Joint PhD programs with domestic and international partner institutions:

A joint PhD program can offer an opportunity for UWA schools to strengthen links with partner institutions. The primary focus of establishing joint PhD programs is to facilitate co-operative research collaboration between UWA schools and schools at a partner institution.

It is expected that an equivalent number of students from the partner institution will participate in the program and attend UWA for a portion of their studies. It should be noted that these programs are not provided simply to facilitate international study for PhD students. Students wishing to spend some time overseas are able to do this (with certain conditions) as part of the PhD program without enrolling in a joint program. It is unlikely that the University will approve a proposal to establish a joint PhD program for a single student.

Schools are required to discuss the proposed program extensively with the proposed partner institution and provide the Board of the Graduate Research School with comprehensive documentation detailing these discussions and addressing specific areas of concern, as set out below in the Application Process. If the documents supplied by the school are not complete, the Board of the Graduate Research School will not consider the application.

Please consult the regulations governing the joint/double-badged PhD program.

In the following, the term "home" institution has been used to refer to the institution with which an applicant was first affiliated or is enrolled and "host" is used to refer to the institution to which they will travel to undertake part of their studies. These terms are used for the sake of clarity but the program is a joint one and each student will receive a single degree which is approved by both institutions.


Proposals to establish a new joint PhD program with a partner institution must have the full support of the supervisor(s) and Head of School before proceeding with an application. Prospective students must satisfy the UWA criteria for entry to the PhD program, and must apply for candidature in the usual way. There is provision for a candidate who begins a joint PhD program to transfer from this program into the PhD at UWA if this becomes desirable.

Enrolled students (excepting enrolled students who have completed more than 50 per cent of their PhD at UWA already) and prospective students are eligible to be considered for enrolment in a joint PhD program. Both international students and Australian citizens/permanent residents are eligible to participate in the program. For candidates in receipt of Australian Postgraduate Awards or Australian Postgraduate Awards (Industry), approval to undertake the program will be required from the relevant Government department). Before a proposal is lodged, schools should contact a Scholarships Officer to discuss the matter.


By R83/14 Academic Council resolved to approve that co-tutelles, joint and double-badged PhD programs be offered either ‘for fee’ or ‘fee free’, and not solely as part of an exchange agreement, and for the Chair of the Board of the Graduate Research School to have delegated authority from Academic Council to approve these programs. In the absence of an exchange agreement with an international partner institution, the following considerations will apply:

Students enrolled in joint PhD programs with either domestic or international insitutions are liable for the same tuition fees at UWA as students enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy:

  • International students are liable for tuition fees at UWA, unless in receipt of a tuition fee scholarship
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for a Research Training Scheme place
  • NOTE: tuition fee scholarships and stipends awarded at one Australian institution are usually not transferable to another Australian institution, and vice versa 
Exchange agreements with partner institutions (international partners only):

Joint PhD programs with international institutions may be set up on an exchange basis, where it is expected that each institution will swap equivalent numbers of candidates and mutually waive all fees for tuition during the period that a student is studying at the host institution. Where an exchange agreement is in place, a student participating in a joint PhD program whose home university is UWA will be liable for the usual costs of studying at UWA:

  • International students (UWA home) will be liable for tuition fees, or may be nominated for a tuition fee scholarship
  • Domestic students (Australian citizens or permanent residents, UWA home) will receive a research training scheme place if eligible
  • Students from partner insitutions (UWA host) will be liable for whatever fees normally apply to them at their home institution

To apply for a new exchange agreement for a joint PhD program with an international partner institution please contact the International Centre after reading the information on establishment of a student exchange agreement.

Research Training Scheme (RTS) and joint PhD programs with Australian universities:

The following considerations apply to joint PhD programs with another Australian Higher Education Provider (HEP), according to the Higher Education Support Act, for both international and domestic students:

  • Students must only be active at one insitution whilst on leave from the other, that is, student load cannot be reported twice
  • Completion funding for a student completing a joint PhD program will be shared between the two insitutions

Heads of Schools and supervisors are strongly encouraged to discuss the potential joint program with the graduate research candidature manager at UWA and the partner institution prior to completing the proposal.

Enrolment, administration and examination

Students wishing to be enrolled in joint PhD programs must apply for candidature in the normal way and will be enrolled in the relevant course code.

Students' programs of study will be administered in accordance with the UWA PhD Rules and any specific arrangements laid out in the joint PhD candidature agreement. A copy of this must be signed by the student prior to their enrolment in the joint program.

The examination arrangements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Joint/Double-Badged) must meet the expectations of the UWA requirements for content and format of a thesis, nomination of examiners and submission of the thesis. Schools should discuss any additional requirements the partner institutions may have (for example an oral examination) and ensure the procedures for examination are clearly understood by all parties including the individual student.

Graduation and testamur

Students graduating from a joint PhD program may only receive their award certificate at one institution. For example, a student who elects to attend a Graduation Ceremony at an international partner institution may not also attend a UWA Ceremony and will not be recorded in the UWA Graduation Register.

Design and award of a single testamur must be in accordance with the UWA Policy on Award Certificates.

Application process

Heads of Schools are encouraged to informally discuss proposals with the Graduate Research School. Approval of a joint PhD program is subject to presentation of strong evidence they will serve to form a viable and desirable link with the partner institution. Schools should seek advice from the Graduate Research School as to the viability of the proposal prior to approaching another institution. If, after such informal discussion there is agreement that the proposed link is one UWA should pursue, a formal application may be lodged.

The UWA International Centre Policy on Establishing Agreements with Overseas Institutions may be useful to schools at this stage.

As part of the formal application process schools are required to supply the following documents to the Graduate Research School:

International partner institutions:

Please also forward a copy of MOU and student exchange agreement, if applicable.

Australian partner institutions:

Please also forward a copy of the MoU between the institutions (only applicable to institutions outside the Group of Eight)

The documents form the basis of the structure, administration and regulation of the joint PhD program. If the program is approved, these documents will be those to which the Graduate Research School will refer in the case of any dispute or difficulty with the program. It is therefore important that they are as full and accurate as possible. Once a joint PhD agreement has been drawn up, a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders will be arranged if required. The purpose of this meeting will be to ensure that the joint PhD agreement includes all information necessary to effectively administer the proposed PhD program and accurately describes the proposed program and any associated conditions.

Once all parties have agreed on the content of the document it will be considered by the Board of the Graduate Research School. It is recommended that if similar processes must be followed at the partner institution that they be undertaken at the same time.