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Dual PhD Programs

General Information

The dual PhD, or co-tutelle de thèse, is an ad hoc agreement that allows outstanding students with specific interests and needs to have their PhD dissertation supervised by faculty members from both Northwestern and a French university. The student then receives a doctorate from the French and a PhD from Northwestern.

With advisors on both sides of the Atlantic and opportunities to participate in seminars and conferences at both institutions, dual PhD students have produced great results. Dissertations have covered vast areas of study, from urban sociology to African politics, and from theater studies to critical theory. Our alumni have an impressive placement record, going on to such positions as:

  • Post-doctoral fellowships at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and the University of Edinburgh
  • Tenure-track jobs at University of Montréal, the University Georgia and Columbia College
  • Work in a range of industries such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as non-profit organizations

French doctoral students enrolled in a dual PhD program typically spend at least two years at Northwestern during which they take courses, conduct research, write their dissertation under the direction of a joint dissertation committee and become eligible for the PhD degrees of both institutions.

Admitted dual PhD students benefit from streamlined requirements reflecting their earlier training at the master level at a French institution. Northwestern asks that French dual PhD students take nine credit courses, but many of these courses can be tailored so as to advance rather than slow down the student's progress toward his or her dissertation defense. To make efficient use of his or her time at Northwestern, the student should carefully map out a plan of coursework in consultation with his or her Northwestern adviser.

The following five departments at Northwestern currently have formal dual PhD agreements with French partners. French students must work with faculty in one of these five departments:


French students interested in the dual PhD should proceed in the following fashion. The first step is to identify a Northwestern dissertation co-adviser in one of the participating departments, and to secure that adviser's agreement.

The second step is to secure the permission of one's French adviser, who is now being asked to serve as co-adviser of a dual PhD dissertation. The third step is to negotiate a contract or accord de co-tutelle with the student's two co-advisers. This contract becomes an important document in the student's application to Northwestern.

Students then apply formally to the relevant Northwestern department or program, using the application procedures established by the Graduate School, which can be found on the Graduate School's website. Application deadlines are typically set in late fall for the following academic year.


Under the minimum requirements for dual PhD students defined by the Graduate School, dual PhD students must complete a minimum of four quarters of residency, take at least nine credit-bearing courses (these may include Independent study 499 courses, seminars and electives, as approved by the program), write a dissertation prospectus and serve in some instructional capacity for at least one academic quarter during their graduate education.

Individual departments or programs may stipulate more rigorous requirements in addition to the minimum requirements set by the graduate school. All requirements, procedures and deadlines for each university continue to apply to students in this program. A student who fails to meet the requirements of his or her home university will not be eligible to receive a degree from the host university.

"My affiliation with the EHESS was helpful in that it allowed me to connect to a large community of scholars focused on francophone West Africa — helping direct me towards a wealth of research that has been done on the region.”

 - Chelsie Yount, dual PhD in anthropology, Northwestern/EHESS (2016)

Our Students

Our dual PhD candidates receive doctoral degree from both of the institutions and typically earn tenure-track jobs at prestigious universities.

Learn about our dual PhD students. See where our current dual PhD students are studying and find out what our alumni are doing now.