboration with a designated New Zealand or international partner university and lead to one degree. A separate policy exists for cotutelle arrangements, which refer to graduate research degrees that are jointly-taught but lead to the award of two degree certificates – one for each institution.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to graduate research degrees (doctoral and masters') as well as coursework masters' degrees.


Jointly-taught or jointly-supervised degree
The candidate studies in more than one institution and receives one degree that is jointly-taught or jointly-supervised between the institutions. Normally the arrangement involves two institutions, but in exceptional cases, more than two institutions could be involved. The candidate must meet the jointly agreed-upon criteria to be awarded the degree. Note that in some jurisdictions this arrangement can be termed a “joint PhD (or master's) degree” or a “double-badged degree”.
Lead institution
This is the institution taking the lead role in managing the candidature and awarding the degree.
Partner institution
This refers to the institution in which the candidate undertakes part of their studies. The partner institution does not award the degree.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
This is a non-legally binding agreement at the institutional level that formalises the convergence of will between the institutions, indicating an intention and setting out a framework for further discussions and agreements on specific cooperation opportunities. These are usually negotiated between the international offices of each institution.
Candidature agreement
This is an agreement specifically for the candidate that outlines how their candidature will be managed. It typically would include information on the time spent at each institution, funding, fees, language of the thesis, teaching and supervision arrangements, ethics approval, intellectual property arrangements, monitoring of progress, grievance and appeal procedures, examination, graduation and degree certificate. These agreements are usually negotiated between the Graduate Research Schools in each institution.


1. Overview

  1. The primary focus of establishing a jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programme is to facilitate co-operative research and/or scholarly collaboration between the University of Otago and a domestic or international partner institution.  It should be noted that these programmes are not provided simply to facilitate national or international study for postgraduates.
  2. The process for applying to establish a jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programme is rigorous and best started well in advance of a student's intended commencement date. Departments are required to discuss the proposed programme extensively with the department in the proposed partner institution(s).
  3. Normally, a Memorandum of Understanding would be established with the partner institution(s) prior to any jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programme being developed. This process is facilitated by the International Office, and the discussions may take several months.
  4. A Candidature Agreement must be developed in consultation with the Graduate Research School (for doctoral candidates) or Divisional Offices (for Masters' candidates). Given the liaising that needs to occur between institutions, several weeks should be allowed for this process.

2. Areas of responsibility

  1. The International Office facilitates discussions regarding establishing Memoranda of Understanding with proposed international partner institutions.
  2. The Graduate Research School, in consultation with relevant Divisional and Departmental Offices, facilitates discussions regarding developing Candidature Agreements for doctoral candidates.
  3. The Divisional Offices, in consultation with the Graduate Research School, facilitate discussions regarding developing Candidature Agreements for Master's candidates.

3. Eligibility

  1. Approval for jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programmes will only be given for cases where it can be clearly established that a strong collaborative link with the partner institution(s) already exists or is actively being developed.
  2. Prospective candidates must satisfy the usual criteria for entry to the University of Otago postgraduate programme, and must apply for admission in the usual way.  Both international and domestic candidates are eligible to participate in the jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programmes.

4. Funding

  1. For candidates whose lead institution is the University of Otago:
    1. Candidates must enrol and pay tuition fees at the University of Otago for each year of their study, even if they are studying at a partner institution in a given year.
    2. Candidates may be enrolled for a degree or under another enrolment status at partner institutions, and may be charged administrative and/or tuition fees by those institutions. If the partner institution is a New Zealand institution, the candidate cannot be formally enrolled at the partner institution.
    3. International and domestic candidates can stay up to half-time at a partner institution, but see (iv).
    4. To be eligible for PhD domestic fees at the University of Otago, international candidates, New Zealand permanent residents and Australian citizens intending to study overseas must spend no more than one year at the international partner institution, and only for research-related reasons (i.e. research activities they cannot conduct in New Zealand).
    5. Both international and domestic candidates will be able to apply for postgraduate scholarship support through the University of Otago.
    6. The University of Otago receives Student Achievement Component funding and PBRF completion funding.
  2. For candidates whose partner institution is the University of Otago:
    1. Candidates will enrol for a Certificate of Proficiency, and be recorded in the University's Visiting Student System (“Sojourn”).
    2. Candidates may be charged administrative fees (if applicable) as well as tuition fees.
    3. Candidates are not eligible for postgraduate scholarship support through the University of Otago.
    4. International candidates will be covered by the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students
    5. The University of Otago will not receive any Student Achievement Component funding for international candidates.
    6. The University of Otago will not receive any PBRF completion funding.

5. Enrolment, administration and examination

  1. Candidates wishing to be enrolled at the University of Otago in a jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programme must apply for candidature in the normal way and will be enrolled in the relevant course code.
  2. Candidates' programmes of study will be administered in accordance with the University of Otago regulations governing the particular programme and any specific arrangements laid out in the candidature agreement.
  3. The examination arrangements must meet the University of Otago requirements, and the candidature agreement should cover any additional requirements the partner institutions may have and ensure that the procedures for examination are clearly understood by all parties including the individual candidate.

6. Graduation and degree certificate

  1. Candidates graduating from a jointly-taught or jointly-supervised postgraduate degree programme are only allowed to attend graduation at the lead institution and may only receive one award certificate from the lead institution. The student transcript there may contain a statement saying that this degree was taught in conjunction with the partner institution.
  2. Providing notification to the Graduation Office, any supervisor(s) from the partner university can attend the graduation ceremony as part of the academic staff.

7. Application process

  1. Heads of Department/Schools are encouraged to informally discuss proposals with the Dean of the Graduate Research School. Given that the main requirement for approval of these programmes is that they serve to form a viable and desirable link, it is best to seek advice from the Dean of the Graduate Research School and the Director of International (if for an international partnership) as to the viability of the proposal prior to approaching another institution. Following these informal discussions, if the partnership looks viable, a formal application may be lodged.
  2. For partnerships with overseas institutions, the formal application must include:
    1. a proposal to establish a partnership (unless this is already existing);
    2. a copy of the MOU between the institutions; and,
    3. a candidature agreement.
  3. For partnerships with New Zealand institutions:
    1. a candidature agreement.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact:

The Dean, Graduate Research School

Back to top