Division for Research Development
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Joint Degrees at Stellenbosch University

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Stellenbosch University has agreements with a limited number of partner institutions in different countries for the enrolment of joint degree candidates. Most of the agreements are for enrolment at doctoral level. The list of possible institutions with whom Stellenbosch University can enrol joint degree candidates changes as new agreements are concluded. See further on for a recent list.

Definition of a joint degree

A joint degree results from international academic collaboration between Stellenbosch University and a partner institution abroad on a jointly defined and entirely shared study programme leading to a joint degree. All partner institutions are responsible for the entire programme and not just their own separate parts. A joint degree is a single qualification awarded by joint decision of the partner institutions. If the partner(s) cannot come to a joint decision to award the joint degree, none of the partners may then proceed to award the degree outside the agreement as a single institution degree.

Criteria for concluding a new joint degree agreement

When decisions are to be taken with which foreign university joint degrees can be offered by Stellenbosch University, the following six requirements as a whole must be met in a substantial manner:

  1. It must fit in within the vision and mission of Stellenbosch University and contribute to attaining the goals of Stellenbosch University;
  2. Stellenbosch University must benefit from the complementarity of the particular foreign university;
  3. The foreign university must have the appropriate expertise in the research area in which the joint degree can be awarded;
  4. Stellenbosch University and the partner institution(s) must have the appropriate expertise in the research area in which the joint degree can be awarded;
  5. There must be reasonable prospects of student movement to and from Stellenbosch University and the foreign university;
  6. The number of agreements for the awarding of joint and double degrees are strictly limited to agreements which have reasonable prospects of sustainability and active functioning based on a proven track record of collaboration between the institutions.

    Formalities required to put a new joint degree in place

    There is a set of documents that is usually required and they are finalised at different levels. For each joint degree agreement there must usually be:
  • an institutional Memorandum of Understanding in place with the partner university;
  • a general framework agreement which governs the award of joint degrees between the partners, usually across all Faculties but which is non-specific to any individual student; and
  • a candidate agreement which is usually unique to an individual student and specifies how the different elements of the general framework agreement will apply to the individual's project and case.

    Important considerations
  • It is preferable to contemplate joint degree agreements with existing partners.
  • Entering into a new joint degree agreement requires a substantial matching of processes, rules and regulations and takes a considerable amount of time to negotiate new cases. Where there is an existing general framework agreement, it is usually straightforward to conclude a candidate agreement because the basic principles are already agreed upon.
  • At Stellenbosch University, new joint degree agreements must be considered and recommended/declined by a Joint Degree Committee (JDC). The JDC meets on an ad-hoc basis, which allows for new agreements to be considered regularly, subject to demand and the availability of the JDC members. The decisions of the JDC are reported by the Postgraduate Office, via the Academic Planning Committee to Senate (for information purposes).
  • A joint degree involves time spent by the student at both institutions so there are travel, cost of living and visa costs involved.
  • Further factors, which may add significantly to the cost of funding a joint degree, are the requirement to pay fees at the partners, the constitution of the joint examination committee (most examiners must be physically present at the examination and defence), etc.

    Stellenbosch University's existing joint degree partners

    The list of institutions with whom we can enrol joint PhD degree candidates is not fixed but it is limited. New agreements are negotiated from time to time and therefore this list will change. Not all the agreements are applicable to all prospective candidates


Reutlingen University (Master's only)*

KU Leuven

Universiteit Antwerpen

University of Göttingen (Master's only)*

Macquarie University

University of Groningen

University of Leipzig (includes Master's)*

Université de Bordeaux

University of Hamburg

Coventry University

Université Jean MonnetSaint-Etienne

University of Padova

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Université Rouen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA)

Ghent University

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Hasselt University

Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1


* Only available in specific disciplines


What you need to know to do a joint degree with an existing partner:

  • You need to find a supervisor at Stellenbosch University who is willing to supervise you jointly with a supervisor from a partner university.
  • You and/or your supervisor must then identify someone at one of the partners who is also willing to supervise you jointly.
  • Once there is agreement, you must apply and be admitted at both institutions.
  • A candidate agreement must be concluded for you between the partners in which a number of important things are addressed, such as how much time you will spend at each institution, how your enrolment at both institutions will be financed and who will bear the cost of assembling the joint examination committee.
  • You need to be aware of the costs involved and make allowance for these because you cannot enter into a joint degree agreement and then decide along the way that you can no longer sustain your participation.

For more information, send an email to postgraduate@sun.ac.za  email.png