In the time of dynamic changes in higher education led by globalization and internationalization, the study broadly examines the origins of international joint degree programs, with a focus on developments in Europe. International joint degree programs are often portrayed in the literature as one of the most advanced forms of international cooperation and internationalization efforts that are key to the future development of an institution. The thesis first presents a historical overview and analysis of some of the key elements of the recent debate about internationalization process in higher education, in particular about international university cooperation in Europe. Second, the thesis examines the origins of several joint degree schemes at a university in Hungary, an institution that has been particularly successful in establishing this form of international cooperation. The findings from this particular Hungarian university seem to contradict the presumed strategy-led path to joint degree programs, and suggest that institutional decentralization and more of an ad-hoc or bottom-up approach could also lead to development of international joint degree programs.