UBC Graduate Profile - Diplomatie Joint PhD Degrees The UBC approach Jenny Phelps, Assistant Dean Faculty

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  • Joint PhD Degrees

    The UBC approach

    Jenny Phelps, Assistant Dean

    Faculty of Graduate Studies

    The University of British Columbia

    UBC Graduate Profile:

    • ~9,500 graduate students; 35,000 undergrads

    • More than 200 Master’s and PhD programs in nearly all academic disciplines

    • Over 2500 international graduate students from more than 100 countries

    • Ranked 30th in world’s top universities (2010 Times Higher Education University rankings)

  • PhD study at UBC

    Admission requirements

    - Master’s degree (diplôme d'études approfondies)


    - Bachelor Degree (Diplome d’Ingenieur; Gradué en

    Ingénierie Maitrise; Magistere; Licence) of very high

    standard (Bien/Trés Bien)


    - English Proficiency (TOEFL minimum = 80)

    - Evidence of research potential

    Phase I: Pre-Candidacy

    – Take all required courses – Pass a comprehensive exam – Gain approval for a research proposal

    Doctoral Students:

    – Should advance to candidacy within 2 years, and must within 3

    – Should complete all degree requirements within 5 years of

    enrolment and must within 6 years

    “Advance to


    Phase II: Candidacy

    – Complete a research project (dissertation)

    – Defend the thesis at a Doctoral Oral Examination

  • Joint and dual/double degree programs…

    • Understanding the terminology is critical:

    - ‘joint’ means a single degree is awarded

    - ‘dual/double’ means two degrees are awarded

    - ‘degree’ refers to the qualification NOT the parchment(s)/diploma(s)

    • Masters – BOTH joint & double degrees valuable – widespread, well established & understood

    • PhD – joint PhD OK – a dual/double PhD would require two theses and has little support internationally

    • The French Co-tutelle has successfully led the way for Joint PhDs for many years

    “Joint PhD” at UBC

    • UBC Academic Senate approved structure in 2009. • Must be single degree awarded • Final approval of all arrangements delegated to Dean

    of Graduate Studies

    • Three students formally admitted to Joint PhD programs thus far:

    – University of Edinburgh (Political Science) – Bauhaus-Universitat Weimar (Interdisciplinary Studies) – Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Electrical & Computer


  • U 21 International Jointly Awarded PhD Degree

    “A jointly awarded PhD is a single qualification conferred upon a student

    on completion of a collaborative program of work designed, supervised &

    examined by the two universities”

    Normally characterized by:

    • meeting the academic requirements of both universities

    • agreement regarding the lead university

    • joint supervision and examination

    • a single degree awarded for one PhD thesis

    • parchment(s) issued that explicitly state that there has been joint

    supervision and examination

    Each student’s collaborative PhD program is

    • Unique to their project and goals • normally established at the outset of study

    (must occur before advancing to candidacy)

    • the subject of a separate Memorandum of

    Agreement, which is

    • approved by the student, both partner

    Universities and the identified supervisor/s

    (advisor/s) of each partner University

  • Each Joint PhD Agreement stipulates:

    • one university designated as the lead university • at least one supervisor from each university • agreed periods of residence at each university (at least one year) • assurance of access to university facilities • each university admitting the student according to their own procedures • examination procedures as agreed by the two universities • any other issues, such as coursework requirements and funding/tuition

    arrangements, that may need to be specified

    • an explicit agreement regarding how Intellectual Property Rights will be dealt with

    • the thesis normally written in the language of lead university (with a substantial summary written in the other language, if different)

    • degree parchment(s) that explicitly reflect the joint nature of the award

    Joint PhD degrees provide a mechanism for:

    • access to unique and/or sophisticated research equipment and resources, and to world class faculty

    • undertaking research of explicit global significance • facilitation of international study and experience for our PhD


    • enhancement of joint international collaborative research between universities

    • access to additional sources of student financial support - including eligibility for scholarships/awards at both participating universities,

    • enhanced recruitment of excellent graduate students • development of personal attributes of international leadership,

    partnership and global engagement

  • UBC Joint PhD enrolment procedure

    After gaining preliminary support from the two supervisors…

    • A “Joint PhD Agreement” form must be jointly developed between student & supervisors (information may ultimately

    be transferred to French ‘co-tutelle’ agreement format)

    • Draft agreement sent to Dean of Graduate Studies for review and revisions

    • Student must apply and be accepted to the specific UBC PhD program (may be prior to or simultaneous with Joint PhD

    Agreement development)

    • Agreement circulated for required signatures at both universities; one original must be on file in FGS Dean’s office.

    Upon graduating

    Normally results in one parchment from each

    university, both carrying notation along the

    lines of:

    “Awarded as a single degree under a Joint PhD

    arrangement with ”

  • Challenges/concerns…

    • The ‘parchment problem’

    - two parchments/diplomas does not mean two ‘degrees’

    - the degree parchment(s) must clearly reflect the joint nature

    of the single award

    • ‘Double-dipping’

    - not relevant to the Joint PhD if it is seen as a single degree

    • Issues of Intellectual Property Rights can be difficult to manage so must be resolved at the outset (and returned to if

    & when necessary)


    • Doctoral degree structures are quite different in different systems and this can make arrangements complex. For example…

    - in North America, often 2 years coursework, more breadth,

    comprehensive exams, longer duration, funding sources (many by

    TAs & RAs)

    - Europe – 3 yr UG degrees, little required PhD coursework, direct

    entry from UG, shorter duration

    • Joint PhD degrees are time consuming to manage and should be reserved for the very brightest students who will specifically benefit

    from the access to joint supervision and international research


  • Benefits and opportunities for students

    Joint PhDs enhance considerably the students’ research and

    employment opportunities on an international scale

    • Clear benefits are access to:

    - an academic research program 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, networking and professional