Being a joint PhD candidate

This information is provided for our joint PhD candidates who have been admitted to a joint degree across two institutions. Being enrolled in a joint PhD means that you are in a unique position to benefit from the expertise, supervision and experiences at two separate institutions and often across two continents. It is your and your supervisors’ responsibility to ensure that you are meeting the requirements of both universities in which you are enrolled.


As a joint PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, we expect that you will:

  • have at least one supervisor from each institution;
  • spend a minimum of 12 months at each institution during your degree;
  • have a ‘home’ institution and a ‘host’ institution. The definition of home institution depends on the arrangement between Melbourne and the partner University. The home institution is usually where you will commence your studies and where you will be primarily funded;
  • be accepted and admitted as a candidate at both institutions before commencing your PhD and have your progress monitored at each institution;
  • submit your thesis for examination via the examination process at each institution;
  • on successful completion, be awarded with a joint degree, recognised with a testamur from each institution.

Accepting your offer

International joint PhD candidates should follow these instructions to complete your online acceptance agreement once you receive your offer.

Acknowledging joint affiliation

As a joint PhD candidate, it is important that you recognise the University of Melbourne and your partner institution(s) in all your research publications, presentations, campaigns, and other communications that are directly linked to your PhD research. If you are unsure how best to do this then please consult with your supervisors and/or IRTG Coordinator.


Individual Graduate Researcher Agreements (IGRAs) represent the contract which is signed between you, your supervisors and both institutions confirming details of your joint PhD candidature. Your IGRA will clarify:

  • funding arrangements
  • progress review requirements
  • the expected dates that you will be at each institution
  • examination requirements specific to your joint degree

Your IGRA should be completed prior to your commencement, and no later than three months after you start. Your IGRA will be administered by your home institution and the relevant IRTG coordinator/s will assist you in obtaining the necessary signatures from both institutions.


As a joint PhD candidate, it is important to ensure that:

  • you maintain regular communication and have meetings with your supervisors from both institutions
  • the details of your supervisors from both institutions are part of your student record

Details of any supervisors from a partner institution must be provided to the faculty graduate research administrator on the External Supervisor Record (Joint Award) so they can be recorded as currently acting as an external supervisor.

More information about working with supervisors is available here.

Progress Reporting

Your progress must be regularly reviewed by an Advisory Committee. More details about these processes at the University of Melbourne are available on the Graduate Research Hub 'Being a candidate' page.

If the partner institution has a similar progress review process, then you don’t necessarily have to do both. If the timing is similar, you may be able to complete one of the reporting processes and provide the documentation and outcome of that review to the other institution for their record keeping purposes. For example, you can download a pdf copy of a review completed on the University of Melbourne’s Candidature Management System and forward this to the relevant administrator at the partner institution. Instructions for this are Candidature management system FAQs page.

For a partner institution process to be accepted at the University of Melbourne, supervisors from both Institutions must be involved in the discussion of progress to date.  For Confirmation of candidature, there must be a documented assessment that your research project has been clearly defined and can feasibly be completed within the agreed timeframe as well as an assessment of your progress to date. Confirmation should also provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the written and oral presentation skills appropriate to graduate research study.

You should contact your faculty if you have questions about progress review processes.

Managing difficulties

The Graduate Research Hub offers a number of resources to assist you when you are experiencing difficulties during your candidature.  If your concerns are associated with a partner institution, you should contact your IRTG coordinator who may be able to assist and/or connect you with the relevant person.

Study Away

Study Away refers to a period of time for which you are approved to undertake research-related activities away from the University of Melbourne. The University of Melbourne has an obligation to ensure all our students are in safe learning environments and so we need to know when you are not expected to be on campus in Melbourne.

As a joint PhD candidate, if you commence at the partner institution, a Study Away request will need to be completed at the time of your enrolment, and then again for subsequent periods at the partner institution. More information on submitting a Study Away request is available here. You can select the Study Away reason of ‘studying at joint PhD partner institution’ in the form.

Leave of Absence

Circumstances may arise that mean you are unable to work on your research for a period of time. In consultation with your supervisors at both institutions, you should submit your Leave of Absence request at the institution where you are currently located. If you are studying in Melbourne and require a Leave of Absence, further information is available here. It is important to ensure that you and/or your supervisors forward any confirmation of Leave of Absence periods to the administrators at your partner institution to ensure that the leave is recorded and accounted for at both institutions, allowing for adjustment of progress review and thesis submission dates.

Ethics applications

All projects requiring the use of human participants, animals, genetically modified organisms, or hazardous biological agents must be approved before the work begins. In most circumstances, you will need to submit ethics applications to both the University of Melbourne and your partner institution for separate consideration and approval for the research to be included in your thesis, regardless of where the research takes place.

For a joint award, the University of Melbourne process is to submit an application via Infonetica. If you are aware of the process or have already started an application you can log in directly to the Infonetica system. Please note that you will need to reach out to the partner institution for advice on their ethics process.

More information on the University of Melbourne processes can be found via the below links:

Speak to your supervisor/s or administrators at your partner institution for information on how to submit ethics applications there. Every institution has different systems.

If your home institution is another Australian University, and you have approved ethics applications from that institution, these can be registered with the University of Melbourne. We do not notify the other institution.


Your examination will be carried out in a manner that meets the requirements of both universities as stated in your IGRA. If you have any questions you should consult with your supervisors. When you are ready to submit your thesis to Melbourne, you can find general information about the submission and examination process here.


Faculty Graduate Research Administrators

IRTG Coordinators