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5 reasons a Cotutelle Degree could be right for you!

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

For those French speakers among us, the term Cotutelle means ‘two teachers’; but a Cotutelle Doctoral Degree is so much more than access to two principal supervisors. The program opens global pathways for doctoral students, and this article, we walk you through five of the best reasons to consider a Cotutelle.

Professor John Coveney, convenor of the International Research Collective of Food, Culture and Health, (IRCFCH), shares some of the opportunities that Cotutelles can bring doctoral students. Having successfully supervised Cotutelle degrees in the past, he is encouraging international students to consider applying for a Cotutelle with him and his team of progressive supervisors at the IRCFCH.

‘It really is a fantastic program', he said. 'In an increasingly global world, PhD students need exposure to different systems, modes of thinking, methodological approaches and different cultures. This helps build resilience, creativity and openness, which are absolutely essential elements of a successful research career. The Cotutelle program does this under one banner, and we want to open the doors for students abroad and here in Australia to reap the benefits.’

So how does a Cotutelle work?

Before we discuss the benefits, here are some key features of a Cotutelle Doctoral Degree.

· A Cotutelle student is enrolled in their PhD candidature at 2 universities simultaneously; a host and home university. For example their home may be McMaster University, Canada, and the host may be Flinders University, South Australia.

· Cotutelle students spend 1/3 of their candidature at their host university.

· They have two principal supervisors (one from the host and one from the home)

· They write only one thesis and submit to one examination/defence

· They are awarded two PhD Parchments (one from each university) upon completion.

These features alone make Cotutelles highly appealing, but here are some other benefits that can’t be overlooked.

1. Experience a completely different cultural setting.

During a Cotutelle you will be living and studying in another country for at least one year. Overseas travel opportunities are usually fleeting (even more so in a post-COVID world), however, the immersion of the Cotutelle lets you truly discover the heartbeat of another place, and gain a deep understanding of a different culture, landscape and study environment. If you’re excited about getting to really know a new place, to make new friends, and step outside of your comfort zone, a Cotutelle is a great way to do all of these things whilst simultaneously progressing your academic pursuits.

2. Increase your access to global expertise

Imagine admiring a leading researcher in your discipline who works in another country BUT also having them on YOUR supervisory panel. Sound far-fetched? It isn’t! Many students enrol in a Cotutelle to work closely with an expert in their niche, research field or discipline. The program gives students the platform and framework to formally invite and integrate a second principal supervisor into their panel, making global expertise and guidance a very real possibility.

3. Grow an expansive international network

As the world becomes smaller, an international professional network becomes powerful currency for career development. Cotutelle degrees enable students to build an expansive professional network by connecting with new international peers, colleagues and professors, as well as industry partners based in other countries. This leads to better postdoc prospects, collaborations and in some cases, international employment opportunities that would otherwise have been completely out of reach.

4. Capitalise on your geographical location and access to research resources

A Flinders Cotutelle student recently remarked that conferences, training and specialist research equipment can suddenly become way more accessible during a Cotutelle. ‘I did my Cotutelle in Canada, which meant I was able to attend three US conferences in a year, at different times in different cities.’ she said. A feat that would have been financially impossible if her candidature had her based in Australia. Similarly, you may find that research materials, like rare document collections, archives, specialist equipment and technology, or even cohorts of research participants are only housed in an overseas location. If any of these situations apply to your project, it's a fantastic driver to transform your candidature into a Cotutelle!

5. Receive free international tuition

The final, and possibly most exceptional benefit of a Cotutelle is that Cotutelle students aren’t charged tuition at their host international university.........That’s right. ............... The international tuition fee you would normally be charged is waived under the global conventions of the Cotutelle. This removes a huge financial barrier and leaves you with more funds for living expenses, travel and health insurance.

Flinders University has a dedicated Cotutelle Program Manager to help students navigate the process here, at the Office of Graduate Research. It takes a few months to process a Cotutelle application, including finding the right supervisor, navigating the paperwork and arranging the logistics, which is why it’s worth thinking about today.

You may also want to check out Jessie Young’s Blog about her Cotutelle experience right here. Her insight and honesty is well worth the read if you’re interested.

So there you have it, Cotutelle explained in a nutshell. Finally, if you’re interested in learning more, Professor John Coveney and his team will only be too happy to email or zoom with you to discuss the possibilities of a Cotutelle at the IRCFCH. You can email us at

Bon Appetit!

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