What is a Sandwich PhD?

In addition to administrative and financial support for ATTP Sandwich PhDs with Strategic Partners, the Graduate School of Medical Sciences (GSMS) also provides guidance in establishing Sandwich PhD structures with students enrolled at international (partner) institutions.

Definition Sandwich PhD

The term "Sandwich PhD" may actually refer to both non-degree and degree-seeking mobility of students who in most cases are enrolled in a PhD program at another university. Degree-seeking students in the definition of the University of Groningen (UG) will in any case also obtain their PhD degree from UG. Along this line, non-degree students are not (yet) admitted to the PhD program at UG and therefore considered "visiting doctoral researchers". We may distinguish between:

Non-degree mobility

  • Visiting doctoral researcher: student  enrolled in a PhD program at an international (partner) university who has usually acquired a competitive scholarship to spend a period of research abroad as a visiting PhD student, without the initial explicit intention to obtain their PhD at UG. 

More information on GSMS support for this category of students is available here.

Degree mobility

  • Enrollment as a Double Degree (DD) PhD student. Beneficiaries are enrolled as degree students at both UG and the Partner and will consequently obtain their degree from both institutions.
  • Enrollment as a Joint Degree (JD) PhD student. This applies if for example the legal context in which the partner operates does not allow for a DD. In general, this requires more preparatory time because it implies a fully integrated PhD trajectory leading to one diploma. A JD in the longer term may benefit the quality of cooperation, because of an integration of selection and monitoring procedures. A Joint Doctoral agreement between the degree-awarding institutions for the enrollment of the JD student in this case is a prerequisite for the award of the JD.
  • Enrollment only as UG PhD – single degree – student. The student is not enrolled in another doctoral program, but they do work under international co-supervision and carry out research at the partner, leading to a single UG degree. This for example may be the case for medical students who are enrolled in a medical degree (MD) at a partner, whilst carrying out research that leads to a PhD at UG (an international MD-PhD)

More information on GSMS support for this category of students is available here.


  1. A non-degree mobility may ultimately lead to the ambition of the student as well as both PhD supervisors, to support admission to the Graduate School of Medical Sciences PhD program. In that case, the student needs to fulfill the formal requirements for admission. Admission in general is based on the quality and feasibility of the PhD project, as well as the availability of funds.
  2. If the student who undertakes a non-degree mobility pertains to one of the GSMS Strategic Partners, it may be an option for the supervisor to apply to continued funding via the ATTP Sandwich PhD program. If so, the GSMS in principle considers the stay of the student as a visiting researcher as counting towards the maximum 24-month ATTP support for the student at UG.
Contact us
  • Fields marked with a * are required