Double Degree PhD programs

The UMCG and Double Degree PhD collaboration

Q: What is a Double Degree PhD?

A: A Double Degree (DD) PhD means that you will obtain your PhD degree from two different institutions, i.e. a double diploma, sometimes also referred to as a "dual award". A double degree (two diplomas, each of which issued by a single university) should not be confused with a "joint degree" (one diploma issued by multiple institutions). In addition to DD PhD students within a collaboration with a partner university, the UMCG also regularly hosts visiting PhD students who are enrolled in a PhD program at another institution. They do part of their research at the UMCG, but will not obtain their degree from the University of Groningen. In some cases however, if the student and the supervisors on either side agree, a visiting PhD research period may eventually lead to a double degree. Both double degree PhD students as well as visiting PhD students are sometimes referred to as "sandwich PhD" students.

Q: Will Double Degree PhD students defend their thesis twice?

A: That depends on the PhD regulations of the partner university. If you want to obtain a degree from the University of Groningen it is required that you also defend your thesis with us. Whether a defense is required at the partner is dependent on the legal framework of that institution. The PhD supervisor from the partner will be invited to attend the PhD ceremony, and the PhD assessment committee should include an external reviewer.

Q: Is there funding available for double degree PhD studies at the UMCG?

A: The UMCG has implemented a funding policy for double degree PhD students from our Strategic Partners in the Abel Tasman Talent Program, with most of whom we have signed official agreements to facilitate the collaboration between researchers. Additionally, we may decide to complement external funding, in order to make it possible for a PhD student to also defend their thesis at Groningen. This may be the case if supervisors and candidates consider this a desirable option, however the time spent at the UMCG proves insufficient to meet the requirements of a PhD thesis at the University of Groningen (see also the FAQ section on PhD research for requirements & Quality Assurance). Note though that as of 2018 the Award Policy is mostly limited to ATTP Sandwich PhD Strategic Partners.

Q: How does a double degree PhD student divide their time between the UMCG and the partner?

A: In principle, we expect that the supervisor workload is divided more or less evenly, and the time between partners in most cases will also be divided in equal parts (2 + 2 years). In most cases, the final two years of the PhD research will be spent at the UMCG. However, sometimes the topic of the PhD requires a different set-up. The Graduate School of Medical Sciences will look into these exceptions on a case-by-case basis, and likes to offer a degree of flexibility.

Q: As a prospective PhD student, can I apply for a position myself?

A: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that you are free and encouraged to locate a potential supervisor at the UMCG for your PhD studies. Please read also the FAQ section on PhD research to find out a bit more about what a PhD at the UMCG looks like. If however you have located a supervisor, it is your supervisor who would need to accept you and request your acceptance in our PhD program with the Graduate School of Medical Sciences. It is recommended also that you and/or your supervisor notify the Graduate School already at  an early stage and keep us posted.

Q: I am already enrolled in a PhD program at my home university: can I still apply to a sandwich PhD position?

A: That depends on multiple factors, such as how far you are in your studies, which is your home university, whether you require UMCG funding, and whether you can be accepted by one of our Principal Investigators. Contact the Graduate School to inquire, explain your situation, and don't forget to enclose your CV.

As of 2018, ATTP Sandwich PhDs in principle are reserved for students from Graduate School Strategic Partners.

Q: How about visa and accommodation?

A: We need at least four months between when you are admitted and when you can actually start. The main reasons for this are:

  • Visa: in case you do not have an EU nationality the university needs to apply to a long-stay visa for you, never apply to a visa yourself in case of a stay over 90 days!
  • Housing: you need a place to live. The university will guide you in this process, but you yourself are ultimately responsible for finding accommodation. Please allow yourself sufficient time to do so!
  • Studying/doing research at the UMCG: in order to work at our University Medical Center you need to fulfill some specific requirements in relation to health in order to keep our hospital environment a safe place for our patients. This means that you will need to be clear of TB and MRSA - the UMCG will inform you of the details when relevant.

Our International Service Desk, that arranges all visa matters, has made an instructive Prezi presentation about Moving To Groningen so that you may better inform yourself!

Q: How do I prepare my stay?

A: Once you have been accepted to the Sandwich PhD program (or you expect to be accepted), you may already start preparing your stay in advance of the Graduate School actually starting up procedure. Particularly if you have a  non-EU nationality, you may already want to start collecting the documentation we need in order to apply for a visa for you. Important: NEVER start visa procedures for a long-stay visa (i.e., over 90 days, called "MVV") yourself!

The documents we need from you:

  • passport copy
  • CV
  • private address in home country
  • copy original Master certificate (in native language) and one in English, translated by a sworn translator, or, in case you do not have a master's degree: copy of your highest degree obtained

If you have access to external funding during your period at UMCG, we also need:

  • Scholarship letter that includes the monthly allowance you receive and the duration of your scholarship, in the original language and an official English translation (sworn translator)

If your partner and/or child(ren) will accompany you we additionally need their:

  • Marriage certificate and an official translation to English
  • Passport copy/ies

Q: When does the Graduate School start up procedures?

A: The Graduate School starts up procedures for a PhD candidate to come to Groningen upon notification of the PhD supervisor. All ATTP Sandwich PhD supervisors receive an Award Letter from the Graduate School upon the approval of their ATTP Sandwich PhD application. We need to receive notification from the supervisor 4-6 months in advance of the PhD candidate stay at UMCG regarding:

  • The exact start date of the mobility at UMCG
  • PhD project title
  • Names of the UMCG promotor(es) and co-promotor(es) and their affiliation